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Vow of Volition Make the Final Round of the Battle for Warped Tour

The Vans Warped Tour was the first festival for many of us back in the day. As young'ns, it's likely we didn't necessarily think about all that went into figuring out the bands to book and play the whole shebang. Part of that process, at least locally, seems to be through a series "battle of the bands" style competitions specifically for landing a spot on the fest. Quite a few Portland bands have been furiously playing against one another for said spot, and djent/prog metal act Vow of Volition are one of the acts that made it to the finals.

Warped Tour was always the type of festival that included much in the realm of pop punk, punk punk, emo and metal, so Vow of Volition's advancement to the final round is no surprise. Their incredibly technical, at times jazzy metal stands out in Portland's pretty linear popular music scene, and is much worthy of the attention its getting.

Those that want to support Vow of Volition in driving home the permanent spot can go to the Battle for Warped Tour finals Saturday at the Hawthorne Theatre.





Elektra Monet examines Transience on new EP

Elektra Monet isn’t just another Juilliard-trained viola and violin player from Texas who performs the occasional DJ set at Burning Man because yes she is one of those but one who also creates original electronically generated pieces combining 4AD/This Mortal Coil style avant/ambient floatiness with modern glitch beats and the kind of wraithlike female vocals favored by the likes of David Lynch and Serge Gainsbourg among other inspirations and influences.

You can listen to her latest full-length release titled Angels of Sweat from late 2020 below if you doubt me (recommended tracks: “Love is a Diamond Lie,” “In A State,” “Trash Humper,” “1995”) or better yet the new album-teasing EP released just today called Transience on which Ms. Monet steers her ship into more Tangerine Dreamy waters. And there's truly some transience happening on Transience what with the brighter, sharper synth timbres and mind-melding arpeggiations that may possibly have some of us fantasizing about riding a real train with Tom Cruise or Rebecca De Mornay or both or is that just me.

The one caveat that may exist for some fans is the lack of vocals on the three tracks because of Elektra’s especially spectral voice but then again singing may have somewhat broken the “Late Night Tales” spell cast so perfectly by the EP. And anyway you can check out some recent vocalizing by Elektra on two tracks where she's featured as lead vocalist on Jeremy Bastard’s Everyone Is History, There Is No Memory from earlier this year, reviewed on the DELI blog not long ago, where she adapts the crystalline hushed high-register school of female vocalizing and stirs a little grit into the mix.

And hey wouldn’t you know it, Elektra and Jeremy are labelmates on Somewherecold Records based out of Shelbyville, Kentucky, and while he’s clearly no Dyna Girl they do make seem to make a good musical team, especially since they both record for a label specializing in all thing slowcore, gothic, shoegazy, darkwavey, post-rocky, and ambient-but-not-New-Agey. (Jason Lee)





Phantom Handshakes: Shoegaze on Broadway

ALT TITLE: "Dream-pop Girls"

Way back in 2020, the Phantom Handshakes put out a song called “Aisha (Vs the Dirty Tongues)” which just from the title alone sounds like it should be a rock opera. And it’s not just the title because the song’s dramatic, moody music is likewise suited to the stage and would likely appeal to the youth of today since they don’t yet have a rock opera to call their own. Anyway I’d say the time has finally come for a shoegaze/dream pop takeover of Broadway and the West End.



The newest release by the Phantom Handshakes entitled No More Summer Songs could be the album to break the impasse and tap the potential for a dream pop rock opera if somebody could just find the next Mr. Lin-Manuel Miranda and get him or her to write a staged adaptation. I mean just listen to “Cricket Songs” and it’s inner monologue describing the protagonist’s heightened sense of perception in the midst of a summer heatwave complete with bedroom dancing and sweaty sheets and overemotive mothers and drifting off to the sound of chirping crickets. It’s pretty evocative stuff and so is the video above.


The album’s opening track “I Worried” would make a perfect overture with its ghostly echoes looking back at past misspent summers (that’s my take on it anyway) which would serve as a perfect framing device for the musical, and then the next song “No Better Plan” would be the crossover crowd-pleaser with its wordless catchy yet slightly taunting “Nya Na Na” refrain which should translate well to foreign markets.



