Into the Future

1995 WAS A banner year for local CD releases. I say "banner year" not in terms of the success of a few high-profile titles (Soul Asylum, Jayhawks, Polara, et al.), but in terms of a sustained combination of quality and quantity. A record number and variety of local CDs were issued last year, and while the glut is a bit worrisome--the format is becoming the demo tape of the '90s--at least the recording scene is also maturing across the board.

January, typically the month for a post-holiday slump, is poised to bring some quasi-local heroes back from the dead. Due on the 16th of this month: El Producto, the long awaited third album from Walt Mink; and the Rykodisc unveiling of Golden Smog's Down By the Old Mainstream--featuring members of the Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, Run Westy Run and Wilco, dontchya know--which gets a preview party at First Avenue this Friday (unfortunately, no live appearance was scheduled at press time). Also that day: the brand-new No Alternative label reissues the Smog's debut EP, On Golden Smog; Restless plans new studio albums from honorary locals Jack Logan and The Shivers; and October Records unloads Minneapolis Does Denver, an 18-band tribute to the Country Boy himself, John Denver. Expect Smut's sophomore effort Secret Center (Spanish Fly), an Amphetamine Reptile CD comp of cassettes from the label 7-10 Split, and Low's five-song Transmission EP sometime later this month.

Further on, Balloon Guy's potentially massive Warner Bros. debut The West Coast Shakes should drop on February 6, while Sounds of Blackness's Ann Nesby releases her Perspect-
ive/A&M debut April 2. Paul Westerberg's sophomore solo effort should be ready in April, while Semisonic and Tina and the B-Side Movement have major-label debuts waiting in the wings for a tentative March and April release, respectively.

But indie labels will dominate this winter. Twin/Tone now houses the TRG conglomerate (as in Twin/Tone Records Group), which will provide more distribution and unity for labels such as Spanish Fly, Prospective/ UltraModern, October, Red Decibel and No Alternative. TRG proper will debut the John Ewing Band with Delta Flares on February 13, while February 27 promises Colfax Abbey's buzz-heavy Drop (UltraModern) and The Vibrochamps' Stranger Than You Think (Prospective). The Honeydogs' follow-up comes March 12, with Dylan Hicks's at-long-last debut, Won, set for two weeks later. The Hang Ups' next masterpiece (?) is slated for early spring on Clean, and Milk's third Spanish Fly full-length comes April 9.

Hammerhead's third AmRep disc hits the streets in February, and it's rumored to be their most experimental noise departure yet. Dwindle's Present General Conditions will occur Feb. 9 on Guilt-Ridden Pop, the new label from Restless's Keith Moran. Atmosphere peers 12 Rods and February will self-release enhanced CDs (CDs with CD-ROM components) in January and February, respectively. Metalheads King's Machine offers A State of Mind on Valentine's Day. Oar Fin Records has broadened its base by annexing the in-house Metro Studios, which should soon yield a new Scott Laurent Band record. Oar Fin will also compile Idiot Express, the early work of lyrical giant Stuart Davis; meanwhile a new Davis studio album is forthcoming from Triad Entertainment. Eller and Lynch have signed to East Side Digital for a prospective March release, while John's Black Dirt, The Wonsers and The Straw Dogs have all completed discs for release at some point in the early year.

Finally, a handful of the artists who are either in the studio or going into the studio in the new year: Polara, Lefty Lucy, Johnny Clueless, Mountain Singers, Flipp, Tommy Stinson and Perfect, Rachael Olson of The Blue Up? and Big Red Ball. Do you still doubt that there's any kind of musical commotion happening in this city? I thought not. Stay tuned...

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