Mally, Sexcat top Best New Bands showcase
First Avenue's annual Best New Bands showcase provides a thrilling, eclectic way to sum up last year's finest in local music. With artists for a variety of tastes, the Mainroom should be packed with hip-hop heads to see MaLLy, a more viscerally inclined crowd for the rollicking smashes of Bloodnstuff and some tantalizing synth-bred mischief courtesy of Sexcat, and folks keen on area darlings starting to pick up momentum in Night Moves. In all, it's a jam-packed showcase fit for a wealth of social and musical pleasures. Here's a rundown of what to expect from each act.
Bloodnstuff promises a punishingly loud live show as big as a five-piece band, but with only ex-Economy Team members Ed Holmberg and Dylan Gouert creating the racket. Imagine the Black Keys, but bent more toward King Crimson than Robert Johnson. The songs are catchy, in spite of some ultra-proggy drum work. Even with low numbers, these guys are determined to push it to the limit.
The eight core members of Dream Crusher include folks from Me and My Arrow, Fort Wilson Riot, and Yer Cronies, but a rotating cast of roughly a dozen more have taken part in the group's atmospheric, bite-sized post-rock morsels. A few meandering jams stretch out during live shows, but most compositions sit at about five minutes. Fortunately, there's a bare minimum of spaced-out, lollygag guitar work, leaving the result more similar to Explosions in the Sky than Tortoise. The songs seem barely held together live, but Dream Crusher know exactly what they're doing.
Fire In the Northern Firs take cues from '80s luminaries like Bauhaus and Echo & the Bunnymen, but wash most of the goth posturing out of the aesthetic to make it their own. The end result isn't exactly fun-loving by any stretch, but trends more introspective and thoughtful rather than the bratty/cranky vibe moments of In the Flat Field or Tinderbox. Still, there's a plethora of excellent, flanged-out guitar work to take in. This stuff replaces black eyeliner and leather duster coat with heart, pure and simple.
Like the aggressive, angry kid in the neighborhood of your childhood, Gramma's Boyfriend would be the one to avoid if it weren't so fun waiting for him to throw a fit. The live volatility of these local powerhouse musicians—mainly Haley Bonar, Luke Anderson, and Jeremy Ylvisaker but also, at times, Jacob Hanson and Mike Lewis—is off the charts. The songs betray a throwaway foolishness on the surface with a robust core. Call it art-punk if you must, or consider it a good time in physical form.
MaLLy is Minneapolis's reserved, concise-flowing emergent MC of the moment. His rhymes are glimpses of hope in the midst of gritty street life, and they come met with a variety of producers with different styles. Be it the glitzy flair of Mydus, soulful thumps via Redwine, or any number of others, the prolific MaLLy always makes a song his property.
Recently signed to London indie label Domino, Night Moves sound more like a British band than any other currently operating in Minneapolis. Their sound is a mixture of electro and glam that, at times, flirts with country; just when you think you have them figured out, a curve ball comes your way to throw off your previous assessment. "Headlights" is an example of a pitch hitting the sweet spot between every signifier, and a bitchin' harmonica sending your head soaring.
Finally, there's an irrepressible, sexy, filthy swagger to Sexcat. Bouncy, seductive electro/R&B beats? Check. Lyrics about sex and drugs? Check. The songs are easy to dance to, and Megan Charles and Hannah von der Hoff are enticing to look at. For anyone not planning to stand still with their eyes closed, this is a plus.
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