Listen to the song "Gloria"
For The Shivas, the show has always been the thing. That thing being a bombastic, explosive and thoroughly communal live rock and roll experience where barriers between the performers and their audience seem to dissolve into the sweat and sound. It’s the stage—or the basement, or the living room—that’s the Portland band’s true element. It’s their raison d’etre. It’s their religion..
The album is a defining sonic achievement for the band, which began booking their own tours in high school. The group blasted their way through Portland’s storied and unsanctioned mid-aughts house show scene. Since then they have played over 1,000 shows spread over 25 countries, meeting new fans and friends from Belgrade to Mexico City. But The Shivas—guitarist/singer Jared Molyneux, bassist Eric Shanafelt and drummer/singer Kristin Leonard have all been with the band since its earliest days; guitarist Jeff Boyardee joined in 2017—still speak about their project with a DIY humility that sounds like their native Pacific Northwest. They talk up their own favorite bands, play all-ages shows whenever possible, and they bring a sort of blue-collar humanism to the live performances they relish so much. “We just want to make people feel good,” guitarist/ singer Jared Molyneux says. “We want them to forget they have to work tomorrow.”
Dark Thoughts is the sound of a tight-knit band whose members have learned not just how to trust each other, but how to grow together. “Being adults now,” Leonard says. “We’re starting to talk a lot more philosophically about why we do what we do. Some of my favorite music came from people needing to find a space. Music is just such a visceral place to find a release.”
That’s what The Shivas are here for: to help people get free, if even just for an hour.
If they drop a few great albums along the way, so be it.
- 1. Gloria
2. Turn Me On
3. Playing On The Radio
4. If You See Me
5. Start A Fire
6. IDC Lucky #13
7. Sometimes II
8. Can't Relax
9. I Want You
10. Feels Surreal
11. Over & Over
12. It's All In Your Head
13. Can You Feel It Too?
- The Shivas are a rock and roll band from Portland, Oregon formed in 2006. In the 10 years since forming they have brought their raucous dance party to almost all 50 states, and over 25 countries worldwide, meanwhile releasing five full-length albums and three EP. The bands fifth studio album is due out fall of 2019.
'Natural Beauty' by Mo Troper
Listen to the song "Jas From Australia
In November 2018, Mo Troper announced on social media that he had written the theme song for the upcoming James Bond movie, Never Dream of Dying. The song—full of the sort of orchestral flourishes and soaring choruses that wouldn’t have sounded out of place two generations ago on A.M. radio—dropped on YouTube a few weeks later and was followed by a profile of Troper on the now-defunct “culture blog” ‘Reel News’ that sought to explain why in the world an artist like him would be tapped by the Bond franchise in 2019. Generous comparisons to Harry Nilsson and breathless quotes from *Hollywood producers* notwithstanding, Troper was certain that anybody who read the profile would instantly realize it was a joke, and that he was the author.
“So a week or two later,” he confesses to me now, “I found out that this guy whose band I was recording had told his dad about it. The dad had never really respected his decision to pursue music. But now it was like, Hey Dad, look at the kind of people I’m working with! And the dad—who I guess was a giant Bond fan—told his son for like the very first time that he was proud of him for being a musician.”
“Yikes,” I say. “I don’t even think that’s gonna be the actual title of the movie.” “I’m sure he’ll figure it out at some point,” Troper says, wincing at me over his cup of coffee. “I feel kind of bad about that.”
I first saw Troper perform when he was a brazen twenty-year-old college student fronting the power-pop band Your Rival. Upon hearing him climb into the upper reaches of his multi-octave range, my friend Lisa (who had been tight with the Exploding Hearts and has some expertise upon the subject) nudged me in the ribs. “This is punk as hell!” she said.
Now twenty-seven, Troper looks fatigued beyond his years and admits to a growing discomfort with his reputation in the Portland music community as being a bit of an enfant terrible. The fallout from the Bond stunt isn’t the first time he’s brought somebody grief with his music.
