Doomtree, Solid Gold, and Vampire Hands deftly dot Minneapolis's music timeline in '08

Crack open our Twin Cities Local Music Yearbook and reminisce on an effed-up year

JANUARY

Eau Claire neo-folk group Bon Iver, led by Justin Vernon, blows up. Though their debut record, For Emma, Forever Ago, was released locally in 2007, it is pushed into the national spotlight with a release on Jagjaguwar early this year. Bon Iver is not technically local, but Minnesota's love is apparent: Every show they play in the Twin Cities in 2008, whether at the Turf Club, the Electric Fetus, or First Avenue's Mainroom, sells out and leaves audiences silent and stunned.

FEBRUARY

Radio Homegrown bids a final farewell with a compilation CD, Silage: Foreclosure and Eviction, and a "Homegrown funeral" at the Turf Club, complete with a coffin full of memorabilia from the show. The local radio program ended its 10-year run in late 2007, when the Clear Channel-owned Drive 105 canceled the program. Host David Campbell goes on to fill in for Chris Roberts on 89.3 the Current's Local Show before landing a regular slot as a DJ for Radio Free Current.

Atmosphere and Brother Ali perform during the Electric Fetus's 40th anniversary celebration
Steven Cohen
Atmosphere and Brother Ali perform during the Electric Fetus's 40th anniversary celebration
Breakout phenom Justin Vernon of Bon Iver
Stacy Schwartz
Breakout phenom Justin Vernon of Bon Iver

Ubiquitous local violinist Jessy Greene is invited to tour with the Foo Fighters and spends most of 2008 flitting around the world and appearing on national television shows like Letterman and the Grammys. At the end of February, the Foo Fighters play the Target Center and Dave Grohl showers Greene with praise in front of 10,000 people. "It took us 14 years, but we finally got some Minneapolis in the band," he says during the show. "In fact, we had never even played an arena until she joined the band! We had never won a Grammy before, but now that Jessy is in the band, you know what? We won two fucking Grammys!"

MARCH

Half of the music scene flees to Austin, Texas, once again for South by Southwest. The Modern Radio record label, the crew from Voltage, and Reveille Magazine all host Minnesota-bred showcases. Tapes 'n Tapes ride on the buzz they built at last year's festival, and reps from the Rhymesayers street team parade When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold picket signs down Sixth Street. The Current takes over an entire parking lot and hosts some of the best outdoor performances of the festival. Despite the fact that everyone is 1,200 miles from home, Minnesota hometown pride is everywhere.

APRIL

April is a banner month for local bands made good. Four groups in particular do a stellar job of breaking out on the national scene and raising awareness of our fair state:

  • Cloud Cult:Despite having their asses handed to them by Pitchfork with a measly 4.2 rating, these otherworldly indie rockers debut their first video from Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornados) on Rolling Stone's "Breaking Artist" page and are featured in the Wall Street Journal for their unique shows, which include two live painters. An in-store at the Electric Fetus on the day of their album's release, April 8, packs the store to the gills with giddy fans, and the band's show at First Avenue is near capacity.
  • Tapes 'n Tapes: Although they were once Pitchfork's golden children, Tapes 'n Tapes are judged rather harshly by the blog tastemakers this time around, receiving a mere 5.9 rating for their sophomore album, Walk It Off. A seemingly nervous performance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien reveals a new aspect of the indie buzz band's mystique—the side that is still coming to grips with the full implications of their success, shaky from being chewed up and spit out by the industry's hype machine.
  • The Plastic Constellations: It's a shame when this local power-punk band's demise is announced just weeks before their stellar new album, We Appreciate You, is released—but at least they go out with a bang. Though not officially broken up, TPC proclaim the start of an "indefinite hiatus." On their way out, TPC receive the highest score of any of April's Minnesota releases on Pitchfork, garnering a 7.1.
  • Atmosphere:This popular hip-hop duo further secure their spot on the national radar with the release of When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold. Within days of the album's release, MTV.com features the videos for "Guarantees" and "Shoulda Known," while Slug's face is splashed across MySpace as a "Featured Artist."

MAY

Musician and all-around metal-scene staple Earl Root passes away due to complications from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which he battled for 10 years. Root played guitar in local metal bands Disturbed, God-Awful, and Aesma Daeva, hosted the KFAI radio show Root of All Evil, was the owner of Root Cellar Records, and founded the Root of All Evil label to promote independent bands. In August, roughly 20 local metal bands throw an Earl Root memorial party at First Avenue, featuring headliners Impaler.

Local rock 'n' roll label Modern Radio celebrates its ninth anniversary with a handful of shows and releases. The label has helped promote local punk-infused rock acts such as Vampire Hands, the STNNNG, and His Mischief alongside national bands like Yellow Swans and Mirah, and has cultivated a community of underground rock enthusiasts on its busy message board.

JUNE

Minneapolis record store the Electric Fetuscelebrates its 40th anniversary with a week of stellar in-store performances, including a jam-packed set by Brother Ali and Atmosphere. Mayor R.T. Rybak declares June 13 "Electric Fetus Day." In an interview on the Fetus website, Rybak says, "It's important to have a great independent local music store that doesn't homogenize. This is a great music town, and you can come in here and find something that is not out of some kind of box or the big chain stores."

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