Check it! Portland bands you need to know

Indie Pop

Point Juncture, WAThe epitome of a Portland band, PJ WA produce calm indie rock with layered guitars a la Built to Spill, elegant vocals and transcendent, existential lyrics. Ah, hipsters. Next show: April 26, Doug Fir Lounge, 9 p.m., $8

Boy Eats Drum MachineBoy Eats Drum Machine is fun, energetic and hearty pop with quirky beats and a hint of electro. Plus, former Vanguard arts writer Peter Swenson drums for the band, so how can we not like ’em?Next show: May 11, Berbati’s, 8 p.m., $5

The Shaky HandsQuick guitars and simplicity epitomize this band, making songs like “Little Word” sound like they’re straight from The Arcade Fire. Meanwhile, southern influences permeate in songs such as “Loosen Up” and “I’m Alive.”

Norfolk & WesternA mix of southern Americana and the best British pop straight out of Belle and Sebastian, Norfolk is exactly what Portland indie rock should be: relaxed, lyrically intelligent and gorgeously complex.Next show: May 3, Mississippi Studios, 8 p.m., $10-$12

Tu Fawning31Knots front man Joe Haege teams up with Portland musician Corrina Repp to make very odd, overtly melodramatic, operatic and thematic dark pop. It’s creepy, but somehow it still draws you in, as if you are a teen in a horror movie walking into a dark alley.Next show: May 17, Rotture, 8 p.m., $7

Swim Swam SwumThey would be the musical lovechild of Stars of Track and Field and Built to Spill. But they’re more accessible than Stars of Track and Field, and much more excitable.Next show: May 30, Twilight Cafe and Bar, 8 p.m., FREE

Acoustic / Solo

Alan Singley & Pants MachineAt times he’s a little cutesy, at times he’s a little Tom Petty. Most of the time, however, he just sounds like a more talented–and just as high–version of Brian Wilson.Next show: April 27, Exit Only, 8 p.m., donations

Horse FeathersFeeling down and lonely, yearning for some kind of certainty? Horse Feathers is your band. They’re soothing, quiet indie folk that will always cheer you down when you’re at your lowest, without a friend to sing to you.

LackthereofBesides drumming for indie-weirdos Menomena, Danny Seim also makes quiet, contemplative folk under the moniker Lackthereof. His recent album, My Haunted, is an exercise in extremely sad, but excellent songwriting. Here’s hoping his next release, Your Anchor (due out in July on Barsuk Records), will see Seim continue down his moody path.

Laura GibsonLike a more talented, less annoying version of Regina Spektor, Gibson is accessible and emotive. She has a soft, sultry voice, and her songs are sweet in demeanor, but often hold a subtle regret.Next show: May 3, The Wonder Ballroom, 8 p.m., $20


Dat’rAn excitable duo that was birthed from another great Portland band, the Binary Dolls, Dat’r’s quick, danceable, heart-racing electronic beats are the cocaine of the music world and, as such, should be listened to with great precaution. Next show: May 9, Dante’s, 9 p.m., $7

CopyAs one Vanguard writer put it, “Marius Libman’s music sounds like something that might come out of a Gameboy after two or three hits of ecstasy.” ‘Nuff said.

TalkdemonicCalm and contemplative, Talkdemonic is a mix of laptop beats and classical viola, and is likely to have gotten the most press out of any other band on this list.

StarfuckerYou have to be pretty ballsy to name your band Starfucker. Luckily, musical madman Josh Hodges lives up to the title with his groove-tastic electronic pop.

Metal / Heavy Shit

Black ElkWith a new drummer in tow (ex-Icarus Line slammer Jeff Watson) and their patented brand of heavy noise locked and loaded for danger, Portland’s best purveyors of scary, angular rock aren’t to be missed.Next show: May 4, Rotture, 9 p.m., $5

DiestoDiesto are some heavy shit. Think the pummel ‘n’ dirge of the early Amphetamine Reptile roster mixed with a bearded dude punching you in the face. And then head banging. Lots of head banging.Next show: May 7, Ash Street Saloon, 10 p.m., $5

MiddianThis recently sued doom-trio has the corner on the U.S. market of slooooow, slow molten sludge. Loud ‘n’ heavy doesn’t always win the race–but Middian are miles ahead of their peers.

TreesLike a creaking, rotting Evergreen falling in the forest and crushing a hiker, Portland’s doom-titans Trees Will. Be. Heard. And really loudly. Their new album, Lights Bane, is an exercise in unrelenting terror, with screeching, blackened vocals scaling the monoliths of way-tuned-down riffs. Shiver my fucking timbers.Next show: May 7, Someday Lounge, 9:30 p.m., $7


Omega WattsA thoughtful rapper and producer, Watts has some reggae influence, is great live and produces smooth, intricate beats.Next show: The Fix, every Thursday, Someday Lounge, 9 p.m., FREE

SandpeopleOne of our town’s best indie-rap crews, Sandpeople excel both lyrically and in terms of straight-up songwriting. If you like the new class of “underground” hip-hop (Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, etc.), Sandpeople are right up your alley.Next Show: May 31, Berbati’s Pan, 8 p.m., $10

SleepOne of the best solo artists coming out of the massive Oldominion crew (related artists include Seattle’s Grayskul and The Saturday Knights), Sleep has yet to make a huge impact on the national scene-but his rhymes and flow are solid.

Cool NutzPortland’s O.G. hip-hop godfather, Cool Nutz’s West Coast rap is honestly fairly generic, but he’s been holding it down for PDX for a long time, which is … great.Next show: May 2, The Ohm, at night, FREE