Picked to Click 2012

After hundreds of ballots and votes, the best of the best new bands have been chosen

By Erik Thompson

"I don't get out much," jokes 18-year-old folk artist John Mark Nelson, when asked how he's managed to already record two full-length albums. But with the amount of buzz generated around his sophomore record, Waiting and Waiting, he might have to force himself out to play some more live shows for his expanding fan base.

The acoustic-based songs featured on the album are augmented by soaring string arrangements, subtle keyboard flourishes, and poignant, wise-beyond-his-years lyrics delivered with Nelson's rich, sonorous vocals. The numbers have a timeless quality to them while still managing to have a modern pulse, which could be the result of Nelson's talented genes and his early influences. "I grew up in a musical family, and soon realized it was one of the few Nelson talents," he says. "I eventually discovered that my true calling was singing a strict tenor line along with my Beach Boys greatest hits CD."

Everything on Waiting and Waiting, save for the strings, was recorded at home with the aid of modern technology. "Advances in home recording have made the once far-off, hazy idea of making your own record into a tangible reality," he says. "It gives artists the ability to create and share, on a budget. On the down side, you get a lot of emotional Coldplay covers on YouTube."

Nelson has put plans to study at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul on hold while he focuses on supporting Waiting and Waiting. After his rousing record-release show at the Entry back in August, his next performance is supporting the Hush Sound at the Triple Rock on October 28. He expects more live dates soon — just not always with the sprawling backing band. "The 10-piece band is a riot," he says. "That being said, I don't want to get overly comfortable in one sonic spectrum."

And while the growing attention might derail any young songwriter, Nelson is appreciative of his time in the limelight. "I am just very thankful," he says."Everything that has happened to me in the last four months is much more the story of a supportive and encouraging city than it is a story about me. Whatever happens in the next few years, I will always look back on this season with a humble, grateful heart."

Avye Alexandres

3 // Wiping Out Thousands (tie)

By Natalie Gallagher

Wiping Out Thousands is a two-person electronic project with an energy and a sound so fresh that you'd think they dropped out of a Futurama episode. It's fitting that the name is derived from Adam Toffler's 1970 sci-fi novel Future Shock.

Throughout 2012, Taylor Nelson and Alaine Dickman have proven themselves the preferred local purveyors of electroclash. On these tracks, opposing forces advance and retreat within the layers of synths, propulsive beats, and Dickman's entrancing vocals. It's enough to make the end of the world sound destructively sexy. This sort of experimental music is instantly danceable, and universally understood for its highs-and-lows moodiness.

Since the release of their debut EP, Reaction Machine, Wiping Out Thousands have gained a reputation and popularity for their electrifying shows. It's no surprise to anyone — except Nelson and Dickman.

"We recorded Reaction Machine in a basement," says Nelson of the beginnings of the band, incredulity attached to his friendly tone. "We used the laptop's microphone. We didn't use any sort of studio space. We did all the website design ourselves. We didn't think it would become this big."

"This big" alludes, most likely, to the times when Wiping Out Thousands snagged opening slots with YACHT and Tanlines earlier this year, and the inundation of attention from new fans. Thus, the pressure is only building, and Nelson and Dickman hope to keep the momentum swinging upward with this month's release of their debut LP, This Came First.

For all the hype, Wiping Out Thousands are focused on staying accessible — just as Reaction Machine was released as a free download, so it will be for This Came First.

"We think, right now, that the free model is the best way to go," explains Nelson. "Like, 'Hey, we like this, we want you to like it, so just have it, and if you do, come to our shows and support us in other ways.'"

Martha Weir

5 // Heavy Deeds

By David Hansen

Heavy Deeds are in no hurry — because they can't be, and because they don't want to be, and because nothing good comes of hurrying.

"This EP has taken a year to come around," says singer and percussionist Sara Bischoff. "We've taken our time recording. But once you've taken a certain amount of time, you might as well just take all the time you like. Make all the revisions. Master it when we can all be together. Figure out the best way to release it."

Heavy Deeds don't have an album, yet. The five psych-rock songs they recorded at Old Blackberry Way last autumn have spent a long year waiting to be mastered, getting a tweak here and there. The members often spend months apart while bassist Chris Bierden or guitarist Chris Rose tours with other projects.

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