Pickathon Festival started out as a much more roots, folk and bluegrass-oriented festival. As those genres were gobbled up by eager indie-whatever kids looking to break into a new style, Pickathon adapted with the change. Although bands like Nickel Creek, The Barr Brothers, Shakey Graves and Della Mae hearkened back to the festival's old style, a surprisingly rock-heavy lineup was the face of the 2014 version of Pickathon Festival. Bands like The War on Drugs, Foxygen, Mac DeMarco and Brownout/Brown Sabbath were the big draws -- but looking back at it, you couldn't really tell much of a difference in the end. The 2014 version of Pickathon was still the excellently curated, family-friendly (and even more adult friendly) affair that the 2013 Pickathon, and every year before that, was. Pickathon Festival 2014The reason for that is that in this day and age where festivals are hardly differentiated by anything except for stage names, Pickathon sets itself apart from the rest of the musical wasteland by removing its wasteful tendencies. Everything happens at Pickathon for a reason. The end result means that the random stages set up throughout Pendarvis Farm are stellar and sound issues are rarely a problem. Many of the shows are recorded and broadcast live courtesy of a horde of volunteers, which also creates a massive musical archive in the process. Beer, medical attention, phone chargers and general information are all handed out by bright-eyed and cheerful volunteers who are as excited to be there as anyone else. The devil is in the details at Pickathon, stretching from wall art in the portable bathrooms to showers set up within earshot of a stage. For one weekend a year, Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, Oregon, becomes the happiest place on Earth for a few thousand people smart enough to know one of the best festivals in the country is happening on someone's backyard. There is every reason to trek down the dusty roads to any of the stages at Pickathon, and no reason to leave.
Pickathon Festival 2014

 

"Let’s cut down this forest with a buzz saw army of guitars.” Jordan Smith, of Diarrhea Planet

Diarrhea Planet

This year, it seemed like the Pickathon lineup was for the boys and girls of rock and roll. No band epitomized that approach like a double billing of the six-piece Diarrhea Planet. The band has four guitarists all shredding a pop sensibility through the power of metal and punk, and in the grand scheme of things, their music sounds like their name -- explosive and relentless. A band of this magnitude of rock can sometimes be a bit off-putting, but a smart time slot and the jovial approach the band takes live makes it seem like you are watching your best friend's band play its first real show. Pickathon Festival 2014 Their first set of the weekend began at 1 a.m. on the first night, with an apology to Gavin, the sound guy in the Galaxy Barn, for helping four guitarists and four vocalists close out the night. Once apologies were dispensed, Diarrhea Planet proceeded to relentlessly shred through their material, and despite the oppressive temperature inside the barn, the crowd responded accordingly. A new song devoted to the lost art of crowdsurfing had Pickathon attendees leaping on top of each other as the sweating, seething mosh pit took over the whole barn. When all was said and done, a hundred-plus people made the long walk back to their tents covered in a variety of different sweats, only to do it all again the next day. Diarrhea Planet’s second set at the famed Woods Stage Saturday afternoon was just as raucous. Although the cry for crowdsurfing fell on deaf ears, perhaps due to the gentle nature of the stage setup, the six-piece had no issue picking up the slack. Amplifiers were climbed on top of, crowd members were thrown on top of band member's shoulders mid-guitar solo, and outside of the fact that the sun was still up, it was hard to distinguish any less enthusiasm from the drunken barn burner less than 24 hours previous. At the end of it all, it could all be summed up in guitarist/vocalist Jordan Smith's approach to the afternoon, as he said, “We are playing in the woods. Let’s cut down this forest with a buzz saw army of guitars.”

 

Northside Festival
2014 marks the sixth year of Northside Festival, which is a three-day barrage of shows, both free and pay, across Brooklyn venues. On an annual basis, Northside does a nice job of including a range of up-and-coming bands across all genres in addition to the heavy hitters. Our favorites this year include some bands that are popular names on the indie tip right now, along with some garage rock staples.
Reviews by Ian King and Judy Nelson The War on Drugs @ 50 Kent (Sunday, June 15th, 2014) One of the most highly anticipated shows at Northside, with perhaps the exception of CHVRCHES, The War on Drugs have built a reputation as being an excellent live show. And these guys delivered. They were introduced as one of the "greatest American bands in the world" or some crap like that, which I think is stretch, but they sounded amazing. Seeing their rise to indie rock fame has been interesting to watch, especially since the departure of Kurt Vile and his separate rise to fame. Their show was solid, and they played a mix of songs from their 2014 album Lost in A Dream. Most of the crowd looked a little dazed, but perhaps it was a mix of the summer heat, weekend hangovers, or just general entrancement at the show itself. - Judy Nelson
In our 2012 Album Covers of the Year feature, we once again get our hands on everyone we can. Through interviews with designers, musicians, labels, and plenty of others, we take a close look at just how many hands are in the pot when it comes to the album artwork process. Inside this feature are 98 album covers spanning a wide array of sonic and visual styles, each selected for its own unique contribution to the world. They are not ranked; instead, they are broken down into sections based on conceptual underpinnings or artistic mediums, and then are displayed on spectrums. Get started by navigating into any of these six sections: Geometric & Pattern-Based Classically-Influenced Narrative & Symbolic Photography & Manipulations Painting & Illustration Collage, Sculpture & Mixed Media You can also see last year's at 2011 Year-End Respect For Album Cover Art
 
As the unfavorable clouds finally passed over Portland to introduce the splendid few weeks of summer we're afforded each year, outdoor happenings of every sort become a commodity Portlanders are all too eager to take advantage of. Trips to the river, frisbee sessions at the park, and of course, outdoor music. And there's no better example of this than the early summer tradition at East End. Their two-day outdoor Block Party is something of a rarity in the city, especially as its located in the heart of the now bustling inner-SE district. So as the sun began to set on Saturday night, sandwiched between a couple of empty warehouses, a few friends from Brooklyn and a terrific group from Mississippi took to the stage. When I arrived just before The Babies' set, there was a typical East End band playing to a gathering crowd; the day was merely beginning for the all day mini-fest. Crust punks and general misanthropes gathered round, and as whatever band was playing their tired, expected punk rock, it was easy to see the crowd was in for a bit of culture shock once The Babies and Dent May finally began their respective sets.

 

July 7th, 2012 - East End Block Party @ East End, Portland, OR

 

SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS A recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body. This post features Peaking Lights (Mexican Summer) and Woods (Woodiss Records) -- both bands with new records and upcoming tour dates together.

 

Peaking Lights

Not sure what it is about Peaking Lights and fairly painful record covers, but at least you can count on them for some laid-back psychedelic jams. Their latest single, "LO HI" takes the band into more bizarre and percussive territory, but maintains Indra Dunis' signature vocals, and a selection of baby squeals may or may not be a hidden homage to Timbaland and Aaliyah (because if not, they might just be confusing). You can also get a bunch of DJ edits at Gorilla Vs. Bear, from a fine chap who calls himself a fine name: $layron. Lucifer is out now on Mexican Summer and Weird World! Plus some remixes below from their previous Remixes 12". You can hear the rest on the band's SoundCloud. Yum!!!

 

Ambient bedroom pop pioneer Matt Mondanile, aka Ducktails, manages to break into untapped psych-pop territory on his new album, while appeasing those who long for his forgotten demo cassettes. And while Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics takes an impressive step towards the sound of his other band, Real Estate, the album...