By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
David Jarosz (DJ Drone), Bassment Records:1. Rhyme Sayers Collective 2. DJ Jennifer 3. DJ Andrew 4. Jungle Vibe Collective.
Rhyme Sayers are Minneapolis hip hop, representing Uptown to the fullest. From running Groove Garden Sundays to operating her own label, DJ Jennifer is doing it all. DJ Andrew throws down the hip-hop sound with mad skill. And my boys in the JVC are runnin' 'tings jungle style.
Ryan Kallberg, The Minnesota Daily:
1. Love-cars 2. Matt Wilson 3. Freedom Fighters 4. The Harlows 5. (tie) American Paint, The Pushbacks.
Love-cars is the best "new" band out there--one part soft emo-core, one part atmospheric pop, one part masterful drumming, with a strong grasp on what sounds good. Bonus points for James Diers, a rock critic who can actually sing. Matt Wilson, the "other" Trip Shakespeare guy, has been around a long time, but his rebirth was one of the most pleasant surprises of 1997. Freedom Fighters get surprising chunks of melody out of their ear-shredding power chords. The Harlows' Charlton writes catchy songs that make good with treble and tremolo rather than rumble and rasp. American Paint and the Pushbacks both have a twangy pop that's accompanied welcome buzzes and not-so-welcome hangovers.
Ali Lozoff, Radio K: (no order) Florida, Sliver, Animal Chin.
Mary Lucia, Zone 105:
1. Velma 2. Delta 88 3. American Paint 4. So-So 5. Vanguard.
Mean Larry, singer/songwriter:
(no order) So-So, Ana Voog, Bobby Llama, Seven Thieves, Mary Nail.
1. The One and Only Buggin 2. Mary Nail 3. Little Buddy 4. J.U.L.P. 5. Blacklight.
Jesse Mraz, First Avenue:
1. Janis Figure 2. Detroit 3. Rhyme Sayers Collective 4. Kristin Mooney 5. Mike Merz.
Detroit really have their shit together; they're one of the bands in our city that truly know how to put on a rock show, full of eye candy and energy. The Rhyme Sayers have gained much respect in the community through hard work, persistence, and great music. I dig what they stand for--it's all about love. Kristin Mooney is one of the most pleasant people I've met in the business thus far--good stage presence, great music, cool band. As for Mike Merz, I enjoy his lyrics--off the beaten path, yet not too far from mine.
Scott Pakudaitis, Twin Cities Alternative Shows List:
1. The Minx 2. The Odd 3. Skyeklad 4. Ouija Radio 5. Brits Out of America.
I limited my selection to the 300-plus groups I actually saw perform in 1997. My clear choice for number one is the Minx, for their carnival new-wave pop music driven by powerful vocals. They are sensual onstage and have a clear focus on the importance of theater as a dimension of musical performance. The Odd's style is akin to rowdy Brit rock and their frenetic, no-holds-barred shows are musical orgies. Space-rock outfit Skyeklad feature deep layers of rhythms and unique sounds, often incorporating performance art into their seamless sets. Ouija Radio is an explosive yet melodic punk band whose live shows are high-energy assaults. When I first saw Brits Out of America, I expected to hear a cover of "Big Bottom," since the band consists of three bassists, a drummer, and a drum machine. Instead, this unique lineup plays excellent pop-rock with multilayered rhythms and solid vocals.
Jason Parker, Extreme Noise Records:
1. (tie) Cleveland Bound, Death Sentence 2. The Misfires 3. Infinity Dive 4. The Murderers 5. Scurvy Dogs.
Yes, all these bands are punk.
Dan Richmond, Radio K:
(no order) Freedom Fighters, Florida, Atmosphere/Beyond, Reba Fritz, Ana Voog.
Robyne Robinson, KMSP-TV:
(no order) Ousia, Mary Nail, Anomaly, Vanguard, Heirospecs, Ana Voog.
The best new music I enjoyed this year was mostly on compilation discs, Future Perfect: Music for Listening and Freeloaded Wednesdays. I think all the bands I picked challenge music lovers to go beyond their own comfort zones.
Christina Schmitt, City Pages:
1. Leonardo 2. Pink (formerly Element 115) 3. 3Way Grady 4. Video Nasty 5. Dread Knot.
Short-lived Leonardo played with punk, country, and hip hop, and they had great vocal harmonies on their way to best-local-girl-band status. But it just wasn't meant to be. Pink is transgenderfied indie pop. 3Way Grady's Moira is a smoking bass player; I only wish she'd sing more, though her husband Bill does a fine job. Video Nasty is pure New York Dolls. And Dread Knot is great if only because it boasts former members of the too-little-too-late-known Assrash.
Danny Sigelman, North of No South Records USA:
1. Juan Meguro 2. Florida 3. The Native Ones 4. Slalom 5. Marcy Playground.
Whether he's playing around the University of Minnesota in assorted quintets or trios, or standing humbly as a member of the Volare Lounge Orchestra, Juan Meguro dazzles with his subtle guitar playing--and then he socks you with one of his lovely trademark solos. I saw him play with sparring gloves on once, I swear! After too many Apples in Stereo or Built to Spill live letdowns, I'll take melody makers Florida any night of the week. The Native Ones' (Los Nativos!) Spanish-to-English-to-Spanglish flow electrifies and brings folks together like no other group in the Rhyme Sayers clique. And at a recent Homocore event, Slalom transformed punk ethos into dance-crazy synth-rock, and they weren't afraid to cap off the night with a Muzak-inspired Cure tribute. Marcy Playground: Gee, who knew?