The state of Oregon is renowned for its forests, fisheries, microbreweries, and natural tourist attractions that include Mount Hood, Crater Lake and Mount Bachelor.
However, one of the state’s best-kept secrets is its talented bands and musicians.
While the likes of Modest Mouse, The Shins, Sleater-Kinney and Blind Pilot are well-known in the music world, there are many other exceptional bands that hail from the Beaver state.
Here are some additional Oregon-based bands and artists who merit a listen.
We’ll start with one of Oregon’s least-known, most talented musicians, Pete Kartsounes.
Based in Bend, Kartsounes is an award-winning singer-songwriter, impressive flat picker and cutting-edge musician’s musician.
Kartsounes started playing piano “as soon as I was able to climb up on the bench,” and has played guitar since he was seventeen. “I’ve been playing for a living ever since, and playing my music has taken me around the world,” says Kartsounes.
His musical influences include Jerry Garcia, Ray LaMontagne and Carlos Nakai.
He released “Out Here On My Own” last August. Two of its tracks – “Air to Breathe” and “The River,” are currently on our playlist.
Looking back at his inspiration for “Air to Breathe,” Kartsounes says: “It had rained recently so the wood was damp and every time I got a fire going, it would die down and I would have to blow on it…after doing this three or four times, it hit me: ”You can’t have a fire without a little air to breathe.”
While along the spring-fed Fall River, between Sunriver and La Pine, Oregon, Kartsounes wrote “The River,” another great track.
“I wanted to write something that was a tribute to the river.The river really brings you to the moment, and this song came to me in about an hour,” he says, adding, “I will always play this one at my shows, and give tribute to the rivers.”
Then, just last November, the prolific artist released “Mindful Muse” – 60 minutes of music designed for yoga, meditation, massage and mindful practice. “It’s the first album I’ve ever recorded where I am playing dominantly piano and flute,” he says, adding, “this will most definitely not be my last album in this genre.”
No stranger to life on the road, Kartsounes has played for more than two decades on stages around the world.
Let’s hope he comes to Portland – or Eugene – soon. You can find his music on his website , and on iTunes.
Extremely talented songstress Laura Veirs is based in Portland. While many Portlander’s have heard of her, maybe they should talk her up amongst their friends a bit more. She’s certainly worthy of more recognition.
The gifted singer-songwriter released her gorgeous new “My Echo” just last year. On the independent record label Bella Union, “My Echo” is absorbing, insightful folk-pop.
Opening track “Freedom Feeling” is beautiful, somber and musically arresting. Veirs’ remarkable “Brick Layer” is tender and pensive.
With 12 albums under her belt, it’s a sure bet you’ll find at least one or two to love.
Look for music by Laura Veirs on her website, and on iTunes.
Of course no article about Oregon’s music scene would be complete without mentioning Portland’s ever-popular, musically diverse Blitzen Trapper. The band now has nine studio albums to their credit. Last year’s “Holy Smokes, Future Jokes” release gifted fans ten perfect folk-rock tracks boasting rich harmonies along mystical themes.
The band’s early influences include Michael Stipe, Son Volt’s Jay Farrar and Bob Dylan. Blitzen Trapper continues to expand musically, grow their fan base, and yes, play live shows in Portland.
If you have a chance to catch them live, don’t miss out! Find their music on their website or on iTunes.
Also based in Portland are rising stars The Noted.
Founded by songwriter Daniel Work, the band released “Lost & Found” last year. The band’s clean sound has a cool, appealing retro vibe. It’s solid pop-rock that encompasses a breadth of musical styles.
“Lost & Found” is very much a “band” record – no studio musicians or outside guests. All songs are inspired by real life events, like “Too Many Trees,” their musically upbeat plea for less gun violence. Buoyed by a pervasive sense of optimism, The Noted encourages listeners to “be yourself, don’t care what others think…and sing out loud!”
Mr. Work even built a new recording studio several years back, allowing the band more creative freedom. New tracks currently in progress are “Time, Time to Run,” “A Story,” and “The Lucky Ones,” a rocker about 2020.
Find music from The Noted on their website , on iTunes and on Bandcamp.
Portland artist Kingsley sang before she could talk.
Inspired by pop music, she began writing and producing her own songs at age ten.
Her specialty? An indie-pop sound boasting heart-wrenching lyrics, electronic touches and superb vocals.
Don’t miss a chance to hear Kingsley live if you get the chance. And if she plays The Old Church, you’re in luck. With its excellent acoustics it’s her favorite, “just a beautiful space,” says Kingsley.
Her new “I’m Fine” single was just added to our playlist. Find music from Kingsley here.
Also based in Portland is Coordination. This band is a bit of a mystery…but hey! Sometimes, mysteries are fun.
Coordination was founded by Portland musician Anthony Brisson.
Their new “The Great Adventure,” released last year, is splendid pop-rock. Guest performers and collaborators include: Eddie Bond (synthesizer & piano), Lisa Schonberg (drums, percussion, synth bass), Cam Mazzia (bass guitar), Amenta Abioto (vocals), Zachary Blake Nelson (slide guitar) and Robert Murphy, violin.
Coordination’s new release is atmospheric rock n’ roll. Fans of fresh-sounding shoegaze, lo-fi and synthwave are sure to love it. “Conor Stays Up Late” is currently on our playlist.
Find music from Anthony Brisson and Coordination on Bandcamp .
Moody bliss-pop Souvenir Driver are another absolutely ace Portland Indie band.
Like many of the best bands today, Souvenir Driver began as a solo bedroom project.
While the band can be elusive, their music is well-worth searching out.
Their stunning 2017 “Brace Yourself” – about the band’s reaction to Trump’s election – is outstanding. Portland Radio Project hosted frontman Nate Wey at an in-studio drop-in session just prior to Trump’s inauguration.
“Brace Yourself” was mixed by Gregg Williams (Dandy Warhols, Blitzen Trapper), and remains an Indie classic.
The band released their compelling “A Dangerous Crossing” in 2019, and a remix of atmospheric “Haze,” from that album, the same year. Remix artist Jonathan Allen is quoted as saying he was listening to The Cure “and thinking of our withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord” at the time he worked on it. Equally compelling, don’t miss “Voices of a Traveler” from their self-titled CD, recorded in a mountain cabin and at Trench Studios.
You can find music from Souvenir Driver on Bandcamp.
Support local musicians
That’s a wrap!
This is a good time to remind you, our loyal listeners, to support local Portland musicians – and all musicians – by buying their music.
This is especially important now, while so many are being affected by current events.
Lastly, we here at PRP play a local artist every 15 minutes…show us some love! Please consider making a donation today.