Crate Diggers Record Fair, sponsored by Discogs, returns to its home turf of Portland, OR, for its fifth year on August 25th, 2018! Taking place once again at White Owl Social Club, you’ll find 30+ tables of vinyl for sale by some of the Pacific Northwest’s heaviest record dealers, some of the finest local DJs spinning wax all day, a full bar, great food, and free admission to boot. We can’t think of a better way to spend a late summer Saturday in Portland!
In preparation for Crate Diggers Portland, we asked Discogs seller (Lotsomusic), longtime Portland radio programmer and KBOO 90.7 FM Rock Music Director Brandon Lieberman for a list of 10 of his favorite Oregon-related releases. Brandon is the host of KBOO’s Drinking From Puddles, and has been on Oregon non-commercial radio since 1982, beginning at Corvallis station KBVR. With 36 years of supporting Oregon bands, there is little room for doubt that Brandon has played a big part in exposure for music from the region. In 1999, legendary indie label Kill Rock Stars released a compilation of Brandon’s picks of live performances culled from Drinking From Puddles. We’re very happy to have Brandon lend his expertise for this list!
Of his picks, “10 underappreciated Oregon releases from 1979-2006”, Brandon says:
Okay, this list assumes that as a reader of the Discogs blog you don’t need someone to shine a light on The Wipers/Dead Moon (including The Rats and related bands)/Elliott Smith/Poison Idea/Sleater-Kinney/Quasi and other Oregonians past and present who have had their greatness (more or less) well documented (like say if they were on Sub Pop/Kill Rock Stars or other well distributed Northwest labels). I’m attempting here to look at some smaller label releases, that for whatever reason, got less notice. In chronological order:
I was still in high school, just 45 miles from Portland, when this was released. Without computers or Punk press coverage of any kind in the small Oregon farm (now wine) town I lived in, I had no idea local Punk was happening as close as Portland (outside of KGON’s 92-cent “Catch-A-Rising-Star” series of concerts featuring national acts Ramones, Patti Smith, etc.) and thought it was something that I could only experience on my visits to California. Finally getting to hear this 45 for the first time a couple years post-release is what made me realize that cool stuff was happening much closer to me! This is one of the finest examples of early Punk, period. A promised reissue of this 45 a few years back must have hit a snag. So for now, most modern-day punkers will mainly have to listen on YouTube.
For a long time after they disbanded, this was probably Oregon’s most overlooked band. That had been slowly changing over the years, especially after 2013’s Sooner Or Later, a compendium of all their previously released material plus a lot more (which is certainly the way to go now!). Their acknowledgment level has been raised enough that they could almost be included on the list in the introduction (where there’s absolutely no question they belong in quality and importance), but it’s still mainly musicians and record folks in-the-know about them. This, on Greg Sage’s (of The Wipers) Trap Records, is one of my favorite singles of all time.
A lot more people have discovered Sado-Nation in recent years, although a 2005 CD reissue that included this EP already seems to be scarce. They also put out some excellent material with later singer Mish Bondage, but this first 45 with Leesa Anderson singing is a fist-pumper for sure!
Although really coming in as a part of that initial Portland Punk explosion (they formed in 1981, with The Wipers and The Rats drummer Sam Henry no less) and having had lots of releases both prior and after this one, guitar maestro’s Chris Newman’s Napalm Beach still seems way underappreciated. Newman’s long-time (and open) serious drug abuse, and the fall-out that often resulted were part of the reason at the time, but his talent has always been undeniable. Mark Lanegan is now covering one of his songs, and there’s loads of other audio proof!
Full disclosure: I managed this bands reunions in the 2000s, but I never set out to be a band manager. I only did so because I think they were one of the best and most underappreciated (as well as barely documented) bands from anywhere! The dynamic interplay of Rob Landoll’s guitar work with the truly elite vocal talents of siren Monica Nelson in their memorable, hook-laden, and highly personal songwriting was among the most popular in Portland clubs during this period for good reason. It’s not a coincidence that both a pre-fame Nirvana and Soundgarden wanted to be on bills opening for the “Obits” (as they were often referred to locally). Seeing them play on a good night was a unforgettable musical experience. After 20-plus years in NYC, Monica returned to PDX several years back and formed Monica Nelson & The Highgates, where she continues to “bring-the-sing”! A studio fire and some other bad luck meant a proper Obituaries full-length never materialized, but this EP’s quality transcends time.
