Brainstorm is a band I have never seen play live before. They don’t tend to play around Portland as much as they used to. I imagine that Brainstorm isn’t constantly gigging because they have real jobs—drummer Adam Baz being a bird biologist, for instance. If you’re looking for a beachy sound with plenty of reverb and up-tempo beats that manages to stay far away from such a corny description like that one, then you’ll like them. That being said, the band members themselves trace their influences back to north African music.
I can’t imagine a much better band than Brainstorm to start the summer off with if you’re looking to be in a good mood and to be reminded of what makes Portland so great during those three sunny months of the year. It’s pop, but not in a '90s glam kind of way. (No boy bands here.)
Sorry Brainstorm, but Social Studies gets even more love from me. I have seen Social Studies live, even getting to hang out with them briefly beforehand, and I cannot speak more highly of a band. They haven’t put out a full album in two years, but they say there’s a new album on the way. Natalia Rogovin has an incredible voice and the right amount of attitude. Her lyrics are crushing, but she manages to sing them in such a pleasant way that you’re almost warmed by it all. This San Francisco synth rock band is one I’ll be following eternally. Now I’m getting to be too nice…
I’ve never heard of Hands In until now. Hands In is a one-man band comprised of Erick Crosby. His music is a lo-fi, and I hate doing this, but a Dr. Dog-like feeling vocal setup. He’s a Portland local, so give him a Portland welcome—uncross your arms. If I could say anything about all three of the bands, it’s that they’ve got a great upbeat feeling without being nauseously cute or happy.