Best New Band (2014)

Frankie Teardrop

One of the more harrowing moments to be set to recorded music comes midway through "Frankie Teardrop," the stark, murderous epic from '70s electronic pioneers Suicide. It's then that the titular character kills his wife and newborn child before turning the gun on himself, and singer Alan Vega unleashes a feral scream of utter pain and devastation. The music that Minneapolis trio Frankie Teardrop plays bears little resemblance to that of Suicide's, but it channels the blood-curdling anguish of Vega's vocals with angular riffing hellbent on self-destruction. It's born of real tragedy, too: Drummer Gunnar Kauth, bassist Jackson Woolsey, and singer-guitarist Jordan Bleau, who has himself taken on the Frankie moniker, had to pick up the pieces after their Phantom Vibrations bandmate, Henry Mackaman, died suddenly in April 2013. For all the shoulder-shrugging emotional evasion of the persona that Bleau has developed for himself — he even wears shades onstage — the band's new music is raw stuff. These punk songs are chopped and twisted with the sort of sneering fatalism that would make Richard Hell squirm and squeal. It was only last fall when Frankie and company emerged from the netherworld of basement shows to play around town, but already cuts like "Killed a Man" and "New Beverage" have taken on a tougher, meaner punch that marks them out as something special. This time around, the story seems destined to have a much happier ending.


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