By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Robinson Cook, Lick magazine: 1.Who Are Those Guys 2.Ghost Dance Deluxe 3.G.I.V.E
4.Suspect Bill 5.Knowledge M.C. (Extra props go to Groove Union, N.E.X.T., Les Exodus, Flipp and Savage Aural Hotbed)--Yo. The Twin Cities music scene is alive and jumpin', only too bad a handful of bands usually get all the exposure--you know what I'm talkin' about. Usually all we hear about is the hard-ass guitar-stabbing beer-drinkin' amp-up-too-loud drunken bullshit. Simply put, it just shows how homogeneous all the music critics in Minneapolis are. Anyway, just remember that although the alternative music scene has its definite talents, there's a lot more funkier shit out there that is far more melodic, ass-shaken and downright talented than the typical chainsaw guitar-grinding 7th St. Entry/Uptown Bar act. Keep your ears locked to the underground.
Bill DeVille, Cities' 97: 1.Strawdogs 2.Machinery Hill 3.Eller Lynch 4.The John Ewing Band 5.Dan Israel--Best first recordings: The Strawdogs' John Perkins John Perkins is a perfect blend of Tom Waits and Louis Armstrong, and just as fun. Machinery Hill's Whole Wide World: The band's been around as long as dirt but it's their first CD release. If you looked up world music, it would say Machinery Hill. Eller Lynch's Dog Day Afternoon is what Unplugged should be. John Ewing's Delta Flares is pub rock, glam rock, punk rock, and Stones rock all on one CD. And Dan Israel's Some Songs EP reveals a promising singer/songwriter.
Jennifer Downham, Host of KFAI's The Groove Garden: 1.Who Are Those Guys 2.MMF
3.Joint Chiefs 4.Greazy Meal 5.Detroit.
Carty Fox, Servomagazine (and ex- of Overblue): 1.12 Rods 2.Sacred Chao 3.Fire Under Water 4.Overblue 5.Paul Horn
Deneen Gannon, CakeDemorama: 1.National Dynamite 2.2 Tickets 2 Paradise 3.Jerungdu
4.The Pins 5.Summer Holiday--National Dynamite's sweet, Beatles-ish pop is boosted by the strong songwriting talents of Benno Nelson (formerly of the Jessehoneys); 2 Tickets 2 Paradise features members of Rex Daisy (simply one of the best bands our area has). Jerungdu and the Pins both submitted to Demorama some of the most interesting, creative music I've heard locally in a while; Summer Holiday performs smooth, dreamy pop which I really enjoy.
Simon Peter Groebner, City Pages: 1.12 Rods
2.(tie:) Obscura/Gusto Busto/Fuck Agenda
5.Dog Tooth Violet--F-Agenda made the most ravaging noise-rock disc of the year (featuring a bizarre Lenny Kravitz deconstruction--rock & roll is dead, indeed), in what I fear is otherwise a largely decaying subgenre. Gusto Busto are two St. Paul guitarists of questionable mental condition (just kidding) who overlay their sicko new-wave artpop with some cheesy drum machines and manic sampling. Now if they'd just get their lyrics out of the potty, I'd buy the company. The aptly dubbed freaks-of-nature Obscura are a boy and girl from Mankato whose Prospective 7-inch really does sound like a 16th century recording of Gothic folk. Otherwise, Dog Tooth Violet is a pop group led by two polar-opposite sisters (Gemini and Sagittarius, I believe) who harmonize like only sisters can. Honorable mentions: William, Kelley, Superman Curl's "Tried and True" brilliance, 40 Oz. Superhero's skewed and screwed song structures, and dylan davis, whose Vision Web tape has had me in stitches for days.
Will Hermes, Arts & Music Editor, City Pages:
1.Kelley Deal 6000 2.Semisonic 3.The Pins
4.ESP Woody McBride 5.Fresh Squeez (honorable mention: National Dynamite, Legendary Jim Ruiz, Mountain Singers, Dearly, 12 Rods, Phull Surkle/Casino Royale)--The fact that the Kelley Deal 6000 didn't crack the top five here means either A) nobody's listening, or B) xenophobic local backlash. Either way, Go To The Sugar Alter pulls oddball noises and eccentric sentiment into passionate, off-kilter pop that sounds great on the radio (especially "Canyon"). Their live shows haven't quite matched the record (a lot of whose thrills are production-based), but it's early yet. The opposite is true of Semisonic, whose '70s AM radio revue is pretty tough to resist. But I've had more fun at their gigs than with Great Divide, mainly because they worry less about getting that perfect period sound and just rock. The record's still pretty enjoyable, though, and its noise & loop experiments help it transcend the straight-faced retroism that always kept me from loving Trip Shakespeare. The Pins put out one of my favorite local releases last year, the self-released Eleanor, a hand-knit batch of songs owing not a little to the Galaxie 500/Luna school. But they have a bright, shambling charm of their own. Ironic, though, that their best song could be "No Ambition"; I guess we'll see. ESP Woody McBride isn't exactly new or a band. But he's here because his local techno empire seems busier than ever, and because his main-tent performance at this year's Even Further techno-fest (no turntables, just Roland sequencers and assorted electronics) blew a few hundred minds up into the Wisconsin sky. Whether he intends to move beyond club tracks to stage shows and apartment music remains to be seen. Finally, Fresh Squeez is a pickup group based in the hip-hop/acid jazz scene brewing over at The Front in Northeast. It's a loose thing, but with DJ noise and low-key rapping giving the funk-fusion cocktail a more experimental edge, they're looking towards some interesting things.