“I’ve considered removing some of those early recordings from the Internet,” he says, “stuff about my relationships that caused a lot of drama, or stuff that’s been critical about people in this town, but I can’t bring myself to do it.”
At least some of Troper’s fatigue must be due to having finally finished mastering his third solo album, Natural Beauty, a pristine collection of pop songs that represents a giant step forward from the hook-laden angst of his earlier recordings. “I’ve always wanted to make a record like this,” he says, “but the arrangements are much more intricate than anything I could have attempted a few years ago.”
It’s not the first time he’s used strings—they showed up on the anthemic millennial self-own “Your Brand” off 2017’s Exposure and Response (via Roger Joseph Manning Jr. of Jellyfish and Beck’s live band, one of Troper’s professed idols), a song that might have been huge in the ’90s, or in a parallel universe where petulant guitar music still charted—but with Troper’s caustic wit turning inward on Natural Beauty, the music in turn has become prettier, subtler, more timeless, and the strings no longer cry for attention. Natural Beauty was recorded in the uneasy yet fertile time after Troper returned to his hometown of Portland from two brief, failed experiments of living elsewhere: first in Los Angeles and then in New York. Album opener “I Eat” explores one of the less flattering corners of his life in LA: binge-eating.
“It’s a pretty funny song,” I tell him. “The melody is so gorgeous, but then you notice the lyrics—It’s the spice of life that I’m after / or at least something to die for—” “I don’t think it’s funny at all,” he says sharply.
Troper has generally embraced his reputation for being an “asshole.” Casey Jarman, co-founder of Party Damage Records, who released Your Rival’s debut album Here’s To Me back in 2013, even used that word to describe him in an early bio.
“Mo thinks his music should be huge,” Jarman confided in me last week, when I told him I’d agreed to write this bio, “but probably a little too often he’s let that ambition—and accompanying bitterness—seep into his lyrical subjects.”
That bitterness is not entirely unfounded—with his old bands Your Rival, TeenSpot, and Sancho, Troper was producing excellent emo-flecked “nineties-core” a good half-decade before the blogosphere caught on. And as a music columnist for the Portland Mercury and co-founder of Portland’s Good Cheer Records, Troper was, for a time, a tireless documentarian of his hometown’s “rock underground”—a scene whose vitality was eventually sapped by “wrongheaded, coke-addled moralizers” and “private school-educated opportunists.” (His take, not mine.)
Yet herein lies the enormous appeal of Natural Beauty: instead of the “snot-nosed pwnage” of his earlier music (so said Pitchfork in their 6.0 review of his debut solo album), this new record presents the salient details of Troper’s life without the juvenile editorializing that has, at times, kept listeners at arm’s length.
Album highlight “Jas From Australia” features a melody as buoyant and sweet as anything Ray Davies ever wrote, with a dash of Internet-age urgency mixed in. The song’s straightforward storytelling—Jas was Troper’s first love, they met online when they were teenagers, and never met in person—sets the listener up for this gut-punch two-thirds of the way through the song: “I said I was moving to Melbourne but I lied and now you know.”
It’s easy to take music this catchy for granted, and confuse beauty with superficiality, but these songs are remarkably durable. At a recent show at Portland club Rontoms, I found the choruses just as thrilling as on the record, and Troper’s range more audacious than ever. He seems, at long last, to feel at home in his hometown, and admits that he is more motivated by the idea of playing a festival like PDX Pop Now! than of getting another Pitchfork review.
“When I got back to Portland,” he says, “the joke was that I ‘faked my own death.’ Only a handful of people knew that I was here, and I was unemployed and living at my parents’ house. I would drive to Northwest and spend hours scoring the string and horn arrangements for these songs, and then I would put the arrangements on my phone and walk around the grounds of MLC—my old school—listening to them, making mental revisions. Although I didn’t realize it then, it was maybe the most inspired period of my life. And maybe the last time that things will come this quickly to me.”
