Twin Cities bands to listen for in 2011

Mally, Pink Mink, Grant Cutler, and more

As the Twin Cities music scene continues to flourish, we thought it best to call attention to some local artists that we are particularly excited about as we look forward to the new year. We've selected 10 bands who are doing cool things—and if their upcoming projects are any indication, 2011 will be another epic year for local music.

Pink Mink

Not that 2010 wasn't a tremendous year for the talented band featuring Minneapolis music vets Christy Hunt, Arzu Gokcen, Jacques Wait, and Charles Gehr. Since playing their first show in back in May, this buzzy new band has come a long way, topping 2010's Picked to Click poll and, with their frenzied performance energy, becoming a crowd favorite. With plenty of notable shows already under their belts (Gastro Non Grata, the MIA's Third Thursdays in November) and catchy, Twin Cities-centric songs like "Seeking Scott Seekins," Pink Mink are poised for bright things in 2011. They'll be recording their first album in January, and are set to release it early in the year; based on the previews offered up so far, it's going to be deliciously well-seasoned with rock. Pink Mink are also set to play Voltage: Fashion Amplified in April 2011.

Rogue Valley enter 2011 with three albums under their belt and another on the way
Jacqueline Ouanes
Rogue Valley enter 2011 with three albums under their belt and another on the way

Tapes 'n Tapes

Tapes 'n Tapes have seen a lot since their debut album, The Loon, came out in 2006, and with the onset of a new tour and their third album, Outside, ready for release in 2011, it could turn out to be a very big year for this local favorite. At their preview show at the Turf Club back in November, a packed house demanded a second encore from the band, who delivered smartly produced and arranged indie rock under the guise of a good time. Their record-release show is set for January 11 at the Electric Fetus, and two weeks later they hit the road for a national tour. The band have been careful about staying relatively off the radar in these last few months before their album comes out—almost suspiciously quiet, actually—which should make their 2011 debut all the more explosive.


Rhymesayers may be the label that immediately comes to mind at the mention of Minneapolis hip hop, but there is a talented pool of local MCs outside of the heavyweight family that are building their reputations brick by brick. Among them is Mally, a brilliant rap artist who can spin rhymes at dizzying speeds. With three solo albums released (most recently The Passion in 2009), numerous collaborations, and a polished delivery, Mally has a talent for his genre that is too strong to sit calmly for much longer. His latest single, "Lights Off" (produced by the Sundance Kid), has all the makings of an underground anthem—and is a surefire signal of what is to come in spring 2011 on Mally and Sundance's as-yet-untitled collaborative album. It's going to be golden.

Grant Cutler

A popular name around town these days, Grant Cutler seems to have an unending flurry of projects—producing, DJing, or performing new material with his new band, Grant Cutler and the Gorgeous Lords. Since the October release of his GC&GL EP, Cutler has shown a new musical side—a mellowed-out, lyrical, meditative side, one that perhaps surprised fans but essentially allowed them to cozy up next to what Cutler humorously calls "drone-pop." He has a few shows lined up with the Gorgeous Lords in 2011, including a set at First Avenue's Best New Bands of 2010 in January, and is planning to work on a new album as well. In other news, his experimental electronic project 2012 has been picked up by local record label Innova Records and is set to be released in February on vinyl and as a digital download. This "synthesizer dream world," as Cutler calls it, is compelling stuff to say the least, and it will be interesting to see in which direction Cutler leads his schemes in 2011.

rogue valley

For concept-man Chris Koza, 2011 will see the finale of an impressive endeavor: to release four full-length albums in a year (more than plenty of musicians do in a lifetime). Each album was inspired by a season: The project started with the spring-themed release of Crater Lake in April, the summer album The Bookseller's House came next, and that was followed by the fall album, Geese in the Flyway. March 2011 will see the last installment in this novelesque series. "The idea is that there's a rich story throughout all the albums and all the songs," he explains. "My feeling is that when it's all together it will be very clear what I've been trying to do all along, but I think each album stands alone on its own." Releasing four albums in a year was a self-imposed challenge, and when asked about future plans for Rogue Valley, Koza admits that it would be great to get out on the road and tour a bit—all their resources and energy for a year, after all, have been spent in the studio. In the end, Rogue Valley has been one of the most ambitious projects of 2010/2011, and we will be keeping a close eye on Koza as he navigates through his next phase.

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