By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
By Jesse Marx
By Maggie LaMaack
By Jake Rossen
D.I.Y. OR DIE
Independence is freedom. It seems unfortunate that more independent artists don't appreciate and take advantage of their independent status. Many artists cry about the "evil" corporate mechanisms that "destroy" creativity and individualism in the music industry, while at the same time they willingly surrender their freedom and creative control to them. An "independent" artist who feels obligated to sound like Franz Ferdinand or Radiohead in order to be some sort of "success" is hardly independent. Don't cry, my young independent artists, just give a big middle finger and a "fuck you" to the nonsense, and do what you want. Cherish and use your independence. That would be actually "rock" or "punk" or whatever you want to call it. Enjoy!
HIP HOP HOORAY
Remember that we are still a cow town to most people outside of the Midwest, so people need to stop complaining about how our hip-hop scene is dead. Because the fact is, it's better then ever. As I type this, numerous local rappers, DJs, and merchandise pimps are touring all over the country, representing the Twin Cities and working and playing hard. Atmosphere had videos on MTV and was in magazines such as Urb and Spin. Heiruspecs signed to Razor and Tie Records and just released a first-rate album. P.O.S has been critically acclaimed and won fans over on the Warped Tour by literally spilling blood on stage. Muja Messiah recently performed at CMJ with Talib Kweli. Golden has been flirting with the majors with a hookup from Beats and Produce. And new releases on the horizon from veterans like Atmosphere, Musab, I Self Devine, and others just make it easier for the new cats like Big Quarters, Illuminous 3, Guardians of Balance, Knonam, and Doomtree to hit the scene hard. Cities from Phoenix to Madison would be thankful to have a scene like ours, with the amount of talent and opportunities we are blessed with. So just remember before you start bitching about our "lame" city: We are one muthafucking cool-ass cow town.
People have been sleeping on the local hip-hop scene in Minnesota. I truly believe that, in this past year, there has been great growth for the hip-hop community, especially with groups like Big Quarters making a new sound with their CD, EPL and Snakebird Songs. Mixed with good beats and good message, it uplifted my views on the local scene. Groups like Traditional Methods mixed a live band with hip hop--always a great combination. Sarah White's soulful voice and political messages from all band members make this group another one to watch. Illuminous 3 have shown some great growth musically as well lyrically with their fundraiser, Vol. 2, and their presence on the stage. I look forward to their debut album. There are some many good groups putting it down for the local scene: Los Nativos putting Minnesota in the Chicana/Latina hip-hop game with straight-fire lyrics; Purest Form repping St. Paul and making great music; Brother Ali and his accomplishments. And who can forget Doomtree, creating a great atmosphere on the stage with lyrics music and of course Dessa. The local scene is growing not just in acts but in quality. So check out your local hip-hop shows and support a good music scene in the TC.
Right after the movie 8 Mile came out, our local underground hip-hop scene had a giant burst of new life, with a lot of new people coming to shows and battles. I was hosting the Loring Pasta Bar MC battle tournaments at the time, and it was really fun. But the cycle has kind of burnt itself out, and I predict the scene will lay low for a while. But it will eventually have a large resurgence; it always does.
--Zachariah Combs (a.k.a. New MC)
NEVER TRUST ANYONE OVER THIRTEEN
Keep your eye on the crop of teenagers from places like Hopkins and St. Louis Park who have suckled at the teat of indie, hip hop, nü-metal, and emo; played in a high school band together; and scored a six-string or drum kit from their folks or a summer job. "Web in Front" is their "Stairway to Heaven," and you can imagine how the resulting lack of historical burden could burn the practice space down. The Plastic Constellations were an early incarnation of this righteous trend, but now we've got Aneuretical, whose debut, When You Were a Kid, sheds all the irony of indie and the schlock of emo in order to reveal a raw sonic core of hyperactive love tics. Even the retro-metallic anthems of Passions tend to skitter dangerously on some trebly echophonic cliff, rather than plod into a Pleistocene tar pit. Kinetic energy is where it's at; the wheel in the sky keeps on turning.
