Mike Coykendall to Tour in Support of New LP out July 17 on Fluff and Gravy

Half Past cover hiresWe just got off the phone with Mike Coykendall talking about his life in music and his new(ish) LP set for release on July 17. Some covers, some original tracks, and a little piece or two from his musical past (Klyde Konnor tracks and more), Half Past, Present Pending is a self-indulgent record collected and sewn together by seasoned hands. Mike the producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist departed from his 2012 entry (Chasing Away the Dots) to create something singular, free of collaborations or need for a band or supporting cast members. Though art is never created in a vacuum, Mike created a stripped down medley of tracks which hang together like a jam session, a fun afternoon of idly playing music for nothing more than keeping the birds of boredom from nesting under a summer porch’s awning.

After some thirty years in music, the last eight or so full-time as a producer and accompanying instrumentalist with the likes of M Ward, She & Him, Ben Gibbard and others, Mike is at a place where his music is for him. This kind of selfish art makes for someone playing freely, creating freely, and often leads to a candid look into what a musician likes most about music.

Get a listen to a little teaser below of what Mike is bringing to the album.

  1. All That I Wanted (2:49)
  2. Spacebaker Blues (3:20)
  3. Late Night (2:48)
  4. Trave Round The World (3:19)
  5. In The Summertime (1:54)
  6. East of Cheney (2:23)
  7. Killing Time (2:43)
  8. Just South of Levitation (3:48)
  9. Hard Landing (2:54)
  10. Paranoid Eyes (3:56)
  11. Burn on Reentry (2:22)
  12. You Don’t Have To Treat You That Way (2:09)
  13. Thing (3:31)


To celebrate the record, Mike will be performing a week’s worth of local record release parties!!!
7/18 – Portland @ Doug Fir (Project Pabst Event) w/Fernando, Jeremy Wilson
7/19 – Portland @ Music Millennium in store 3PM, Landmark Saloon Unhappy hour 5:30PM
7/20 – Portland @ Powell’s bookstore. Playing behind poet Tim Sproul
7/21 – Portland – House Party – Fluff and Gravy Studios w/Carlos Forster
7/22 – Seattle @ Vermillion w/Carlos Forster & Virgin of the Birds
7/23 – Portland @ Kelly’s Olympian w/Carlos Forster, Annalisa Tornfelt, & Virgin of the Birds
7/24 – Salem @ The Governor’s Cup w/Carlos Forster & Annalisa Tornfelt
7/25 – Portland @ Laurelthirst Public House w/Carlos Forster
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An Interview with Portland’s Radiation City

20150225 Radiation City-168 Edit

With their unique dreamy pop sound, it’s no wonder Portland-based band, Radiation City, has won accolades from leading publications like TIME, Rolling Stone, NPR and Nylon Magazine. Willamette Week dubbed them “Best new Band” in 2012 – an impressive feat, considering how vast the Portland music scene is. Fans refer to them as “Rad City”, which is the perfect double entendre to describe the dynamic indie group. Their most recent album, Animals in the Median, features complex layers of synthesizers, haunting harmonies, midi percussions, and clean riffs – which culminates in a charming “doo-wop” sound that can be described as both forward-thinking, yet nostalgic.

Interview Conducted by Zara Zhi 

Are you working on a follow-up album to “Animals in the Median”? Can you tell us about any new projects you guys are working on?

This record, yet to be named, is somewhat of a departure from Animals in the Median.  As we’ve grown as musicians, producers, songwriters, and people, we’ve begun to understand our strengths and weaknesses more acutely. We feel that our pop sensibilities are a strength and have decided to bring them into focus on this record. Of course, we can’t get away from the strange and sublime, but we’ve found the crossroads between succinct song craft and our usual unpredictable approach. We’ve also gotten some flack in the past for burying the vocals, which honestly is a common mistake among young bands. In some cases, heavily processed vocals can be used to great effect (aesthetically it works for garage rock records, et al) but we don’t think it works for us.

