The great local tape revival marches on, with the latest salvo from new(ish) Minneapolis trio Dust Buns. Led by Jess Buns, seen elsewhere with Diva ’93 and as a member of the excellent Anonymous Choir, the group create fuzzy-yet-catchy synth driven pop. A dark undercurrent sweeps the tapes seven songs, ranging from Knife-eqse synth rumblings (“Old Man Winter”) to the wobbly witchcraft of “Hot Cross Buns,” which is a spooky and distant track without venturing into pastiche. The whole tape nicely walks the line between disheveled and pristine, finding that highly sought “lo-fi” aesthetic that so many bands strive for (and on cassette to boot!). Immerse yourself in the tape via their bandcamp below and scoop up the tape from the band either from that link or from the group tonight at the Eagles Club, where they will be celebrating the release of the tape with locals The Velveteens, Principality and Homebirth.
I find the band Cave, and in particular their latest release, Neverendless, to be wildly underrated by the general music public. While we wait for the band’s next record, I recently found out about a side project from the group called Bitchin Bajas, who have been releasing more electronic/ambient work for the last few years. Like the sound cultivated on Cave records, Bitchin Bajas aren’t concerned with mashing their ideas into a 3:26 song, letting their sounds stretch out and grow organically. While Cave chug along with a more “rockist” approach, featuring fuzzy guitars, Bitchin Bajas are wandering souls, letting loose voluminous slabs of richly textured synths. Check out the colorful video for “Vibraquatic” and immerse yourself in the spaced out tomfoolery Saturday night at Cause in Uptown when Bitchin Bajas come to town and share the stage with kindred spirits Beat Detectives for what should be a great show.
Julian Lynch is in the process of getting a Ph.D, and his music shows it. He has been a staple of the Underwater Peoples label over the last few years, bringing brains to the scattered world of outsider pop via convoluted song structures and inexorable melodies. Lynch crafts songs that are articulate on a label best known for its haziness, bring a bow-tie aesthetic to a scene more akin to flannel shirts and jeans. His music is the kind that describing it as “pretty” doesn’t do it justice. Like his previous work, “Carious Kelleyi I” is knotty enough to get lost inside of without feeling off-putting or disingenuous. The craziest part is that Lynch records this music mostly on his own and at home, all while making it sound like a million bucks. ”Carious Kelleyi I” comes from his forthcoming LP Lines, which you can pre-order from the Underwater Peoples website HERE. Catch Lynch (with a full band!) Saturday at Icehouse with Web of Sunsets and DJ Soft Abuse.
If you strapped me to a polygraph machine and posed the question from the show tonight at the Cedar (“Who Even Listens to WMCN?), an honest answer from me would be “no.” I am going to plead innocence to this transgression as I was not even aware that Macalaster Collage had a radio station, so this event has already helped raise awareness for at least one person. The station is hosting a show/event tonight at the Cedar Cultural Center and among the other various festivities taking place (details here), the show collects some bright eyed (read: young) up and coming local bands. Listen below to songs from three of the groups hitting the stage tonight: Carroll, The Velveteens and Bad Bad Hats.
“Sticks” from Carroll is a warm slab of earnest, downbeat but melodic pop music that takes the prettiest route to cutting open a vein. The instrumentation is ornamented, with a slick gloss rounding out the edges and the sad eyed vocals (“I’m Losing every battle that I fight”) matching the dramatic, jangly pop stylings that the band put together on their polished, well executed debut recordings. Bad Bad Hats sound like a continuation of the Lucy Michelle/Caroline Smith strand of powerful female vocalist if those artists had liked Rilo Kiley more than quirky folk music. The music is sparse, pushed towards the back to highlight the sugary sweet lead vocals, which croon lyrics centered around young heartbreak while hanging out at a local gas station. The Velveteens, whose 2012 cassette is streaming below, are less overtly pop and genteel than the other two bands, more punk geared than polished. Blending together pop, doo-wop and garage rock into a package that sounds a bit like a lo-fi Phil Spector project, the group have a contemporary sound with strong vintage undercurrents. Don’t let the lo-fi production force you to miss out on the catchy, timeless songs the group put together on their recent tape, forging on with in the tradition of the late, great God Damn Doo-Wop Band.
Catch all three bands along with Is Home Is & Maeth and a plethora of other activities tonight at the Cedar and join me in checking out WMCN if you get a chance.
Sweden’s Ghost B.C. (formerly known as just Ghost, not to be confused with the Japanese band Ghost) made some waves with their over the top mysterious looks combined with their Blue Oyster Cult/Black Sabbath sound with their 2010 debut. After a couple years of touring the globe they’ve got a second album on the way in April. “Secular Haze” is the first single from the record. The clip is a set straight out of any 1960s TV music appearance, opening with the tracks circus organ intro before the band kicks in and singer Papa Emeritus II emerges from the side.