This Eugene, Oregon band was managed by Kathy Molloy (the co-founder of the wildly popular, yet defunct Snipehunt fan mag, along with renowned Portland musician and poster artist Mike King) and was fronted by Mike Johnson, who would later go on to record solo material for Up! Records, and join Dinosaur Jr. for seven years and collaborate extensively on some of Mark Lanegan’s early solo releases. I wish this band had stuck around long enough to put out a full LP.
Calamity Jane were the first band I know of that moved TO Portland, rather than away from it (which is what many had done previously to seek their fame and fortune). And their talent floored me too. Fortune may have come their way as well, had Nirvana hand selected Calamity Jane to open for them in 1990s North America, instead of its far more sexist southern counterpart. That experience tore at the internal seams within the band, and spelled the end (bar the occasional reunion) for this very underappreciated combo. Their one full-length is also totally excellent, but this lower-fi 45 is truly one of my all-time faves.
(Also released as 1994’s Adickdid). Eugene, Oregon’s Adickdid would have been served better without the pun-infused moniker, because there was nothing novelty-esque about their powerful and personal songwriting and commanding musicianship. Singer/guitarist Kaia Wilson would go on to make one of the most socially important LPs of our time with a different crew in the Portland band Team Dresch (whose LP Personal Best not only opened the closet door for some folks, but gave many, and especially women and girls, the power to rip that door right off the hinges!). But this overlooked previous band had some of those same elements, yet is at the same time a very different and muscular animal. Their lone full-length had two separate record labels, cover arts, release years and even titles(!) for the vinyl and CD versions (not recommended).
Accordion and violin duos rarely rise to the top-of-the-pops, but if talent was the only factor in the equation, then this one would have. These two were among the best in the world at their chosen instruments at the time of this recording. They also released the equally excellent Hearts & Daggers CD in 2008. Petra is the daughter of Jazz legend Charlie Haden and was in Geffen Records band that dog., and later would briefly be in The Decemberists and would have solo releases, including one on the Anti- label (Tom Waits, Solomon Burke). Miss Murgatroid (aka Alicia Rose) has gone on to be a one-time master show booker, super successful photographer and video director, and now is the driving force behind the hilarious web series (and hopefully future motion picture and/or TV series) “The Benefits Of Gusbandry”, based on her life!
Actually self-released as a CDr probably a year or so earlier, this Portland Post Rock outfit’s confusing band name actually got them a lot more notice in Japan (and a label deal there) than in their hometown! One of two really amazing Portland Post Rock combos that surfaced after the international rise in popularity of Godspeed! You Black Emporer, Mogwai and their ilk (the other being the one-CD-and-done Strangers Die Every Day). Had WFJ called themselves “We’re From Portland!” instead, would it have made a difference? They’d have at least been ahead of the curve of the hordes who have claimed that since! Both their full-lengths are stellar by the way.
In conclusion, Brandon says:
There’s lots, lots more than this list of just 10 of course. And more Oregon sonic gems are being made all the time! Check out The Pynnacles, The Ghost Ease, 3 Leg Torso, Don’t + Jenny Don’t And The Spurs, Sallie Ford, The Builders And The Butchers, and probably your neighbor’s garage or basement as the river of great Oregon-based music continues to flow! Thanks-for-listening!
Listen to Northwest rock music historian Brandon Lieberman’s KBOO radio program, Drinking From Puddles, every other Wednesday evening from 8-10 PM on 90.7 FM or at kboo.fm on the web.
And finally, Brandon fills us in on what he’ll have on offer at the record fair:
Portland’s 2018 edition of Crate Diggers Record Fair takes place on August 25th, 2018 at White Owl Social Club. This free event featuring 30+ tables of vinyl and 6 DJs spinning all day goes from noon till 6, don’t miss it!