As we finish mixing that record we’ve also been keeping our hands from becoming idle. We’ve worked on other groups’ records in various capacities; Chris Marshall, Pearls, the Saxophones, Jackson Boone and Jurassica are a few groups you probably haven’t heard of, but hopefully will soon; The Decemberists, Jim James, and STRFKR are a few you probably do know. Randy [Bemrose] has also been working on a solo record for ever and that should be coming out this year too.

What inspirations do you use when you create an album?

20150225 Radiation City-155 EditLizzy Ellison:  Initially we don’t think about “the creation of an album” per se.  Songs are developed individually, and then compiled when the time comes to make one.  What inspires the first glimpse of a song can be anything from cleaning my room, to baking bread, to walking around in nice weather.  It’s when I’m not thinking about the music that it comes.  Once I’ve caught myself ruminating on an idea for long enough, I’ll record the melody on my phone.  If that stands the test of time, it will then turn into a song that still may or may not be on the next record.  It could be on one we make 6 years from now.

Randy Bemrose: I like using instruments that pull my playing one way or another. A snare that’s tuned extra tight, or a sock hat stand with a lot of give. I like habits that pull my energy level around, like sleep deprivation or eating extremely healthy. I like vices that pull my brain in weird directions: coffee, cigarettes, weed, etc…

Cameron Spies: I draw inspiration from the pop music lexicon pretty regularly – whether it’s a particularly unique groove (Motown pretty much wrote that book), or an arrangement device like a classic string orchestral gesture (Henry Mancini, Gil Evans, et al). But a lot of my inspiration is more subconscious: a melody will creep into my head while we are in the van on tour, or a chord change or lyric will emerge out of the ether. My memory sucks, so I have to record everything immediately, or it will just as easily slip back into that same ether.

What is your song-writing process?

Each person will bring in song skeletons that they believe are a good fit, and then we will retreat somewhere outside of the city to focus on our ideas and build upon the songs.  Sometimes our demoed versions will be the final versions of the tracking. In the case of the first two records, we saw them all the way through the mixing process. On Animals, we worked with a super pro mixer named Sonny DiPerri. He did an amazing job and has become a good friend, and even accommodated a lot of our stubborn ideas, even if they weren’t always the best. In recent sessions we’ve really tried to make our process less tedious and more about the core of the song.  Adding layers can be fun and somewhat rewarding, but you can layer forever and never finish a song or completely lose sight of what was the initial intention, which is the most important part. Addition by subtraction has always been our motto, but it can be difficult to actually practice that restraint with so many good ideas to sort through.

20150225 Radiation City-133 EditWill Rad City be playing at any festivals this summer?

We have some show and tour announcements coming up that will take us away for a few months, but I don’t think any festivals are on the list.  The system within the booking world is very dependent on having a record to market.  At the moment we aren’t entirely sure as to when this next one will come out.  There is so much pre-planning involved with the release of a record that this may even be a fall release.

What are Rad City’s hopes and dreams for the future?

I [Lizzy Ellison] think I can speak for the group as a whole.  We without a doubt see music as an outlet for our creativity and only hope to share that with other people who enjoy what we do.  It’s not for everyone and that’s fine.  We will continue to make interesting records that are pleasing to us and fulfill our desire to make art.  Hopefully we’ll be visiting other parts of the world in the coming year as well as collaborating with other artist communities.

Do you guys feel Portland is a good city for independent musicians?

Lizzy Ellison:  It may not be for everyone, although everyone likes to think so.  Portland at the moment is built on the idea that you can realize any ambition. For artists, that is the only thing you want to hear.  This gives artists the power to become as successful as they want in this city, because success to a lot of artists isn’t measured with money. For people just starting out, that can be terrifying, and ultimately the reason they leave.  We didn’t have any connections when we first started out, and it’s been a difficult time getting to where we are, but throughout all of it, the city has been very supportive.  I don’t think it would have survived the way it did in any other city.

