Picked to Click 2013

The 23rd installment of Picked to Click, or when the rappers took over

"It's been a good test to see how the songs live outside of a familiar environment," Small explains. "I think it's made our songs stronger and tighter. Playing more regularly has also allowed us to relax more and let the songs change and expand with the mood of each show."

That exploratory nature within the music of Southwire is due to the different band members searching for new ways to express themselves. So the shift from hip-hop to a Southern spiritual type of folk music for Elmquist and Larson is less drastic than it seems.

"After doing hip-hop for six or seven years, you're naturally searching for different kinds of music," explains drummer/producer Elmquist. "And for us, that meant getting into the music that forms the underpinings of rap music, the history of it — which led us towards the deeper roots of American music, which includes folk music. And we began exploring actually playing that type of music."

A DIY streak sure can speed up the recording process — just ask Fury Things. In one productive day last fall, the Minneapolis garage-rock three-piece recorded the five raw, guitar-driven numbers on their self-titled debut EP at their practice space at the Acrylic Fabricators warehouse./p>

"It was all recorded on a Sunday, and then mixed on a Tuesday," explains bassist Devon Bryant. "We fixed something on Thursday, and then had it up online by Friday. It was cool. I've been in bands for a long time, but it was my first experience with Bandcamp, and that level of speed in getting something out. And we got really good responses back right away." "Yeah, it was really quick and dirty," lead singer/guitarist Kyle Werstein chimes in proudly.

Werstein grew up in Germany as the son of a military man, and moved to Minneapolis three years ago. He eventually hooked up with a couple of scene vets in Chicago-bred Bryant and Kansas City native Andy Carson on drums. The three gelled immediately.

"You'd be surprised how many people don't get the Dinosaur Jr. reference in our name," jokes Werstein. One listen and the connection is easy to follow. The songs employ an untamed aesthetic that is guitar-fueled, and mixes '90s-tinged angst with some subtle pop sensibilities smoothing the rough edges.

They returned to the practice space in early 2013 for another of-the-moment session formingEP 2. "It's a mixture of economy, both mental and monetary," Werstein explains. "We can go into our practice space on a Sunday and say, 'We have these hours, should we just record some songs?' It's a totally no-pressure environment."

After celebrating the band's first anniversary in August, Fury Things upgraded to Ed Ackerson's Flowers Studio for a forthcoming 7-inch. They have amassed 12 new songs that are ready to be recorded at an as-yet undetermined location. But the Flowers experience was a good one.

"Ed really gets us, and I feel like that was the key element that got us out of doing it ourselves," says Werstein fondly. "It was really nice just having an unbiased opinion."

Animal Lover have a sound that hits you in the forehead and gut simultaneously. Frontman Addison Shark's guitar explodes like a dirty bomb of feedback, and the pulverizing bass and drums of Evan Bullinger and Nate Fisher add to its shrapnel spray. This is noise rock powerful enough to leave a lasting physical impression — albeit a confusing one for venues assembling punk nights.

"It does get pretty tunnel vision as far as being genre-specific," Shark elaborates. "We'll wind up on a straight hardcore bill because that's kind of just what goes on in that particular scene."

Originally hailing from the Fargo punk and metal scenes, Animal Lover met while sharing bills in a series of groups including Gumbi and Høst. After self-releasing a 7-inch and touring the Midwest a few years ago, they packed up and moved permanently to our fair cities. The connections they made in the DIY tour circuit made the Twin Cities attractive, but they're still out on the road several times a year, to places as far-removed as Washington and New York.

"We really like getting out of town and meeting people," explains Shark. "It's really fun making friends and playing with those bands again."

For now, they don't have a well-manicured Tumblr page, and almost no internet presence whatsoever. But make no mistake, this is not a bad thing. Despite their online invisibility, their three short-run EPs still have received a healthy share of accolades locally and even a Pitchfork write-up.

There's merit in shredding genre pigeonholes, and that's something Animal Lover seems to take a quiet joy in. Be it an incredibly faithful cover of the Who's "Substitute," or flashes of spiking melodicism within their noisy assault, the group's unapologetic character recalls their DIY forebears in the Minutemen. "There's the politics of doin' it yourself," says Addison. "But we don't have anybody knocking on the door to do it for us. That's the only way we can."

Vandaam give a decidedly cagey interview. A conversation with the experimental electronic three-piece — featuring producers Sloslylove and Absent and vocalist Lady Midnight — revealed more about their thoughts on movies and video games than anything about their down-tempo grooves.

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