I've been to every Radio K Battle of the Underage Underground--once as a high school kid supporting my friend's band, and three times as a judge. This year was by far the best. Many people know this year's winners, Melodious Owl, but choosing them was a really hard decision to make. Every band that played totally rocked and all the bands deserved to place. Everyone should check out Dump Truck, Kasper, the Accidents, and all the other bands that played. There are so many high school kids in this town making pretty incredible stuff, make sure you support the young ones!
My props go out the local young jazz talent and their fans. Today's younger music fans are supporting more freestyle jazz acts and venues that book such bands. It's refreshing to see upstart acts and new fans creating a solid scene at newer clubs and old and ones alike. Their crowds are smarter and more respectful then most of us crusty old umber fans, and the bands seem to know no musical borders.
--James "Taco" Martin
FORGET THE "DAVID CROSBY FOR PRESIDENT" CAMPAIGN! WE CAST OUR BALLOTS FOR...
Big Quarters: I have no illusions that Doomtree will in the top five, but I think Big Quarters is the local rap story of the year. Eighty-five percent of local rap acts are the same dime-a-dozen, quasi-emo, bad-piano loops, marble-mouthed college age pranksters who don't seem to be trying very hard. Zach and Brandon from Big Quarters have really put themselves a head above--they dig for their beats, they have great stage presence, and they seem to really embody the best aspects of rap from the last 10 or 15 years. They're smart but not nerdy, fun but not superficial. Best of all, they aren't robbing the established acts in town for their style. I love these guys.
Traditional Methods: Tough choice on my top two--sincere uplift (Traditional Methods) vs. inspired goof (Olympic Hopefuls). Normally, I'd go for the goof, but for one thing, and that isn't the (mostly obvious) politics of these nu-Fugees, or the chewy backing tracks by Heiruspecs past and present. It's the matter-of-fact earthbound grace of Sarah White. When she says in "Spark" that she believes in God, faith, trust, love, and miracles, I wanna believe in her too--mainly because she also just told us, "I keep my hands between my legs to keep myself out of trouble."
Traditional Methods: Sarah White is singing now and welcoming a new life into this world. Mamma is on top of her game. This is such a rich and diverse album that it has to rank among the best of the Twin Cities. This group is only getting better with time.
Heiruspecs:A Tiger Dancing was so good, and Heiruspecs are some of the hardest-working guys in the business. I saw them at Pizza Lucé's Block party this year and their show was amazing! Now if I can just get Muad'dib to say a complete sentence next time I interview them...
Eyedea and Abilities: Murs said Eyedea kisses his dog open-mouthed! Nevertheless, I will not let that detract from my opinion of his and Abilities' work. Hot shit, fellas!
DJ Aaron Money: He is now one of the hottest bachelors in the Twin Cities! His music mixes are so damn incredible. He spins some '80s music at the Caterpillar Lounge in south Minneapolis, and if you want to get in the mood, make sure to bring a date.
Cheap Cologne: His Jay-Z/Metallica remix was genius. He had the RIAA on his back threatening to hem him up for copyright infringement. He is laughing now. I keep my eye on this man's next move: He understands the business, he has talent, and he is working with some of the best MCs in this city.
Zebulon Pike: Everything about music that I loved as a kid. Everything about music that my "hip" friends have been telling me is not cool for the last 20 years. Am I finally vindicated?
Zebulon Pike: The best band in this town right now. They have the best disc I've heard in years. And the best metal-meets-Catholic-iconography logo. And the most invigorating live show. And the ultimate compliment: I will skip TV to go see them.
Paul Metzger: His solo banjo shows in the last couple of years have been stunning. Issuing forth these great, climbing raga-like lines, he uses the banjo in every possible way, melodically and percussively. It's exciting to see this guy continually reinvent himself with almost complete indifference to the musical trends swirling around him. Mutant Music just put out a solo LP of his, and hopefully that Roaratorio split EP with Six Organs of Admittance will see the light of day soon.
