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May 9th, 2012 12:01 am WW Staff | Cover Story

Best New Band 2012

10 local acts that Portland’s music insiders think you should hear.


IMAGE: Dominoe Farris

7. Blouse

  • 37 Points
  • Formed: 2010.
  • Sounds like: A VHS cassette of Miami Vice episodes covered in a sticky glaze of spilled pink lemonade. 

People keep thinking Blouse was in the movie Drive. Instead, the band has been driving.

One year after playing its first show as an opener for Starfucker at Doug Fir Lounge, art-schoolmates Charlie Hilton and Patrick Adams are on their inaugural national tour. This winter, buoyed by a 7-inch on Seattle’s Sub Pop label and a self-titled full-length on Captured Tracks, Blouse traveled Europe. 

Along with warhorse Glass Candy, Blouse is Portland’s contribution to a global resurgence of sexy, breathy synth-laden dance pop—a tide of pining for the muted side of New Wave and its bruised Casios. The only drawback to this serendipity is everyone assuming they know Ryan Gosling.

Even the director of Blouse’s Los Angeles studio-session videos made that mistake. “He was like, ‘So you guys were part of that Drive soundtrack, right?’” Adams recalls. “He was just certain. I had to let him down.”

The band has dialed knowingly into the center of the 1980s quantum leap—“I was in the future yesterday,” Hilton breathes on “Time Travel,” “and now I’m in the past”—but they aren’t sure how deep that wormhole goes. 

“For whatever reason,” Hilton says, “people are kind of drawn to minimal electronic music with female vocals right now. Maybe it’s just because we’re in that world, [so] we think there’s a lot of that going on. It’s hard to tell how big a movement really is.” She laughs. “There’s so many movements going on at once.”

So Blouse keeps moving—soundtracked by a road-trip iPod that only shuffles songs within alphabetical letter.

“We try to pick the right music for the landscape,” Hilton says.

“We listened to a bunch of Eno driving through Montana,” Adams adds. 

Hilton and Adams don’t need to pick a soundtrack for the night they drive back into Portland. They already recorded it. AARON MESH.

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