RNB Vol. 1
Listen to the song "St*rs"“THE RNB is a type of place that exists in another plane. It’s another dimension. A place beyond dreaming that is the totality of your highest vibration. All the rest though… is just mundane.”
- 1. Boogie.503
2. Casual (feat. The Last Artful, Dodgr)
4. Running (feat. Natasha Kmeto)
5. Grab Onto Me
7. On The Fly (Nu Jck)
8. Pillow Talk
9. Who's Cruising Who
10. Wake Up The Night
- Chanticleer Trü would like you to know that “RNB ain’t no joke.” As frontman of Portland, OR retrofuturist electro-soul adepts Chanti Darling, Trü drinks deeply from the sacred founts of Disco, Boogie Funk, and the dizzying universe of house music. Teasing out the essential filaments, Trü weaves a sound that nods to the past as it blasts into the future; urgent, irresistible, and absolutely of the moment. Raised on a steady diet of jazz, soul, and his mom’s Boogie Funk collection (he started leading vocal groups at age ten), multi-instrumentalist Trü studied opera, musical theater, and composition. Naturally drawn to the primal energy of the club scene, Trü first made a name for himself as a performer, promoter, and DJ. “I was always drawn to the power of music to make people dance” says Trü. “There’s some innate, ritualistic pre-human thing within us, engrained on our DNA. The metaphysical combination of melodies, rhythms, lyrics and ideas; it’s what our very consciousness is made of. It is creation itself.” To aid him on his pilgrimage, spreading the gospel of RNB, Trü turned to fellow sonic wizards Natasha Kmeto and Damon Boucher. “Natasha and I have lots of conversations about unsung heroes of popular music” explains Trü “RNB musicians that don’t get the shine that they deserve because they are women, or black, or queer. Then a blonde haired blue-eyed dude from someplace trendy literally “borrows” from this genre and all the sudden RNB is cool. No. It’s never not been cool.” Written over three years and recorded in Portland, Oregon at Zip Zap and Eyrst studios, the record features numerous collaborations with producer Boucher and Kmeto. While some of the songs were written in the studio, much of the music was refined during the bands already legendary live shows. No doubt dazzling choreographers and dancers The Step Touches – the only constant in the Chanti Darling lineup apart from Trü – have helped build the legend with their epic performances. Early in the project, Trü put together a band that included Hannah Blilie of The Gossip and Rebecca Cole of Wild Flag. “It’s amazing to be able to develop ideas in a live setting,” Trü tells us. “A lot of these songs started from live instrumentation and were then translated through digital production.” In fact, the bulk of the music – apart from the drum programming – was tracked live. Aesthetically, Chanti Darling melds 80’s retro-futurist iconography with a late-night summertime vibe; THE RNB is a place of neon lights and palm fronds, washed in the pastels of dusk and dawn. Together, Chanti Darling is undeniable and immersive. This has not gone unnoticed in the Pacific Northwest – and beyond. Voted Portland’s “Best New Band” in a poll held by Willamette Week, the band has already performed at the Pickathon, Treefort, and What The Festival events, played a host of shows with Hercules & Love Affair, been featured in Vice and Dope, and shared the stage with NAO as part of Red Bull Sound Select This record is built upon a sort of string theory of RNB sounds” says Trü. “THE RNB is a type of place that exists in another plane. It’s another dimension. A place beyond dreaming that is the totality of your highest vibration. All the rest though… is just mundane.” One of the timeless, primary allures of music has been the ability to lose oneself within it, and with RNB Vol.1 Chanti Darling has crafted a sonic totem, imbued with the power to transport the listener to a place of hip-shaking, sweaty freedom. “I wanted to create a record that people could be absorbed by. Something to hold them and envelop them. The world… the world itself has gotten so dark. That darkness bleeds over into everything that we create. Which can be amazing. But, I felt my call was different. I wanted to create a shift to positivity and light.” Blessed through a life steeped in rhythm with the mystic ability to tap into and channel the primal genomic funk, Chanticleer Trü has crafted a shimmering antidote to that darkness. RNB Vol.1 is a rapturous, profoundly engaging (and much needed) mega dose of humanities first antidepressant.
Pre-order 'Anna Ohio' (releases 5/8)
Listen to the song "Mess Up"
Growing up in middle-class suburban Pennsylvania, Jen Pague looked around at the routine of family life and rejected it in full. The suburban isolation, the lack of culture, the white picket fences: “I didn’t want to be part of it in any capacity,” Pague says. “Even from a very young age. I wasn’t going to do what my parents did.” So she started a band.
Three years ago, she watched with amazement as Vita and the Woolf’s achievements started to stack up: fawning press and radio attention in their native Philadelphia, support tours with Rasputina and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, a successfully Kick-started debut full-length (2017’s Tunnels) and press in Billboard and Elle. But Pague never felt that the album was fully her own vision, and the career-altering reviews and sold-out headlining tours never quite came along. When the whirlwind suddenly died down, Pague thought maybe her music career was over at 25.
So in search of reinvention, she moved to Los Angeles, alone. She took aimless drives while looking for day jobs. She went to therapy. And eventually, she met encouraging new friends, and began working on new music in a place without the baggage of home. The music started to come. She wanted to tell a story that could “reflect on, and then move on from adolescence.” So she invented Anna Ohio.
Anna Ohio is a fictional character. But Anna Ohio, the album, is a very real pilgrimage of self-discovery. The album’s interconnected songs tell a self-referential story about a flawed but strong character reaching for reinvention. As Anna, Pague’s dreamlike examination of life under late-stage capitalism (“Home,” “Auntie Anne’s Waitress”) and desire for escape (“Operator”) are somehow more real than reality: They’re a direct line out from a soul-searching heart and mind. The album is both patient and hook-filled. There are echoes of Elliott Smith in the understated guitar work. Longtime bandmate and friend Adam Shumski’s inventive drum pat- terns give the songs a rare rhythmic depth.
Most importantly, Anna Ohio is Jen Pague’s vision, through and through. She built it with her own hands. And suddenly the press and the renown seem secondary to what she has already accomplished: Pague wrote, played and recorded an album with the sound she had been searching for. And, through Anna, she told a story worth telling. “I gave up something while writing this record,” Pague says. “Anna Ohio holds my pain, the thoughts of not being good enough to date, hire, love, and respect. It holds my energy and refusal to quit being a human. It holds what I find beautiful when things somehow work out. And it’s a tip of the hat to the people who support and love me.”
- 1. Out of State
7. Mess Up
9. Auntie Anne's Waitress
- Vita and the Woolf are an indie pop band from Los Angeles, California. Led by frontwoman Jennifer Pague, VATW has toured with Rasputina, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. They have also been featured in Billboard and Nylon Magazines. Vita and the Woolf's second full length album Anna Ohio drops on Tender Loving Empire Records Spring 2020
Mo Troper: Natural Beauty
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.
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.
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.