How Could You Idiots Forget...?

Ten (or eleven) more Funkytown favorites

Breaking Circus
Knife in a Marathon
from The Very Low Fuse, Homestead, 1985

This odd narrative and its New Order-worthy guitar figure was actually made before Steve Bjorklund relocated from Chicago, but it stayed in Breaking Circus's repertoire after the move, and remains stuck in several thousand heads 20 years later. --Dylan Hicks

 

The Glenrustles
Celebrity Parties
from Honey, Grease and Neptune, SMA, 1999

A Midwesterner in A-list Hollywood wonders if he's missing the real party back home on the Range--and judging by the gorgeous guitar line, he is. --Peter S. Scholtes

 

Information Society
I Want to Know (Pure Energy)
from Information Society, Tommy Boy, 1988; also available on Strange Haircuts, Cardboard Guitars, and Computer Samples: Information Society's Greatest Hits, Tommy Boy, 2001

They deserved more than the one hit, but then, so did Leonard Nimoy. A Human League-sized hook meets industrial percussion and a sample of Star Trek's Mr. Spock describing a noncorporeal life form. --Peter S. Scholtes

 

The King of France
Days Go By
from Salad Days, Egret, 2003

Lo-fi loveliness delivered with the authority of great country, this treasure from Mike Wisti's studio was actually a Deformo track released years after the breakup, but its simple power ages well. --Peter S. Scholtes

 

The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group
Stormtrooper
from Oh Brother Where Art Thou?, Minty Fresh, 1995

"Cocktail culture" produced exactly three works of lasting art in the '90s: Rollerderby magazine, the movie Swingers, and this debut album from Jim Ruiz--a punk bossa nova opera about romance and death. "Stormtrooper" was the band's casually gorgeous showpiece, with Hang Ups guitarist John Crozier melding samba into swirling psych-rock as Ruiz put the "shedoobie doobie doo" on some imagined fascistic biznatch.
--Peter S. Scholtes

 

Ninotchka
I've Got Wings
Grimsey single, 1997

Released in 1997 on local indie Grimsey and Spanish equivalent Elefant, "I've Got Wings" stands as a monument to the superior pleasure payoff of the one-record stand--and it's still in print. Vocalists Amy Turany (then newly graduated from dream pop academy February) and Mary Walz float like photon butterflies over a sherbet-colored landscape, extolling the virtues of airborne hand-holding while Hang Ups veteran John Crozier whips up a lambent, post-All Things Must Pass guitar froth and drummer Bryan Hannah keeps the sonic soufflé tethered to some semblance of terra firma. Electronically enhanced B-side "Green Dream (Goodnight, Scott Walker)" is breezier still, but nowhere near as ebullient.--Rod Smith

 

The Plastic Constellations
Let's War
from Let's War

Back in their high school days, the Plastic Constellations wrote a silly shout-along song about slaying a beast, as silly teenage boys with guitars are wont to do. But whereas most high school bands break up, forever burying such ridiculousness, TPC are still playing shows. And at those shows they're still hearing giddy pleas for "Let's War." While their songwriting and subject matter have greatly matured, apparently the rest of us haven't. Serpents! Mullets! Whooooo! --Lindsey Thomas

 

Red House
25 Reasons
Wave Seven single, 1983

A Midwestern indie "Born to Run," which is to say not offering much in the way of escape. Indeed, Mark Freeman's 1983 post-N.N.B. single is memorably claustrophobic. High-pitched--and somehow invigorating--guitar gnaws at the singer's psyche, pinned down "in a city made of bricks and steel." The singer's dream of a languorous and pastoral elsewhere gets a few R.E.M.-y seconds before the construction crew returns. As for his fantasy lover: "I've got 25 reasons for what I do," Freeman rants coolly, "and one is you." The sound of living electric next to Huck Finn's river, this taut paradox of a recording hasn't relented yet. --Terri Sutton

 

Smattering
Covered in Ivy
from Rajah Pink and Wading Pool Blue, 2000

From a band designed for the patient among us comes this Sisyphean struggle, a rhetorical question. Matt Olson's park-bench philosophies are suited to his accompanist's minimal arrangements, which offer him breathing space. "Covered in Ivy," despite its synthetic arrangement (keyboard, drum pads, electric guitar), has the organic climb of its leafy namesake, from its metered strum to its meditative climax. The mantra is the message, serving as verse and chorus. Olson poses questions to the air. "To look at me, would you know?/That I have let myself go." With each round of questioning, Olson never reaches a conclusion. --Kate Silver

 

Michael Yonkers Band
Microminature Love
recorded 1968, from Microminature Love, Destijl, 2002, Sub Pop, 2003

"Microminature Love", originally intended as the title track of the Michael Yonkers Band's 1968 debut, never saw the light of day until it was included on a '60s scene retrospective released on Get Hip in '97. And that was just its title, assigned to the wrong track. Reissues in '02 and '03 remedied that, and Yonkers found an appreciative audience for his old and new songs. "Love" sets thoughts of complacency, moldy bread, and drunken vermin to a rhythmic stomp that would fit on an early Kinks album, prodded by a clangorous guitar sound that still sounds singularly adventurous. --Cecile Cloutier

 

Your Favorite Minnesota Song

We've mentioned a bunch of great songs in this issue, but still only scratched the surface. Send the name, and a short appreciation if you like, of your favorite Minnesota song to Dylan Hicks (dhicks@ citypages.com), and we'll post all the responses on our Culture to Go blog (cpculture.com).

 
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