• Denver had its share of hard luck in preparation for album number two (divorce, disease, drinking). Luckily, those woes are the things that great country songs are made of.
LISTEN: Denver - "Carry On"
• Birds & Batteries' Mike Sempert moved to LA and went solo—inasmuch as you can go solo from the band you're basically in charge of—and his debut solo album, Mid Dream, is a breathtakingly good singer/songwriter effort in the finest tradition.
LISTEN: Mike Sempert - "Oceans of Rock and Roll"
• Speaking of tradition, the careful, gorgeous songs of Tiny Ruins' Hollie Fullbrook carry the British Isles folk flag high (it is a flag made of thistles and linen). Oh, except that Fullbrook's from New Zealand.
LISTEN: Tiny Ruins - "The Ballad Of The Hanging Parcel"
• Again, tradition: Seun Kuti took over the role of bandleader from his father Fela Kuti at age 14. He's not just doing his father's legacy a solid, he's bringing it into the future. Listen to this song, an angry polemic that moves—and you'll dig discovering what "IMF" actually stands for.
LISTEN: Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 featuring M1 - "IMF"
• This week's All-Ages Action! column has the best picks for this weekend's PDX Pop Now! festival.
• And all the other Up & Coming shows you really should try to see this week.