By Reed Fischer
By Anna Gulbrandsen
By Jeff Gage
By Stacy Schwartz
By Natalie Gallagher
By Erik Thompson
By Jeff Gage
By Loren Green
A rough-hewn folk-rock record bursting at the seams with impassioned performances, San Geronimo marks the official arrival of the Wapispinicon on the local scene. While a relatively new band, the Wapsipinicon's core is made up entirely of established local-scene veterans, whose résumés of past and present projects include such groups as Cloud Cult, the Glad Version, and Big Ditch Road.
Leading the charge is ex-Tapes 'n' Tapes bassist Shawn Neary, who manages to transfer some of that band's nervous energy to a largely acoustic setting in his new primary musical endeavor. Possessor of a quavering clear-eyed tenor that recalls Sufjan Stevens on the lightly strummed, pedal-steel powered "Get Out of My Town!," Neary could easily have opted for a low-key collection of modestly scaled ballads and been just fine; as it happens, San Geronimo is much, much more. Making the most of his many collaborators' talents, Neary wisely doesn't skimp on the "rock" part of the folk-rock equation; high points include the foot-stomping group-hollering call to arms "Vans on Dupont" and the simultaneously jaunty and jittery joys of "Vera Cruz." The Wapsipnicon are at their best when playing it loose, with gleefully pounded glockenspiels, buoyantly picked banjos, and fierce Rhodes fingerings all jostling for the listener's attention behind a massive wall of gang vocals. At just nine tracks and with perhaps a few too many dour ballads in the mix, San Geronimo isn't the instant knock-out it could have been, but it's still an exciting introductory chapter to a band that sounds well on their way to becoming the Twin Cities' finest raucous folk-rock collective.
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