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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: Natasha Fagan

5. The We Shared Milk

  • 42 POINTS
  • Formed: 2010.
  • Sounds like: A hazy tromp through poppy, psychedelic fields of mixed emotions.

Making a good first impression is not a high priority for the We Shared Milk. The photograph at the top of the group’s Facebook page is not a well-manicured press shot. Instead, it features a candid image of frontman Boone Howard on the street, spewing a stream of cherry-red liquid out of his mouth and onto the pavement.

“The backstage food at Treefort Fest in Boise had borscht and carrot smoothies,” Howard explains. “We thought it would be funny to puke bright colors for a promo.”

It’s telling of a band that refers to its music as “moron rock.” Not to say the quartet—three parts Alaskan, one part native Oregonian—dumbs down its woozy brand of psych pop. It just prefers to keep things simple. On Lame Sunset, the band’s second album in less than seven months, the group took a more direct approach with its songwriting than last year’s History of Voyager and Legend Tripping. 

“I focused on not thinking about it,” Howard says. “I tried to be relatable and simple in the lyrics—something different than I usually do, which is stuff that sounds nice together but doesn’t necessarily convey what I’m talking about. It’s a little more blunt.”

The album’s 10 songs don’t punch the listener in the gut but casually flow, interweaving remnants of the group’s previous work with a hazy shade of melancholia. Howard’s woolly, distorted guitar glints and glides above drummer Eric Ambrosius and bassist Travis Leipzig’s syncopated rhythms, while multi-instrumentalist Henry Gibson lays down a mix of keyboards that anchors the band’s dazed crawl. 

For a band that self-releases its albums, the We Shared Milk is big on collaboration: History of Voyager featured production from 10 different Portland artists, and it recently recorded a collaborative single and went on tour with its friends in And And And, the Best New Band of 2010. 

“I think we vibe with those guys really well,” mutters Howard. “I guess we’re all just a bunch of party boys.” As the streets of Boise are already well aware. BRANDON WIDDER.


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