Updated: Feb 18
No matter what winter storms get thrown at us or how much a global pandemic tries to stifle our art, there will always be people working hard to put out some great local music in Oregon. Just look, there are a ton of new releases! Typhoon has a whole new album out, The Shivas released a new single, and we found a boatload of local artists that shouldn’t be missed. For those looking to spice up Valentine's week, there is some romance sprinkled throughout this playlist. But for those looking to avoid the love-song-soaked weekend, there are plenty of non-romantic tracks to check out, too. Just below, we have a handy playlist of the songs featured in this article so you can check out most of the artists directly from here. We've also included our first-ever "Catch Up" section, with some tracks from back in the fall that you may have missed out on.
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“Isolation” by Silvius
Released: February 7, 2021
Record Label: Tyberius Records
Despite how timely of a track “Isolation” seems to be in times of COVID, it was actually written several years prior to the current lockdown. Even still, the band leaned into the same kinds of feelings that we can all appreciate during a pandemic. Formerly a softer alt-rock band called Goodbye Silence that was comprised of the same members, Silvius is a new progressive metal project based out of Salem and “Isolation” is the group’s first release. The single starts with melodic guitar plucking that ushers us toward light percussion and builds to heavy alternative rock verses and choruses. During the second verse, the instrumentals get even heavier, with double-kick-pedal drums and a noticeably fuzzy guitar that provides weight. Things only get bigger and heavier for the breakdown, which features vocal growling and a brief, chugging solo before it all dies back down into the same melodic guitar that kicked it off: a cycle of isolation that even the song can’t shake. Find the song here.
“Wasted” by Slow Corpse
Album: Bite Your Tongue
Release Date: January 29, 2021
Notable mention: “Gimme Your Love”
Don't let the death metal makeup or brutal band name fool you, Slow Corpse is an Ashland-based dream-pop band that released a new album Bite Your Tongue on January 29. While the whole album is a banger, one song stands out in particular. “Wasted” is the track to get you through these long winter nights. With its slow, ethereal build into an incredible post-hardcore pop-punk screaming chorus, this song is pure hype all the way until the end. We have had this song on repeat for what feels like a week now. The music video for "Wasted" came out in November to preview the album release, and it is just incredible. The goth makeup is spot on and the imagery they create is wild and expressive.
“Canary Islands” by Goth Babe
Release Date: January 28, 2021
Last month, from an undisclosed location in the mountains of Washington, indie-pop band Goth Babe released their new single “Canary Islands”. It is such an upbeat song that you might even forget you’ve been in your house for a year. With a playful, airy backtrack and a simple yet popping bass line, this song fits in with any cheerful playlist. You can sum up how we feel about this song with lyrics taken directly from the track: “You know that this is the way to my heart”.
“Buy You That Cone” by Schaus
Release Date: January 22, 2021
Schaus, a Portland-based electronic pop project, just put out a new single and accompanying music video called “Buy You That Cone”. It’s a bright, energetic song that feels like it plays into the child-like love of ice cream, while not being childish. Light electronic keys start off the track, followed by slightly distorted breathy vocals. Throughout, the song’s changes keep it moving in an interesting and entertaining way. The music video (above) is equally enjoyable, albeit quite odd. The faces on the cone bring back memories of “Thumb Wars” and other superimposed “face on a thumb” movies. It is simple, fun, and effective at keeping your attention.
“Empire Builder” by Typhoon
Album: Sympathetic Magic
Release Date: January 22, 2021
Notable mention: “Room Within the Room”
Absolute gold: That is how this writer would describe Typhoon’s new album Sympathetic Magic. If you have been living under a rock and don’t know who Typhoon is, let us fill you in. Typhoon is a Portland-based indie folk-rock band that originally hails from Salem. They've had a rise that is rarely seen in the indie music world. In just a few years, they went from playing coffee shops like Salem’s Ike Box, to playing live on David Letterman. They are known for having a ton of people in the band (currently around 10 people) and breathy, lyrically driven masterpieces. With all that said, this entire album lives up to the hype they have cultivated. Its first track, “Empire Builder” is what love feels like in your ears. Like almost every song they create, the lyrical depth is only surpassed by the incredible composition of their small mob. The emotion built into the song is palpable -- if the song makes you cry, just know you are not alone.
