Peering into the stocking

Wax Tablet
By NICHOLAS SCHROEDER  |  December 26, 2013


>> In this time of thankfulness for what’s behind us and wishcasting for the months ahead, we thought twice of the major strides made in 2013 by the Dirigimus Cooperative, the avant-garde punk and noise label based in Portland. While they’re pretty comfortably under most of the city’s radars, the outlet was responsible for (or associated with) some of our most favorite releases this past year, including Sterling Black’s scorching guitar-blaster Sucker; Living for Dead Labor, Conjjjecture’s decisively original confab of contemporary subgenres; and Gimme Goldar’s three wonderful EPs of histrionic sound violence. They even digitally re-issued a record by She-Level, a mathy jazz-spasm from 2001 which includes current Coalsack in Crux-er Leif Sherman Curtis. We can only hope for more of the same in 2014, as some of the label’s sampler records hint at forthcoming releases by the likes of noirish post-punk group Restless Shades and the kinetic and beat-heavy electronica of Subterfuge. Truly the shapelessness of punk to come. |

>> Of the other local darlings making music outside the mainstream, word is we can expect new LPs from the post-punk spirit-lifters Endless Jags and the energetic, neo-garage rock of the RattleSnakes, as well as a first proper release from Fur, a no-frills offshoot by the latter’s Brian and Tara Cohen.

>> And then there’s the issue of where to play. It all happened rather quietly, but there was a major reshuffling of city music venues this year. Port City Music Hall and Empire both changed hands, youth concert hall Studio250 was shut down for various reasons, Mathew’s has reportedly stopped booking, SPACE Gallery changed event programmers (which may foreshadow an aesthetic difference yet to come), and the Big Easy straight up closed. In some respects the local music scene is more vibrant than ever, but amid the bright lights surrounding the city’s top billers, we should make sure there isn’t too great a squeeze near the bottom. In a perfect city, there should be plenty of places for novices, experimentalists, noisemongers, side projects, tantrum-rockers, and alter egos to play, too.

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