The (Local) Fresh Five: English Majors, cowboyslang, Big Into, Ava Levy, and Yuasa-Exide
For the Fresh Five we pick out five great new(ish) jams that we’re currently obsessing over. All of these songs come from local (Minnesota) bands/artists.
While English Majors managed to trick me into googling another Jesus Lizard reunion with their claim of a Christmas Eve show (I’m headed there now, just in case), they managed to keep my interest by making great music. English Majors also release material as CBDBGBs but how many albums or who they are doesn’t matter here (yet). “Customer Service” is the first track off their recent Milhouse record. Kicking off with a very Peter Hook-esque bassline, “Customer Service” marries that early New Order rhythm section vibe with 2ks percussive delayed guitars and gentle vocals. Highly recommend you give the whole thing a listen and hope they tell you and me when they’re really playing a show.
cowboyslang’s chorus of autotune on “Hard Way” immediately makes me think of Bon Iver but over the course of a few songs stands out as their own unique thing. Drum machine beats and gentle instrumentation really help bring a lot of feelings to that vocal sound that is all over the debut album Are You Gonna Wait? It’s a great soundtrack for your winter nights indoors.
Big Into is a Twin Cities-based duo consisting of a drummer and a guitarist who both add vocals. “Velvet Drill Bits” is a charging piece of indie rock, with a warbling chorused guitar making it seem like there are not just two people up there making noise. This is the first track off an upcoming EP slated for April so keep a look out.
Ava Levy caught my attention after seeing them as the opener for tonight’s Bar Italia show at the Turf Club. “not ur clown” is our introduction as Ava’s first single. What starts as a gently picked acoustic guitar and voice, the song naturally unfolds as drums and other instruments join over time until voices harmonize and the whole thing kicks into an explosive outro. We’re excited to see what tonight’s set brings!
I’ll open my final pick this round with an editor’s disclaimer that I’ve played in multiple bands with Yuasa-Exide’s sole member Doug Busson and played on a few random tracks but feel so strongly I’ll plug everything here. Touching on 90s American indie heroes (Yo La Tengo and Guided By Voices obviously), 80s jangle and an an always classic bedroom lofi slant, “I’ll See You Around” is characterized by by its trebly jangle and subtly buried vocal melodies. Yuasa-Exide has been churning out at least 8 full albums this year but if you prefer your songwriters a little less prolific, there are a couple of primer compilations in there for a concise set of songs.
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