Time to Play Oregon: Manic Street Preachers, Grimes, Charlelie Couture
By Andre' Hagestedt
(Oregon Coast) – Sometimes, my former life as a music journalist gets tangled up in my newer life of being a professional beach bum. Meaning, these days it's my job to cover the Oregon coast and play in the sand.
Periodically, it strikes me how many amazing regional artists perform on this coastline, but it also hits me how many really fascinating bands I know of that don't get to this unbelievably gorgeous state. For whatever reason.
So it's here I present three bands you've probably never heard of – but should. You really should. And once you do, you need to join the outcry to get them to this pretty place known as Oregon. Sure, Portland is the most likely destination. But let's see if we can't get them to do at least a secret gig on the Oregon coast.
Charlelie Couture. A French singer who is probably rock n' roll's greatest secret, and certainly the greatest musical secret living in the U.S. That's right. He doesn't even live in France anymore. He lives in New York. He's huge in the French-speaking world, but ironically, though he lives among us, we don't know him.
Charlelie is really a kind of musical miracle, having not just artistically survived since his debut in the 80's but become more innovative with age. While most rock stars in their 60's are living off fumes from their previous decades, Mr. C. continues to break new ground. In the past 20 years he's toyed around with surreal hip hop, grinding blues/RnB, a kind of Australian-influenced country music and hordes of genres and musical fusions that defy definition.
He's like a kind of French Neil Young, but even that is a limited description. One minute he can be lush and romantic like Bryan Ferry, the next a quirky, jagged jazziness like Frank Zappa or Tom Waits, or often somewhere between Randy Newman and Dire Straits.
His palette is not just enormous but his songs are frighteningly good. A plus for Oregon: he did come out to Portland a few years ago to mix his Fort Reveur album at Sean Flora's Rock 'n Roll BnB Studios.
Grimes. This electronica wonder is one of the few hopes of newer, younger musicians - a category which is often too afraid to really push boundaries. Grimes is really just one girl: Canadian Claire Boucher, and she seriously needs to spread the word to Oregon.
You could say she's a bit like “What if Enya got married to Tangerine Dream?” But it's obviously way more modern and cutting edge than that. Portlanders in the know will be reminded of locals Dahlia, who ruled stages there about ten years ago.
At once ethereal and jarring, she runs a wide gamut of experimentalism and beauty, like a rave gig with mind-blowingly emotive layers. You can hear her in the background of a credit card commercial these days, but it's just a tiny taste of a girl who is destined to be a music innovator giant.
Manic Street Preachers. Around since the early 90's, this British behemoth was actually one of the most popular bands in the whole world for a while – except for here in the U.S. In spite of massive record sales they are the penultimate indie band in many ways. With a penchant for political fieriness they drift between this snarling, metallic punk rock-meets-glitter rock and then striking, cajoling poppiness. But always with a slightly incendiary message.
Their 1992 masterpiece “Motorcycle Emptiness” is an amazing mix of crunchiness and soaring, heavenly melodies, like Bach meets metal.
They are on a rare tour through the U.S right now, which brings up the matter: dudes, you need to play Portland (or even better the Oregon coast).
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