the sound of your morning: portland love

Image above: Portland print by Nathan Trivette at Etsy

Today, Amy and I are hopping on a plane to San Francisco to work on a special summer project with our DIY queen, Kate Pruitt. After we cram in a few days of fast-paced work, we’re heading to Portland to finish the project, visit some of our friends and take a few classes at The Ace. In honor of our trip to the Pacific Northwest, I thought I’d dedicate this morning’s music roundup to some of my favorite bands from Portland. It seems like every band or artist I love is from (or moving to) Portland these days, so this could easily turn into a 20-song list. So I tried to keep it short and sweet at 6 songs. But because I’m always looking for fantastic new bands, please feel free to leave your Portland favorites in the comment section below. Until then, I hope we’ll see some of you around town. xo, grace

Quasi, “Bye Bye Blackbird” — I love the way Sam and Janet’s voices work together. I could listen to this album over and over (and have a lot recently) and never get tired of it.

The Decemberists, “Sixteen Military Wives” — AC and I went back and forth trying to pick which video would be best for this post. The Rushmore-styling of this video won out in the end. It makes me miss Margaret Yang and Magnus Buchan.

The rest of the list continues after the jump . . .

The Gossip, “Listen Up” — To say that Beth Ditto is an amazing live performer is a massive understatement. She’s a one-woman tornado of awesomeness. This also happens to be one of my favorite songs to sing at karaoke.

Sleater-Kinney, “Jumpers” — It’s impossible for me to think of Portland and not think of Sleater-Kinney (even if they started in Olympia). Picking just one video was the hardest part of writing this post. So I chose to go with the one that has a DIY-wing project in it. Okay, so it’s not a real project, but she does cut them out of envelope windows and make them by hand.

The Thermals, “I Don’t Believe You”— I’ve got tickets to a Thermals show in two weeks, and I can hardly wait. This song always makes me happy, and the fact that I can see a Jill Bliss poster in the video makes me even happier.

Modest Mouse, “Dashboard” — AC feels this album didn’t receive the appreciation and accolades it deserved. While I definitely played the previous album more than this one, this song is fantastic.

The Minders “Yeah Yeah Yeah” – This band didn’t form in Portland but eventually settled there before breaking up in 2008. I sadly only found them way after the fact after falling for Rebecca’s adorable side-to-side head turning while playing keyboards for Wild Flag. Now I plan to make up for lost time by listening to their music on repeat on the flight out to SF today.

Hockey “Too Fake”- This is the sort of head bopping fun music that’s perfect for cleaning the house, long work stretches or an afternoon dance break.

  1. Hehe…nice tunes. I’d love to go to Portland. Aahh…I’d take any holiday really ;) Here’s to another Monday morning. Cheers!


  2. erin says:

    Great list! Several live recordings from the recent Sasquatch festival are currently streaming on NPR including a high energy set from Modest Mouse.

    One of my favorite Portland-based artists is Laura Veirs and I love the incredible video for “Galaxies”:

  3. christina says:

    You have to check out The Portland Cello Project! Its a group of cellists who do collaborations/covers with indie musicians and its wonderful. My favorite is with Thao from Thao with the Get Down Stay Down.

  4. Christine says:

    That is my favorite Minders song!!

  5. Tim says:

    Good Choices… I agree, you can’t mention PDX music without including Sleater-Kinney!

  6. TaNeesha says:

    i would say, “have a great time in portland” but that’s a given! :)

  7. TaNeesha says:

    also, i adore m. ward.

  8. adia j. says:

    LOOOOVEE! I’m moving to Portland after I graduate in the fall so this makes me super happy!

  9. marni says:

    i agree grace, there are some great bands hailing from portland!!! thanks for introducing me to a few new ones… if you have time take a listen to “the helio sequence” and “derby”. from what i’ve heard from you i think you will love them! have a great time in two of my favorite cities. xo

  10. Chris says:

    One of the better songs done by Colin Meloy on KEXP live from the Ace Hotel NYC. Kind of crazy, a Portland Artist on a Seattle radio station performing live in NYC!

