2014 has been one hell of a year for Minnesota Punk. Extreme Noise turned 20, Amphetamine Reptile got the documentary treatment, Adam Degross put together a whole exhibit of scene photography and won the City Pages photographer poll, somebody finally bought the Medusa and, as always, about eight billion bands formed, broke up, reunited, and then broke up again. Oh, and some really cool groups made some really cool records, and it's time to celebrate that.
So whether you're a hardened DIY venue rat or just a "fraudulent piece of shit in neon green pants using artistic culture as an accessory," this list is for you. It's a list of records you really ought to buy. It's an article about punk. Let's try not take it too seriously, shall we?
Like last year's list, the 2014 edition is in alphabetical; not ranked, order. In order to qualify as an "album," the recording had to have at least 5 songs. Check out the end for a listing of some great EPs, singles, and demos as well.
Animal Lover - Guilt
Animal Lover distinguish themselves from the rest of the grinding noise pack with a healthy sense of humor and the slightest, blink-and-you'll-miss-it bit of '70s guitar heroics. Guilt is a nearly perfect recreation of their restless, angular live show, with guitarist Addison Shark's panicked vocals buried deep underneath a wave of bass-heavy histrionics. Theres a funky, rhythmic quality that brings groups like Drive Like Jehu to mind, but personality wise, the band's more like a souped-up Minutemen. Just three unassuming, quality dudes doing their best keep the scene weird and adventurous.
Banner Pilot - Souvenir
Souvenir marks Banner Pilot's fourth full-length, and their second LP for punk giant Fat Wreck, but it feels like these fellas have been around forever. That might be because founding members Nick Johnson and Nate Gangelhoff were part of the seminal and beloved melodic punk act Rivethead, but every new Banner Pilot record is as comforting as a slab of mom's casserole. Banner Pilot have trafficked in chunky, tuneful Midwestern punk with great sing-along choruses and Jawbreaker-esque tough vulnerability for most of their adult lives, but Souvenir still sounds fresh and vital thanks to Gangelhoff's songwriting and Johnson's inimitable vocals.
The Bind Shake - Breakfast of Failures
While they've been a cornerstone of the scene for years, releasing albums with local legend Michael Yonkers in addition to their own prolific output, the Blind Shake took a great leap forward in 2014. Partnering with Memphis-based garage-punk powerhouse label Goner Records, brothers Mike and Jim Blaha and drummer Dave Roper have netted a slew of national accolades for their excellent new LP and manic, hurricane live show. In addition to Breakfast, the trio also announced a partnership with Rocket From the Crypt frontman John Reis for a forthcoming instrumental surf record, which has a zero percent probability of sucking.
Cozy - Button by Button
The teen sensations in Cozy appeared mysteriously, fully formed, in the summer of 2012 with an insatiable thirst for denim, backseat makeout sessions, and more denim. No one knows exactly what brought these beautiful young men from their home era of the early 1970s to our present day, but we ought to thank the almighty every day for it. With pristine tiger-beat harmonies, beatle-boot stomping drums, and great, great hair, Cozy have been setting young hearts on fire ever since their debut LP Button by Button dropped in July.
Hammerhead - Global Depression
Once the flagship of the Amphetamine Reptile label during the '90s MN noise rock explosion, Hammerhead reunited in 2010 and has been fitfully active since, releasing their first true reunion LP this year. Like most of the Am-Rep catalog, Hammerhead's innovations in the intersection of punk, metal, and industrial went largely unlauded until a new generation of noise fans "rediscovered" their pioneering work. Global Depression makes a few nods to the passage of time, with some more modern sample and synth usage, but for the most part sticks to the pulverizing shark-attack sound we love.
Hollow Boys - Believe in Nothing
While their live presence is a surly, pulverizing wall of distortion, gothgaze trio Hollow Boys manage to make some truly gorgeous records. Believe In Nothing crunches harder than their 2013 LP It's True, but there's still a frosting of jangling pop gracing their mountain of sludge and hypnotic drumming. Chalk that up to guitarist/singer Ali Jaafar, who's become something a tastemaker, engineering this album and other local records with the help of bassist Cole Benson in his own Ecstattic Studio. Jaafar's voice grows ever stronger with each Hollow Boys release and this time, paired with drummer and partner Monica Coleslaw's harmonies, it can swing from Robert Smith pretty to doomy in a single track. With Modern Radio Records in their corner once again, expect Hollow Boys to keep climbing in 2015.
