Scene Not Heard

Computer wizards leave their bedrooms, rappers reach the stage, and the Mason Jennings Band creates the bar buzz of the decade. In the ninth annual City Pages New Music Poll, 60 local music fans pick the bands that made the biggest noise.

Jason Parker, Extreme Noise Records

1. Ereshkigal

2. The Ending Again

Daniel Corrigan

3. Scorned

4. Real Enemy

5. The Hidden Chord

Now with double the guitar power(!), Ereshkigal explores the darker side of American hardcore. The female vocals push them over the top, and they keep playing faster (which is good these days!). The Ending Again is the surprise hit of the spring season: A very new local band doing the emotional hardcore thing circa late-'80s Washington, D.C. (before emo became a mess of whining and screaming). Scorned are various older guys and a gal who've put together a very nice snapshot of Swedish thrash/hardcore from the early '80s. Cute band alert (except for the guitar player): Real Enemy shows that it's about time straight-edge bands started playing fast again. And the Hidden Chord is another new band with a superstar lineup--ex-Kill Sadie, a current Misfire, and the tall guy from Ordination of Aaron--and they play some really sharp slash-and-burn mod-punk stuff.

 

Jen Downham, Groove Garden Records

1. Initiation

2. Head Spin

3. Moveable Feast

4. Fresh Squeez

5. Anika

Initiation is the name for Truth Maze and Sistah Mimi's semimonthly 7th Street Entry gig, where Maze hosts a loose collective of like-minded DJs, poets, musicians, and hip-hop acts. Maze's Trektah Beam Express was an Initiation favorite. Head Spin's Sunday night Bon Appétit hip-hop hoedown put on by DJ Syrum, Detrick, and Zachary is like a cool basement house party that's open to the public. Like with most house parties, the sound is sometimes questionable, the seating is limited, and the lights are a little too bright. But the talent, vibe, and Guinness on tap make it one of my favorite new spots. The hip-hop lineup and DJs change weekly, but this showcase always offers a crazy array of young headz: fresh, unadulterated, and not out to promote Hilfiger. It's a gem. As for Moveable Feast: Drummer extraordinaire Kevin Washington is baaaack! And he's part of an all-star line up of groovers: John Keston, Jeff Bailey, Truth Maze, and Peter Virks. Often tucked away at the 400 Bar on a Monday, these seasoned kids will move you. Although the rotating version of Fresh Squeez is not new, recently a solid core of performers has come together to make this a supergroove group to be reckoned with. Surprise guests and sit-ins are nice cherries on this fat lollapalooza. Anika is a soul diva with just the right amount of attitude. She recently had 1,200 people at First Avenue wrapped so tight around her talented and sexy little pinkie finger that it made the place squeal.

 

Bill Snyder, Twin Cities Revue

1. Tugboat

2. The Hot

3. Bellwether

4. Dixie and the Cannibals

5. Tangletown

Tugboat completely blew me away! Mike Michel is an ax man with impeccable taste. He's got the power of a chainsaw and the sensitivity of a good therapist. As a vocalist, he has an edgy power that cuts right through the room. Besides, how can you go wrong when Happy Apple is the rest of your band? The Hot consists of more exes than Zsa Zsa Gabor could imagine: Bryan Hanna (ex-Hang Ups), Jason Orris (ex-Polara) and Tal Tahir (ex-King Can). This outfit combined the fun of 'Sota pop with the sophistication of three artists who know their way around the studio, and topped it all off with a beautiful three-vocalist assault. Bellwether's Turnstiles is certainly a respectable debut album. Eric Luoma's vocals ache, and country harmonies abound. Overall, the record continually resists the urge to fall into a sleepy alt-country haze. I played Dixie and the Cannibals' demo nonstop for five weeks. They play good, tight power-pop with hooks in all the right places. It sends me back to the days when postpunk college radio was a nationwide movement sporting acts like Let's Active, The Plimsouls, and early R.E.M. Tangletown's debut album foreshadows better things to come. There is remarkable promise in Seth Zimmerman's songwriting. As a unit they are as tight as they come, and their cover of "September Gurls" even makes that overcovered chestnut sound fresh again.

 

Christina Schmitt, freelance writer

1. The Misfires

2. Truth Maze

3. Selby Tigers

4. Debi 7

5. Abstract Pack

I've heard estimates that some 400 new bands turn up in the Twin Cities every year, and just as many quietly die in their warehouse practice spaces. So at the risk of sounding like a gloomy oracle, I say best wishes for survival to my choices for best new local band. With the kind of bitter self-righteousness that could only be learned in East St. Paul or in the backwoods of Wisconsin, the Misfires seem committed to updating the Jam and Gang of Four for the all-ages scene. Truth Maze remains the best beatboxer in Minneapolis, and the work he does under his various incarnations--his spoken-word artistry as Trektah Beam Express, his drum circle blowouts with Fodé Bangoura, et al.--is among the most challenging and political music activism these parts have seen in a while. Selby Tigers do not need any props from me: Before their CD Year of the Tigers hit the burner, their talent and connections assured them success. The most fun for fans, however, will be in watching Debi 7, whose rapid growth is sure to come if this trio sticks with it. I'd give them until July before they're constantly compared to Billy Childish's classic garage-punk band, Thee Headcoatees.

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