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Showing posts from August, 2018

In Pursuit Of Something Interesting: Harper's Jar - "Ode to a Luna Moth"

After two weeks of not covering Xenu's gift to music, this column is back talking about some good old punk music. This week, we are going to look at the incendiary 2017 release Ode to a Luna Moth from the Minneapolis punk trio, Harper's Jar. This EP is an 11-minute free fall into explosive punk with enough pop elements to make it dangerous.

Ode to a Luna Moth's title track kicks off the EP with a guitar riff reminiscent of Dick Dale's "Miserlou." The down picked guitar riff creates tension that ebbs and flows as the track progresses.  Vocalist and guitarist Devin Ware sings much of the verses through a clenched jaw but finally lets loose in the last half of the track.

Harper's Jar really focuses on the dynamics of this EP, but it isn't the typical loud quiet loud that many punk and alt-rock bands use. This band pushes themselves up to the line where things get blurry. It is like when you turn a stereo up to the point where music doesn't get any lo…

Listen: Stone Arch Isles - "Shoreline"

Minneapolis indie folk band Stone Arch Isles have released a new single to soundtrack the end of summer. "Shoreline" is a gentle campfire sing-along with the group's traditional interwoven harmonies. The low-key ballad is relaxing and pleasant, evoking a wondrous sunset with wide eyes. The band's three lead vocalists carry the tune as always, fleshing out a minimal instrumentation with soaring melody. It has all the hallmarks of a Stone Arch Isles song, with a few minor changes - a slower, cantering tempo; xylophone; a slightly shorter length. Listen to "Shorelines" below.

Earlier in the year, Stone Arch Isles released their debut EP, Kingdoms (one of my favorite releases of the year). A few weeks ago, the band also premiered a new(?) song in an outdoor local session. Watch below.

Local Music Round-Up 8/23/18

Wes hasn't slept in at least nine decades, but his restless commitment to sharing dope tunes has overcome the odds. Praise be unto coffee.

Kate Malanaphy - In and Under EP
Kate Malanaphy sounds eternal. Her vibrant and wondrous vocals draw a map that each song reluctantly follows. Opener "Up to Here" is a minimal, spacious, and haunting ballad. The shimmering cymbals give counterpoint to Malanaphy's fluid and ruinous performance. "Glass" continues the EP with another sonic lake of aching harmony and piano arpeggios. The first half of "Neighbor" feels like a continuation of the previous track. Percussionist Alex Norman breaks up the second half with thudding bass drum, anchoring the wandering vocals. "Liar" closes the release with a gasp of tenderness. A simple backdrop of drums allow Malanaphy to paint a canvas of wasting sunlight.
In and Under by Kate Malanaphy

Oklahoma - "Disco"
Indie rock band Oklahoma has provided us with a f…

Listen to New Music from J. Mascis

Dinosaur Jr. is known for playing some of the loudest music around. The band's frontman and guitarist J. Mascis regularly surrounds himself with three or four 100-watt amplifiers.  The volume from his side of the stage alone could scalp an audience member. So when the Dinosaur Jr. frontman started releasing acoustic albums in the mid-90s, it made fans raise a bit of an eyebrow. His acute attention to detail often swallowed up by feedback, fuzzy guitars, and pounding drums became clear to listeners. Mascis has an ability to write beautiful melodies that shine through with the simplicity of an acoustic guitar and his voice.

Yesterday, Mascis announced that he is releasing a follow-up to 2014's Tied to a Star. Elastic Days will be released Nov. 9 on Sub Pop, and to top off this album announcement, Mascis also released the album's first single "See You At The Movies." This track is everything you love about Mascis' solo music. It's quiet but present. Soft but …

Listen: Why Not - "Ready 4 the World"

Why Not, the best math punk band out of the Twin Cities (I don't know any others, so I'm assuming they're the best), are back with a new single. "Ready 4 the World" is a stellar multi-part punk song. The bass is liquid, the guitar is almost ska-like during the verses, and the drums are so punchy that they might just KO a Nazi. Energy is practically given for any sort of punk song, but "Ready 4 the World" could run a mile in four minutes in flat. Vocalist/bassist Henry Breen crams more syllables into the querying chorus than imaginable. The first bridge features Breen ascending to an uncomfortable falsetto out of absolutely nowhere; reminiscent of Future's "la di da di da" from "King's Dead," it is so weird that it works. After another verse/pre-chorus/chorus and a fuzzy instrumental break, the band goes full stoner-doom, again out of nowhere. The lyrics are screamed while drummer Joshua MacGregor lays down a heavy, skittering…

Listen: boygenius - "Bite The Hand," "Me & My Dog," & "Stay Down"

Photo by Lera Pentelute
boygenius is a supergroup for the ages. The group, consisting of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, teased a release a few weeks ago and an official announcement has finally arrived. The trio will release a self-titled EP in the fall on Matador Records. In the meantime, they have "War-On-Drugs"'d us, which is what Joe calls releasing 50% or more of an album in advance, named after the War On Drugs' approach to dropping singles for last year's A Deeper Understanding. Three of boygenius's 3 songs can be heard today - "Me & My Dog," "Stay Down," and "Bite the Hand."

