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February 15th, 2012 CASEY JARMAN | Album Reviews
 

Album Review: Let it Rain

Portland artists cover classic Portland songs for PDX Pop Now!

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[PORTLAND MUSIC] Why shouldn’t the navel-gazingest city in the country have a compilation of its current bands covering important bands from its past? We’ve got our own TV show, after all. 

Rudeness aside—don’t take the critique too seriously; I run a local music blog—Let it Rain actually serves as the handiest primer on Portland’s musical past since those I-5 Killers compilations of the early ’90s. While the new comp, a fundraiser for PDX Pop Now! pasted together by PPN! and the Oregon Historical Society, leans heavily toward the doom-rock of Portland’s heyday, it also enlists a pretty nice cross-section of the contemporary scene’s talent, from singer-songwriter Kyle Morton (Typhoon) to disco big band Ancient Heat, to serve as translators. 

While the obvious choices here are nice—Red Fang doing the Wipers’ “Over the Edge”; Portland Cello Project covering Elliott Smith; the Angry Orts’ Heart-esque rendition of Quarterflash’s “Harden My Heart”—the curveballs are where the real fun is at. Two odes to Fred Cole bands stand out: Kelli Schaefer shows her tough side (and earns some scene cred) by rocking the Lollipop Shoppe’s “Mr. Madison Avenue” while Grouper’s fuzzed-out, apocalyptic and pretty much unidentifiable take on Dead Moon’s “Demona” is perhaps the album’s most striking song.


Grouper covers Dead Moon's "Demona"

There are more recent cuts, too: Alan Singley’s Arrow of Light does a jazzy version of Quasi’s “It’s Hard to Turn Me On” while Nick Jaina does his best Danny Seim impression on his acoustic version of Menomena’s “Rotten Hell.” Both find less-than-obvious melodies to focus on and celebrate.

As a record of a time and place that seems to always be longing for the same place in another time, Let it Rain performs its task more than admirably, and the comp makes a nice closing chapter for the Oregon Historical Society’s Oregon Rocks! exhibit. And, frankly, I’m stoked that no one did “Louie, Louie,” which is kind of a stupid song.


SEE IT: Kelli Schaefer, Napalm Beach and Ancient Heat play the Let it Rain release show Sunday, Feb. 19, at the Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Ave. 6 pm. $10 with CD. All ages.

 
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