Best Minnesota albums of 2012

From Big Cats to Chastity Brown, local gems showcased their talents


Two pivotal adjustments by pop-punk trio Now, Now were dropping the "Every Children" part of their name, and linking up with Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla. These tweaks, as well as some natural artistic maturation, have turned a good band into a great one. On sophomore full-length Threads, singer-guitarist Cacie Dalager exudes confidence — even while she's encapsulating fragility and loss. The almost-title-track "Thread" unravels with surges of guitar and Bradley Hale's workmanlike beats, and emerges on a line jaggedly jumping between Death Cab's emotional outbursts and Tegan & Sara's tuneful ones. The pull to the rest of Threads is immeasurable — from the intricate glockenspiel and Jess Abbott's backing vocals on "But I Do," to the unexpected banjo on "Colony." Surely it's not too soon to say "don't change a thing" and have it come off as a compliment. —Reed Fischer


Give You the Ghost

The past 12 months have been a whirlwind for Poliça, and there's no better accompanying soundtrack than Give You the Ghost. From the ricocheting clatter of "Amongster" to the dual-drummer barrage of "Leading to Death," the band's debut is wrought with emotional turmoil, the breakup record to end all breakup records. Ghost is an album of surfaces, a document of transformation and rebirth, so it could be Channy Leaneagh's breakup letter to herself. After all, the singer reinvents herself here as an exotic, porcelain muse, a wandering star lost in a world of lonely bedrooms and mornings after. If you needed Ghost in a nutshell, it would be Leaneagh's voice: disembodied and otherworldly, like that of someone slowly breaking apart — or else dancing herself into oblivion. —Jeff Gage


We Don't Even Live Here

The already fervent P.O.S. grew increasingly frustrated with the state of his surroundings on both a local and national level since his last solo outing in 2009. That raw sociopolitical intensity burns throughout We Don't Even Live Here, as Stef Alexander rattles plenty of authoritarian cages with his incisive rhymes while also shaking the walls with beats by Lazerbeak that are as highly charged as his lyrics. After P.O.S. debuted the explosive new songs "Bumper," "Fuck Your Stuff," and "Get Down" during recent local shows, it was gratifying to finally hear studio versions of these fierce club bangers. P.O.S. gives them — and the rest of the record, including the Justin Vernon collaboration "Where We Land" — an added sonic texture and potency. This new record is a riotous musical maelstrom that made the long wait more than worth it. —Erik Thompson

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