The Miami Dolphins - Becky
One of the most gloriously bizarre bands in a scene that lives for weird, the Miami Dolphins have been operating at the fringes for several years but seem to have finally found their poise and identity with Becky. Diminutive singer Elizabeth Bambery howls and squeaks like she's auditioning for Melt Banana, while the band, led by Patrick Larkin's candied napalm guitar, tumbles through 70 second songs like they're on the edge of total collapse. No-Wave noise might be the palette that the Dolphins draw from, but this time out the band has embraced the barbed, satirical pop that they've shown traces of in the past on songs like "Pucker Upper," arriving at a wholly unique sound that's drawing national attention.
Rifle Diet - No Solace
While the Profane Existence-released vinyl doesn't technically come out until January, it would be an injustice towards all things heavy to leave Rifle Diet's brutal No Solace off of the list this year, especially since their cassette and digital formats have been available since October. While you might recognize a few members from TC DIY institutions like Garmonbozia and In Defence, Rifle Diet is its own machine entirely. With a bass-tuned two guitar attack, spine-crushing breakdowns, and apocalyptic vocals, this is without a doubt one of the heaviest records to hit Minnesota in 2014. No Solace even contains a special treat for Crust nuts in the form of a His Hero is Gone cover.
Teenage Moods - Rosebuds
The infectiously positive, catchy power-pop jams that Teenage Moods have been cranking out for the past few years have made them one of the most universally beloved bands within the punk scene. Beefy hardcore kids, art-damaged freaks, crusty traveler kids, they all love 'em. They think they're righteous dudes (and ladies). But the band that once wrote a love song to a cute plastic bag have tempered their smiles this time out with a hint of wistful melancholy. Songs like "Fools Wonder" and the sterling title track feel bright and shiny on the surface, but there's a new, mature moodiness lurking underneath.
Uranium Club - Human Exploration Demo
While they remain shrouded in mystery and have almost zero web presence, Uranium Club (or The Minneapolis Uranium Club band and Sunbelt Chemical Corporation™, as they would have it) has been setting the DIY circuit on fire with some incredible shows and a roughly tracked demo tape. Dreamed up by members of Solid Attitude and Nerv, Uranium Club combines jittery Devo riffs with utterly strange songwriting and lyrical choices. Sample song titles include "Black Semen" and "The Misadventures of Prissy Chrissy," and each tune is as gloriously chaotic and psycho as their title would imply. No word if any physical copies of the tape still exist, but the entirety of Human Exploration is available on YouTube below.
Awesome EPs and Singles
Waveless - S/T EP
Ex-Nuns - Death Triangle EP
Tree Blood - S/T Tape Series (I,II,III)
Deleter - Komposition Series
Constant Insult - Demo Tape
Babequest - Satisfied/The Wait 7"
We/Ours - S/T EP
Aziza - Thunderpunk? Jesus.
Rev. Mary Allen & Her Percolators - The Rupel Session
Condominium - Thug EP
Lutheran Heat - Shoot into the Sun 7"
The Turkletons - Fur Frontal 7"
Zero - Demo 2014
Fuck Knights-Court Date Single and A Taste of Puke EP
The Modern Era - Holiday EP and Where Was I (When I Needed Me) EP
Tiny Moving Parts - Split 7" w/Old Grey
LP Honorable Mentions
Narco States - Wicked Sun
Real Numbers - What Was & What Is
Yoni Yum - Greatest Clits
No Skin - S/T
Hardcore Crayons - Zozzled
Blood Cookie - Dissapoint Yourself
Mystery Date - Love Collector
War//Plague - Temperaments of War and Primal EP
The Pinata Hearts - S/T
Fucking-Live Hardcore Fucking
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