By Chris Parker
By Jesse Marx
By John Baichtal
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Jesse Marx
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Tatiana Craine
By Judy Keen
The Descent Triad of Radio K'sThe Descent:
1. Dies Irae 2. Autumn 3. A:Pod 4. Richard for Cerebellum 5. Zurround.
Bill DeVille, Cities 97:
1. American Paint 2. Patrick Tanner & the Faraway Men 3. The Autumn Leaves 4. Bobby Llama 5. L.A. Cowboy.
James Diers, sidewalk.com: (no order) Matt Wilson, Kanser, DynoSpectrum, Red Level.
Not one of these acts is officially new, least of all Matt Wilson. Yet, his new solo debut, Burnt, White and Blue, was the most savory pop package in my winter stocking. Kanser offers more brawny Minneapolis hip hop to keep my mind off of other people's money. DynoSpectrum? Well, a Rhyme Sayer by any other name barely sounds as sweet. As for Red Level? Well, "emo" is still my favorite dirty word.
Jon Dolan, City Pages:
1. Ousia 2. DJ Wix 3. Love-cars 4. DJ Bumpee Screw 5. Deformo.
Ousia, Wix, and the JVC's Bumpee Screw represent different aspects of the still-thriving local DJ scene. Ousia make ambient noise steeped in disjointed breakbeats. The other two jocks do up drum 'n' bass as good as any stateside jungle I've heard all year. Love-cars give a nice pop context for local free-jazz wonk Dave King. But my favorite band here is Deformo. Yes, they've been around a few years, and, yes, they are moving to New York. But in the last year they hit the stores for the first time with two great records: an EP called The Queen Bazaar and a just-out self-titled debut. Born of the same college-rock ethos that gave us Camper Van Beethoven's "Take the Skinheads Bowling," they play a form of (sm)art-rock that's as funny as it is gnarly. In this age of hyperprofessional alt-copycats they're a dying breed--an indie-rock spotted owl, if you will. They will be missed.
Chris Dorn, The Beatifics:
(no order) The Autumn Leaves, The Sandwiches, Lunar 9, American Paint, 50 States.
Jen Downham, KFAI-FM and Groove Garden Records:
1. Autonomous 2. ARKOLOGY 3. Heirospecs 4. Vintage 5. Anomaly.
Autonomous's airy beats and strings, a little bit of guitar, and the mesmerizing female vocals make this moving mood music. ARKOLOGY is spoken word and a hell of a rhythm section. Heirospecs is hip hop and spoken word with an all-live band, horns, and more. Vintage is old-school funk played by old-schoolers who lived through it, with it, in it, and--thank God--are still doin' it! Anomaly do a cinematic hip hop.
Brian Earle, Tough Guy Booking:
1. The Sugar Cats 2. Retardo 3. Liberty Launchers 4. Tommy Cillfiger 5. Let's Make a Deal 4000.
Mary Emerzian, American Cuckoo Productions/Terminal Bar:
1. The Odd 2. Mommy Log Balls 3. Phantasmagoria 4. Ouija Radio 5. 3Way Grady.
The Odd is dirty-nasty. Mommy Log Balls are insane beauty. Phantasmagoria's drummer has an unusual sense of timing. 3Way Grady bassist Moira is the Billy Zoom of the ladies' circle.
J. G. Everest, The Sensational Joint Chiefs:
1. Native Ones 2. ARKOLOGY 3. Sixth Sense 4. Autonomous 5. Mokoto Brasil.
Vickie Gilmer, startribune.com:
1. American Paint 2. The Autumn Leaves 3. Love-cars 4. February 5. Kardel.
Simon Peter Groebner, City Pages:
1. The Minx 2. Love-cars 3. Autonomous 4. domo 5. Skyeklad.
I declined to vote for the then-embryonic Minx last year, but their new-no-wave stylishness and vocal vamp Jessika Minx were intriguing. Their ingeniously sick and satirical incest anthem, "Family Secrets" ("Let me take off all your clothes/Only us and Jesus know"), is what finally won me over. Love-cars' brand new Chump Lessons is the debut disc of the year so far, proving that a band with an ex-12 Rods bassist on guitar (Matt Foust) and everyone's fave jazz drummer, Dave King, can one-up alt-rock at its own game. Shades of Sunny Day Real Estate emo-pop show up, especially in James Diers's unlikely Jeremy Enigk-ian vocal, but they do need to curb tendencies toward dreamy monotony.
Minx guitarist Moon is one part of Autonomous--a band featuring a bunch of regulars from the Front's Brit-night, electronics, and great female vox, which has left an imprint on my subconscious I'm still trying to figure out. I'm bashful to admit that Conan O'Brien discovered domo before I did, but they're definitely complementary to Conan's geek charm. Their retro take on art-rock tuneage suggests a young band taking more risks than just about any other bass-guitar-synth group around, although they're still very raw live. And Skyeklad I like for their fusion of post-techno and prog rock, though I'm bemused by their shaman-like singer. Honorables: Anomaly, A:POD, Flora. Band I mention every year: Lily Liver. Too new to know: Lunar 9.
Sonia Grover, Cheapo Records:
1. Ten Ton Bridge 2. The Odd 3. The Pushbacks 4. Slumper 5. So-So.
Henry Horman, Pulse:
1. So-So 2. Animal Chin 3. The Odd 4. The Siren Six! 5. Red Shadow Chorus.
At first I thought they called it So-So so you wouldn't expect too much. Then I figured they just didn't care. At any rate, this Westy offshoot is like nothing else in town. It comes off like guys who had an early-'70s soul-record party in their living room and then made up a few of their own gems afterward. The Odd are born entertainers, and they have to be seen to be believed. Their super-sleazy '60s garage-rock style is all about leather pants, bandanas, dark sunglasses, tambourine-janglin', and keyboard-humpin'. They're basically a parody of cock rock that transcends the novelty. The only song they've got that has nothing to do with sex is called "Smash the State"--and they mean it, man!
Animal Chin and The Siren Six! are ska bands second and great songmakers first. A.C. crosses emo-core with fast ska, and they've got lots of cool lyrics up their sleeves. Note: Siren Six! might not be considered a Twin Cities band anymore, as they've been romancing Hollywood and vice versa. It looks like they and Anomaly will be Minneapolis's next nationwide contenders. Red Shadow Chorus serve up some nice late-night dream-pop that goes down easy after a hectic day.