Preview: The Faint at the Roseland on May 31

The Faint at the Roseland in Portland on May 31It's been six long years since Omaha's cyborgiest band last caressed our earholes with a full-length, 2008's 'Fasciinatiion'. Bush was still in White House for crying out loud! So much in the world has changed since even then: Electropunk dance rock is now easy money for cookie cutter groups, conspiracy culture paranoia is pervasive and Conor Oberst is on CBS This Morning playing songs from his new major label release. Meanwhile, The Faint has stayed true to their sound and vision and, if anything, they've only gotten more cutting and contentious. "We don't need soap, We don't need straws, We don't need software, To tell us we’re lost…". But there's still a sliver of a silver lining to be found a moment later with, "We don't need prophecies, Ending in doom…" Sometimes on previous Faint albums, there would be a short rager that sort of split the A-side from the flip. But now with 'Doom Abuse', it almost seems like they just made a whole record of ragers. This album also marks the first time the band isn't on hometown label Saddle Creek or on their own imprint. It's a brave new world for all of us and The Faint has the soundtrack for the savages.

Preview: Mogwai at the Roseland in Portland on May 24

The mighty Mogwai, as I usually refer to them as, really are just that: mighty. I first saw the band back in 2001 (?!) and, next to Atari Teenage Riot, they were the LOUDEST band I've ever seen; I could feel the sound waves making my clothing move. And then the Scottish boys even tricked the sound guy into turning it up even louder! In the nearly 20 years the band has been making records (and film scores and trouble), they have slowly, but surely and assuredly, become the high standard for instrumental rock. Explosions In The Sky might be nipping at their heels, but Mogwai continue to grow and morph. Their latest, 'Rave Tapes,' is the band's eighth studio full-length and it has a great analog-y sound with synths replacing - or at least augmenting - their usually piano-based song structures. By the time the third track kicks in you'll be hooked... and then comes the backward masking!

Preview: Chet Faker at Doug Fir Lounge on May 22

Once I got past Chet Faker's hilarious effing moniker (which pays tribute to that man with the horn AND the voice), I got into the sound. It's that super icy, Jimmy Edgar-like soul sound that makes you feel like the lonely future will still give your rhythm the blues. The Melbourne maestro has made a few appearances on PUTV and his first time was with "No Diggity", the sweet slab of sound that helped turn mild-mannered Nicholas Murphy into the mighty Chet Faker that we now have. Maybe, since Mr. Murphy looks a hell of a lot like Sam Beam, he should open up for Iron & Wine when he's finished with his current stateside tour...

Preview: Radiation City at Doug Fir Lounge on May 21

Radiation City is just one of a ton of great bands here in Portland and the company that releases their albums is THE best toy store/record label out there, hands down. Founded in 2009, they were named "Portland's Best New Band of 2012" by the Willy Week. The quartet, made up of two couples and a poor fifth wheel dude, released their second full-length exactly one year ago. Their sound reaches back to the Velvets and Stereolab while sounding great alongside contemporaries like Tennis and the late, great Broadcast. Hopefully these new shows (one at the Doug and then this weekend at Sasquatch!) mean that the band is road-testing some new material as the only complaint about Radiation City is that there's not enough new music.

Preview: Gardens And Villa / Pure Bathing Culture at Doug Fir Lounge in Portland on May 15

Gardens and Villa fooled me with their appearance, I thought that that many dudes just had to mean jam band. They're really more of a groove band and not in an over-the-top way. The almost-world beat pop sound is perfect for now: it's hot, you want a cold drink and an even cooler sound washing over you. And doing it at the Doug is even better... Hey and Portland's own Pure Bathing Culture are the opening act!

Preview: Lo-Fang at Doug Fir Lounge in Portland on May 7

Los Angeles-based musician Matthew Hemerlein, aka Lo-Fang, might be classically trained but that surely doesn't make his music so high-minded as to be boring. On the contrary, his debut album, 'Blue Film,' - on the legendary 4AD Records, no less! - is a beautiful bit of 21st century baroque pop. All it takes is about thirty seconds of the full group's appearance on the 'Late Show' to show your ears all the simple, old fashioned ways you can still make a joyful noise. Are those skateboard wheels? Go to the Doug Fir and give those wheels a spin...