The stars are bright
A reluctant Portland rock and folk institution, Fernando Viciconte combines incisively melodic songwriting, edgy, Crazy Horse-like rock and a passionate vocal twang that leaves no doubt he means every note that springs from his lips. Think of a south of the border-inflected Neil Young, or Tom Petty in his angst-ier days. Fernando and his crack, local-all-star ensemble will rip it up at Dante's by celebrating the release of his long-awaited new album, 'True Instigator,' with support from buddies Casey Neil and The Welfare State. Advance tracks like the delightfully power poppy 'A Word from the Inside' suggest 'True Instigator' could be one of the year's most scrumptious rock collections.
Fernando, Casey Neil and the Norway Rats, The Welfare State, 9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 5. Dante's, 350 W. Burnside St. $10. Info: 503-226-6630, danteslive.com, fernandoviciconte.com
Sweeter than saccharine
Proving that '80s synth pop, neo-psychedelia and bright vocal hooks can work in any cultural time and place, San Franscisco-based duo Sugar and Gold radiate a palpable glee with every robotic sample and tasty groove. The boys celebrated two years of steady touring with a second LP, 'Get Wet' in 2010. Now working on its debut LP set for release later this year, Yip Deceiver - a duo featuring multi-instrumentalist Davey Pierce and collaborator Dobbratz - should provide the ideal complement to the bill with more hooky dance pop that adds '80s-style soul and R and B elements to the sublimely bubbly mix.
Sugar and Gold, Yip Deceiver, 8:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 7, Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi St. $8 advance, $10 day of show. Info: 503-288-3895, mississippistudios.com.
Since his emergence as a solo artist in 1978, former Emmylou Harris sideman Rodney Crowell has come full circle: from much-covered cult-figure songwriter to '80s country Grammy magnet and back again. But whatever he's lost in mass-market appeal, he's gained in literary, world-wizened songcraft, as his post-2001 cluster of independent-label releases indicates. Catch a true master - and proud musical spawn of Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker - in an appropriately comfy setting at the Aladdin.
Rodney Crowell, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9, Aladdin Theater, 3017 S.E. Milwaukie Ave. $22 advance and at door. Info: 503-234-9694, aladdintheater.com.
You know a band is good for a good time when it proudly lists 'and friends' as part of its five-man lineup. The Portland-based Quiet Life - via New London, Conn. - brings an infectious insouciance to its brand of denim-clad Americana. Join the boys, supported by Seattle's The Moondoggies and Widower, as they celebrate their latest release, 'Big Green.'
Quiet Life, The Moondoggies, Widower, 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12. Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside St. $5 advance and day of show. Info: 503-231-9663, dougfirlounge.com.
Now that Beck - once America's favorite hip blender of past, current and futuristic sounds - has passed the 4-0 mark, it's perhaps time to pass the torch to some 21st century amalgamators. Based on his complex lyricism amid a stew of hip hop, indie rock and rural influences, Seattle rapper-composer Astronautalis comes on as a worthy inheritor. His latest album, 'Pomegranate' has help from Grammy-nominated producer John Congleton and members of The Polyphonic Spree and The Paperchase.
Astronautalis, TxE, Devonwho, 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12, Rotture, 315 S.E. Third Ave., $8 advance tickets from Brown Paper Tickets, brownpapertickets.com. Info 503-234-5683, rotture.com.