Updated: Dec 24, 2020
Here it is: the definitive list of new music from right here in the Pacific Northwest (well, some of it, anyway). We’ve got music from Washington, Oregon and Northern California featured in this Summer 2020 Music Roundup, with new and old artists to (re)discover from sunny days gone by. If you aren’t getting your daily dose of local talent, you can make it up by checking out these tracks below.
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“Goddex” - Frankie Simone
Portland-based power pop artist Frankie Simone is one of the rising stars of Oregon’s growing queer pop scene. A genderqueer musician, this single highlights the identity positivity of Simone’s message with lyrics like, “I am woman, I am queer, I am brown… I am a goddess. I deserve to be worshipped.” Not only is Simone’s powerful voice and Lady Gaga-inspired aesthetic on display, there’s some impressive beat production on this locally produced album. Come for the chorus, stay for the bass drop.
“Held Open Door” - Floating Room (Portland, OR)
Portland’s Floating Room has produced wonderful indie pop gems dating back to 2016, but this is the newest single off the group’s new album, Tired And True. This straightforward track about personal strength turns complex and glorious in its closing seconds, with sweeping piano and synth layers that show off the songwriting talent of founding members Maya Stoner (guitar/vocals) and Kyle Bates (keys/vocals). For those looking for a taste of Portland’s DIY indie scene, this is the summer single for you.
“Duck Teeth” - Depth Charger (Richland, WA)
A brooding ballad that imitates alternative era soft rock, this single has a “Creep” by Radiohead feel with simple electric guitar that culminates into big, crashing choruses. The Radiohead comparison is appropriate, since Depth Charger’s frontman Kevin Laws has uploaded several alt rock covers on the band’s YouTube page, including a cover of “Fake Plastic Trees.” This new track from Depth Charger is accompanied by a locally produced animated video, which features a ragged-looking duck who chainsmokes on a loop through the entire song. In a… charming way? Anyway, for some emotionally charged rock in your life, check out this single from the small-town Washington group.
“Permanent Hermit” - Ghost Frog (Portland, OR)
Portland’s doom punk rockers Ghost Frog dropped this synthy single in early August. It’s got the crunchy, self-produced sound that’s a staple of the punk genre, along with chant-along lyrics and thrashable blast beats. While it’s short and to-the-point, the track manages to play around with multiple sounds in its short runtime, including some eerie electronics in the back end that give the single complexity. For those looking for a summer single that you could easily add to a Halloween playlist, Ghost Frog’s got what you’re looking for here.
“Codependent” - Chendra (Portland, OR)
Portland solo artist Chendra has a stripped-down sound that emphasizes her soulful and breathy vocals. This title track off her newly released full-length album is a pleasant introduction to the simple chord progressions and poppy percussion that make up much of Chendra’s sound. The lo-fi production allows listeners to connect deeply to her dynamic and honest singing performances. “Codependent” starts simple and then builds into an anthem before simmering back down to its gasping conclusion.
“There’s Something Here” - Monogroove (Crescent City, CA)
Northern California rock ‘n’ roll band Monogroove deals in singles that sound like they were plucked right out of the classic rock era of the 1960s and 70s. This is the title track off the group’s album released in June via Redwood Records and it’s easy to see why this track gets the honor. “There’s Something Here” features crooner era pop and bluesy guitar solos, with Beach Boys-style singalong choruses that will have you “Bah-bopping” along with this distinctly summer-y single.
“Psalm 23” - Lance Eads (Depoe Bay, OR)
We LOVE when we can shout out the many talented artists in Oregon’s smaller towns. This beautiful ukulele track shows exactly why. Performed as an ode to its titular piece of scripture, this simple plucking number is one that celebrates the joys of being loved. This song is paired here with a complimentary video of coastal scenery, which makes for a uniquely Oregonian listening experience. There’s plenty of art to be enjoyed outside of Oregon’s urban centers, even in quaint little Depoe Bay.