10/10 would recommend putting this song on repeat and blasting it. Follow it up with every other song on the album.
“Force Of A Gorilla Punch” by Southwest Royal
Release Date: January 16, 2021
We head to Medford for our next single. Southwest Royal, a pop-punk band with hits like “Whatever Feeds Your Goat”, brings us back to the early 2000s when pop-punk reigned supreme. The band’s new single, “Force Of A Gorilla Punch”, is proof that the genre isn’t dead. From the opening riffs to every punchy breakdown you may feel inclined to pull out your tightest skinny jeans and mosh (while keeping the hair perfectly over your eyes). The song’s composition moves back and forth between your headphones or stereo, and holds true to the classic algorithm of pop-punk -- There’s never too many breakdowns.
“Regardless” by Christine Nguyen Feat. Justice Gbada
Release Date: January 15, 2021
Singer-songwriter Christine Nguyen has exploded onto the Portland scene in the last 2 years. Releasing her first single in 2019, Nguyen already has 2500 people listening to her on Spotify each month. Her newest single “Regardless”, which features Portland-based independent rapper Justice Gbada, came out January 15 and has already been streamed 15,000 times on Spotify. That is wild. It comes as no surprise for those who have been paying attention, though, as Nguyen by herself is a powerhouse who keeps pushing out fantastically intimate, heartfelt pop songs. Pair that with the pure skill and natural flow of Justice Gbada and you can see why “Regardless” is blowing up. The spacey, calming backtrack, which seems to have a glockenspiel or mark tree playing throughout, is delicate and contrasts perfectly with the deep bass and Gbaba’s expertly paced flow. Nguyen ties the song together with her beautiful voice that feels personal, like it’s a message just for you. You can be sure to expect a lot more from both of their careers.
“I’m Fine” by Kingsley
Release Date: January 15, 2021
Kingsley, a Portland-based R&B artist, has a new single out called “I’m Fine.” Kingsley is a bit of a hidden gem who puts out nothing but absolute fire tracks. Her voice stands out in the crowded Portland scene, with a talent that demands being heard. “I’m Fine” is an electric pop ballad that gets your energy up. The catchy hook gets your foot bouncing along to the rhythmic electronica. If you’re not moving while listening to this track then you are not paying attention. Kingsley’s lyrical timing is interesting and makes for an exciting listen all the way through to the last seconds.
“Goo Goo Muck” by The Shivas
Release Date: January 10, 2021
Portland-based pop-rock band The Shivas are at it again with their new single “Goo Goo Muck”. You may know The Shivas by their hit song “ You Make Me Wanna Die”, though their catalog boasts many hits, including their cover of “White Rabbit” originally by Jefferson Starship (which is a cover equally worth writing about). Released in January,“Goo Goo Muck” fits in with even some of their most energetic music. It feels like an homage to the 60’s raw, high energy, quintessential surf rock with just a pinch or two of 70’s psychedelia. This song is a blast.
“Holding” by Hexteria Feat. Tai Davis
Release Date: December 29, 2020
Hexteria absolutely hits it out of the park with the band’s new single, “Holding”. The Portland-based indie-alternative band released the track in late December. The song is bold: Dramatic, rushing piano mixed with sweeping plucks of what sounds like a steel guitar and cellist Tai Davis filling the song with silky, gorgeous cello. It is a song that brings chills as you listen to the haunting, drawn-out lyrical overlay paired with the crashing, weighty accompaniment. Both of these artists are remarkable and together have created something special.
“The Perfect Song” by Mo Troper
Release Date: December 25, 2020
First things first: This song absolutely could have been released in the early 2000s and would fit in seamlessly. Like a mix between Marcy Playground and Wheatus (with maybe a hint of Weezer), Portland-based indie rock band Mo Troper’s new single “The Perfect Song” is an absolutely joyous time. The band proclaims throughout that they “wrote the perfect song” and, while we will leave what is the perfect song up to the philosophers, it is a lot of fun. The song is upbeat, high energy, and reminds us of some of the greats as mentioned earlier. Also, if you have Spotify, you need to read their bio -- you will not be disappointed.
“Over the Hillside” by Pure Bathing Culture
Release Date: December 18, 2020
Notable mentions: “Seven A.M.”
