It’s hard to fathom that it’s already time to open the screen door and let June out, but boom, here we are saying hola to July. June does, however, leave us on several positive notes — from Clara Berry to Twisted Roots. Even the black flies have been spotted with iPods as they get caught up with some new releases and scope out the best wall spots from which to check out live shows.

Read on.


IF I MAY invoke “The Sound of Music” for just a moment, when I first wrote about Clara Berry she was 16 going on 17, but wasn’t wearing curtains for clothing. She was, however, already an impressive songwriter, singer and pianist. Her debut, “Wave,” came out in 2008. Now 20, Berry’s back with a new EP called “Creature.”

You’ll hear piano and snare drums on the opener “Corner Child.” At just over two minutes, the song packs a frenzied punch and Berry’s vocals are mesmerizing. “Siren” is slow and scathing. “I am the wounds of which you’ll speak, and she will wait patiently,” sings Berry with piano, drums and strings swirling. The sense of foreboding that the piano emits in “Every Ounce” is palpable. On “Bog Child” Berry plays piano with Amanda Palmer intensity and then horns drift in as a Stephen King-worthy story is spun: “The child creeps closer, he dances through the bog.” “Suzanne’s Lament” is Berry’s response to Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.” “He thinks that you’re half crazy and by that he is intrigued. But there’s something in his eyes that when you see it makes you bleed,” she sings.

Clara Berry’s music lurks in the shadows, tells dark tales, and is the antidote for the painful boredom of anything cut from Jewel’s “You were Meant for Me” cloth. (Read more about Berry in “Making Noise” on page E8.)

Clara Berry with Amanda Gervasi. 8 p.m. tonight. North Star Music Cafe, 225 Congress St., Portland. Entry fee is a pass-the-hat donation.


HEAVY HITTER Twisted Roots is halfway through recording its next record. Meanwhile, Headstart will be releasing its EP called “B” by summer’s end, bringing its total number of releases to seven. Both bands are headlining the Summer Slayfest at Empire on Saturday and Sunday. The Saturday night show has the rock/pop group Sophomore Beat on the bill and Sunday’s all ages show has yet another local rock outfit, Stop is the New Go.

Summer Slayfest: Twisted Roots & Headstart. 9 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday. Empire Dine and Dance, 575 Congress St., Portland. Ages 21 and older Saturday; all ages Sunday. $8 Saturday with The Sophomore Beat; $12 Sunday with Stop is the New Go.


ANNIE KEATING’S Acoustic Trio Road Show pulls into Portland for two shows this weekend. Keating, a resident of Park Slope in Brooklyn, is just about done writing her fourth independent record and she hopes to release it this fall. You can hear a slew of her current stuff at “Belmont” is a fine starting point. Keating clearly loves her some Portland and you’ll know it when you listen to “On the Road by 10” — “It’s a quarter past two down at the Brian Boru; we’ve been drinking tequila ‘neath the light of a full moon.” I totally get why my pal Nancy’s been talking about Keating’s twangy folk rock for years.

Annie Keating with Dark Hollow Bottling Company. 8 p.m. Saturday. North Star Music Cafe, 225 Congress St., Portland. Fee is pass-the-hat donation.

Annie Keating. 6 p.m. Sunday. Brian Boru, 57 Center St., Portland. Ages 21 and older. Free.


WILL GATTIS is putting the finishing touches on his new CD and tells me we can expect an August release. In the meantime, catch a preview of the new stuff at the Big Easy on Friday night where Gattis will be performing along with Lit on the Flash and Travis Kline.

Will Gattis with Lit on the Flash and Travis Kline. 9 p.m. Friday. The Big Easy, 25 Market St., Portland. Ages 21 and older. $5.


Aimsel Ponti is a Portland freelance writer. Contact her at:

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