303 SW 12th Avenue Portland, OR, 97204
Thursday, December 30, 2021
Crystal Hotel - Al's Den
6pm - 9pm
21 and over
6pm - 9pm$1021 and over
It is easy to find the Devil in The Star and The Devil,
the searing solo debut from Portland rock staple Gabby Holt. Holt
explores her past connections in six bristling parts, each of which she wrote
while immersed in connections that were, at times, driven by addiction, fear,
or insecurity. These emotions come to light in the heavy, yet deliciously
catchy sound that Holt has crafted, brimming with her guitar prowess and
melodic finesse. As for the Star, Holt’s symbol of healing and rejuvenation, it
carries a more nuanced presence on the record, emerging not within the content
of the songs but in the process of creation and reflection that the record
itself has allowed.
“I look at myself with almost child like eyes, you know.”
Holt says of the person she was when she wrote the songs. “That was the Gabby
that was learning, that wanted to fix this situation. This was the part of me
that was trying her best.” Today, Holt looks back upon the unhealthy
relationships that drive The Star and The Devil with newfound perspective,
cherishing her experiences from a place of honesty and growth.
“It’s still giving voice to that part of me that was in it.
It’s okay to be human…it’s a really human thing to feel that way.”
Gabby Holt was inexplicably drawn to the guitar from a very
young age, finding in the instrument a home that she carried with her
throughout her childhood and adolescence. She began sneaking into Portland Open
Mic nights in high school, and soon immersed herself in the Portland music
scene. She played in various bands before meeting Daniel Riddle and joining
King Black Acid in 2012, a project which she began co-fronting in 2017.
The Star and the Devil was produced by Gabby Holt and Jeff
Stuart Saltzman (Typhoon,
Deertick) and features Joe Mengis (Eels) and
Charley McGowan on drums, Sean Tichenor on bass, and Bryan Owens on additional
guitar. Before 2020, Gabby Holt and her band played regularly, selling out their
most recent Portland shows and opening for Oregon indie veterans Floater. The band is
already working on their follow-up to The
Star and the Devil.
Pretty Little City - Gordon Keepers' Debut Solo AlbumBy now, Portland OR-based singer-songwriter Gordon Keepers is a veteran of the music scene. After a stint in old-time ensemble Water Tower, Keepers sang, wrote songs, and played guitar in the punk-flecked pop band Levon's Helmet-a project that earned generous amounts of local praise despite never fully penetrating the nice-shoes-and-artisanal-IPA pocket of the Portland music scene.Keepers' first solo record, Pretty Little City, is a leaner take on the aesthetic developed in Levon's Helmet. Its 10 tracks are more measured and mid-tempo; the cultural commentary here is dryer and more nuanced than the brash adolescent takedowns of Levon's Helmet songs "Condos" and "One Little Piggy". This thematic maturity is matched by thicker and more diverse sounds-opening track and album highlight "Romeo" sounds like The River-era Bruce Springsteen crossed with The Cars, and it's an effective sonic overview of the album.On tracks like "Shattered" and "Angeline", Keepers proves that he can still get loud and raucous. Occupying the other end of the spectrum are somnolent ballads "Pretty Little Moon" and its instrumental, major-key counterpart "Pretty Little City"-two acoustic threnodies that wouldn't sound out of place on the backend of Big Star's Third.Recorded with Evan "Maus" Mersky at Red Lantern Studios in Portland (Tony Molina, The Estranged, Big Eyes), Pretty Little City is a punk record that shimmers in all the right places. Its songs manage to be reverential towards past power-pop titans like the Raspberries and the Jam while remaining forward-thinking in theme. This alone is a rare feat within a genre often characterized by rigid formalism; it helps that Pretty Little City is also a great album.
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