2018 Musings, Top 5 Albums, and Pre-Order News

Hey dears!

Sometimes saying “yes” to music opportunities means you’ll end up in Northern California in a jewel-covered, underwater-themed basement, home to both a stripper pole and the woman who owns the venue upstairs (the venue you just played), neither of which you were expecting. But other times, saying “yes” might lead you to somewhere else, like playing in a nice church venue at a sold out show in the center of London. Weirdly I’ve been in both situations, and I have to say I liked them equally. The music world is really a gamble sometimes. I would never want to be thought of as a “yes” person because I value criticism too much, but I do think magic happens when it’s supposed to. Guess that makes me a mystic.

It’s been a year of flexing the “yes/no” muscle when it comes to choosing music things, and it’s been a good learning curve. This time one year ago I was getting home from a real quick jaunt to England, where I played my first ever show in London to a small but cozy room full of people. I’m bringing up that little trip again not to brag (or to even dramatize a weekend of going to shows - it was fun! but like, flossing is also fun) but because it was partially responsible for the kick in the pants I needed. I wasn’t in a great place by the end of last year and long story short, I was gonna maybe call it quits (or at least cool it) with music because I thought that maybe I wasn’t good enough and felt weirdly isolated from Portland’s music scene. It’s an easy headspace to get in if you like to dream big and you care. (Not trying to be self-pitying here, it’s a real thing! And I know I’m not the only one who’s been there.) It makes me sad to look back at what my self-perception was a year ago, but the good news is with the right kind of support things like that can always change. Getting out of my hometown just to visit a different music scene did a lot of good and helped me remember that art is for everyone and there’s room for it all. What an exciting time to be creating!

Okey doke, musings/reflection over. Here are my top five albums from this year, all of which I saw live:

  1. Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel (live at the Crystal Ballroom)

    1. Hands-down, no question, one of the most infectious albums I’ve heard in a while. Very inspiring.

  2. The Breeders - All Nerve (live at Crystal Ballroom)

    1. I’m an idiot for not listening to them sooner.  

  3. Laura Gibson - Goners (live a Mississippi Studios)

    1. Also, MAITA had an amazing performance as the openers for this show, but they don’t have their album out yet. Highly anticipated though!! X

  4. The Beths - Future Me Hates Me (live at Doug Fir)

    1. I guess I’m biased because we opened this show, but it was a hell of a party and their album is incredibly catchy. We also had the honor of playing with Mere Mention that night, so it’s a very bittersweet memory.  <3

  5. Freak Dream - Into the Sun (live at the Firkin Tavern)

    1. Okay I’m biased again because the new noise pop band I play synth/keys for (Dollar Coat) opened this show. But FD really blew me away with their industrial alt-rock/Rage Against the Machine vibe, even though their lead singer said that RATM was too poppy for them. Amazing!

As for my own music ventures: I attended and played the Folk Alliance International 2018 with the gang of Oregon ladies and met more wonderful people, revisited old California haunts with a couple of tour buddies in the spring and played a very memorable house show in Oakland, in May I had my first artist residency via the Trillium Project, in early summer the band and I put out a single and played a rockin’ release shows with some good buddies of ours in Portland and Eugene, I toured England with Margaret (see two blog posts ago), the boys and I played the Doug Fir for the first time and it was a blast, and we’ve begun work on the band’s debut LP. Phew!  

Big thing to keep in mind is: in the coming months I’ll be launching a pre-order campaign for the new album because this one-woman-powered machine needs some help if it’s going to do what it’s supposed to do.  I’m going to get annoying as all hell and lose my shit on the internet. I hope you’re ready for it. I hope I am, too.

For now, enjoy the holiday festivities and be with friends/family/lovers. It’s a good time for that.

OA xx

Olivia Awbrey