It's a good time to be a band from the Twin Cities. This month, some of our heaviest hitters have released albums nationally to an onslaught of mixed reviews, including Tapes 'n Tapes, Cloud Cult, The Plastic Constellations and Atmosphere. All of these big releases make me wonder -- are we entering another heyday for Minneapolis music? Is it possible that those fabled 'Mats and Prince-fueled glory days might soon be relived by today's successful local acts, who can seemingly sell out First Avenue in a heartbeat?
Here's a breakdown of the national coverage Minnesota bands have received this month:
Cloud Cult: Despite having their asses handed to them by Pitchfork, these other-worldly indie rockers debut their first video from Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornados) on Rolling Stone's "Breaking Artist" page. An in-store at the Electric Fetus on the day of their album's release, April 8, had the store packed to the gills with giddy fans, and their show at First Avenue this Saturday is sure to be near capacity or sold out.
Tapes 'n Tapes: Although they were once Pitchfork's golden children, Tapes 'n Tapes were judged rather harshly by the blog tastemakers this time around, receiving a mere 5.9 rating for their sophomore album Walk it Off. When I caught the band at South by Southwest, their live set was inspired, sweaty and downright revelatory; but their recent performance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien showed a different side of the buzz band's mystique -- the side that is still coming to grips with the full implications of their success, shaky from being chewed up and spit out by the industry's hype machine.
The Plastic Constellations: It's a shame that this local power punk band's demise had to be announced just weeks before their stellar new album, We Appreciate You, was released -- but at least they went out with a bang. Though not officially broken up, TPC have proclaimed the start of an "indefinite hiatus." On their way out, TPC received the highest score of any of April's Minnesota releases on Pitchfork, garnering a 7.1.
Atmosphere: Their new album, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold was just released yesterday, and already their videos for "Guarantees" and "Shoulda Known" are being featured on MTV.com, while Slug's face is splashed across MySpace as a "Featured Artist." This week promises a deluge of album reviews from national publications, and you can keep an eye out on our own site for a feature story on Atmosphere by freelancer Peter S. Scholtes.