By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
When I first walked into the office I inherited from the last music editor here at City Pages, I wanted to weep. The room was infested. Compact discs were everywhere—crammed into U.S. Mail bins, lined up on racks of flimsy shelves that seeded plastic jewel cases onto the floor when bumped even gently, and hidden in still-sealed envelopes and cushioned mailers. On the desk that would soon be mine, the CDs were stacked in shiny piles—piles which might have been random, or may have been a loose form of catalog; who could tell? My duty was clear: to open, listen to, evaluate, and archive these precious bits of musical history. I took a deep, restorative breath, removed my overcoat, placed my Music Editor's tiara on my head, and dug in.
It has taken me a very, very long time to sell them all. But after three months, my office is finally clean and orderly; my eBay feedback rating high. It's time to begin again. Boys and girls in Minnesota, I am ready, with my golden ears and finely tuned critical faculties, to listen. (Note to local scene: Fear not—I'm not actually selling your CDs.) Send me your band's new album, email me your MySpace address and the name of your best song, invite me to your show—I will do my best to take it all in and report what I have learned here, in this semi-regular column. I can't wait to find out what you're all up to! (And confidential to S.P.: Sadly, I do not yet know whose [expletive deleted] you have to suck to get your mixtape reviewed; could I have a few more weeks to sort out the matter?)
When I really, truly love a song, I ruin it. I have a little routine, a kind of Lennie-from-Of Mice and Men-thing that I do to destroy a newly beloved jam. This is how I do it: I play the song once, and when it's over I hit repeat, and when it's over I hit repeat again. I will do this until my unmeasured enthusiasm kills the song. I don't know exactly how it dies. But at some point, the song is sapped of all its vital energy, and I'm so sick of it that I don't want to listen to it ever again.
This week, the object of my lethal affection is "I Could Get With That", off Faux Jean's new album, Light It Up/Burn It Down. The band's foxy blond singer, Honey Jean, is the target of a breathy come-on by the older, bolder frontman Faux. Girl and boy sing their way into a successful pickup over infectiously twitchy rhythm guitar and an organ melody that glows as merrily as Christmas lights during a basement dance party.
"Do you want to feel alive?" Faux asks in a verse that's more promise than question. But if he wants to get her back home, he better tell the DJ to stop playing this song: Whatever the bedroom has in store can't beat the dance floor during "I Could Get With That."
I haven't yet managed to snuff out the spirit of a live show. The Doomtree Blowout 2 at First Avenue last Saturday night had more good vibrations than the Sex and So Much More Expo at the Minneapolis Convention Center. All 10 members of the local hip-hop collective hung out on the stage, alternately performing and relaxing while others took a turn in the spotlight. Special guest MC I Self Divine joined the boys in the crew for a handful of songs, while violinist Jessy Greene provided strings and vocals for Doomtree poetess Dessa's "Mine Shaft." At one point, Dessa bounded to the front of the stage holding a piece of white notebook paper, eyes flashing as brightly as her double hoop earrings and her silver "DESSA" belt buckle. "My friend just passed me this note," she said, holding it up for the audience. "'Sold the fuck out!' You guys helped us sell out First Avenue!" she beamed.
Most of the group took a well-earned break halfway through the night, as turntablist MK Larada spun records for a dozen-plus members of local breakdancing crews. Girls in sideways ponytails, tank tops, baggy pants, and sneakers twisted and bucked to the beats, while the occasional male dancer drew applause with a muscular back flip.
After having so much fun, where to go but confession? There was a black-curtained booth set up for Doomtree fans with secrets to divulge; luckily, the camera operator behind the lens was considerably less discreet than a priest. "At the beginning of the night, people weren't drunk enough," explained chief confessor Carissa Coudray. "But now they're getting into it. Lots of people who went to high school with Doomtree have stuff to share. Some girls were confessing their love for Lazorbeak and, of course, P.O.S. And one guy mooned us."
I thought about the CDs I had sold, the duties I had shirked, and the great songs I had killed. I realized it had all been leading up to this moment. Doomtree would hear my sins. Doomtree would offer me absolution. So I nodded at Carissa, took another restorative breath, and pulled back the curtain.