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May 1st, 2013 12:01 am WW Staff | Cover Story

Best New Band 2013

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

IMAGE: Shannon Wolf

7/8. (tie) Genders

  • 34 POINTS
  • Formed: 2012.
  • Sounds like: Sipping a beer through sandy teeth after a partly cloudy afternoon at the beach.

Midway through a conversation among the members of Genders, guitarist Stephen Leisy leans over the table to ask drummer Katherine Paul if she’s gotten her tattoo yet. She says no, but she’s planning to soon. The four bandmates recently decided to get matching ink upon returning home from a brief West Coast tour. Leisy, singer-guitarist Maggie Morris and bassist Matthew Hall all pull back various parts of their shirts to reveal their new body art: a wolf similar to the one on the cover of the group’s newly released 7-inch.

It’s a symbol of camaraderie among musicians who, in the past, have had trouble keeping bands together. Unlike Youth—Morris, Leisy and Hall’s previous outfit, which broke up just after placing fifth in last year’s Best New Band poll—Genders shows promising signs of longevity. Along with carrying equal creative weight in the songwriting, the members continually toss around jokes, speak to each other in weird voices, and talk often about sex.

Musically, this year has been off to a promising start. During its first-ever tour in March, the band opened for legendary indie-rockers Built to Spill at the Treefort Music Festival in Boise. The night of the performance, Morris twice wept out of excitement and subsequently gave herself whiplash during a rowdy, late-night set by Portland’s Wooden Indian Burial Ground. “I never wanted that day to end,” she says.

Steadily attracting buzz for its live shows and gaining momentum as a fully formed band, the quartet is currently recording its first full-length album. Between loosely flowing electric-guitar riffs and Morris’ sweetly candid vocals, Genders flirts with a washy surf-rock sound. On newer songs, such as “Oakland,” however, the music takes a grittier and more versatile form via darker melodies, random bursts of energy and the band members’ unshakable chemistry.

“All of us have been in other bands that just haven’t worked out,” Hall says. “[Genders is] the first band that has really worked.” EMILEE BOOHER.


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