Tomorrow's tunes take cues from years ago
by: COURTESY OF HEROES AND VILLAINS, A record release promises to be quite the party when Heroes and Villains become part of an 18-member sonic tour de force.

Chalk it up to something in the water, a vortex that corresponds to our particular latitude and longitude or even the city's long-standing dedication to preservation, but Portland seems to be a magnet for forward-thinking bands with at least one foot firmly planted in the past.

Although the Decemberists are the area's best-known exporters of brainy, history-steeped alt-rock, they have kindred spirits in bands like Heroes and Villains.

'Turn Your Swords,' Heroes and Villains' first full-length (out now on Pampelmoose, the label co-owned by Gang of Four's Dave Allen and members of Dirty Martini), is an ambitious collection of jazzy, gypsy-tinged cabaret rock.

Many of the tunes are more like minisuites than traditional songs, moving between passages, weaving stories and generally transporting the listener to some undefined, slightly haunted and intriguing place.

It being Portland, the album is augmented by guest appearances of friends and extended musical family members, several of whom share the bill tonight.

To make the show a genuine record release celebration, members of all three bands on the bill tonight (which includes Horse Feathers and Nick Jaina) will be performing with one another, culminating in an 18-person onstage extravaganza during Heroes and Villains' set. It should be quite a spectacular evening.

- Barbara Mitchell

9 p.m. FRIDAY, Sept. 22, Dante's, 1 S.W. Third Ave., 503-226-6630, $7

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