Features | Awards

The White Stag Award for Portland As Fuckest Song of the Year

By Dom Sinacola | 18 December 2012

Onuinu: “Last Word”

Portland per capita just seems fucking generous. Indulgent. It both thrills and revolts me—which is probably much how I’d react if I saw a lone, glowing-white stag standing atop a hill, silhouetted in the perfect full moon, on a brisk December night. Which is much of what I imagine William Overton first saw when he stood abreast the Willamette Valley and pondered selling half of his land to the guy who started Portland, Maine, forever sticking Portland, Oregon with a knock-off name.

This year, Portland’s incestuous music scene bred a host of bands slick and still wet with afterbirth, but they made for some of the year’s best music; folks like Pure Bathing Culture, AU, Radiation City, Rita DeVito, and Sallie Ford all released a glut of great new stuff, and meanwhile some staples like Menomena, Chromatics, Ramona Falls, Wild Flag, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra hit their physical stride. It was hard to keep track of. I’m probably missing a bunch.

But Onuinu’s Mirror Gazer stood out, in particular “Last Word,” which has been strangely ignored in features and reviews but to me is the album’s centerpiece, and not only because the guy who does talk box on this song lived next door to me for a long time and we used to play Magic cards together. With “Last Word,” Dorian Duvall seems to have mined the absolute best of Portland’s sense of place: it’s smooth and confident, almost arrogant, but aloof, as if it doesn’t know how fucking insanely catchy it is. Or believes it doesn’t know how insanely catchy it is. In Portland, it doesn’t matter. “Portland” was picked in a coin toss after all. The song also features a talk box. I got close to naming this award “The Zapp & Roger Award,” but I can’t abide ampersands. Plus there’s a moody outro—because. Because what would the song be without one? And the guy who’s playing the talk box, do you know how many fucks that guy gives? The guy who’s playing the talk box gives zero fucks.

► “Last Word”