- 1. I Eat
2. Your Boy
3. In Love With Everyone
4. Your New Friend
6. Jas From Australia
7. Almost Full Control
9. Come And Get Me
10. Lucky Devils
11. Business As Usual
- Mo Troper has been a Portland powerpop stalwart for years. The self proclaimed "conker's bad fur day of powerpop" delivers infectious melodies and unforgetable hooks that get stuck in your head for days.
Entre Los Dos
Listen to the song "Rios Sueltos"
How far does our sentimental strength go? When do we turn to the other without any resistance? What is the breaking point? By showing emotional connections we become vulnerable. Existing together, we can not conceive without the other. "I am another you" is a Mayan thought that blurs the limits of personal bonds, extending individuality to any being that we choose to look in the eyes, allowing us to find something shared in each others stare.
Entre Los Dos is the follow up to critically acclaimed Mujeres (NPR, Pitchfork, Billboard), Y La Bamba's most recently released full length album (February 2019). This EP comes as a collection of portraits, affinities, and new visions birthed during Mendoza's frequent stays in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico. These are songs and powerful prayers, created with their purpose being to protect the land and its people, recognize the ancestry that burns in our hearts, and treasure wisdom weaving healthy bonds that reflect self-love with dignity.
Through the veins of front person Luz Elena Mendoza, runs Purepecha blood. Adapting to new environments over and over again, she has become someone who constantly questions and empowers through music: her great teacher and tireless companion.
The creative flow of Entre Los Dos moves without stopping, without resisting its own form. It adapts, migrates, and fuses with its environment and receptors. The adrenaline of a new beginning moves us, but also leaves a fragile space where the fear of being cornered and devoured may exist. When you float in foreign waters, you can not do more than surrender to doubt and become one with the death. The world is dangerous, and even more so when it comes to surrendering blindly to love.
- 1. Gabriel
2. Entre Los Dos
3. Rios Sueltos
6. Las Platicas
7. Los Gritos
- Entre Los Dos is the follow up to critically acclaimed Mujeres (NPR, Pitchfork, Billboard), Y La Bamba's most recently released full length album (February 2019). This EP comes as a collection of portraits, affinities, and new visions birthed during Mendoza's frequent stays in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico. These are songs and powerful prayers, created with their purpose being to protect the land and its people, recognize the ancestry that burns in our hearts, and treasure wisdom weaving healthy bonds that reflect self-love with dignity.
Friends and Friends of Friends Vol 12
Friends & Friends of Friends is an annual 2-disc compilation of music curated by Tender Loving Empire. We collect submissions from our friends and (as the compilation title might suggest) from their friends. We request specific songs that we love and include our favorite jams from bands on our own record label. This year it's time for number 12, and we've put together 40 songs that reflect the best of what we're into now.