Terry Eason: I've been too enamored of metal lately to be wowed by Eason's low-key regular-guy stage show. But the studio records are another story: smart, well-crafted pop that actually sticks with you, and isn't too ashamed to move around and get sweaty.
Jack Knife and the Sharps: Now I sound like a hypocrite because I love the Sharps' no-bullshit, almost anti-audience approach. But then again, I'm a nut for the kind of clean, sprightly picking that's the backbone of rockabilly and surf, and too much flash would detract from that (take note, Stockcar Named Desire). When a little feedback creeps into something like their cover of "Strychnine," you get an inkling of the feeling your parents or uncles or mentors had when they heard "Rumble" or "You Really Got Me" for the first time. I always plan my birthday around Mayslack's Memorial Day music festival. With a plate of Mini-Mezes, a 20-ounce beer, and the Sharps playing, another year passing is much less traumatic.
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.
The Divebomb Honey: You could say they are doing the Epoxies thing. But Sheila has a great voice, so when they start playing out more and putting out real records, they will be awesome.
D.J. Derrick Olsen (a.k.a. D.O.): Most of the time I would rather listen to Derrick spinning tunes than listen to the bands he is spinning tunes between.
Disaster by Anchorhead: Produced by Rich Mattson of Ol' Yeller, and in the can for a couple of months now, this record gets to the heart of the three-voice, functionally dysfunctional, musical-family donnybrook that is the boys on a typical Friday night somewhere here in town. "Little White Church" is the kind of song I see myself playing on the radio over and over again for many months to come.
This Train Is Gainin' by the Copperheads: A lot of local bands put things down on disc to get some buzz going about themselves, when in fact it takes a few years of gigging to get at the heart of what they're doing and what they want to do. This is a good old-fashioned bar-band record. We serious music heads always have five or six records in our collections that we can whip out as background music for whatever's going on in the sawdust pits of our lives, and this is one of them. Kinda country, kinda rocky, all guts, guitar strings, and Ray's soaring, plaintive vocals.
First Avenue...er, the Replacement....er, That Building at First and Seventh: Let's be clear about something here: Those shit heels at Clear Channel, while good businesspeople, are not good for the creative processes of music. Music, like any art, involves hours of failure and rough edges and loud, obnoxious, and anarchic noise before something beautiful and important emerges. First Avenue is covered in smoke, dust, and oozing sores, but what goes on in there is a French kiss of culture and humanity from a beautiful girl in a bright sundress on a cloudless day. This town would suffer immeasurably if it were to go under or change its mission significantly, and it will be a dark day in hell before I spend a fucking dime in a club run by CC or any of its goons. That being said, I have a keen eye on this venue and a song in my heart over the outcome of the recent trial. I hope that nothing terribly drastic happens there. What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger.
James "Taco" Martin at Lee's: I've become a big fan of Taco Martin. Somehow, he's carved out a niche for himself actually making money with club music. He's a businessman, to be sure, but it's hard to talk to him for more than three minutes without realizing that he loves music, loves being in a club full of people who love music, and loves talking about being in a club full of people who love talking about their love of music. He's a catalyst, and he brings energy to the scene because he wants to be there and he wants 6 or 300 of his friends to be there, too. He already has put some asses through the door at Lee's because he understands the nature of the beast, and he lets the beast feed. This is roots-rock honky-tonk, and people want to dance and cry in their beer and sing along to big power-chord anthems. Viva El Taco!
Me, Jason Nagel, Mei Young, David Campbell, Ken Hippler, and our various radio shows: Roots-rock and country music don't have to suck, no matter what they play at K102. If you have never listened to The Other Side of Country, Minnesota Music, KQ Homegrown, or Good N' Country, then you're probably the kind of person who wasn't bothered in the least by Ashlee Simpson's lip-synching and all her bullshit excuses. But let us let you in on a little secret: People work for years in clubs, theaters, and auditoriums actually learning how to tune and play their instruments, write songs, and sing on key. There's a very rich tapestry of this music out there, and there are a lot of great sources for it on some big and small radio stations around here, hitting on all eights for content, theme, and delivery. Maybe we can finally banish the boy bands and little girls in push-up bras off of our airwaves. How long, oh Lord, how long?
