From Americana to indie punk, a pioneering label’s umbrella of producers, friends, and players stretches far and wide.
Hush Records, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, was founded by painter Chad Crouch. The label mostly releases beautiful orchestral indie folk from local bands, including some of the first material from The Decemberists.
Podington Bear is Chad Crouch’s alias, under which he released 156 electronic pop songs for free via podcast throughout 2007.
Corrina Repp is known for her sparse, warm, and “quiet” singer-songwriter pieces. One of Hush’s first artists, she has guested on numerous Portland bands’ records over the last 10 years, including The Decemberists’ 5 Songs.
Tu Fawning is the brainchild of collaborators Corrina Repp and Joe Haege, with Liza Rietz and Toussaint Perrault. The band has an indie-meets-cabaret feel, anchored by Repp’s trilling vocals and a rich, melancholy tone.
Ape Shape is a punk-funk-meets-reggae party band in which Tu Fawning’s Toussaint Perrault used to play trumpet. They have since broken up, and Perrault has made a solo record as Babydollar$.
31 Knots was formed in 1997 by Joe Haege, bassist Jay Winebrenner, and drummer Joe Kelly (who is now half of Panther). They make rhythmically charged math rock that veers between frenetic and atmospheric.
Much of 31 Knots’ 2005 album, Talk Like Blood, was recorded at Portland studio Type Foundry, where Spoon, Glass Candy, Swords Project, and many others have recorded.
Adam Selzer of Norfolk & Western started Type Foundry in 1997. Norfolk & Western is a seven-piece folk ensemble that plays viola, theremin, saw, Victorola, and many other classic instruments.
Jason Powers, an engineer at Type Foundry, does sound at local club Holocene and also tours with Talkdemonic, who make “folktronic hop” with programmed beats and a viola.
Talkdemonic, Swords, and many others record for Brooklyn-born, Portland-bred record label Arena Rock Recording Co.
Swords, formerly known as Swords Project, is an amorphous band that began serving up punchy, dramatic post-rock in 1999. Liza Rietz plays violin and accordion in the group.
Haunted troubadour Amy Annelle (a.k.a. The Places) is a former member of Swords who now makes campfire folk. She has played with members of The Thermals, Norfolk & Western, 31 Knots, and Jackie-O Motherfucker.
Sub Pop outfit The Thermals are Portland’s indie-punk icons, known for their political lyrics, straight-forward riffs, and explosive, inspiring live performances.
Post-riot grrl outfit All Girl Summer Fun Band purveys happy candy pop on K Records. Kathy Foster of The Thermals plays drums and bass and sings in the band.
The Decemberists make lush, literate indie-folk ballads. They graduated from releases on Hush and Kill Rock Stars to become major-label pop darlings.
Illustrator Carson Ellis designed the cover of The Decemberists’ 2006 album The Crane Wife (Capitol).
The Crane Wife was co-produced by Tucker Martine (with Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla), a producer, composer, and musician who records as Mount Analog.
Singer/guitarist Laura Gibson is known for her fragile indie folk. She is currently working on a new record with Tucker Martine at his Flora Studios in Portland.
Avant-electronic artist Ethan Rose is working on a record with vocalist Laura Gibson. He also contributed a song to the soundtrack of Gus Van Sant’s 2007 film Paranoid Park.
Gus Van Sant is a director famous for such indie film hits as Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, and Good Will Hunting. He moved to Portland in the mid-’80s and has many of his films take place there.
The trio Menomena, whose members played Christian rock in the ’90s, makes intensely layered indie rock that’s more accessible than their post-rock peers. Their song “Strongest Man in the World” is featured on the Paranoid Park soundtrack.
Menomena was borne out of drummer Danny Seim’s solo project Lackthereof, a bedroom project that melds electronic bleeps and quiet strums with Seim’s melancholy vocals. July’s Your Anchor (Barsuk) is Lackthereof’s ninth album.
Craig Thompson frequently does artwork for Menomena, and was nominated for a “Best Packaging” Grammy for the cover of their 2007 album, Friend and Foe. Thompson is a cartoonist best known for his 600-page autobiographical graphic novel, Blankets.
All Smiles is the solo project of Grandaddy’s Jim Fairchild, who has also played with Modest Mouse and Earlimart. His latest album of guitar-driven pastoral pop, Oh For the Getting and the Not Letting Go, will be out soon.
Grandaddy is a Modesto, CA band known for combining folk and rock with electronic touches and exploring the relationship between man, technology, and nature. Core member Jason Lytle produced M. Ward’s and Kyle Field’s 2000 album (as Rodriguez), Swing Like a Metronome. Grandaddy broke up in 2006.
M. Ward is the stage name of creaky-voiced Matt Ward, an indie folk artist beloved by Bright Eyes, Meg White, and the actress Zooey Deschanel, with whom he performs as She & Him. His timeless guitar folk has made him one of Portland’s best-known pop exports.
Viva Voce makes poppy indie rock in the vein of The Shins. The band is husband and wife Kevin and Anita Robinson. They played in the original lineup of Lackthereof.
Barsuk is a Seattle, WA-based indie rock label.
FILMguerrero is a small Portland label that releases records from Menomena, Mount Analog, Norfolk & Western, and more. They are distributed by Barsuk.
John Askew runs FILMguerrero. As Tracker, he makes meandering lo-fi guitar and ambient music, including the soundtrack to Craig Thompson’s Blankets. He is also an engineer at Type Foundry studios.
Named after a classic arcade museum in San Francisco, Musee Mecanique combines vintage sounds from the 1900s with modern synths to create a music-box feel. Their recent debut, Hold This Ghost, was produced by Tucker Martine.
Loch Lomond is many-headed Hush Records band that makes chamber folk for forest elves.
Renaissance man Nick Jaina plays drums, guitar, and keyboard, among other instruments. He also designs show posters and is currenty pursuing a solo project that involves ballads, lullabies, and multiple collaborators.
Nick Jaina, Matt Dabrowiak, and Paul Alcott comprise the now-defunct Binary Dolls, an electronic-meets-instrumental band that’s at once a jazzier Radiohead, a sprightlier Interpol, and a more vocal Tortoise.
Dat’r is Matt and Paul from Binary Dolls’ electronic project with live drums, beats manipulated by joysticks, and surprising vocals that range from raps to deconstructed glitch hymns.