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Cardboard Crowns @ The Garrison

This 4 piece band from Ottawa really are the kings and The Cardboard Crowns have got the crowns to prove it. That makes their music royalty. So take a long listen to their latest record "Global Citizen". The opening track "Pulling Teeth" has some Atlantic Canadian rock vibes to it. Borderline celtic rhythm mixed with some straight ahead punk rock. They call themselves a blend of ska/reggae/punk and this comes flying out at ya in the title track of the album. These guys have got a killer fusion of genres, paired with nice groovy basslines, and a drummer who does an outstanding job of keepin it real. It's still summer, so throw the crowns on the ol' pod while you're cruising in your Jeep YJ, roof down, and enjoy. Or better yet go check out the Cardboard Crowns at the Garrison 08/21 - Kris 'Big City' Gies

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The Sindicate release new album Sleepwalker

What the world needs now is not love sweet love, what it needs is bands that can make dynamic music! It is not often I come across a band or album which I find myself, well, impressed with… The Sindicate impressed me. The band released their new album Sleepwalker Friday at the Star Theatre.

After having lived in California for a number of years and consequently having my ears flooded with every Sublime acolyte who could form a band I am always a bit leery of reggae bands. The first track on Sleepwalker dispelled any fears I may have had. I could immediately tell that this group of guys not only had a diverse range of influences but that they  were proficient at channeling them into their own music. The cherry on top was that they did it well. Each track has a really balanced blend on genres ranging from fairly straight forward reggae sounds to what I would say sounded like early Stones/ early punk stuff. As each track played I was quite pleased to hear very dynamic and diverse sounds in each individual song. Songs like Zombie evoke a sense of mystery and suspense almost like you’re tip toeing through some foggy graveyard at night while the very next song RB-HB feels more like a small Californian beach town on a sunny afternoon. Each song has its own vibe to the point it doesn’t feel like they took the same music and simply repackaged it with different lyrics. The work put into these songs shows. The band describes themselves as “reggae rock” and I would say that’s quite accurate. 

The overall dynamics of the album are similarly silky smooth. The placement of each track is very well done so that listening straight through the album feels like a musical journey. I was very impressed with how the album achieves a sort of roller coaster effect and does what a good album should do. It take you on a journey down through valleys and up through mountains.

The Sindicate and their team did a great job on this album on both a micro and macro level. The band shows excellent musicianship in a genre which is too often scabbed over with repetitive sounds. The band just embarked on a tour, but catch them when they return to Portland. In the meantime, listen to their new album here.

-Cory Huennekens

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What the Festival is Set to Deliver an Epic Fourth Year

The days are getting longer and the weather dude is telling me the temperature isn’t going to dip below 80 degrees anytime soon, so this could only mean one thing, What The Festival 2015 is right around the corner! This year marks the festival’s fourth go-around, and the folks that put this shindig together are gearing up Oregon’s Wolf Run Ranch for another successful weekend.

This festival has a little bit of everything. It takes place on a gorgeous campground about 25 miles east of Mt. Hood. There’s enough room to walk through a (glow in the dark!) forest, lounge on plush sofas, benches, and any other designated or non-designated chill zones, dance in a splash pool with a stage that pumps out beats all day long. You can attend workshops, go to yoga and all that jazz. And to top it off, you get to witness a slew of the top producers and DJs in the game.

Names like Big Gigantic, Griz, and Seattle’s ODESZA top the list of a funkafied lineup, and there is also a number of local acts and up-and-coming artists that fill out the three day extravaganza. This event is held in Oregon for good reason. There is plenty of Portland influence, especially on the music side, here is a list of local flavor:

Indubious – Electronic reggae, or reggae with electronics. Somewhere in the middle of that is the hard hitting duo from Ashland. A live bass player and keys/and synths mix beautifully in front of beats will go off in psychedelic tangents, but always find their way back to the traditional reggae songs they’ve been making for years.

