Catching Up (Local Edition)
Catching up is a feature where I attempt to make up for my sins of getting buried in promo emails by writing a sentence or two about some of the songs that have crossed my path in the last 6 weeks or so. Today I am catching up on the new stuff from bands that circulated the MPLS/ST. PAUL scenes. Forgive the brevity and dig some new tunes.
On the two tracks below Daymoths display their frigid, well rounded pop songwriting. The instrumentation is brittle and light, with forlorn vocal harmonies adding a mystic layer to the sound. A happy medium between orchestrated and wistful pop music. Listen to their debut album Back In Time at their soundcloud page.
Breezy acoustic pop that sounds like a potential Cities 97 hit. Too light for me, but a polished product that melds Elwell’s gentle vocals with a soft acoustic guitar line and lush strings in a way that may tickle your fancy.
Brave Soul our June 6th 6/1 Bryant Lake Bowl Minneapolis, MN
Really cool deconstructed R&B jam a la The Weeknd. Haunted vocals and sweeping effects wash over some simple organ chords that really is a greater sum than its separate parts. A confident, futuristic track from an artist I am definitely going to check out more in depth.
Date: June 15th, 2012
Location: 1414 West 28th Street Minneapolis, MN 55408
Ticket Price: $10 Ticket, $15 at the door
Twangy country with a bite with female vocals. Lots of string plucking and easy to digest melodies that will appeal to fans of the local pop leaning alt-country resurgence.
The Thank You Notes
Thick swaths of guitars rush through the speakers via this alt-rock band. The band describes their sound as “alternative, hip hop, funk and rock and roll” on their bandcamp page, and the sound is about as all over the map as that implies. Like other bands who take that plunge (I for some reason kept thinking G Love and other mid 90’s “alt” bands when listening to their EP), the result is a mixed bag that never really nails down a firm sound.
The Lovely Dark
A band that seem to convey that hard to describe “atmosphere” in their music. The tracks reminded me a little of the band Midlake, who wrap their music in interesting layers of sound, but come back to a rootsy, songwriter base that really drives their sound.
Murzik are self described as “dark folk,” and I think that does the job well. The music is straightforward, with uncomplicated guitars and simple drumming augmented by occasionally strings. All of this takes the back seat to the restrained yet intense vocals that puncture the empty space. The vocals are dark and haunted, hiding in the shadows that are populated by dark souls like Nick Cave.
Megan H Hamilton
Described in the email as a multi tooled singer/rapper, Hamilton is all over the map on her latest LP. There are some R&B tinged piano ballads, some rapping and even some horn fueld almost bossa nova pop. You will either love the kaleidoscope sound or you will be lost, but I’m guessing most people won’t fall in the middle.
Hunting Club have been churning out polished, Grizzly Bear like pop for the last few years, and they are back with some new material. “Skyscraper” is a skittish track build on a dusty drum sample that is strung along with some falsetto singing and rich synth soundscapes. A more restrained sound than I remember from the band and one of my favorite things the band has done.
A sample that worships at the alter of mid 90’s Beck warped through a hip hop spectrum, “Mixtape” finds Phingaz cutting open a vein on his new single. The lyrics don’t really hit me as much as the sample, but Phingaz has a decent flow that at times really meshes with the track. The scene bashing (“everyone wants to be rock stars but they don’t know how”) and breakdown at the end with the crunchy guitar both lose me, but the track shows some potential, especially with the cool slide guitar sampling beat.
The Brilliant Beast
Alt-rock that jumps all over the genre map with a singer that sounds a lot like the singer from Tapes N Tapes. The strained indie templates touch on the same framework that got Voxtrot some attention a few years back, with plantive singing and sad guy lyrics crossed with slightly more upbeat musical interludes.
If you are going to do the hushed, folk based sound that Big Lake are trying, you better go all out. To the bands credit, they do just that. Vocals matched by ethereal harmonies, soft percussion and crisp acoustic guitar parts make this song sound like a more polished Ryan Adams outtake. Not sure how this band hasn’t gotten more attention, as their sound seems tailor made for the masses.
I am a late convert to 80’s synth pop, but now I get it. So do Plastic Believers. Crisp drum machine beats and thick slabs of synth nirvana are topped with poppy female vocals to bring the coked out 80’s party to the bands tracks. Just dancy enough to not be navel gazing yet not so frantic that it seems cheesy, Plastic Believers hit just that right spot for those willing to step back in time.
The Desert Vest
The bands name reminded me of the Desert Sessions from Queens of the Stone Age, and the bands sound actually made me think of the band as well. Thick, sludgy riffs that still tied in a melody with the bombast, this band use the loud-soft approach to bring their almost grungy, 90’s stadium rock sound to life.
The Desert Vest- Black Charm
Dark metal that is not for the weak of heart. Those bands above that I said would be good on Cities 97? This is the opposite. If the words “Black Metal” give you any concern, you should over the tracks below. I am far from an expert on this genre, but people seem to say Maledicere are good at what they do. It sounds good to me, but what do I know?
A bombastic track that finds Ecid snapping over a simmering track that somehow sounds gigantic yet not over the top. A song that has some smart rhymes, a beat that gets your head bobbing and when it ends you want to his repeat. What else can you ask for?
The Chalice are an all female hip hop group that have been getting some attention around the local scene lately with the gritty jams. The beat is minimalistic and the rhymes are sharp, with vocal interludes that show off the ladies singing vocices. A nice twist in hip hop scene dominated by guys and a group that seem to, with their first song, have the potential to break through the static with their material.
Writer / co-founder