The Dirty Mittens's new album, 'Heart of Town,' features both a folk and pop side. - Photo by Megan Holmes

Portland's party-starters

Without any album to promote it, Portland's Dirty Mittens builds its fan base by the sheer vivacity of live performances. "There's no gimmicks," says vocalist Chelsea Morrisey. "We just kill it." The group's straight-forward, danceable, live shows have picked up pockets of fans along the West Coast and into the Midwest.

Dirty Mittens began recording a debut album, "Heart of Town," nearly two years ago, but the poor indie band reliant on musicians' whims didn't get its release together until the beginning of this month.

"We're pretty excited about having something to send people home with," says Morrisey.

Dirty Mittens will perform its signature pop-folk at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at Alex's Plaza Restaurant, 35 N. Main St., Ashland.

"Heart of Town," released on Magic Marker Records, is an "anthology about where we've been and where we're headed," says Morrisey.

Only two days after returning to Oregon after a five-month stint in Germany, Morrisey met keyboardist Noah Jay-Bonn. Looking back, Morrisey says she had nothing but a Myspace page to recommend her to the local music scene, but somehow she, Jay-Bonn and rotating drummers managed to get gigs.

"We were equally inexperienced," says Morrisey. "We played crappy shows for a couple years and tried to get our act together as we grew up in front of an audience, which was sometimes embarrassing."

The trio played Northwest and orchestral folk until about two years ago, when they recruited bassist Patrick Griffin, guitarist Ben Hubbird and keyboardist and guitarist Josh Hawley. With the new lineup, the group's music slowly phased into a more danceable, more mature, synth-based sound with subtle hints of rockabilly and punk.

"There's a definite pop sensibility," says Morrissey. "We still love a good hook, but we just try to incorporate some of our new influences like New Order and Depeche Mode."

Because its recording process spanned two years, "Heart of Town" reflects both of the band's musical eras.

The album opens with one of the band's earlier pieces, "Arcadia," a guitar-based folk song that "came together in a really great way," and closes with "Any Time, Any Day," a more recent piece written entirely in one studio sitting. Also a favorite, "Row" captures the pop side of the album with its cute and catchy melody and "relation-shippy" lyrics.

Cover to the show at Alex's is $5. Call 541-482-8818.

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