Posts Tagged ‘Chelsea Xavier’

Does Portland need another indie band? In the case of Ocean Age, if you could call them “indie,” then the answer, whispered sweetly in the ear of your beloved, is “Yes….”

The five member band is split between Portland and Seattle, but is still able to do amazing things together, even with all the rain. In the last year since putting out their six song EP “Forest,” they’ve had a flood of publicity including being reviewed by WW, The Mercury(this link isn’t the review, it’s just some horrible prank someone played that I thought was funny, even if poorly done), as well as www.thismusicwins.com. The Portland Mercury called them “indie-chamber folk,” and The Willamette Week refers to them as “tree-hugging electro-pop,” both descriptions I find to be pretty spot on. They were voted onto the PDX Pop Now compilation album, which is a huge honor, and they are currently working on a project with Hossanas.

These people also have day jobs and/or go to school, and they naturally all have personal obligations. When I think about local music as a whole, one of the things that I really admire about the musicians that make this such an important part of their lives, is the time commitment. It’s like being a single parent, only the child that you are nursing, feeding, and paying for is your art. In the conversation that I had with Jessie, we discussed the financial aspect of this endeavor briefly, and how “negative band money” is the norm. Her face literally lit up as she remembered and mentioned the one time that Ocean Age was in the black… Four whole dollars! I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone over the age of five be so excited about four bucks, but in that moment, judging from her expression and candor, it’s safe to say, when that was realized, the entire collaborative felt bliss.

I met Jessie Aron, who plays acoustic guitar, and is one of the singers in the band, through the Oregon Culinary Institute, where we both attend. It couldn’t have happened at a better time, or been such a great coincidence that I was just starting to write this blog. I am honestly not sure that I would have come across the group on my own. Something aligned in the distant sky, just like the natural sound samples and harmonious lyrics align in Ocean Age’s music, and so it was, that I got to sit down with her for a few brief minutes, and get the run-down on this amazing group.

“We all pretty much sing,” she says as she’s writing down everyone’s names and instruments (broken wrist and all makes it difficult to take notes). Diane Chaplin plays the cello. Gavriel de Tarr sings as well as playing the synthesizer and drums. Yuri Tolpin also sings as plays the guitar and drums. Chelsea Xavier plays the Q-chord (also known as an omni-chord, maybe one of the coolest instruments ever!) and sings. And Aaron Summerfield plays the bass. They all come together to create a whimsical kind of sound, less abrupt than the Broken Bells (if you could call Broken Bells abrupt), but still reminiscent of James Mercer’s stylings.  In fact, I think that the label The Shins are under, Sub Pop, would do well to pay attention to these ladies and gentlemen.

The song “dalvik tide,” named for a small fishing village in Eyjafjörður, Iceland, which i was told to pay particular attention to, is really well done, and makes me think of what it would be like to be high on ecstacy. Its euphoria encapsulated and expressed in song. Warm fuzzies, and a cool breeze, if you will. I can’t wait for a D.J. to get a hold of this and put a hip-hop spin on it. Jessie told me about how they love to use organic sounds, found in nature, and its evident in “dalvik tide” where you can literally hear the water’s ebb and flow.  If I could swim in that water for all eternity, I think I would.

When I got down to the matter at hand with the gently-spoken brunette guitarist about food, she was very modest about her culinary ability, which in all honesty, is refreshing. Through culinary school, and working in the various restaurants I’ve been employed at (in all number of positions), you meet an awful lot of people that love to toot there own horn. It’s important to be confident but don’t cross the line into being pretentious. She admitted that she has a habit of adding too much to a recipe, which we are all guilty of from time to time. If you think about how each ingredient you add creates exponentially more possible combinations of flavor, it’s humbling in a sort of way. One example of this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink method that always pans out, is her home-made veggie burgers. I don’t know who out there has experienced the joy that is a home-made veggie burger, but they are amazing, and you’ll never wanna buy fuckin’ Boca EVER AGAIN! I can only imagine how awesome Jessie’s are, especially since alot of what she ate growing up was thank to the hippie taste buds possessed by her parents. “We ate a lot of kale,” she says in such dead-pan fashion, Steve Carell would break character and crack a smile.

Her favorite restaurant in PDX is the infamous Pok Pok nestled in South East at 3226 SE Division St. This place is consistently raved about by my peers, teachers, and fellow foodies as having authentic Thai food. The owner regularly travels to Thailand to stay current on techniques and flavor combinations. He actually just returned from a four month excursion! From what I’ve been told, by a very reliable source I might add, is that he actually creates the menu entirely on his own, with no input from anyone else. I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing this yet, but now I have a good excuse. I’ll let you know how it goes for sure!

Aside from Pok Pok, what Jessie really misses while she and Ocean Age are out of Stumptown, is “Hawthorne!” The stretch of Hawthorne Blvd., originally named Asylum Avenue (which would be a great band name, if no one has that already), that is considered the Hawthorne District, is technically from 30th to 42nd in the South East portion of the metro area.  If you’re not familiar with it, Hawthorne is full of small local shops and restaurants, as well as “gays and lesbians, Generation X and hippies, and more recently, hipsters (that’s a quote from Wikipedia that I had to borrow, and snicker at a little).” What’s great about this area is that all the local business work together. The employees of a number of these establishments receive discounts from the other businesses in the co-op. It is a mecca of all things Portland, and you can definitely spend and entire day wandering around, eating, and even catch a show at the Hawthorne Theater or the Mount Tabor Theater, or watch a cult classic film like the Goonies at the Baghdad! It’s easy to see why this place is so close to her heart!

So, in conclusion, my friends:

they are all staring at yellow balloons stuck in a tree...miss jessie is the one in the middle!

  1. Jessie Aron is pretty much amazing
  2. Check out Ocean Age and “Dalvik tide”
  3. Eat at Pok Pok
  4. And go wander around the Hawthorne District if you haven’t done that in a while. It’ll be fun!

Until next time,

-Lady

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