Paul Metzger: I hear John Fahey, Robbie Basho, George Stavis, Benjamin Chasny, and an indistinct amalgam of benign tokes from northern India, Turkey, and Afghanistan. It's like the bus broke down 35 years ago and Metzger is still stuck in the sand, his bald head tan and Buddha-like, wafting in the thick of communal smoke. I'm charmed by his non-ego and radical exploration of things not at all of this region.
Charles Gillette: Leave it to an improviser of guitar sounds to recognize that a recent performance photo of an artist believed to be Jandek contains the same left ear as the person who is featured on the cover of Jandek's Blue Corpse and thusly, must be the same dude. As mum is the word from Jandek's Corwood organization, the observations of Charles Gillette are the most sound, hitherto.
Dan Rein: Even more immersed and well-traveled in the sounds of the sand...
Brown Rainbow: An absurd, exciting mess.
I concur with the Minnesota Music Academy. The Owls' "Air" is the best. Give a hoot, don't pollute. The Tin Star Sisters get the "Most Charming" award, and "Best Use of an Accordion." I also agree with the Academy regarding Alicia Wiley: "Most Likely To Succeed." It seems that wherever you are, there's a band named JAR. Why is that? Dear JAR Minneapolis, please change your name. Then maybe I can vote for you again next year. Just keep working on that rustic acoustica and keep your mouth shut. Robert Everest is not new, but his artful, imaginative takes on Bolero, Flamenco, and MPB are. They go good with a corn pancake, too.
ANALYSTS AGREE: IT'S THE POLL, STUPID
I was looking at last year's "Picked to Click" list and trying to find out if any of the bands were still active. A few are doing well, but the majority of them seemed to have drifted off the radar. Then I found myself trying to figure out what "Picked to Click" really meant and was hoping not to drift into some psychological moral dilemma over the chance that if I picked a band, they might not even be around next year. Is it the pressure of being picked to click--the idea that after the poll comes out, it will be hard to keep up that standard of rocking? Is it that fame throws a wrench into the psyches of most bands and their egos go out of control? It would be easy for someone like Haley Bonar to keep rolling, since she is just one person. A whole band is another story. The infrastructure of a band is the most fragile thing in the world. So if you do get "Picked" and I voted for you and everything is downhill afterward, remember it was the City Pages that came up with this idea. If you get some super record deal or sell a bunch of CDs and land some big shows, then give me a call and thank me. A note on the music I picked: While Coach Said Not To, Mel Gibson and the Pants, and Look Down were intriguing bands to me because of their unique sound, I still always seem to revert to cool guitar band rock like the Swiss Army and Zebulon Pike. I like the guitars and I like it a little bit heavy. Don't know why, I just do.
I never knew what to say in yearbooks: Have a great summer! Let's hang out! I never liked the "Most likely to..." section, or the lame posed photos. So let's cut the crap. Everyone can tell if a band loves what they're doing. Everyone knows who just cares about being popular, who tries too hard, who steps on others to get to the top, and who creates amazing music. Everyone knows the names of the seniors when they walk through the halls, and people talk about them when they aren't even around. These are the freshmen. Some are more mature, experienced, and some are just getting started. But some are starting to really stand out. Soon enough, the cream will rise to the top and our elephantine popularity contest will have proven itself once again as both as defining and as completely irrelevant as freshman yearbook pictures. But in any case, go check out some new bands and judge them for yourself. You might even like them...
FOR THOSE WHO DON'T GET OUT MUCH...
Hey fuckers: The shit sounds coming from this room are fucking pissing off real musicians AND you are [sic] wasteing money paying for a jam space when you fucking suck ass at music!
p.s. here's a present that resembles your musical style....SHIT! Ha Ha FUCK YOU
(Contents of a note left on the door to a rented rehearsal room shared by Ova!, Happy Mothers Day I Can't Read, Diamonds, and my band, Noise Quean Ant--along with plenty of actual human feces covering the door, knob, and floor.)