The song captures a doomed-yet-determined forlornness but with a sunny/boppy melody and beat (sidenote: the aforementioned hit song from Hamilton also has a “Na Na Na” refrain) with lyrics about “building sandcastles despite the wind” which is essentially what King George does in Hamilton

P.S. I’ll gratefully accept a producer co-credit and a modest percentage of the gross box office if this idea comes to fruition. But if it turns out to be the next Moose Murders just remember you didn’t hear any of this from me.





DELI TV: "Decoder Ring" by The Planes

The Planes are a power-indie-pop power trio who've mastered their own distinctive brand of pop-rock-craft as illustrated by their new album-teasing single called “Decoder Ring.” Check out the exclusive Deli-made video for the single below because you gotta pass the time somehow until Eternity on its Edge comes out on June 11.

If you’ve ever seen the holiday perennial A Christmas Story (directed by the same guy who directed the seminal slasher movie Black Christmas) then you’ve heard of secret decoder rings. Made famous in the 1940s and ‘50s by Ovaltine as prizes given away in packages of the sweetened and vitamin-enriched milk powder product, decoder rings could be used to unscramble coded messages broadcast on the Ovaltine-sponsored Captain Midnight program in which the show’s titular aviator war hero battled villains like ruthless criminal mastermind Ivan Shark, his sadistic partner-in-crime and daughter Fury Shark, and the Nazi ne’er-do-well Baron von Karp.

But I digress. "Decoder Ring" is a fitting title for a Planes song given how good the band are at writing and arranging sugary pop hooks but enriched with indie rock nutrients like guitar jangle, grungy distortion, and psychedelic flange--all joined to a narrative about being “down in the dungeon and out in the sea” (just like Captain Midnight!) with an appeal to “look at me / I can’t be seen / without a decoder ring” (just like the show's Ovaltine-hawking host!) which is enough to make you wonder if "The Planes" is really just a cover story for this trio of fighter-pilot Nazi-hunting super spies. Or maybe not. Maybe instead they're taken inspiration from Keith Moon and the Who in hawking sugary milk-based treats to kids.

Tune in next week to learn the thrilling answers to these and other questions!  (Jason Lee)





Ilithios shows the "Way of the Future"

There's some songs that get you right there and I mean there. And while everybody has a different emotional G-spot it's recommend you check out the Deli music video premiere below [editor's note: first premiered on our IG account] because if the song alone doesn’t get you there then the visuals plus the music might. The video is comprised of equal-parts sweet and melancholic home movies of and by our featured artist spanning from his childhood to the near-present, a montage of grainy footage from Greece, Korea, and NYC that forms a fascinating family tree even if you aren't directly related to Ilithios and I'm guessing most of you aren't even though you're reading this.

The lyrics and visuals of “Way of the Future” play off the strange liminal state we've all been trapped in for the past year-plus and still not knowing what’s coming next (or not coming next) and thus the opening lyrical query: “When all this passes / will you still be around?” And if it sounds a little heavy well yeah but the music that carries these ruminations to your ears floats by gently and generously even when it's being acknowledged that “I know you haven’t seen me in a while / I know I’m not your favorite one no more." But the sentiment is delivered in such a way that it doesn’t sting and everything seems pretty chill except that by the end of the bridge Ilithios is imploring us to “take apart this fortress with one touch" in a not-so-chill fashion which again captures a certain hazy blend of longing, contentment, and perhaps an overdue reckoning.

The press notes for "Way of the Future" compare its sound to Perfume Genius, Twin Shadow, Father John Misty, Beach House, and Arthur Russell (Arthur Russell!) among others which is true enough but I’m also getting a certain late ‘90s/early 00’s REM vibe—not a super heralded period for the band but if you go and listen to New Adventures in Hi-Fi, Up and Reveal you'll find that these are some seriously vibey albums and that they've aged well. And speaking of vibes don’t stop there because Ilithios has recently hosted some cool locally-sourced shows--including an outdoor showcase around a month ago with Slalomville, Sean Spada, Space Sluts, The Planes, Ana Becker, Shadow Moster, and Kissed By An Animal (viewable in its entirety above) that's chock full of vibes of the good kind and who couldn't use some of those. (Jason Lee)

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