Bad Times' Best New Bands of 2011

Bad Times May 06 2011 12:39P 27

The Willamette Week recently put out their annual “Best New Bands” issue, which featured a hodgepodge of Portland’s most power-washed music. As a friend of mine said, seeing that list makes me feel like I don’t care about local music. Perhaps we truly are “underground.”

Below is my obligatory response list, accumulated from attending numerous house shows and parties. I have to say Drunk Dad gets props for having one of the rowdiest followings in town, while Sexhair is probably the purist Portland punk band since Moral Panic broke up.

This year started out rather rough so something needs to be said for the houses that hosted shows. Places like House of Preblon, Pink Room, Failing House, and Sea Shanty deserve some street cred for continuing to consistently have shows despite a barrage of bozos coming to shows and tagging, stealing, and/or breaking shit.

Anyway, I can’t say these videos are the best examples of what these bands sound like, but here’s my list. If you feel I left someone off speak up!

1.The Reservations

2. Sexhair

3. Drunk Dad

4. Guantanamo Baywatch

5. Psychic Feline

Honorable mention: Swampbuck

talk about it …


  1. pc-pdx

    whoa BadTimes - these videos are all coming up busted, is it just me?

  2. scragz

    1. I forgot about those guys, saw them a long time ago at Valentines and then totally forgot the name. I remember I was very impressed at the time.
    2. I can't remember if I've seen this band but the recordings all sound like pretty basic-core.
    3. So heavy, with a solid live set. I really thought they were going to be some bogus 80's hardcore nonstop blastbeat bleh-fest but they really have a huge tempo variation. They are all going to be deaf in five years.
    4. A redo of a redo of an uninspired Cramps/Ramones regurgitation.
    5. I am not the intended audience for this kind of music.
    6. Swampbuck is surprisingly heavy, appropriately weird, and subtly mathy. Really digging it. And all that sexy young boyskin they show!

    Especially for the best NEW bands, I am hoping for something that sounds NEW. Let's push some boundaries again.

    P.S. All your tubes are broken.

  3. Bad Times

    Not sure why all my tubes are broken. They showed up on the preview.

  4. heres more:
    - BSA
    - KAREN
    - K-TEL 79


    So WW puts out their slightly more corporate version of a popularity contest and you counter with every exceptionally popular indie band in the past however-so-long. Diversify your catalog man. There's loads of new diverse local music I see missing from this. ......or just keep rehashing the hipster bullshit, it's up to you.

  6. Bad Times

    These are bands I like. Of course bands will be missing. You like bands? Who? Speak up? That's the point.

  7. drose really prompted me with the “speak up, that’s the point.” indeed it is, so thanks for getting that out there and encouraging people (myself included) to participate in some dialog.

    the willamette’s list is one of the most horrific compilations of the same stuff that’s been being shoved down the throats of Portland hipsters for the past 5 years. i.e. ‘post devendra banhart-folk’ (i’m pretty certain i first read that within an actual description of a band in the Mercury...hahaha...why are the weeklies so fucking shitty?) and Brooklyn-wannabe electro-dance/indie stuff. all boring/all not worthy of being considered “best” or “new.”

    bad times...your list includes some serious gems, for sure! ultimately though, i feel like that top ten could basically be 3 default bills here in town. all those bands are interconnected to some degree (in my opinion). they all play together regularly/live in the same houses/hang out at the same bbq’s/share members, vans, gear, etc. it’s kinda homogenous from my vantage point (that’s not meant to reflect negatively on quality of the bands on that list...i’m just saying). it comes as no surprise though, because if you get turned onto a band and go to several of their shows, you’re likely going to see 2+ other bands in the process, and that’s how you build your knowledge of other bands. That said, bands here in town re-cycle the same line-ups over and over again once they’ve established their ‘niche’ and our comfortable/reaching their target-demographic (which would basically be anyone who will hang-out and listen to them/say nice things about their ‘set’ when they’re done playing).

    So...i really racked my brain in an attempt take an unbiased approach to establishing “best new bands.” i guess i am in a unique position, given that i work at a venue and listen to/see bands as part of my job description. the result is that i’m subjected to seeing a whole lot of DIY/underground stuff that isn’t necessarily within my realm of interest. i’d like to think that this makes my list a bit further reaching than just ‘bands i like,’ which is inevitably going to be the case to some degree, but hopefully less so than the average show-goers list.

    1.) Perfect Look
    2.) Company
    3.) Old Junior
    4.) Basement Animal
    5.) 1939 Ensemble
    6.) Bellicose Minds
    7.) Sons of Huns
    8.) Hungry Ghost
    9.) The Polaroids
    10.) The Cysts

    honorable mention - Youthbitch/Raider/Rohit/Don & the Quixotes/Welsh Bowmen

    notes for full disclosure:
    -i’m pretty sure that some of the aforementioned bands have been around for more than a year, but close enough...
    - that list is definitely skewed in the favor of bands that fall within my personal tastes, even though i tried my hardest to “keep it real”
    - i tried to avoid recycling bands that had made it onto other peoples lists - it isn’t because i’ve hated every band mentioned so far
    - i wanted to provide web links for those bands/documentation, but it doesn’t exist for several of them because they’re all THAT new! (which i think was the point of these get people to go check new shit out!). That means that you have to stay tuned to at ALL TIMES to find out about the latest and the greatest! knowing about ‘cool’ shit before other people makes you superior/gets you laid!

    • drose
    • 5/7/2011 8:22:49 PM
  8. All of those bands are GARBAGE. Only Everclear. You Pussies.