Randy Bemrose: No, it’s no good for that. Its summers are a dark crystal, beautiful and cracked. Its winters, a villainous skeksis, draining your will to create. Everybody comes here in the spirit of a gelfling, dream-fasting with the first winged beauty they come across. They’ve got this shard of an idea that somehow feels so important. The stars are aligning, it’s all happening! Soon enough they realize they are paddling like everybody else; simple, kindhearted, and soon to be relieved of their essence. Succinctly, it will rob you of the best in you and leave an empty potato skin. Do not move here under any circumstance short of severe pregnancy.

Cameron Spies: Yes and no.

20150225 Radiation City-3 EditIf you guys could do a collaboration with any artist(s), who would it be?

Lizzy Ellison: At the top of my list is Air.  They are my go-to artist when I’m by myself and I never tire of their music.

Randy Bemrose: I’d love to engineer on Mark Ronson’s next production credit, or produce Tobias Jesso Jr’s next, next record.

Cameron Spies: Yoni Wolf has been a huge inspiration for me. I’d like to make a weird record with him.

What was the hardest part of your musical journey? What was the best part?

Lizzy Ellison: The hardest part has been keeping our heads clear on what our goals are.  It’s easy to get sucked into the popularity contest. Are we gonna be on “so-n-so”? Does that determine our success? Are we doing the right thing? Falling into that rabbit hole is dangerous, and ultimately not why we do this anyway. The best part is figuring that out and realizing that we love what we do, no matter what the struggles are. It doesn’t matter what some publication thinks of what we make.  We know we are making a lot of people happy and that’s the best gift in the world.

Randy Bemrose: Being a prescient, if impatient man, I have the hardest time with the hurry-up-and-wait nature of this business. That waiting is worst for me. The best part is the long stoned drive through a clear rural night with just the right album on, and nobody has said a word for hours so maybe you’re the only one awake and the wind is in your hair – still damp and salty from the show and the sea you swam in today.

What are you guys listening to right now?

Lizzy Ellison: Bo En (remix of “It’s My Party”) and everything else he does.

Randy Bemrose: Candy Claws, UMO, Dorothy Ashby, The Versatile Henry Mancini

Cameron Spies: Morgan Delt, Caribou, Nancy Sinatra, Country Hits of ’70

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Harm EP Out Feb 17 Listen Here, Now


Listen to the Harm EP here

Excerpt from the press release:

Acclaimed songwriter Catherine Feeny met jazz drummer Chris Johnedis after recording her rebellious fourth solo album. She had just come back from the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, and he was returning from 2 years of working and studying in Thailand. The two hit it off, and Johnedis helped translate the varied rhythms of “America” — which ran the gamut between vintage drum machine sounds and captured field recordings — into a live show setting.

Two years later, working with producers Sebastian Rogers (Floetry) and Sheldon Gomberg (Ben Harper, Ricki Lee Jones), in a live four-day session in Silverlake, CA the two create a universe of sound that is sparse and propulsive, yet playful, for their eponymous debut as a duo.

Catherine’s career as a solo artist began with Joe Purdy recording her first album, a self-titled affair that garnered acclaim for its compelling songwriting and stark, nostalgic feel. The album won Feeny an audience in Belgium where it was championed by French-language radio station Classic 21.

However it is Feeny’s second album, 2005′s “Hurricane Glass,” for which she is best known. The song “Mr. Blue” was picked up by KCRW in LA, and later featured in “Running with Scissors,” “The O.C.,” and “Miss Conception.”  The attention won by “Hurricane Glass” resulted in the album being picked up by EMI Records.

Inspired by living for two months in Zucotti Park during the Occupy protests, Feeny released a moving, pointed work titled, “America,” in 2012. The album’s first single “United” won the 2013 Peace Promotion Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and caught the attention of writer/activist Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues), who commissioned Feeny to compose a song for her organization, One Billion Rising.

