Though she's been lumped in with the Americana crowd thanks to the slight twangst of her earlier albums (and a remarkably strong, clear and expressive voice that's reminiscent of Patsy Cline), Neko Case doesn't really fit into one specific genre.
Her latest album, 'Fox Confessor Brings the Flood,' is her strongest yet - classic songs in the truest sense of the word. Case's voice is astonishing, but she's a remarkably down-to-earth performer whose charm has won over crowds large and small, young and old. Whether you're a fan of country, pop or alternative music, prepare to be converted.
8 p.m. FRIDAY, June 30, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St., 503-225-0047, $20, all ages
Portland's music scene is teeming with talent and creativity, so it's even more remarkable when a local artist instantly grabs your attention and holds it. Laura Gibson has a charmingly shy stage manner, but her songwriting and vocals are incredibly confident and instantly memorable.
There's a wonderfully nostalgic, almost autumnal quality to Gibson's music - both innocent and melancholy, it harks back to her small-town childhood in the best possible way. With a full-length album just completed (but not out), expect to hear much more about this rising talent in the near future.
9:30 p.m. SATURDAY, July 1, Alberta Street Public House, 1036 N.E. Alberta St., 503-284-7665, $5
Waking Ashland falls somewhere between the cinematic balladry of Coldplay and Keane and the plaintive pop-rock of Jimmy Eat World - emotionally charged, piano-based, radio-friendly music that cuts across genre boundaries and scores a direct hit on your heart.
The band wowed crowds on the 2004 Warped Tour, reached an even greater audience with an appearance on the first MySpace compilation and looks primed for even bigger things ahead.
9:30 p.m. SATURDAY, July 1, Loveland, 320 S.E. Second Ave., 503-230-2111, $12, all ages
There's chemistry, and then there's chemistry. The Indigo Girls' Amy Ray and Emily Saliers forged a musical connection over nearly a dozen albums and a career that's now into its third decade. That spark - the pull between Saliers' folkier leanings and Ray's punkier background - as well as their laid-back, often guest-studded live shows, also have forged a unique bond with a wonderfully loyal and respectful fan base.
Now Saliers and Ray are hitting the road with their full band. Make sure to arrive early to catch the Southern Gothic songs of opening act Danielle Howle, a longtime friend of the Indigo Girls.
7 p.m. SATURDAY, July 1, Oregon Zoo, 4001 S.W. Canyon Road, 503-226-1561, $26, all ages
Band of Horses
Seattle's Band of Horses have delivered one of the year's most transcendent debuts - a perfect summer album that offers a blend of lo-fi rock and soaring beauty that summons elements of My Morning Jacket, Built to Spill, Mercury Rev and even Neil Young.
They're joined on this tour by good friend and occasional musical collaborator Sera Cahoone, a fellow Seattleite whose stunning vocals infuse her beautifully sad and dusky songs with a rare depth of emotion.
All around, it should be a great evening of low-key lo-fi music.
9 p.m. MONDAY, July 3, Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside St., 503-231-9663, $12