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February 2010

The band Botanist is four Portland guys just palling around, playing around town for themselves and their faithful fan base (mostly friends and family). They don’t necessarily aspire to become indie-rock gods, but they do want to make sure they play quality music that Portland will have a good time listening to.

Some guys spend their bro time playing poker, some go to strip clubs, but the Botanist bros express their man love through song. Who needs a man cave when you can jam on stage in front of enthusiastic crowds cheering your name? Well, maybe no one is cheering their name yet, but people will be after they listen to Botanist’s self-titled first record.

If I had just one word to describe Botanist it would be: pensive. I literally fell into a trance-like state after hearing a couple of songs, and I felt a peace and relaxation come over my body. Most bands wouldn’t like to hear that their music puts you to sleep, but Botanist creates such a beautiful sound that I felt myself drifting away to dream land. The song “Love to Last” has a Jack Johnson feel, and I felt I was lying in the shade in a hammock on some Caribbean beach. “Motor” and “Wander” have that western feel similar to The Killers and Coldplay. The song that could easily become their first hit single is the upbeat and catchy “Rifles Shoot Hearts.”

Some bands need to throw in a heavy amount of fancy electronics to cover up the fact that the band’s singer is just mediocre, but not Botanist. Singer Grant Harold's sweet melodic voice stands alone, and an acoustic guitar, keyboards, drums and bass are all the band needs to create some sweet harmony. I see a bright future for these guys, and I look forward to seeing what they can bring to their sound and the stage. Look for Botanist shows around town in the following months.

- Deanna Uutela

Eluvium Releases New Video from Forthcoming Album "Similes"

Portland composer and musician Eluvium, also known as Mathew Cooper, has unveiled a new video directed by Matt McCormick for the tune "The Motion Makes Me Last." The video seamlessly edits together shots from the taller examples of Portland's architecture, as they float by in a way that mysteriously matches the track.

The song will be featured on the upcoming album Similes, to be released February 23rd on Temporary Residence. I would describe what I've heard from Eluvium's previous work as both ambient and minimalist, specifically with regard to the piano work, which I've very much enjoyed.

The new song is beautiful and will hopefully be consistent with the new album. It has the opportunity to appeal to a larger spectrum of listeners, while still remaining close to the dreamy and atmospheric roots that Cooper has been perfecting over his four previous albums.

Check the video out and if you like what you hear, you can snag the song as a free download from Pitchfork.

- Joel Sommer


Mississippi Studios Raises Money for Haiti While Giving Pat Robertson the Finger

Pat Robertson is an insensitive asshole. I mean, really, who blames the devastating Haiti earthquake on voodoo or says they had it coming because they “sold their souls to the devil.” Because of Mr. Roberson’s batshit crazy response to the catastrophe, Mississippi Studios is hosting a Haiti Benefit appropriately entitled, “Hell to Pay – Fuck Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh.”

And what better way to donate money than a night full of incredible local music, including the fantastic avant-garde popsters Hosannas (formerly Church) and psychedelic folksters Blue Giant and The Minus 5. Add playing “Pin the Shit on Pat’s Face,” in the front half of the venue, and you’ve got yourself a real benefit!

Doors at 7 pm, show at 8. Tickets cost $15 in advance or $15-$50 at the door (sliding scale). All proceeds go to Mercy Corps

-Katrina Nattress


Band of the Month Nominee Spotlight: Echo Helstrom


Classically trained five-strong group Echo Helstrom is rising into the spotlight of Portland’s eclectic center. This orchestral-driven ensemble is backed by a variety of stringed and melodic instruments, including upright bass, violin and various horns, creating an energy that builds an emotion deeply rooted in a place most musicians never quite reach. Each song seems to unveil a truth that is earnestly stated and summed up from its rising beginning to climactic end.

With lyrics thought to be Bob Dylan-esque, the band's unusual name was actually taken from one of Dylan’s early girlfriends. While front man Ross Seligman holds an aura similar in sound and passion to that of Coldplay’s Chris Martin, he retains a uniqueness found easily relatable, yet peculiarly original. All the while, Seligman sings with spirit in a clear and resonating voice that transcends most pop or emotionally driven artists of similar vocal orientation.

Building off of the rising commercial and ever-spreading success of their full-length album The Veil, Echo Helstrom is gearing up to release the five-song EP Paper Airplane on Saturday, February 13th at the Aladdin Theatre.

Co-headlining the album release will be jazz-pop solo artist Jake Oken-Berg, who will be releasing his own new album Out the Door.

Doors are at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Get your tickets in advance for $10 and go support the emotional vibrato of Portland’s newest rising act, Echo Helstrom.

- Michael Miller


The Ascetic Junkies Free February Happy Hour Residency at the Laurelthirst


Havin' a hard time making it through Wednesdays? Then the last bastion of bluegrass stompin', country callin', folky strummin', and poppy shoutin' is offering you a remedy.

Yes, ladies and gents, the LaurelThrist Public House is allowing the gal and guys of The Ascetic Junkies to set up shop every Wednesday evening in the month of February for a few rounds of happy drinks for happy hour and a happy time.

But these kids don't play alone, they've brought friends! Each week they’re collaborating with a new artist displaying honeyed originals, twangy, traditional bluegrass, ramblin' covers, and maybe even a testin' the pluckiness of new some material.

The Junkies are joined this Wednesday, February 10th by Sam Cooper of Horse Feathers, with guests The Glyptodons on February 17th, and Leigh Marble and Ezra Carey on February 24th to finish out the month.

These sessions guarantee two hours (6 to 8 p.m.) of dosey-do switching of partners, instruments and banter. And this'll all come to you for free. (Note: The concert is free, not the booze.)

And if that's not enough to get ya in the door, singer/glockenspieler Kali Giaritta is feeling generous and giving away the Junkies' latest EP Don’t Wait for the Rescue Squad on Bandcamp. “These songs are like gifts to friends, so we felt silly charging for them. Enjoy!” says Kali.

Have happy music and happy friends at 6 p.m. every Wednesday in February with the Junkies at the LaurelThirst.

- Chris Young


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