Speaking of songs that could be from other eras, Portland-based dream-pop band Pure Bathing Culture’s “Over the Hillside” is an 80’s classic made in 2020. How they manage to create such an aesthetic is remarkable, and like much of the band’s new album, Hats, this track has that classic synth-pop sound from the likes of Cyndi Lauper or Depeche Mode (definitely more mellow than Depeche Mode, though). It comes close to modern vaporwave, yet is even too retro to feel like it fits into the highly stylized nature of vaporwave. All we know for sure is if you thought the 80’s could never be recreated, you were wrong.
“Happy Fucking Holidays” by STRFKR
Release Date: December 18, 2020
This song is our new favorite holiday track and will be played at every holiday party we throw from here on out. “Happy Fucking Holidays” is a new single by Portland-based indie rock band STRFKR (pronounced ‘star-fucker’) that perfectly sums up the lackluster and melancholic nature of the holiday season. Simplistic yet effective piano is layered with synth and ambient sound to build towards their playful central premise: “Happy fucking holidays to you”. The band has always had success creating simple, catchy songs that you can listen to over and over, and this song is no exception. If you are looking for a way to be festive and express your sarcastic tone about the holidays at the same time, look no further.
“London” by The Monarch Hotel
Release Date: December 11, 2020
Portland-based indie-pop duo The Monarch Hotel released their new single “London” in early December. The duo, Isaac Brickner and Stephen Metsig, have been putting out music since 2019, with hits like “Trouble”. The band has a true depth to their music, channeling tragedy, addiction, and depression into expressive art. The duo’s new track “London” makes it clear that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Portland music scene. “London” mixes modern pop beats with layered vocals that feel destined for the radio.
“Computer Lab” by Ghost Frog
Album: Astral Arcade
Release Date: December 4, 2020
Notable mention: “Agent Provocateur”
Okay, if you have never heard of Ghost Frog, they are a trip. The Portland-based band, self-described as 'paranormal stoner punk,' makes ethereal music that is expressive, quirky and raucous (in the best way). The album Astral Arcade makes a lot of noise into something beautiful. From the album art to each song, this band is here to be noticed. “Computer Lab” is a grungy prog-rock song about a computer lab. “It’s not so bad, in the computer lab” is repeated multiple times throughout punchy guitar riffs and an “error alert” sprinkled in occasionally. It really works, though. It is refreshingly light in substance which lets you soak in the rest of the song and experience it fully. The end repeats “I want to work” and we’d say that they succeeded.
“Quarantine Grapes” by Bocha
Album: Thru The GRAPE Vine
Release Date: November 27, 2020
Notable mention: “Block”
Bocha is back with a new album, Thru The GRAPE Vine, and it does not disappoint. Portland-based rapper Bocha, known for hits like “Brown Skin”, released his new album in November. “Quarantine Grapes” is a stripped-down, straightforward rap that expresses some of the questions and complications of extended quarantine, among other themes of optimism. The chorus, “I don’t know what’s next, but I’m not scared” seems to sum up the principal concept of the song: Things are uncertain, but keep your head up.
“Apple Watch” by Donte Thomas
Album: How You Like Them APPLES
Release Date: November 27, 2020
Notable mention: “Apple Fritter”
Honestly, we love all of the fruit-related album names. Donte Thomas, a Portland-based rapper, released a new album How You Like Them APPLES, and every song has apple in the title. “Apple Watch” is a fast-paced rap with an intriguing backtrack. The harp-like tone is just jarring enough to keep you focused on Thomas’ complex flow. This is a highly technical and well-executed rap.
“Freak Show” by Floating Room
Album: Tired and True
Release Date: October 30, 2020
Notable Mention: “Dancer”
Floating Room is such a good band, let’s just start with that. Portland-based indie singer-songwriter Maya Stoner released her new album, Tired and True, in October. Which, yeah, was a while ago, but we had to mention it. This album is just a treat through and through. “Freak Show”, the first song on the album, is a peppy and relaxing anthem of acceptance. Part of the chorus, “Everybody loves a freak show, they don’t like the freak, though,” is followed by calls for her to be loved right, and that she is alright. It is a perfect song for cuddling up and snuggling on cold winter’s day or lounging outside in the sun with a cool beverage.
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