Nestled amongst the tranquil greenery of The Pacific Northwest, Portland has quite the musical legacy. Stemming from the nineties grunge scene, the rainy city has gifted the world many brilliant artists ranging from The Dandy Warhols to Elliott Smith. The place undoubtedly feels like a magnet to misfits and creatives who all have a thirst for collaboration and experimentation. Here’s just a few artists standing out right now:
Ural Thomas & The Pain
For fans of: Charles Bradley, The Rolling Stones, Otis Redding
Fifty years ago Ural Thomas was opening for The Rolling Stones and looked sure to follow them into the limelight. But the music world can be cruel sometimes and genius can often go unnoticed. Thomas could quite easily be filed alongside the likes of the great James Brown, Otis Redding or Stevie Wonder (he’s played with them all over the years) but alas that stardom eluded him. There’s no bitterness but he carries a certain wealth of agony in his voice and just from listening to a track it’s clear the man has been there and done it. Local label Tender Loving Empire have just dropped his beautiful and brilliant debut album after all these years
For fans of: Jungle, Prince
Chanti Darling delivers slick and juicy pop music and he’s got a soulful voice with the gusto to back it all up. Chanticleer Trü has been making music his whole life but has really hit upon something golden since settling in Portland. He’s been in a rock band, played in the jazz clubs of San Francisco and dabbled in musical theatre, but with this project Trü pulls the lot together. It’s experimental and can challenge the listener, but manages to open new dialogues and breaks down stereotypes around gender roles in music in one fell swoop.
For fans of: Agnes Obel, Bright Eyes, Cat Power
There’s a complete wholesomeness about Haley Heynderickx. She plays the guitar masterfully and carries an enormous sense of emotional intelligence. Her debut album I Need To Start A Garden is sincere and charming, so naturally it all feels like a perfect fit for the green surroundings of her home in Portland.
Black Belt Eagle Scout
For fans of: Big Thief, Laura Gibson
Katherine Paul grew up on the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Reservation in Washington and her music embraces those indigenous roots. While her childhood taught her the disciplines of traditional musicianship, in school she discovered Riot grrrl and fostered a dream of becoming a musician. She ended up self-teaching by way of bootleg Nirvana and Hole footage on VHS. A fitting method, we reckon.
For fans of: Wavves, Car Seat Headrest, Cloud Nothings
Autonomics are flying the flag for youthful indie pop in PDX right now. They sing light-heartedly about having no money, taking drugs and generally messing about. They’re a classic case of a band battling against the day-job grind while still fulfilling their dreams creatively.