Arts & CultureMusicScene Guide

8 essential Eugene album releases from this year

The music scene around campus might seem a bit small with the same four or five bands at every bar or house show (give or take a few new names at the bottom of the bill.) But as a town filled with artsy students, grads and long-term residents with no association with the University of Oregon, Eugene boasts a music scene that extends far beyond the UO population. Here are a few of the best releases this year from Eugene musicians, student and otherwise.

Bustin’ Jieber – Ain’t So Pretty. Just in time for Justin Bieber’s new Purpose, jazz trio Bustin’ Jieber has its third album, Ain’t So Pretty, ready. With shorter songs than their sprawling earlier work, Pretty is their poppiest joint yet—but there’s still plenty of sax skronk and songs about “space beer,” whatever that is.

Listen here:

The Critical Shakes – Percussive Maintenance EP. The Critical Shakes are a two-piece that plays bluesy garage rock – but there’s no confusing them with The Black Keys. Their serrated guitar clouds and roaring vocals make them feel more like the ’90s noise-rock bands they’ve name-checked in their Facebook influence list.

Dr. Rocket – Dr. Rocket. Dr. Rocket’s influences come mostly from extravagant genres like psychedelia and glam rock. They look the part onstage, but on record, their approach is decidedly punk—short, minimal songs about love and 20-something everyday life.

Listen here:

Hamilton Beach – Dear Earth, Love Moon. This sprawling 17-track behemoth compiles everything the “livetronica” three-piece has developed since bandleader Nathan Asman started recording under the name in 2008. It’s a bit of an overload, but it explores enough terrain to stay fascinating throughout.

Listen here:

LostOdyssey – Early Rise. The first release on Flossless Audio, the tape label run by Wandering Goat booker Joshua Isaac Finch, Early Rise presents a rough-hewn, distinctly Cascadian take on the “chill beats” formula that’s better for introspective nature walks than blunted couch seshes. Think Mount Eerie remixed by J Dilla.

Listen here:

Thomas Mapfumo – Danger Zone. Danger Zone brings a reggae influence to the chimurenga style Mapfumo developed in his native Zimbabwe. Melancholy and hypnotic, the lengthy grooves here are always grounded by Mapfumo’s sonorous voice—run through the weirdest auto-tune this side of Young Thug.

Listen to “Music” here:

Octonaut – Thud Glow. Octonaut is a synth-drums duo, but you would never tell from listening to Thud Glow, which is firmly part of a producer-driven house tradition. Reminiscent of the Balearic house of Jose Padilla, Thud Glow is great for both the dancefloor and ambient listening.

Listen here:

Soul Vibrator – Electric Stardust. Eugene’s most flamboyant funk band lays all its ideas bare here: soul, disco, jam-rock, funk. But it’s at its best when it sprawls out and gets lost in its own psychedelic atmosphere. It’s worth seeking out one of Soul Vibrator’s frequent and hectic live shows to cop a CD.

Listen to “Flow” here:

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Daniel Bromfield

Daniel Bromfield