By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Yeah, I voted for Halloween, Alaska last year too. So what? At that point, the record hadn't come out and the band had played only a handful of shows, but I had heard demos of what would become one of the finest albums I have heard since I woke up and started paying attention to our scene. It sounds like Tears for Fears' The Hurting and all of the other sweet and sad stuff from the '80s that I like. It's subtle, beautifully melodic, and soulful.
Halloween, Alaska: Halloween, Alaska is comprised of some of the best musicians in the Twin Cities. When listening to their self-released CD, one would think that there must have been a significant amount of programming done to accomplish their sound. There was. However, there is also phenomenal musicianship and lyric composition that accompanies that programming.
Amateur Love: Note to self: Do not do a Google search on "Amateur Love" to locate this band's website...Yikes! Do yourself a favor and make it a priority to go see this group live. The spastic push-ups will blow your mind. If you also have a chance, pick up their first self-released album, It's All Aquatic. The catchy pop sensibilities are infectious and command your attention. I feel it is also important to note that this group recorded the above album in their rehearsal space. Nice work, Gents!
Bill Mike: Seeing Bill Mike live is like going to school, except you will probably be able to drink and you can't really ask any questions. This trio is an explosive array of textures and grooves that could be dissected by some music theorist, but is much more enjoyable without the academia.
Tapes n' Tapes: I wasn't totally sold on this group right away, but that wasn't their problem--it was mine. After catching a few more performances, I realized Tapes n' Tapes are the real deal. This is indie-rock at its finest.
Dosh: We were asked not to vote on artists who made last year's Top Ten. Tough bananas! I had met Dosh numerous times and seen him with various artists around the Twin Cities, but it wasn't until I had the opportunity to catch a solo performance that I realized his talent. He takes music to a completely different level.
Jennifer J. Holt: I confess a weakness for female singer-songwriters from windswept prairies (Rickie Lee Jones, Molly Maher, Sara Softich). Jennifer originally hails from North Dakota (or is it South--what's the difference?) but now she's rooted in Minneapolis. It's hard not to fall in love with her 2004 album The Road to Tunerville.
Swiss Army: They manage to be passionate and melodic even while they're shaking your teeth out.
Portraits for Judith: Haven't heard of this rapid-fire metal band? No wonder. They don't have a CD out and rarely gig. Yet when you can catch them they're quite an experience. They used to be called Stoma Blue, then showed up at the True Music Contest with a new drummer and a new name (both picked the day before) and made it into semi-finals. Then in finals, they showed up with their original drummer (whom they have since replaced), and came in fourth out of 25 contestants (the top three have been around too long to be eligible for Picked to Click). Pretty good for what can barely be called a band.
Gary Burt: A sixtysomething singer/songwriter from the Iron Range who's been around forever in various blues and bar bands, he put out his first CD, I'm on a Journey last year. Burt has a high, heartrending voice, lyrics both introspective and political, and guitar work as intricate and lovely as a flowing stream.
Almost 7: I hated this '70s-style rock band on disc, but onstage they have such a great sound you don't mind a little cheese. And their lead singer, Robyn Roh, is flat-out amazing.
Sound Imperium: This dub duo helps ease the anxiety I've felt since Joe Strummer died in late 2002. I've always been an evangelist for the Clash, playing their records for young kids, and I think I've found an ally in Sound Imperium.
P.O.S. and Doomtree: This crew made an auspicious debut this year. They're a hard-working nucleus of hip-hop artists that would make Brent Sayers and Company--the ne plus ultra of a hard-working crew--proud.
Little Dirt: These guys released a great EP in 2004 on Dan Cote's Heart of a Champion record label, the occasion of which sparked a discussion in Noiseland Industry's office regarding why more bands don't release EPs. The idea that all 80 minutes of a compact disc's capacity must be used on a recording project weakens a lot of otherwise strong records.
Sweet Faces: No one but me cares that Brian from the Fevers lives in Minnesota now and has an awesome new band that does great Zeros covers.
Die Electric!: Or whatever their name is this week.
The Convicted: Straightedge hardcore is back! Except it's old, and it drinks now. My friend Brian says they sound like the Accused. Which is good.