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Rising out of the heap

The Standard
opening for Arlo and guests.
Friday, Sept. 28.

If you’re a striving (wannabe/intern-killing) politician, Washington D.C. is the place for you. If you want to be a famous actor (casting couch) you move to Los Angeles, right? Portland has its draw for out-of-towners too, and it’s the music scene. Portland has more bands than people. I’m not very good with numbers but I would say there has to be at least 86,000 bands in the greater Portland area!

In a sea of some great, some good and a whole buttload of bad bands there is one local band that has pulled themselves out of the cluster f*#%, dusted themselves off and moved on.

The Standard, which I would describe as sounding like classic rock (without the cheesy, giant-cocked, little-brained guitar solos) meets Prog Rock (without the D&D lyrics) with a splash of AM radio.

The Standard, hailing from Portland, was formed two years ago and has played more shows than most bands play in 10 years. Soon after forming and playing a handful of basement parties, the band went straight into Portland’s famed Jack Pot Studio with engineer and producer Jeff Saltzman, who has worked with greats like Sunset Valley and Pavement’s, Steve Malkmus. Their full-length, debut album “World’s Greatest” was soon picked up by Seattle’s Barbaric Records and re-released, with new cover art, re-mastered and self-titled. The album soon made its way up college radio charts and actually started selling in stores.

Rumors about the band’s live shows spread like wildfire. Tim Putnam’s twitching and jerking like a fish out of water while somehow maintaining perfect sounding vocals and guitar helped the band gain attention. Jay Clarke’s keyboard skills leave you with nothing to say but “holy shit.” The band as a whole leaves you with a strange goosebumpy, these-guys-are-too-good-I’m-going-home-and-throwing-my-musical-equipment-away feeling.

The band soon grew tired of the last album and started recording a new album while playing extensively around the Northwest with label mates The Pinehurst Kids. The Standard’s five members Tim Putnam, Rob Oberdorfer, Rob Duncan, Jay Clarke and newcomer Gale Bchanon, have spent hundreds of hours, again with the perfectionist help of Mr. Saltzman, crafting their new album August. August is slated for Northwest release in late October and national release in January.

Good news is frequent in the house of The Standard. In mid-July Barbaric Records flew out people from Chicago’s exclusive booking agency the Billions Agency (which boast acts like Nick Cave, Idlewild, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Low and many more) to check The Standard out live. They made such an impression that Billions picked them up and are sending them out on tour.

In Late October they leave to go on an U.S./Canadian tour with Albuquerque, New Mexico’s The Shins (SubPop) and Scott Cannonburg’s (from Pavement) Preston School of Industry.

“Stops along the way to play with Steve Malkmus makes my head spin. It’s going to be groin grabbingly fun,” says Bass player Rob Orberdorfer about the upcoming tour.

The new album, which I was lucky enough to hear before its release, has a mature seasoned feel to it. “Holy crap that album is freakin’ good. It’s going to be huge,” said Gordon Muscutt of Portland’s Woke Up Falling, who had an opportunity to listen to the album while mastering his new album.

For a band in a town of so many, The Standard has again and again proved themselves along the way. They are on a great adventure and I for one say Godspeed little Portland band, make us proud and take pictures along the way.

The Standard play Friday, Sept. 28 with Arlo, New End Original and John Vanderslice at the Blackbird: 3728 N.E. Sandy Blvd, 503-282-9949, 21+.