Metal Postcard’s Pacific North West Top 10

Hi all…. Sean here from Metal Postcard in Hong Kong . It’s been a while so I thought it was time for another Metal Postcard Top Ten.

Every summer Metal Postcard puts on our “Sometimes A Great Notion” festival in Portland OR. email us at and tell me why the festival is named as it is. First correct answer gets a metal postcard goodie pack in the mail. This summer was particularly good for new music from the great states of Oregon & Washington so here goes ….

Number One

And this really does sit at the top of the chart for me … and, way, way above the rest too. The Woolen Men and their song “I Was Wrong” from their album released on NYC’s on ultra hip NY label Woodsist. They are one of the most exciting bands I’ve seen and heard in ages. When you hear the album, released earlier this year, it almost sounds as though the XX had decided to seek out Young Marble Giants and said “let’s form the best ever new wave band there never was”.

And then live it’s something completely different and equally exciting. The new wave tag still applies but after the three piece set up the tattiest equipment I’ve had the pleasure to see in over 20 years: one very battered drum kit, one effects pedal and a bass amp that’s been dragged through too many pubs. The sound they generate would defeat 99% of current bands, you know the type, endless effects pedals, samplers, huge drum kits and so on and so forth. This, instead, is a visceral blast of the Feelies, The Jam on their In The City Tour and NZ’s The Bats. You know it’s good because it feels as though it’s over in 5 minutes and there’s nobody stifling a yawn during the set. They could well be my Alan McGhee at King Tut’s moment although i fear they won’t be playing to 100,000 + at the end of the decade. One can always hope though .

Unfortunately there’s no media available for this track but you can hear it here at track 7.

Number Two

Originally from Alaska they’ve based themselves in Portland for quite a while so let’s call Portugal The Man a Pacific Northwest band for sake of argument. Their 7th album (I think) Evil Friends has been produced by Dangermouse who’s tightened the edges and distilled their sound and created their best album to date. In a way it’s somewhat like a dark version of Screamadelica and certainly shows that the rock kids in America these days get ecstasy far more than their EDM brethren. Standout tune for me is Creep In A Teeshirt


Number Three

I had Rose Windows play Sometimes A Great Notion this summer and you’ll be seeing them everywhere next summer. This Seattle band is perfect mix of Janis, Black Mountain and The Incredible String Band. They are just finishing off their first US tour and have a few dates coming up in the UK soon. Find them before everybody else does. Native Dreams is the one that’s doing it for me and it sounds really good very loud !


Number Four

Portland without mention of White Fang would be heresy here at Metal Postcard. Somehow they manage to combine the Dead with The Fall and throw in liberal amounts of The Butthole Surfers and the Dickies too. They are simply pure (some would say puerile) genius. Their latest cassette release Steady Truckin’ For Summer released on their own GNAR label will soon be out as a CD on Metal Postcard. The whole thing is over in under half an hour and the songs are about the simple pleasures of being in your twenties… partying, shrooms, summer, beaches , California. That’s it.

When they first sent the cassette to me it was as though Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee & Tommy had managed to time travel back to Brian Wilson’s Califiornia beachside pad in the late sixties, jumped into that sandpit with him and this is the result. Here’s the video to Bad Boys . White Fang fact… They call their house in Portland “Gnarnia”


Number Five

Whilst UK indie kids move to prog inspired sounds of Alt J and Django Django over on the far west coast this sound is being re-invented yet again and Sun Angle‘s harder edged rock prog with latin and Primus inspired rhythms are making them Portland’s most popular new act. There may be people doing something similar elsewhere but I’m yet to hear it. Check out Raspberry from their debut album Diamond Junk


Number Six

The Maldives are from Seattle and not the middle of the Pacific. They play what most people would class as Americana these days, but there’s more than that . There’s that gentle strength that’d you find in a Fleet Foxes recording, but whereas there’s a certain sense of seriousness with the Foxes the Maldives are more about celebration, as this live clip illustrates.


Number Seven

Free Weed is the alter-ego of White Fang’s lead singer Eric Gage. With a simple backing tape and mic he transforms from lo-fi rock boy into a stoner Barry White. The songs unsurprisingly deal with his prowess at the bong and with the ladies too. It’s all very tongue in cheek and bound to offend some. Humour in music is denigrated by the cool kids generally, if this doesn’t change their mind nothing will. Enjoy Won’t Back Down


Number Eight

Matthew Heller is still only young, twenty one, and has already released two albums that carry the spirit of Springsteen and Neil Young amongst others. And it’s not just me saying this, reviewers who hear him are making the same comparisons too.. What’s incredible is that on stage he adds another persona, that of a young Stevie Winwood to his palette. He’s another one we had at The Sometimes A Great Notion festival this summer, bottom of the bill too. But anybody who walked into that room didn’t leave again until they were sure the set was over. If your bag is authentic white boy rock n soul Heller is your man. Although the way he’s going at the moment i wouldn’t be surprised if the next album takes a completely different turn. Drone Strike is that heartland American music with a political edge that U2 spent years trying to perfect, Heller does it effortlessly.


Number Nine

Hip Hop has become very dull recently and although Seattle’s Don’t Talk To The Cops aren’t quite the next De La Soul it’s great to hear a bit of that Digital Underground and Avalanches vibe again. Based here in Asia we’re also pretty fond of a song called Laos Laos Laos


Number Ten

And finally another White Fang offshoot that has found it’s way to a forthcoming release by Metal Postcard. Jerry Rogers (the drummer) makes a super breezy summery fuzz pop with dashings of lo-fi beauty. His songs inject instant nostalgia into me. Nostalgia for what i’m not really sure but it’s the understatement in the music that i love so much. In a way he makes me feel like the Undertones debut always does.. a certain wistful joy. I’ve chosen Mirror for the chart but almost any of his songs do the same for me.



All words by Sean Hocking. You can read more by Sean on Louder Than War here. His label, Metal Postcard, can be found here.

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  1. Enjoyed that top ten (mostly), I hadn’t heard of any of them before but it made me want to check a few out which can’t be bad!


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