Oregon is for music lovers, that’s no secret. As throngs of our nation’s hipsters flock to the world’s capital of indie-folk in Portland, the lines of local and national are blurred. The next two blogs highlight some the best Oregon albums of 2011. But don’t take our word for it. Listen for yourself. 1859 has provided a free track download for each album, so put ‘em on your iTunes, bring them along on your morning jog and let us know what you think.

Erin-Cole Baker: Big Sky

I wake up with Erin Cole-Baker’s songs in my ears more mornings than I can count. Those that have seen her perform know she is adorable, but I think this album, more so then her past work, shows a new depth. The songs this time around possess a fashionable whimsy and bring you inside. “One Year Older”, for instance leads, you into a lush Oregon forest in high summer. Who wouldn’t want to follow?

“I walked out in the woods, in the Doug Fir and Pine, in search for what I could… delicate flowers told their stories to me… courage and beauty, and simplicity.”


Nick Jaina: The Beanstalks That Have Brought Us Here are Gone

Jaina steps away from the mic on this bookish masterpiece featuring the finest female voices on the indie scene including Jolie Holland, Corinna Repp and Laura Gibson. The record really defies any kind of genre pigeonholing as it leaps from finger-snapping Bossa Nova to whiskey-drenched roots, and on to good ole dirgy folk. While the project definitely has some truly standout successes, such as “Missing Awhile” with Corrina Repp, it is most importantly a collection of ten lovingly crafted vignettes filled with both playfulness and despair, and I’d recommend not consuming it passively.


AgesandAges: Alright You Restless

Oregon weather, like Oregon music, has developed a gloomy reputation in some unenlightened circles. To all those out there with their heads in the Willamette, I’m here to tell you nearly two thirds of our state sees sunshine every day, and Elliot Smith has been dead now for almost ten years.

On their debut record, Tim Perry and his gospel-esque backing choir, sing songs that let the sunshine in. This is one of those bands that make you want to dance and smile. Before you know it, you are wearing an ear-to-ear grin, trying to sing along and maybe even go for a harmony. In Perry’s world, irony is dead and a final nail in its cumbrous coffin is the catchy chorus to “When I Was Idle”:

“We don’t want your enemies/Save that trouble for yourself/It’s us or no one else/in our own story.”

I could fall asleep to that in my head any night….


Laurel Brauns
1859 Music Blogger | + posts

Laurel is a writer and a songwriter who lives in Portland and Bend, Oregon. She writes for a number of magazines, newspapers and blogs, and plays music for her night-job. She loves hearing about new music and projects around the state, so drop her a line to tell her about your band or album or invite her to a show. She has toured independently throughout the country, and has become a regional favorite with her band, the Sweet Harlots, an all-girl Americana project with deep roots in Bend, and big plans in Portland. You can learn more about her music on her website laurelbrauns.com.