  9. also...
    - BATMEN
    - CAT FANCY!
    - BOOM!

  10. yuck to everything...

    • 5/8/2011 4:44:03 PM
  11. scragz

    SCRAGZ' Best New Bands That SCRAGZ Is In of 2011


  12. Bad Times

    Shameless, Scragz, shameless.

  13. Bad Times

    Great post and insight, DRose!

  14. pc-pdx

    haha, scragz wins.

  15. Why mention bands that are over a year old? I thought its best new band for 2011?!

    Drunk Dad
    The Crow
    The Reservations
    Swamp Buck

    • RJBII
    • 5/9/2011 12:55:54 AM
  16. Bad Times

    The Crow!

  17. Hey guys, I just want to point out that our Best New Band issue is the result of a poll, and for that poll we reach out to people who run very small venues and house venues (we had a few voters from house venues this year) as well as big clubs and promoters/managers/etc. I think if you view our full list of voting results ( ), you'll see that there's a ton of diversity there and that a lot of the bands people have mentioned here actually did receive some votes. The Reservations, for example, came in 12th or 13th and Guantanamo Baywatch had a lot of votes as well. I'd be pretty surprised not to see either of those bands on next year's poll if they keep being awesome in the mean time. That said, it's a shit-ton of bands that get votes and only ten of them make the paper. I don't want to try and advocate for any one group or even once community, because that kills the point, but I would absolutely love to include more people from underground labels, venues and bookers, etc. in our polling, and I am not looped in to everything going on in this city, as much as I try to keep up. If there are people not already voting who you think should vote (there's a loose criteria included with the above link, and voter names are on that list, too), I'd love for you to email me suggestions at cjarman [at] wweek [dot] com. There's no rule against discussing votes, either, so if a small bloc of voters got together and agreed on a band like Reservations or Guantanamo Baywatch, they'd be on the list for sure. That kind of thing has happened in the past. And while I realize that some people don't have any interest in the whole idea of the list regardless of who's on it, if you know your shit and you want us to be more representative, than I think there's a lot of room to make that happen. Nearly half the ballots we send out don't get returned and we still had 350-odd bands on our full list, so I think there's a lot of untapped power in general with this thing.

    So that's my bit. But because I'm long-winded as fuck, I would also say that I think it's worth stepping back and realizing that even if the bands that topped our poll aren't your thing, they're not the enemy, either. There is some real diversity on the WW list—I wish there were more, but the fact that we have an awesome all-queer dance-pop group in Lovers, a weird vocal harmony duo with lots of trombone and African guitar work in Brainstorm, an amazing group with very real house-show roots in Wild Ones and a twisted R&B outfit with Purple & Green on the list is pretty exciting to me. Is it your list or my list? Probably not (I've been voting for hip-hop artists for six years running and we've never got one on the list——and about half of the hip-hop kids we send ballots to don't return them, so it's frustrating). But these are by and large bands that have worked hard to find audiences and played plenty of shitty shows to empty rooms just like everybody else.

    Lastly, thanks for making your own lists. I think that part of what our poll does every year is get conversations going about under-heralded music in this city, and I think that's really important. I'm so stoked to see this list and all the comments on it (and to find a couple bands I hadn't heard of here is a bonus). Even if I wish the tone weren't so derisive towards the thing I help put together and believe in, this is an awesome way of responding and I'm really glad pc-pdx is around. I'll see you at some house shows this summer. I'll be the old guy who is there by myself because all my friends are in bed.

    -Casey, Music Editor, WW

  18. Also, Scavenger Cunt is a fantastic band name.

  19. Scavenger Cunt rules, and so does Cole and the Rats, which is the male singer's other project. Which I am also in..which will be playing Valentines Monday at 8 for freeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

  20. worse timez

    Well played Bad Times...oh sweet sweet man who's got his finger on the pulse of PDX. Lord knows all the house show kids aren't going to the W.W. polls

  21. i'm so glad that someone put my band in one of their list! thank you!!! also ww, how is brainstorm a new band? they've been around for ages! is this about bands that play Holocene and Doug Fir? plus to whom ever was complaining that all of the bands on the list play together and share equipment and etc, IT"S CALLED A SCENE!!!!!!!!!

  22. most of my fave new bands have been mentioned.

    drose, i totally get what you are sayin. and i know you probably see tons of stuff from all over the map workin at a venue, so it might seem kinda like those bands play together a lot. but there is a lot of stuff out there im either a) waiting to discover or b) are homogenous to their own scene (and not just the north/NE house show scene)in the same way, so i just never get to see or hear about them (SE is like a whole other universe as far as me and a lot of other people are concerned)

    i think it's important for those groups to reach out and find new groups to play with from other "Scenes" for sure. i make it a point in batmen not to play the same shows with the same bands. i understand why people do it, and at times it does start to feel like a microcosm. however, i think it's healthy to have a community of people who share gear, support each other, and play with bands that don't sound like them. i mean i can name maybe 30 bands off the top of my head right now that are in my "circle" or whatever. and many of them haven't ever played together.

    i'd like to add onuinu and blood beach also are great new bands.

  23. oops blood beach was mentioned.

  24. Hornet Leg!


    To the WW person-How is "all-queer" a parameter of a musical genre? Is there now gay music and straight music? Let's stop all this separatist bullshit by constantly pointing out peoples' sexual orientation. It only leads to more schisms, stereotypes and assumptions. FUCK!

  26. I'm going to start and "all poly" band! ;)

  27. scragz

    I've got a Polysix if that helps any.

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