Portland, Oregon has attracted indie musicians for years. I’m not sure what makes this city create and attract such great indie artists. It could be the gloomy rainy weather, or vibrant young liberal art scene or its location sandwiched between grungy Seattle and glamorous sun drenched LA. Whatever it is, Portland has some amazing music ranging from blues, jazz, metal, electronica and indie rock.
Richard Swift- My favorite Portland-based artist. Swift is a multi-instrumentalist producer and songwriter who blends indie folk with classic Motown soul, rock and blues. His level of detail and production mastery is unmatched, along with his heartfelt and tragic lyrics. He died before his time and left an impression on the alternative music scene.
M. Ward- A pioneer of the minimalist folk movement, M. Ward is a treat to hear with his low raspy voice and steady strumming of his old nylon string guitar.. His lo-if melodies will bring you peace on a cold rainy day.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra- This experimental indie project composed of multi-instrumentalist Ruban Nielson, blends together electronica, psychedelic rock and soul. Lots of layers and catchy beats, with a hint of Michael Jackson flare.
The Shivas- This psychedelic goth surf rock band is quintessential Portland. They mix old classic surf rock from sunny California with a dark gloomy sound of cold, rainy Portland. One of my favorite bands, this four piece has been rocking since 2006.
Reptaliens- One of my favorite hidden gems of Portland, this indie synth pop group blends trippy sci-fi inspired beats with dreamy soundscapes. Highly addicting to listen to and definitely one of the coolest art pop bands you’ll ever hear.
Blitzen Trapper- With a full and impressive song library, this alternative folk country band delivers beautifully composed country songs without the southern twang.
STRFKR- A fun and creative indie synth pop group similar to LA’s Inner Wave. Loaded with catchy beats and energy, this group has developed a local cult following and is highly entertaining to listen to.
Strawberry Guy- This bedroom pop project created by Alex Stephens is full of surreal and complex layers. His melodic and dream-like soundscapes are amazing making him one of my favorite Portland indie artists.
Rose City Band- A side project for prolific guitarist Ripley Johnson, this band soothes and calms the nerves. A perfect sound for a rainy Portland day. Johnson blends soft and nimble guitar work with calming lyrics to create a lovely psychedelic folk sound.
The Memories- This lo-fi indie rock group mixes humor and primitive recording styles to create a very Portland experience. They have a very impressive library of creative short psychedelic rock songs.
Frankie & The Witch Fingers- This indie hard rock group brings energy and technique and reminds me a lot of the Osees. They love to layer and build up their songs and have a cool dark Portland vibe to them.
Written by Adam
4 replies on “Best Portland Bands”
So many great portland artists! I also love swift’s sound. ☺️
Ya Swift is a legend!
I’d like to toss Elliot Smith and Stephen Malkmus in there!
Definitely! I’m a big fan of Stephen Malkmus.