Catherine Feeny & Chris Johnedis is, by comparison, a gentler look at matters of justice and redemption in a more personal setting. Applying incisive poetry to matters as disparate as a bruised friendship and the phenomenon of White Flight, Feeny turns the looking glass inward where she finds both desolation and hope. “I finally see the light,” she says in the album’s final track, “We choose between an endless night… and day.”

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Springtime Carnivore: Greta Morgan on tour in November, #PDX at Doug Fir Nov. 16

It took about ten years, but Greta Morgan finally likes music; her music, to be precise.

With Springtime Carnivore, Greta’s solo project, she decided to conduct a little experiment. What if she very quietly, very subtly just began releasing music almost anonymously? No tugging at the connections she’s made or the audience she’s cultivated, just putting music out without any fanfare or countdowns; just upload a video or song between meals on an idle Tuesday?

“I’ve always been fascinated by human connection, and how connections start. I’ve also seen something beautiful in people who send out transmissions into space. Those people who sit at home with their radios and attempt to reach out to the universe is something so beautiful to me. In a really small way, recording and releasing music on the internet has a similar idea: You’re putting this personal transmission out there and you’re waiting to see who it reaches. It’s like putting the letter in the bottle in the ocean. That anonymity let me explore music and do what I wanted without feeling like I owed anyone anything.”

Since she was a teenager, Greta has been playing to an audience. Letting that fall away, not reaching out to her past fans for this project, Greta got to have fun with music. It had felt a bit stagnant for her, something less organic in past bands and endeavors. This was an experiment for her from the beginning to the end. A chance for her to get into the right musical space for herself and her art.

“Even in recording, I was doing what I thought were demos, but it turned out I was recording the album. I’d be in the studio for five or six hours doing drums here, piano there, and think I didn’t really get anything. Then I’d come back the next day and be like, ‘wow, I like that. I think we got something.’”

This project, her newfound selfish joy in creating music takes nothing away from her past bandmates, her past experiences, but the personal ownership and creative freedom Springtime has given her has led to a fulfilling measure of success this last year.

“I feel like I’m on the right path and I’m enjoying those experiences. In this year alone, Springtime Carnivore has allowed me to go on a month-long tour in Europe, something I’ve always wanted to do. I got to open for the Zombies for a week on tour, one of my favorite bands ever and one of the all-time greats. I even co-wrote a song with John Sebastian from The Lovin Spoonful, who is again one of the greats and one of my favorite songwriters my whole life. I’m announcing an exciting tour for next year very soon. Artistically, every single day should bring something that excites you if you hope to move forward as an artist. It feels more like an experiment. It doesn’t feel like a band with high stakes and pressure. This is just a fun experiment.”

Springtime Carnivore’s self-titled debut is available now.

Springtime will also be out on the West Coast with Generationals this month, playing two shows at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge Sunday, Nov. 16. Morgan tells us the late show is sold out, so she added an early show, but check with the Fir here to be sure.

Wed. Nov. 12 – Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour w/ Generationals
Thu. Nov. 13 – San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel w/ Generationals
Sat. Nov. 15 – Seattle, WA @ Crocodile w/ Generationals
Sun. Nov. 16 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge w/ Generationals
Mon. Nov. 17 – Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret w/ Generationals
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Portland Loves Polica @ Doug Fir Lounge

In a packed house at the Doug Fir on Burnside, Polica performs the first of two shows. If you weren’t there last night, catch them tonight, Oct. 22, for their last show in town. If you need extra convincing, check out some music after the jump.

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Review: Greylag’s Self-titled LP Available Now

Portland’s Greylag are a trio of your average locals…none of them are from here.

Andrew Stonestreet (lead vocals) came from West Virginia, Daniel Dixon (lead guitar) came from NorCal, and Brady Swan (drums) came from Texas. Andrew and Daniel started a band and then found a drummer, Brady; a pretty standard Portland band story.