I'm a bit like the Boo Radley of northeast Minneapolis. There is a round oily smear on the front window of my house where my forehead rests each early morning. My noggin rests firmly on the glass as my eyes scan patiently up and down the cracked and tarred section of 27th Avenue that lies quietly outside. I deftly roll my body behind the blinds when I spot one of my neighbors trotting off to the bus stop, but I stay put when the squirrels come. I don't mind them so much. Most mornings of the past year, my only other companion has been the quirky, subdued electronica of Halloween, Alaska. This album may be more than a year old, but it just doesn't seem to wear. It rolls around my head each morning like warm honey, spilling out to glue wayward leaves to my front steps. It thickens the puddles along the curb. It's just as patient and full of retreat as I've deemed myself to be.
I'm fed up with clubs. I'm torn up about First Avenue closing, but emotionally, I probably have a lot less invested than most of you, because my formative club years are now encased in a parking lot in Ann Arbor. What I will miss is all the great music I saw there, but brother, they can't take that away from me.
That's why I appreciate the Triple Rock and love the Acadia. I can get good food from pleasantly pierced waitresses at the Triple Rock. Most nights I don't have to take a shower when I get home, thanks to the good ventilation system. Plus, there's lovely Blue Moon on tap (Friend: "Wow. It tastes like detergent. But I like that!") The Acadia has an expansive selection of boutique beers at neighborhood bar prices--and Bells on tap. Plus, no smoke! I thought its Tuesday night improv series was dead with the departure of the awesomely talented Andrew Lafkas to NYC, but Mike Hallenbeck and GST's Greg Schaefer have admirably taken up the slack. They appear to be putting a little bit more rock and electronica into the mix, which I think can only extend the natural life of the series. I say "appear" because, since I now have TiVo and can leave my house on Tuesday nights, there is the problem of ATU union meetings falling on many of the evenings when there's a good bill. And that's something you just can't pause, rewind, and watch later.
OUR TOWN'S BETTER THAN YOUR TOWN
Having spent most of the past year working at a recording studio out of state, I've had a chance to experience the Twin Cities music scene vicariously through friends, new releases, and pals in the biz. After spending the better part of 14 years living in such a rich and varied musical environment, it's been a bit of a culture shock for me to find that, although I'd long suspected it, there really is no other music scene quite like ours. People are genuinely amazed when they find that most of my CD collection is made up of Minnesota artists. They're doubly blown away when I play them the albums and they find out how really, truly great so many of our musicians, songwriters, and performers are. I can honestly say that I've been as proud and puffy as a new papa time and time again as I cranked out tunes from artists I figured everybody either knew (or should know) about: artists like Ol' Yeller, the Summer People, the Midnight Evils, Mark Thomas Stockert, and Halloween, Alaska. Despite the fact that we're living in some of the most trying and challenging times in recent history, a steady flow of great new music continued to come outta the Twin Cities over the past winter, spring, and summer, proving that we've only just begun to scrape the surface of one of the richest musical mines in America. Thank your lucky stars you live where you do, and show your appreciation by supporting your local artists. They really do represent you to the rest of the music-lovin' world!
I have traveled all over the country playing shit gigs, and there is no more hospitable and active music scene than here in the Twin Cities. Although sometimes I feel the scene gets taken for granted, there still are music lovers out and about seven nights a week here. What is strange is how nothing ever seems to affect all of this directly; on the coldest, most miserable nights, there still will be a packed house somewhere. I have yet to see a traveling band go away hungry or without a place to crash. Unless they're total assholes, they have a great time in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Most of that is because our local bands and music people have a good sense of "what comes around goes around." A lot of bands are my favorites because of their collective personalities as well as their music. Most of what I get off on when watching a band is their interactions. Music isn't about competition. If you want to be in a contest, go play baseball. Music is about sharing moods/feelings, stories...you know, expression. It's about bringing people together, sticking it to the man.
