Erin Cole-Baker, ‘Talon and Spur'
The world can be sweet and sad and confusing and rad, sometimes all at the same time. Local folk-pop machine Erin Cole-Baker leaves none of it out, pouring her heart into simple, catchy tunes that feel like tiny peeks into the mind of someone who breathes in all of life's quirks, both good and bad.
David Bowers Colony, ‘David Bowers Colony'
A longtime local who moved to California in 2009, David Bowers was known for his rugged take on rural blues. But recording with his Colony opened up Bowers' music and shined a light on his talent for amiable, ambling Americana. “(These songs) could be part of the opening credits of an HBO miniseries or something,” Bowers said in January. Indeed.
Empty Space Orchestra, ‘Live at Father Luke's, 7/22/09'
Bend's newest rising stars released a studio album (“Big Bang”) in 2009, but the real magic can be found on this recording, made available for free through their Web site. As anyone who has seen the band knows, ESO live is a force to be reckoned with, mixing a heavy post-rock future with their jazzy background. Epic.
Goodbye Dyna, ‘XXVII'
Though it first appeared online in 2008, “XXVII” got a physical release early this year. It's a chronicle of Dyna frontman Andy Jacobs' 27th year, and an amalgam of his influences (churning modern rock) and every experimental impulse that floats through his head. The result is heavy, interesting, unpredictable and weird. And weird is wonderful.
Brad Jones, ‘No Strings'
Bend native Brad Jones injected a little variety into the music scene this year, dropping an album of '80s-influenced electro-pop that is oddly cold, sterile and robotic, but in a good way. In a town where rootsy sometimes rules, Jones embraces our digital future, building bouncy, addictive songs, one satisfying byte at a time.
Moon Mountain Ramblers, ‘Let It All Be Good'
One of Bend's most popular bands returned in 2009 with its best album yet, where bluegrass, party-friendly rock, swing, traditional country and even Middle Eastern sounds sit comfortably together. If heaven has room for bands that make people dance happily, fit the Ramblers for angel wings.
Person People, ‘heARTbeats'
The addition of a crushing instrumental quartet pushed Bend's foremost rap act from seven MCs and DJs to a double-digit wrecking crew of left-field, live-band hip-hop. On “heARTbeats,” the band bounces from funk to rock to fiddle-driven hoedown while KP and his gang of talented MCs continue to crank out their supple, socially conscious rhymes.
Anastacia Beth Scott, ‘Grains of Sand'
Sisters songwriter Anastacia Beth Scott is a ravenous spirit, always seeking a closer relationship with the world around her. And what she takes in comes out, eventually, in the form of folksy pop tunes that aren't so much songs as wide-eyed, moonlit hymns to the things that make life strange and special.
Eric Tollefson, ‘The Sum of Parts'
Alaska native Eric Tollefson surprised just about everyone on the local music scene in April, coming out of nowhere to release the most radio-ready local album of the year. Tollefson's songs are bluesy pop beauties, spilling over with impressive guitar work and melodies that'll follow you around for days. Watch out, world.
Tuck and Roll, ‘Tuck and Roll'
Brevity is the soul of rock. Like all good pop-punk bands, Tuck and Roll knows this, as evidenced by these six songs, which clock in just under 14 minutes long. All that means is a higher concentration of awesome from a band that bashes out perfect fuzz-pop and a frontman, Sam Fisher, who delivers lyrics about parties and politics via classic, unshakable melodies.