Portland’s own

    Do you remember 1995? It was a great year for local music. At the front of local music lovers’ minds were bands like Hitting Birth, Swoon 23, Pond, who released The Practice of Joy Before Death that year, and The Dandy Warhols, who had just released Dandys Rule OK?. Meanwhile, Hitting Birth’s album Thirst of the Fast Three Years was weaving its tribal/industrial/hippie self into the subconscious of local music fans.

    A lot has changed since then. Clinton and Monica no longer dominate the national headlines and we have international death tolls to think about. The once indomitable Pond broke up and turned into Audio Learning Center for Chris Brady (the singer/bassist), a solo project for Charlie (the guitarist) and who-knows-what for the drummer.

    The Dandy Warhols have stayed together, although they’ve gone through some ups and downs, including some lineup changes, signing to Capitol Records, being featured in Dig!, a documentary about them and their relationship with Brian Jonestown Massacre, and more recently, their sixth and latest album, Odditorium or Warlords of Mars, which garnered mostly mixed reviews. Of course, the album isn’t that bad; it just didn’t reach some of the temperamental reviewers around the country the way they wanted it to.

    Peter Holmstrom is the guitarist for The Dandy Warhols, and he’s got a new band, too, which is technically a side-project, but that doesn’t mean it’s a vanity project to be discarded. The band is called The Sun The Sea, and they sound like you might expect them to. This is another band that for some reason is really hard to find any information on. We can only assume that Peter Holmstrom is singing the songs, since his name is featured in the band’s subtitle (“featuring Peter Holmstrom of The Dandy Warhols"). It’s guitar-driven, kinda dreamy, spacey stoner rock. Judging by the songs on their MySpace page, they’re reminiscent of a 1995-era Dandy Warhols, only much more chilled out. Intensely chilled out. It’s a four-man band featuring guitars, bass, drums and keyboards (at least on the recordings), so it will be interesting to see how they interpret the dense recordings for a live show.

    Hitting Birth frontman Daniel Riddle formed the first lineup of the melodic, psychedelically influenced King Black Acid in 1995. You might be familiar with them from their frequent local shows or their voluminous work on The Mothman Prophecies film soundtrack. In 2005, two fundamental members of King Black Acid, Sarah Mayfield and Sean Ferrell, went on to form Empire Expand, a two-piece ambient rock band, with Sarah providing lead vocals. It’s hard to find much information about this band, and official Vanguard research hasn’t turned up a website or even a MySpace page. Still, the connection to a local staple such as King Black Acid and its multifaceted musical lineage bodes well for this band and they ought to provide an interesting show. Musically, you can expect a laptop, keyboards and guitar, and who knows what else? This is a band of mystery (!) whose performance will surely provide some answers.

    In 1998, Sunset Valley formed and quickly became a Northwest favorite. Their frontman, singer/guitarist Herman Jolly, is back with a new band called Lake Society. They play pretty classic power pop in the tradition of The Beatles, The Posies, Cheap Trick, and, oddly enough, Sunset Valley. They’re a traditional rock trio, featuring a singing guitarist, bass, and drums. It’s really hard not to like this kind of music. It’s stripped-down yet still packs a wallop, melodic without being saccharine, and it maintains the tradition of classic rock and roll yet remains relevant today.

    Finally, there’s Swoon 23, the Seattle band that was Hitting Birth’s label mates on Tim Kerr Records. Former Swoon 23 singer Megan Pickerel now joins forces with Ed Wierda to form the band Hazelwood Motel. They make really great music. It’s sparse and haunting, calling to mind the work of Beth Gibbons and Rustin’ Man, or The Velvet Underground with Nico. If you are touched by those artists, then you will love this music, too. Musically, we hear guitar, bass, organ and both male and female vocals. It’s perfect for late-night ponderings of relationships over drinks.


Hazelwood Motel, Empire Expand, Lake Society, and The Sun The Sea play Thursday, Nov. 2 at Dante’s at 8:30 p.m., $5.