I just want to give a hefty shout-out to all of the local musicians for all the joy they bring to the ears of the local music supporters. This past year has been amazing. I've uprooted my entire life so that I could do my part and work in this crazy business. If I weren't from an area that had such a high concentration of incredible music, I probably would not be working in the music industry. The artists here have given me the inspiration, know-how, and passion to simultaneously build our roster and our business on a national level. Could the Twin Cities scene be the next big thing? If Seattle, Omaha, and Detroit can do it, why the hell can't we? Special props go to Rhymesayers, Rift Magazine, 2024 Records, Heart of a Champion, Howwastheshow.com, and First Avenue. Oh, how we love thee.
The most exciting thing for me about the local music scene within the last year is the emergence of new independent media outlets that specifically focus on our scene. These outlets are not guided by profit motives and other things that can lead to less-than-objective coverage, and they're doing a fantastic job.
Misplacedmusic.org and Rift Magazine (riftmagazine.com) were both started by groups of hardworking music lovers who had no goal other than strengthening the local scene by exposing more people to it. You can listen to local music 24/7 on the web at misplacedmusic.org, and Rift is doing a wonderful job of covering local artists and giving advice and tips to musicians through columns written by scene vets. Both have been careful not to focus on any specific genre of music, which is commendable.
The hours required to make these outlets available are long, and like many selfless endeavors, it can be difficult to see whether or not they make any difference. So I implore everyone to support them whenever possible, and pass along encouraging feedback or constructive criticism. Hats off to all involved!
(Disclaimer: I was involved in starting Rift, doing publicity for the launch. I also created and continue to manage the website.)
Every year there is a turnover for bands in the Twin Cities. We see bands like Sweet JAP, Skin of Earth, and other great bands break up. But in addition to my top five, new local bands like Die Electric!, Chariots, Thunder in the Valley, and Melodious Owl assure people who think the Twin Cities doesn't have anything going on that they are not looking hard enough. I have found myself less sad about local bands breaking up because I just expect something new and amazing will come forth and replace the gap the previous bands left.
Since my comments come a little late in the game, it's hard not to talk about the loss of First Avenue, or the Bush election, but I won't. I think one of the coolest trends is that there is starting to be a sense of community in the Minneapolis scene. With benefit concerts, new venues, crossover gigs, and an alarming amount of Mallman covers. Not since the pop renaissance of the '90s has this city felt like a community here--it's not there yet, but it feels like it could be edging that way. Things like the Minnesota Music Awards in St. Cloud were a great way to foster that feeling. I'd love to see little tours of hipster Twin Cities bands going to Duluth or Rochester or other places in the state--start spreading the love to our neighbors.
Widening fan bases help the whole scene. This is going to be really important in a time when we don't have a giant black anchor that all music genres can call home. I do think that this could be a new renaissance for the towns of twin. It'll force us to think beyond the reliable, and hopefully expand our boundaries. After all, if the Red Sox could break their world series curse, maybe we can break the "Picked to Click" curse and the band that wins could continue to grow and prosper beyond our city gates.
I know I said I wouldn't talk about First Ave...but I lied. Oh yeah, and Bush sucks!
That is what I want for 2005. Some fucking soul. Things that are real and honest and as they seem. Charlie Parr has all of that. So do Josh and Jake from the Get Up Johns, Big Mike and Spaghetti Western, and even the Olympic Hopefuls. Look beyond the goofy suits and listen to Erik Appelwick deliver the vocal on "Shy." Don't forget Ben and Robin Kyle, Martin Dosh, P.O.S., and every single member of the Ashtray Hearts. I am looking for musicians who mean it, and songs that say something. People can get into that, can't they? Look at Jeff Tweedy and Wilco's following. How about some of that truth? We are all going to die, we don't know when. The world is fucked up and we are doing a lot of the fucking. The "Because We Are Americans" party is over, and it's time to clean up the mess and call the neighbors to apologize. Yes, it's going to be awful, but that doesn't mean you can't throw on the Band or Paul Westerberg while you work at making it better.