Best Oregon Albums of 2011: Second Installment


Larry and His Flask – All That We Know

The Flask – as they are known to loyal fans- has a reputation for being a party band. Maybe that’s because five guys jumping around stage, throwing their fros back and forth to drunken sailor songs makes one assume that they make good use of that flask. In fact, I enjoyed a rambunctious evening with them at the Doug Fir last week. But beyond the spectacle – their musical acuity and sensibility is what catapulted their success from a basement band from Redmond to a national touring sensation. Their new record, All That We Know, gleams with studio polish, combining Mumford & Sons -esque vocals with explosive drums and banjo riffs running circles around each other. Americana gems like “Slow it Down” place them on par with the Avett Brothers, and have the potential to bring their high-desert thrashgrass to a whole new audience.


Typhoon – A New Kind of House 

Typhoon has twelve members and it sometimes swells to up to seventeen on a special night. Simply organizing this many people speaks worlds of lead-singer Kyle Morton’s capacities. But his true talent might actually be keeping this many people silent at the right times. On their new album, A New Kind of House, Morton’s warbly vocals go from whispers to passionate crescendos, often within a single song, and the band follows suit. Backing him with a combination of orchestral landscapes and drama-club choruses, their contributions to his songs are cathartic and uplifting. But this is not at the sacrifice of overall depth. On the contrary, the underlying sadness and loss in the album’s stand out track “Summer Home” is juxtaposed with soaring trumpets and jangling guitar riffs, putting both sorrow and exuberance in stark relief.

If the sound of 12 über talented hipsters performing anthem indie rock isn’t enough to draw you in, check out this album for the stellar songwriting. Typhoon wouldn’t be the same without the baroque tapestry the band creates, but Morton’s songs could absolutely stand on their own.

 (No mp3 available)

Alela Diane  – Alela Diane & Wild Divine

Those looking for similar sound to Alela Diane’s break-out album To Be Still are not going to find it in her 2011 release Alela Diane & Wild Divine. She’s given her freak folk noire a break and moved out into the country brambles. Thankfully, a good part of her family follows, giving this album a robust and confident twang. Father Tom Menig plays the guitar; often pulling off riffs and tones that sound straight out of a roadside tavern on one of America’s lost highways. New husband Tom Bevitori co-wrote some of the album, and songs like “Long Way Down” and “Desire” are evidence of his knack for penning big, catchy choruses. Overall, Wild Divine will appeal to those with a penchant for artists like Gillian Welch, or older folk-stars like Joan Baez. At only 24 years old, Diane’s voice and subject matter sound like they are channeling an old soul, and she’s setting a new standard for the next generation of folk musicians.


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