Boy Eats Drum Machine

Boy Eats Drum Machine has shed some weight recently. Since January, band founder Jon Ragel has been operating both the recorded and live versions of Boy Eats Drum Machine by himself, reshaping the band’s music from glitchy rock experiments into glitchy dance-pop explosions. Already three albums into BEDM’s career, this seems a radical departure for Ragel, but really it’s a refocusing of the hyperactive energy that has gained the band such notoriety in Portland-and has poised Ragel on the edge of becoming a major West Coast presence. The Vanguard recently talked with Ragel about his writing process, his upcoming album and what it means to straddle the line between “rocker” and “DJ.”

County Lines

Bladen County is located on the North Carolina seaboard. It has a population of less than 40,000 and a rapidly declining industrial sector, and were it not for Matt Brown and his fledgling Bladen County Records, the region would almost certainly have remained an obscurity west of the Mississippi.

Press Play – Album Reviews

Not quite pop, not quite metal, From First to Last can best be defined as … “petal”? These Warped Tour acolytes stick to their formula on this album, their fifth full-length effort and the first for the titanic Suretone Records.

Legend of the dusty road

Michael Dean Damron does nothing in moderation. Whether drinking, talking politics or growling vocals over the top of his band’s blistering country rock anthems, Damron seems dead set on proving that he has no choice but to live the larger-than-life ideal of a man of the road.

The good book of Church

Despite changes of the past couple years, Portlanders still seem to prefer their indie rock as “big” as possible. With local folk orchestras stretching their memberships to the breaking point, and Craigslist ads appearing daily to inquire about the availability of a competent oboist, it seems that texture has grown into a paramount concern for emerging artists.

(Not yet) big in Japan

For the ragged musicians of Portland’s Southern Belle, Tokyo is not just a destination–it’s a consummate manifestation of the group’s giddy ambitions.

Menomena – Portland champions of weird, loopy indie rock

Menomena is a curiosity. Their name comes from an episode of The Muppets … maybe. They record their music with a computer program written by their guitarist. They’ve written almost as much copy for the Willamette Week’s music blog as the paper’s staff, and they’ve been conspicuously absent from their most recent videos due to “collective ugliness.”

Rough and ready

There is a type of musical fandom, found most frequently in (male) college dorm rooms, that prizes technical complexity beyond all other qualifiers in determining whether or not a band is worthy of attention.

Eat your soul with heavy metal

Heavy metal isn’t just rock music’s dirty cousin anymore. It’s a movement of its own. Metal is a prime example of a sub-genre spinning off from the larger stylistic umbrella of “rock,” only to grow monumentally in its years of exiled obscurity. At present there are likely more heads banged per capita than in any other time in our nation’s history.

On galloping wings

A year ago, Horse Feathers were nominated for a Plug award in the category of best Americana album. Despite losing the day to their equine brethren Band of Horses, the nomination still stood as a testament to the abilities of a band whose momentum has been building consistently since 2004.

Nintendo dancing

Marius Libman’s music sounds like something that might come out of a Gameboy after two or three hits of ecstasy. It’s precise, energetic and replete with howling electronic bleeps that build off one another into an aggressive synthetic cacophony. For the past three years, Libman has been performing under the moniker “Copy” and happily inducing slackers to dance with sugar-coated re-imaginings of ’80s-style electronica.