Every good Minnesotan knows his or her classic punk-rock acts: Hüsker Dü, Dillinger Four, the Replacements, Babes in Toyland -- the list could go on. For those interested in what a new generation of punks is up to, here are four can't-miss recent releases from the Twin Cities scene.
Album: Chocolate Nerve
Label: Mpls Ltd
Bug Fix, made up of members from Whatever Forever, Birthday Suits, and Selby Tigers, is a trio that specializes in to-the-point punk. Their debut EP, Chocolate Nerve, crams six scuzzy songs into a lean seven-minute frame. The band celebrated the record’s release at the Turf Club in July with Whatever Forever (more on that band's debut EP below).
From its title-track opener to its closer, “Yesterday’s Camera,” Chocolate Nerve is a loose but concise listen. Double-tracked vocals give songs like “Stickers Left Unstuck” a gang’s all here feel, and its enthusiastic shouts call to mind bands like Latterman or even Japandroids.
Though the record’s runtime is certainly part of its appeal -- it’s garage-y! -- the last two tracks clock in at under one minute apiece. We can’t help but wish for a little more material here, especially after hearing fun and off-kilter jams like “Unread” and the aforementioned “Yesterday’s Camera."
Album: Dream / Comfort
Label: Tilde Records
Featuring bassist Alex Dunn, drummer Kevan Larson, and vocalist Lucas Magulies, Pierre is a grunge/hardcore trio that formed in 2012. The group just returned from a 42-date tour with Buffalo, New York, band Alleys, with whom they recorded a split EP in St. Paul last summer. Dream / Comfort consists of Pierre’s leftover tracks from that session, though these two songs are anything but throwaways.
“Dream” kicks off the cassette with a riff that’d put a smile on Kurt Cobain’s mug, and the song expertly toes the line between morosity and distorted playfulness. Throughout, Magulies’ vocals harbor a deep sense of longing as they morph from singing to unleashed screams. “Comfort” is a more dour offering -- a constant push-and-pull amid melodic guitar rhythms, power chords, and, (again) Magulies' two modes of communication.
Pierre is set to begin recording their full-length debut this August. If their last few releases are any indication, it’s going to be a very satisfying listen for grunge groupies.
Album: Drugs, Probably
Label: Lawn Chair Records
Drugs, Probably hasn’t technically been released yet. But after hardcore punk outfit Tongue Party posted a couple of clips from the record online -- to absolute acclaim, mind you -- they decided to just throw the whole thing up on Bandcamp.
With its totally bonkers title, opener “Five Buck Huff” sets the tone of Drugs, Probably; the lyrics are scathing and the guitars never stop shredding. The rest of the record (see standout track “Go Trustfund Me”) is filled with brief, stop-and-go tracks that volley between choruses and verses, with the onslaught of guitar solos and breakdowns injecting surplus metal flavor.
Drugs, Probably is relentless. The albums feels like it might come unhinged by the halfway point of each track, a testament to the wild chemistry between band members Adam and Brandon Hile, Luke Gutting, and Andrea Adams. It’ll be out soon on cassette and seven-inch vinyl formats, hopefully in time for the band’s month-long residency at Grumpy’s in August.
Album: Whatever Forever
Label: Vinyl Valley Records
Whatever Forever played their inaugural gig more than two years ago, but just released their first record earlier this month. Made up of members Clara Salyer, Howard Hamilton III, Dave Gatchell, and Jordan Bleau, the group plays speedy, sunny punk rock.
Whatever Forever’s eponymous 7-inch is a tremendous debut. The record starts with “Buzzkill Joy,” featuring Salyer’s disaffectedly cool vocals, brisk drum work, and big, fuzzy guitars. Subsequent tracks “Miserable People” and “Lazy Way Out” (the latter of which has Hamilton on vocals), don’t stray too far from that sound, but why mess with a winning formula?
This is a wistful summer record, one that should satisfy listeners while leaving them eager to what's next from Whatever Forever.