“Come Follow Me” - Jame Doe (Portland, OR)
We already highlighted this track on our Spring 2020 Release Roundup, but it bears re-sharing for a couple of reasons: 1) Portland power pop act Jame Doe has been having a blast splashing around the Portland scene for the past year, growing from a new act last January to a seasoned local talent. 2) The band collaborated with SimTV to create this hilarious and unique music video for “Come Follow Me.” Even if this whacky video isn’t your thing, the trancey vocals and danceable beats in this track will have your head bobbing along with the virtual dancers. If you want a longer profile of Jame Doe’s music, check out this article from last year about the group’s first tour.
“Where Can I Turn” - Fruition (Portland, OR)
Portland’s rootsy folk rock and indie rock project, Fruition, has generated a lot of buzz the past few years, even touring around the country. The group released a new album this year called Broken At The Break Of Day, released as an accompaniment to last year’s Wild As The Night. While there are lots of different folksy sounds blended together on this album, “Where Can I Turn” is one of the most straightforward and upbeat tracks. It’s got Fruition’s signature harmonies and americana influences, though there’s some bluesy rock and jazzy piano to vibe along with, too.
“Burn the Bridge” by Wild Ire (Salem, OR)
Salem’s Wild Ire released their third full-length album, Weirdo, on July 31, a follow-up to last year’s Misery Machine. The rock group, known for their up-tempo progressive sound and genre experimentation, hit the recording studio this year after returning from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) expo in Anaheim, California. The group’s highlighted track off the new album, “Burn the Bridge,” is about severing ties with someone. It starts with a slow, acoustic intro that builds to a boom and sets up a crescendo in each verse. While there’s chuggy bass and guitar riffs, this song doesn’t feel heavy with its soaring vocals and harmonizing layers.
To read more about Wild Ire's performance at NAMM, as well as a deep dive into the group's sound and influences, check out our story from earlier this year.
“Go Go” by Jeshua Marshall (Bend, OR)
A jazzy number featuring trumpets and electric organ, this new single from Jeshua Marshall will have your foot tapping. Marshall, frontman of Bend jazz-funk band Guardian of the Underdog, is releasing his first new music as a solo venture this summer. “Go Go” is a prime example of Marshall’s bluesy vocals and thumping choruses. It doesn’t take long for you to get a sense of the lyrics and catchy hooks, so even the first listen can get you singing along.
“Killingsworth” by Scott Wray (Portland, OR)
While this isn’t exactly a new single, Portland’s Scott Wray released teasers for an upcoming album back in February and the chance to highlight this work was just too good to pass up. “Killingsworth” showcases Wray’s retro pop style, which ranges from R&B influences to smooth electronic jazz. We anxiously await the full album, “Tropic of Aries,” but these teasers are enough at least to hold us over.
“DreadRinger” by SkullMaster (Portland, OR)
Fans of thrash and fast-paced heavy metal will enjoy headbanging along with Portland’s newest brutal band, SkullMaster. The group’s debut LP, VoidWalker, was released this month, and this track showcases the highly technical and in-your-face rawness of their music. For those looking for some music with a higher BPM, this is for you.
“Waking to the Dream” by Hamiid Shibata Bennett (Milwaukie, OR)
For those who feel like COVID took their spring away, you can check out Hamid Shibata Bennett’s full-length album, “The Wild Blue,” which came out in late June. Some tracks have a distinctly spring-like vibe, like “Waking to the Dream,” which showcases Bennett’s folksy guitar style and earnest vocal performances. Bennett is a multi-instrumentalist, who did all the recording and mixing on his own. For those wanting an honest-to-goodness local listening experience, this is worth checking out.
Not Local, Still Cool:
“Djinn” by Antibody Pirates (July 3, 2020)
This trancey electronic jam features poppy vocals and a mesmerizing music video. Produced via Evil Bubble Productions out of New York, this debut single from Antibody Pirates should get everyone excited for what’s next for the group. They’ve set the bar pretty high with this track, perfect for chillwave-style vibing or a bumping party playlist.
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