Picked to Click 2010

Pink Mink lead the pack in our 20th annual best-new-bands poll

Longtime friend Arzu Gokcen, a fierce guitarist in her own right, couldn't believe what she was reading. "I won't let you," she replied. "I will lock you in a room with your guitar and not let you out."

Though neither woman is a stranger to the stage (Gokcen has been featured in the Picked to Click issue at least three times and played in several Twin Cities bands, including the Selby Tigers, Lefty Lucy, and most recently Strut and Shock, while Hunt has flexed her songwriting muscles in Ouija Radio), they suddenly found themselves back at square one, parlaying their Facebook exchange into a real-life jam session.

"It was like re-introducing myself to a person I've already known," says Hunt. "And that moment that you play with somebody in a basement happened all over again: I'm really nervous, I don't know how to approach this, what do you got?" It didn't take long for the nerves to wear off, though. "Within our first practice we had two songs," she adds.

And just like that, Gokcen and Hunt were in a band again. By May, the pair had fleshed out their band with Hunt's husband and Ouija Radio bandmate Charles Gehr on drums and renowned recording engineer Jacques Wait on bass guitar. With almost no time elapsing between conceptualization and execution, Pink Mink started gigging feverishly and winning over audiences with their dynamic stage presence, howling guitar solos, and terse, poppy songwriting. Though their guitar playing hearkens back to pioneering riot grrl bands like Babes in Toyland and Bikini Kill, the melodies are joyous and the lyrics nostalgic, paying homage to Twin Cities mainstays with songs like "Hidden Beach" and "Seeking Scott Seekins."

"I'm proud, because Pink Mink is so Minneapolis," says Hunt. "In this band I decided, let's make this fun and write what we know. There's so many things about this town that I can't wait to exploit in a really fun way."

"And use," cracks Wait. "I can't wait to exploit and use!"

"We've all been around the block so many times that it's extremely professional," Gehr says. "When you get into a band like that, that's the band that has staying power. That's the band that can do really cool things." A seasoned vet himself, Gehr grew up drumming for hardcore bands on the East Coast and playing with bands like the Seawhores and Marijuana Deathsquads here in the Cities.

Though the band is still months from being able to offer a finished album to their fans, Pink Mink is ready to bring rock 'n' roll to every corner of the local scene.

"I'm so happy to be playing rock, doing a rock show and doing leg kicks like Arzu and just, like, rocking out," Hunt says, beaming.

"It's all I know, man," Gokcen says, shaking her head. "It's all I know. Leg kicks."

"We are gonna leg-kick it all around the world," Hunt exclaims. "And we're gonna go 'Minneapolis!' Leg kick!"

Wait nods his head in agreement. "We're kicking legs and taking names."

Pink Mink's previous Picked to Click trophies

Arzu Gokcen

Lefty Lucy (4th place, 1994)

Selby Tigers (2nd place, 1999)

So Fos (6th place, 2003)

Christy Hunt

Ouija Radio (runner-up, 2003)

Charles Gehr

Short Fuses (7th place, 1997)

Ouija Radio (runner-up, 2003)

Marijuana Deathsquads (7th place, 2010)

Jacques Wait

Magnatone (9th place, 1997)

2. Peter Wolf Crier

By Rob van Alstyne • Photo by Stacy Schwartz

Our local music scene has always been long on talent but short on wider recognition, which is why it's exciting when a Twin Cites band breaks through the Land of 10,000 Lakes bubble and registers on the national radar, as happened with Peter Wolf Crier over the course of 2010.

To the untrained eye, the duo of Peter Pisano (vocals/guitar) and Brian Moen (drums/production) appeared to be yet another insta-cool blog-buzz band. But while it's true that PWC went from digitally self-releasing their debut album Inter-Be to signing within an enviably hip record label (Jagjaguwar) and booking international tours in the space of a few short months, that breakthrough came after years of grinding it out in other projects that were unjustly overlooked (the Wars of 1812 and Amateur Love, to name just two).

One listen to Inter-Be kills any unfounded notions of beginner's luck instantly. The rough-hewn recording caught the attention of the fickle music blogerrati for one reason only—it's simply too damn powerful to be ignored. Born out of one long dark-night-of-the-soul writing session from Pisano, it's a harrowing and often jarring listen. The pair cooks up rich, melodic catharsis using a small list of ingredients: Pisano's reverb-drenched howl and lightly distorted guitar strums, Moen's deft drumming and intermittent barrelhouse piano fills. The end result is an album that manages to be simultaneously brash and ethereal, its 11 tracks gentle enough to win over Bon Iver fans, but boasting enough foot-stomping dirty-boogie moments to appease Jack White fanboys.

Honing their craft together on local stages ranging from a rented house to First Avenue's main room over the past year, the pair has morphed from a tentative tandem to a daring duo (they had never played live together until after Inter-Be's release). In the flesh, the dynamism hinted at on record is writ large, the quieter ballads rendered all the more affecting with Pisano's pained rasp stripped bare of effects and the rockier tunes charged with added verve with Moen let off the leash. Peter Wolf Crier's swift ascent may have been abetted by the modern media landscape, but their appeal is timeless. The group's status as one of the Cities most compelling musical acts already feels destined to be long-lived.


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