  11. Elsa B. says:

    16 Military wives was filmed in my high school english classroom :)

  12. Jennifer H. says:

    I’ve loved the few songs I’ve heard by Hockey in the last 6 months or so. Am I the only one who thinks the singer sounds just like a young Rod Stewart?

  13. kiki says:

    ah, the thermals are AMAZING live. you’re going to have so much fun!!

  14. Andrea says:

    A great time to visit Portland and hear great music is during MFNW – 0ur annual music festival. This year it’s Sept. 7-11th and has 3 awesome outdoor shows in Pioneer Courthouse Square. There are around a million bands (okay, not really, but dozens) playing 18 venues around town – local and national acts – and you can buy a wristband that gets you in to everything. The Thermals, Band of Horses, a ton of awesome bands will be playing, and they’re still adding bands. Check it out!

  15. Emily says:

    I agree with erin! You forgot Laura Veirs!! Here’s another great song, plus cute video.

  16. jo says:

    what about the shins?!? they’re my favorite portland band. not originally from there, but you know. so good. love this post, thanks!

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      i wanted to do the shins, but most of their music i love was written pre-portland so i thought i’d get ragged on for that ;)


  17. Katy says:

    my favorite Portland band is Priory. They are so fun to listen to and watch. I think they have such a great sound! They are having a CD release concert this Friday at Mississippi Studios. My husband listens to their CD on repeat- for the last couple months. :)

  18. Amanda says:

    What a great list! I would add Blind Pilot

  19. Rhi says:

    HOORAY! Enjoy your trip to Portland. Also: look at Blind Pilot, The Dimes and Jasmine Ash.

  20. Allison says:

    Definitely look up Blind Pilot, I LOVE them! But also look into the Shaky Hands (here’s a good one for this time of year Thanks for the Portland love!

  21. don’t forget Anya Marina who recently moved up here from San Diego. she’s really great, too!

  22. Debbe says:

    Hi Grace,
    If you have any spare time when in Ptld, would love to have you visit my actual shop in Sellwood. A bit off the main drag – but worth the trip! Have a great visit to our amazing city!

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      would love to! if we’re able to snag a ride there i’ll let you know :)


  23. Ashley J. says:

    Definitely check out Horse Feathers, Typhoon, Y La Bamba, and Loch Lomond!

  24. Rebsy says:

    Tilde is a great shop – I think you guys would love it!

    Thanks for this list – I moved to Portland in 2000, partly because all the music I was loving seemed to come from here, even back then. Eliot Smith, Quasi, Sleater-Kinney…

  25. tracie says:

    loch lomond, y la bamba, typhoon, lost lander, ramona falls…. happy to call them my neighbors!

  26. Amy says:

    oh, a new favorite of mine is mnemonic sounds (here is a sample: i just heard them on a newish local station — kzme 107.1 (their live stream is available here: listen before your trip to get really geared up because they play mostly northwest music most of the time.

  27. Kathryn says:

    My favorite Portland band is Blind Pilot ( They have a new cd coming out soon and I cannot wait to hear it!

  28. brie says:

    Typhoon. So amazing…

  29. Tinabobina99 says:

    Check out, Oregon Public Broadcasting’s special music site. They focus on local musicians and often have in-studio performances. Oregon has a nationally recognized public broadcasting network so you know their music is good, too.

  30. Stephanie says:

    Welcome to Portland! As an Oregon native who finally, FINALLY moved to “the big city,” I’m among the many that are super proud of all the talent and fun that comes from our area. Enjoy your stay!

  31. Melanie says:

    When I went to Portland I learned about Jared Mees & The Grown Children. Good stuff. Check out the shop/record label/gallery Tender Loving Empire that Jared owns with his wife Brianne.

  32. Dawn says:

    Other Portland Musicians to check out:
    Blitzen Trapper:
    Holcombe Waller:

  33. Ellen says:

    You need to check out YACHT. Great great Portland band. Have fun in our fair town.

  34. Ellen says:

    oh, just realized i’m a bit late with all this… lol… but here’s the link:

    it WILL make you dance. ;)


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