Hustle and Drone – Synth pop straight outta Portland. H&D has seen a large growth of success over the past year. The songs they write have an indie rock influence and always hold a danceable beat.

Ernest Lovers w/ Pete Krebs – Quite a bit of a different pace than the majority of the lineup, but these are local legendary song writers. They will provide a nice break from the chaos and give your brain cells a minute to rejuvenate with some slow and melodic honky tonk.

EPROM – Bass heavy with a little bit of hip hop. EPROM is one of the most notable Portland acts on the list and is set to have a big summer. He makes his beats with old school drum and bass influences and touches and dabbles of dubstep and trap. It’s damn near impossible not to dance for this.

Solovox – Piano extraordinaire and beat maker. Carl Solovox knows how incorporate his refined piano skills and put them to use on a synthesizer. He’s been known to remix some classic rock and roll (Johnny Cash, AC DC, the list goes on) and always creates a dance party of epic proportions.

Barisone – Master of silk and smooth. Barisone has become a household name in the Portland community with a steady working relationship with FAK Wednesdays and Bubblin. His music is grounded in hip hop and R&B and will change what you thought you knew about the word “sexy.”

Device Grips – straight up dance funk – full band! The (relatively) new Portland band, Device Grips are making their name quickly with blues infused horn-heavy funk with a little bit of rap n’ roll to create some of the liveliest music out there. Don’t be the person that has to tell people a year from now that you missed this set because you were trying to get a burrito (nothing against burritos, but trust me on this one).

Lovebomb Go-Go Marching Band – One of the most extravagant acts you’ll see, ever. This band hails from outer space, I assume, given their space helmets and vibrant clad of silver linings that make up their uniforms. Who knows what they’re going to pull out for a festival like this?

Other notable local artists include: Chrome Wolves, Lincoln Up, Mr. Wu, Takimba, Trashcan Joe, PRSN, Tyler Tastemaker, Deafmind, Octaban, Hal-V & Space Case, Quarry, Laura Lynn, Computer Pham, Diablo, and Montel Spinozza.

Moral of this story: Get your tickets to What the Festival and try and catch every one of these!

-Colin Hudson


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Etana Performs at Mezzanine - 6/6

If you want to catch a unique show, check out Etana at Mezzanine! Her music is gorgeous and it will give you a chance to check out some music that may not be "the usual" in regards to local shows. We love local bands forever, but everyone's got to stretch their wings a bit. You won't have to stretch far. Make your way down to Mezzanine in San Francisco on June 6th!

The soulful Jamaican vocalist who has been described as "reggae's Jill Scott" (NPR) or"reminiscent of India.Arie" (Essence) - dropped her fourth album I Rise on Oct 28, 2014. The album was helmed primarily by the legendary Jamaican multi-instrumentalist and producer Clive Hunt (Stevie Wonder, Peter Tosh, Rolling Stones, The Wailers, Grace Jones, Jimmy Cliff). It hit #1 on the U.S. Billboard Reggae Album chart, making Etana one of the three Jamaican female artists ever and the first in nearly two decades (since Diana King and Patra in the mid-90s) to land this highly-coveted chart position. I Rise follows Etana's critically-acclaimed albums Better Tomorrow (2013), Free Expressions (2011) and The Strong One (2008). With poised assurance, she continues to evolve spiritually, mentally, emotionally and musically and carry the torch as reggae's leading lady.

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Opal Rose's Strange Fruit

DC's Opal Rose recently teamed up with Triple Threat to create a fantastic electro-RnB cover of the jazz classic "Strange Fruit" (on Brave New Breed). The two are developing a sound they're calling "Doom&B," and the track is an epic journey. A run through jungle drums launches the vocal to flight over the canopy of rainforest instruments and insects. I get the impression Opal has emerged from some ancient haunted psychadelic pyramid. And I love the ending, hinting at a space launch, easing the listener into oblivion. Look for more from Opal and her collaborators in the comming months. --Natan Press

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