The excellent folks at Secret Stash Records are starting off 2013 in good fashion with a local showcase and another stellar re-issue LP to add to your collection. The show tonight at Icehouse is an encore performance for the Twin Cities Funk and Soul All Stars, the group of scene vets who came together last year to celebrate the great SS compilation Twin Cities Funk and Soul: Lost R&B Grooves from Minneapolis/Saint Paul 1964-1979 (and sold out the much larger Cedar).Opening the show is the Secret Stash in-house band DÉROBÉ DANCE BAND, who cover the musical territory heard on many of the labels releases. Pre-Sale tickets are sold out, so if you want to catch this show you’ll need to put on your comfy shows and go stand in line as a select number of tickets will be available at the door.
Above you will find a video introduction to the newest release from the label, the 1979 LP African Dialects from Peter King. King, a Nigerian born artist who released music both in London and Nigeria throughout the 70′s, was a contemporary of Ebo Taylor and Fela Kuti, which should give you some reference points for his sound. The album is chalk full of deep grooves, a small taste of which can be sampled in the video but I can promise are really fleshed out on the LP. This is another great find that the local label is getting back into the hands of eager fans and a great release to start the new year. You can pre-order the record from the label HERE.
Retribution Gospel Choir have, in their short history, stood out mainly for their straightforward approach and classic, meat and potatoes song-craft. Frontman Alan Sparhawk is best known for his work with slowcore legends Low, a band that are powerfully quiet and aggressively somber, traits that made the Crazy Horse-esqe material the band have churned out seem wildly outlandish in comparison. Sparhawk first released material from the power trio in 2008 with their moody and noisy debut, even going as far as taking songs that had been recorded on Low records and beefing them up. The band followed up in 2010 with 2, which sharpened the focus and was a rugged, power chord filled gem that was the best “Classic Rock” record I have heard in years (really, go back and listen to “Workin’ Hard” and “Hide it Away” and try not to fist pump). The group is back with their third record, aptly titled 3, and in a move that will shock no one, it ventures into a new territory that finds Sparhawk and co. unveiling new layers to the groups sound.
Still leaning heavily on Sparhawks guitar heroics, 3 attempts to capture the groups powerful live show on record. The LP is simply two long songs, both recorded live and each hovering at or above the 20 minute mark. The A side is the bruising “Can’t Walk Out,” which finds the band replicating their Crazy Horse influenced, riff heavy style to a dizzying climax. The guitars squall and bend, feedback engulfing the song and the rhythm section powers forward in steam engine like fashion. The track is the kind of uncoiled epic that sounds like it should be played as a motorcycle gangs rolls into town, a towering song that is somehow both intimidating and celebratory. The raw urgency of side A is countered by the more gentle, meditative side B, which features the track “Seven.” The hazy track sounds more like an extended Low song than the normal RGC catalog, but it does feature the standard guitar heroics, both from Sparhawk and virtuoso guest Nels Cline, best known for his heady guitar noodling with his solo jazz projects and as a hired gun with the late period Wilco. The first half of “Seven” finds Sparhawk singing uplifting ditties like “nobody put up a fight” over a hypnotic melody, with the second half finding Sparkhawk and Cline unleashing in a barrage of noisy feedback and wandering solos that, while being less in your face as the front half of the record, is every bit as intense.
3 is the most expansive look into the psyche of Retribution Gospel Choir, and their most bold and powerful statement made yet. Scrapping conventional songs in favor searching for that spark that they create on stage, the band venture into terrain that could easily swallow up lesser bands. The songs are jammy, but they never lose their focus or energy, and the guitar wizardry is cranked up to 11, highlighting the inner-teenager-rocking-out sentiment that has always made RGC so great. Three records into their run (with a few scattered releases in between), Retribution Gospel Choir have not really settled in to a distinct delivery method, but we know we can expect some crunching riffs and jamming. Both are on display on 3, with the later taking center stage in what might be the best, most commanding release we have heard yet from the group.
See the band tonight at the Turf Club celebrating the release of 3 and buy the record HERE.
Some bands seek to lull you into a daydream, while others may strive to get you out onto a dancefloor. Animal Lover want to grab you by the throat and pummel you into submission. On their new 12″ Fundango, the three piece barrage the listener with thick as sludge riffs and distorted to hell vocals over the 5 song, just under 19 minute record. Fans of the old Am Rep sound will find a lot to like with this record, which you can stream below. Listen to the chaos and, if it gets your blood boiling to that “just right” temperature, head over to the Hexagon tonight for the record release show and witness the carnage in the flesh. If you can’t make it tonight, you can order the record HERE
Well this is pretty exciting. Experimental artist Julia Holter just announced an upcoming show at the Walker Arts Center on April 11th. I believe this will be Holter’s first Minneapolis appearance (or at least her first in a while). Holter’s most recent album Ekstasis was extremely well received, and made a number of year end critics top ten polls (including my own). Thie McGuire stage should make for an excellent arena to showcase Holter’s expansive sound.