Greylag_CoverArtThe trio’s second album, but first LP, self-titled Greylag, is a band album. Produced by Phil Ek, Daniel describes this LP as an album that is made by the greater sum of the three parts. This is a collaborative effort which speaks to what the band sounds like, not three guys playing music together.

“Andrew had just moved out to Portland and he came out with a number of songs that he had already written in West Virginia. Within maybe 2 or 3 months we had planned to make this record and within 3 or 4 months it was made. It was one of those things where we were a new band and we were wanting to be taken seriously as a new band, and one of the ways you can get shows and get people interested in what you’re doing is having recorded music.

“In the ensuing 5 years, we were able to really forge an identity as a band. So, by taking all that time and writing song after song and learning from mistakes, and everything that happens in that process, we were really able to forge a sound that represented all of us. I think that’s a major difference between the first and the second record; we did the hard work to figure out what we wanted Greylag to sound like.”

The album is a great representation of the Portland music scene, in that it is an amalgam of genres. The churning, Appalachian country twang meets harmonies and splashing cymbals in a track like “Burn On,” a track like a train baring down on the listener, chugging along through the middle of the album. “Mama” is a wandering mix of electric and acoustic, like much of the album. A feel like a more delta style of blues. A song I imagine performed in a bayou-side boathouse turned bar complete with string lights and crawfish shells underfoot; sweat mixing with moonshine. Well, maybe that’s just me.

While the country feel of Andrew’s influences (and Daniel’s time in the South with Andrew) there is a jarring track like “Yours to Shake.” Coming in slowly with Andrew’s vocals taking the lead in verses that lull you into listening closely to lyrics of heartache are followed by the ensuing crashing drums and the staccato cacophony of the chorus.

The bookends of “Another” and “Walk the Night” are very appropriate choices for intro and outro tracks. While “Another” is an introduction to all the members’ talents, with almost a live show kind of breakdown as the members each seem to get a little spot light as they set the tempo for the listener.

On the opposite end, “Walk the Night” is a heartfelt goodbye to the listener. Featuring Andrew’s range is the end of the party song; it is closing time. A meandering melody plays on feelings of thoughtfulness, pensiveness, and introversion. This feels like a track, as it stands out unique on the album in its tone, it leaves me wanting for a little more from the album. “Walk the Night” punctuates the end of the album doing two things: Making you take a deep breath, and then becoming painfully aware of how succinct and abrupt a nine-track LP can be.


Though I might want a few more tracks from the boys of Greylag, the real joy is seeing them live. Daniel Dixon described what a song is to him and how it matures:

“I think a recorded song is a snapshot of the life of that song, it’s like a photograph. It does represent the song, but it only represents part of it. The rest of that is what happens as the song continues to develop on the road. It’s like, the song has a life of its own and the recording is just a photograph. You wouldn’t want to take a photograph of your girlfriend and then just look at that. You want that picture, but then you want to go have dinner with her.”

Live, Greylag has taken the time to grow in their songs. The energy doesn’t come through on the album as it does on stage. Riffs and guitar work bring to mind classic rock; those quintessential sounds of slide or rolling and reverberating notes; maybe it’s the thing that keeps Greylag from being too easily categorized in any one genre and a crowd pleaser for Portlanders and beyond.

Greylag sounds like exactly what they are: A Texan, a Californian, and a West Virginian who started a band in Oregon. This city doesn’t have an official sound, but if we did, this hyphen heavy rock-blues-country-folk sound would be near the top of the list. Greylag has crafted an infectious, diverse album with something for everyone, but not enough tracks to satisfy anyone. Also, see them live. It’s a new album once you hear what they’ve done with these snapshots.

Be sure to check out our interview with Daniel Dixon in the Oct/Nov issue of Poppycock Magazine. Check back Oct. 25 for more info or become a fan of Poppycock on Facebook to keep up to date with everything Poppycock.

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