1. Vita and the Woolf - Sun Drop
2. Bells Atlas - First Gen Pisces
3. Ural thomas & the Pain - Smoldering Fire
4. Arthur & The Antics - Jennifer Said
5. The California Honeydrops - Live Learn
6. Aftercare - Still Love
7. Slow Corpse - Lonely 3000
8. Blossom -Moi å Moi
9. Ripley Snell - Manifinessea (ft. Old Grape God)
10. SISTERS - Y Do U Take So Long ft. Sol (Budo Remix)
11. Brijean - Show And Tell
12. PALMCO - Don't Let Me Down
13. Small Skies - Faces
14. Pure Bathing Culture - Moonrise
15. New Body Electric - Peaceful War
16. Human Ottoman - Maraca Who
17. Martha Stax - Rock and Roll
18. Jeff Bond - We Are Getting Closer
19. Little Wins - Let Me Into Your Heart
1. Y La Bamba - Boca Llena
2. Neptuna - Las Margaritas
3. The Shivas - Turn Me On
4. Elly Swope - Habits
5. Balto - Black Snake, Mojave Blues
6. The Rare Forms - Under The sheets
7. Help - Skeletons
8. Mega Pacific - Weed Police
9. Laundry - Junkyard Robot
10. Patrician - Your Friend
11. Sama Dams - Mounted On The Wall
12. Rum River Cult - Strangers Now
13. Melt - Snow
14. Shadowgraphs - Sun Is Rising
15. Mo Troper - Never Dream Of Dying
16. Perhapsy - 34th & West
17. Souvenir Driver - Admire
18. The Jerry Cans - Makiliqta
19. John Craigie - Virgin Guitar
20. Kelly McFarling - Pacific
21. Perlo - Masters
- The players: Vita and the Woolf, Bells Atlas, Ural thomas & The Pain, Arthur & The Antics, The California Honeydrops, Aftercare, Slow Corpse, Blossom, Ripley Snell, SISTERS, Brijean, PALMCO, Small Skies, Pure Bathing Culture, New Body Electric, Human Ottoman, Martha Stax, Jeff Bond, Little Wins, Y La Bamba, Neptuna, The Shivas, Elly Swope, Balto, The Rare Forms, Help, Mega Pacific, Laundry, Patrician, Sama Dams, Rum River Cult, Melt, Shadowgraphs, Mo Troper, Perhapsy, Souvenir Driver, The Jerry Cans, John Craigie, Kelly McFarling, Perlo
Listen to the song "The Situation"Paradise Hotel was borne out of years of collaboration in the Portland music community. The thirteen-track vinyl compilation was produced by Jesse Bettis of New Move Studios, in tandem with each featured songwriter, and is built on the sense of discovery between Bettis and each artist. “The reason collaboration is so powerful is the vision that every person brings to the table—and the result is much greater than the means,” says Bettis.
Thematically, each artist comes from their own place of struggle; the songs range from feminist anthem (Y La Bamba) to melancholic ballad (Aan). The sonically eclectic and exciting collection melds under shared production values and instrumentation, like the synthesizer, for a common aesthetic. Paradise Hotel’s distinct sound palette is a groovy, upbeat vibe, a la vintage 70s vinyl.
The seeds for writing and producing Paradise Hotel were planted over two years ago, when Bettis heard a demo of Boone Howard’s “Limit Of Love,” and was inspired to record it. More recently Cameron Spies (Radiation City, Night Heron, Gold Brick Studios) and Bettis became neighbors and joined forces on two songs, “The Situation” and “Astronaut Lover.” Bettis says, “New Move Studios was formed for the Portland music community. It’s a space dedicated to supporting creativity and releasing music and videos regularly.”
With Portland undergoing increasingly more change every day, it’s important to carve out a place where ingenuity and collaboration happen. The neon sign atop a decaying building on Paradise Hotel’s cover is reminiscent of Portland’s past, while looking ahead to a hopeful future. “The picture of decaying leisure class culture is also a new beginning,” Bettis says.
Paradise Hotel is a pillar of the Portland music community and its amazing creativity, and it represents just the beginning of a new, exciting body of work to come out of New Move Studios. Bettis says, “Everybody needs a community, and the more you can connect with the people around you, the better off everyone is.” .
- 1. Dan Dan - Circuit
2. Michael Finn - Good Heart & Full Support
3. Y La Bamba - Something Wild
4. New Move (feat. Night Heron) - The Situation
5. Tribe Mars - Ya Yea Yeah
6. Minden - Turned
7. Melt - Saltwater Taffy
8. Night Heron (feat. New Move) Astronaut Lover
9. PG-13 - Happy Birthday Trevor
10. Laura Palmers Death Parade - Heartbeats Dancing
11. Mat & Ritchie - Get It On
12. Boone Howard - Limit Of Love
13. Aan - Fell Into A Hole
- Paradise Hotel is a pillar of the Portland music community and its amazing creativity, and it represents just the beginning of a new, exciting body of work to come out of New Move Studios. Bettis says, “Everybody needs a community, and the more you can connect with the people around you, the better off everyone is.” .