12 Portland bands to watch in 2016—and 1 fresh festival – OregonLive.com
If 2015 was a year of major Portland comebacks—the Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney and Modest Mouse—2016 may be the one a new batch of bands takes the national stage. Here’s a dozen local acts worth keeping your eyes and ears on in the months to come.
1. Richmond Fontaine
After five years away, and frontman Willy Vlautin’s time in the Delines and penning award-winning novels, the seminal Portland alt-country act will return with its first album for Fluff and Gravy: “You Can’t Go Back if There’s Nothing To Go Back To.” The album’s due March 18, with guests including the Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee.
Tapped as a Spotify Spotlight 2016 act, the sister trio will release their new album this spring on ATO—the label behind Alabama Shakes, Brandi Carlile and Benjamin Booker. The group’s yearning harmonies and dynamic folk was no doubt perfectly captured by producer Mike Mogis, the longtime secret weapon of artists from Bright Eyes to First Aid Kit.
3. Mo Troper
The former Your Rival member (and Portland all-ages advocate) will release his solo debut, “Beloved,” in April on his own Good Cheer Records. It’s a set of bristling power-pop as fuzzy as a worn-out cardigan. Recommended if you like guitars, basements and eternal youth.
4. Myke Bogan
After an EP and a mixtape over the last two years, the Portland MC will release a new album on fledging hip-hop label Eryst in late summer or early fall. Look for a torrent of material from Eryst, which has plans for new music from Martell; Blossom; the Last Artful, Dodgr; Maze Koroma and former TxE rapper Epp.
5. Point Juncture, WA
“Me or the Party,” the band’s fourth album and first since 2011, will arrive on the savvy scene label Party Damage Records in March or April. Expect experimental, tuneful indie, like the Shins taking mushrooms on a trip to Mt. Hood.
6. Radiation City
“Synesthetica,” the indie-pop group’s debut for Polyvinyl Records, lands Feb. 12 and boasts an updated, dare we say, grown-and-sexy sound.
The rock duo recorded its debut album over two weeks at Jackpot! with Larry Crane (Elliott Smith, Sleater-Kinney): from what we’ve heard, it’s a heavy, thoughtful alternative collection that evokes Low, Weezer and feminism. No release date yet, but the group will have an EP out in May on new Portland label Bug Hunt that collects its singles so far.
8. Mic Capes
The Hip-Hop Day rapper has been hard at work on “Concrete Dreams,” leading up to the new album with a singles collection and a powerful October single, “15 Cents.” “It’s just getting everything how I want it to sound, and I don’t want to rush it,” he told Willamette Week. “I want everything to be solid all the way through, as far as cohesiveness and the sound and subject matter.”
Portland’s loudest shoegaze band is prepping its follow-up to “The Thrall”—the best local album of 2014 you haven’t heard yet. They’ll tease the full-length with a three-song cassette on Feb. 5 before heading to the studio to get to work with producer Dylan Wall (Craft Spells, Hausu) in March.
The group’s “The New Zero,” its debut album, is expected this spring. Early singles “Heart” and “Televised” offer a crackling rock sound with roots in Tom Petty and the Gin Blossoms.
11. There is No Mountain
The folk-rock act’s “Luna,” a kinetic album with indie-friendly songwriting and jam-band-worthy chops, will get a worldwide release on ORG Music on Jan. 15, with a Portland release show set for Mississippi Studios on Jan. 7.
12. Bim Ditson
The drummer’s band, And And And, have plans to follow up 2015’s debut album, but Ditson himself may be busier running for mayor of Portland in the coming year. His campaign kicked off in earnest with an event at Bunk Bar in November, with affordable housing and sustainable growth early priorities.
Project Pabst and MusicfestNW’s new festival
After two years of sorta-rivalry, the summer rock festivals will join forces for a single August event on the Waterfront in 2016. Can they reconcile their demographic differences, music tastes and years of Portland history? Hey, as long as there’s PBR.
Other artists we’re watching in 2016: M. Ward, Grandaddy, Portugal. The Man, Chromatics, Cool Nutz, Little Star, Mr. Bones, Thanks, the Body, Esme Patterson and veteran songwriter Jerry Joseph, whose “By the Time Your Rocket Gets to Mars” will be the latest from Voodoo Doughnut’s ever-expanding label efforts in April.