After being fans of each others music for a while and occasionally playing shows together (Baker and Bridgers together at Winnipeg Folk Fest and Eaux Claires; Dacus and Baker both opened for Courtney Barnett on her stop in Minneapolis), the three came together to record. Originally planning on releasing a 7" for their upcoming t…

In Pursuit Of Something Interesting: Jack Pfeffer - "Blue Love"

I guess this column is forever going to be hit or miss. However, my inability to consistently release a feature on local music is not going to detract from bands I write about. It just makes me look bad. This week, we are going to take a look at Minneapolis singer-songwriter Jack Pfeffer's album Blue Love. This album is probably the most mainstream record that this column has featured. Normally, we look at punk releases, or whatever Drag City has put out in the last 20 years. If we include the Twin Lakes EP from the last edition of In Pursuit Of Something Interesting, I may have sold out. Which is fine.  I'll sell out if it means covering albums like Blue Love.

Since 2015, Jack Pfeffer has been releasing laid pack indie rock and indie pop similar to the style of indie icon Mac Demarco. This release is no different. While it is easy to see Demarco's influences on this record, the songwriting and song composition of Blue Love differentiate it from being a knockoff. The first …

New Music Friday 8/17/18

After a week off (which I regret!), NMF is back to dictate exactly what you listen to at all times this week. I control your taste, fools!

Mitski - Be the Cowboy (Dead Oceans)
The widely-anticipated fifth album from Mitski Miyawaki is finally here to bless the ears of literally everyone. Following the indie rock breakout of 2016's Puberty 2, Mitski has responded by crafting a pop universe all her own - she's being the cowboy in her own movie. Be the Cowboy was preceded by singles "Geyser," "Nobody," and "Two Slow Dancers."

Listen on Spotify here.
Listen on Apple Music here.

Death Cab For Cutie - Thank You For Today (Atlantic)
For their ninth album, Death Cab For Cutie underwent an official lineup change that was a long time coming. Thank You For Today is the first album since Ben Gibbard's debut demo without guitarist/producer Chris Walla (he's having too much fun making great Foxing records), and the first full-length to feature new member…

Local Music Round-Up 8/16/18

It's getting a bit hectic and busy in the Ear Coffee camp, but we will gladly sacrifice sleep in order to bring some cool local tunes to all 1.4 million of our fans! I am definitely going to regret this decision later, but it's worth it!

shrimp olympics - hot meal
Fortunately, these Olympics happen more than once every four years. Shrimp Olympics is the delightfully lo-fi recording project of Minneapolis' Austin Lombardo, with hot meal being his second album in as many years. Each song is a contained work of noodly psychedelia, with washed-out synths, punchy guitars, and obtuse lyrics. "king billy (narrative)" sounds like if Animal Collective had recorded parts of "Sung Tongs" while not on acid. "gretchen" is a bizarrely existential tune about the narrator's girlfriend's step-mom. Overall, the project is a quirky and fun collection of 60s pop-inspired tunes.

Victor Shores - You'll Get Better At It EP
I would imagine you'd want ear…

The Nokturnal North Play an Intimate Set at the Union Depot

Just after 8:30 on Saturday, August 11 fellow Ear Coffee writer and editor Wes and I, duck into the back row of Java Express in the Union Depot. Minneapolis singer-songwriter Ben Noble is just beginning his acoustic set for an intimate audience. Noble sits on a small stage in the back corner of the restaurant. The stage seems almost too small for the headlining act The Nokturnal North to fit on. The room itself is very vibey. Almost everything in the room is made of marble, but the room has the muted feeling of a quiet evening. The cavernous echoes of the depot stop at the door and all the concert goers have to focus on is the music Noble plays from his beautiful debut record Whiskey Priest
Ben Noble thanks the audience one last time before he leaves the stage, and Under The Pavilion prepares for their set. The band that follows the singer-songwriter takes the audience in a much different direction. Under The Pavilion is a 1970s/1980s influenced rock band that showed up in full forc…

Calvin Heights "Talented Sun" - Album Review

Last year, Calvin Heights released Worst Calligraphy, one of their most ambitious albums to date. The album is paired with The Possession of the Deer's Feet: Prologue, an EP that was released earlier in 2017 which marked a definite shift in the band's sound. The indie rock influence that characterized the first two records was left behind for something more experimental. By this point in the band's career, frontman Brett Carey acted as the sole creative force. He wrote and produced almost everything with the help of his longtime friend Jordan Wipf to cover drumming duties. Worst Calligraphy started out as an EP but grew as Carey started pouring out his thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It was slightly unkempt and lived in a much more abstract world, but that was the charm of the album. The ambiguous nature of the album kept the listener on their toes while they worked through it.

When You Think of Me / Seasons Change by Calvin Heights

Calvin Heights released a single in Dece…

Listen to the new single from Cloud Nothings

It has been a little over a year and a half since Cloud Nothings released their last record, Life Without Sound. The record featured a more cleanly produced sound that took some of the punch away from the overall tone. The band's new single "The Echo of The World" feels like they're moving back to the edgier sound found on earlier material. This new material doesn't mean the band is regressing though. Instead, "The Echo of The World" is a punishing four-minute track that constantly builds upon itself until it explodes. Along with the single, the band announced that they are releasing a new album titled Last Building Burning in October.

Watch the music video for "The Echo of The World" below.


1. On An Edge
2. Leave Him Now
3. In Shame
4. Offer An End
5. The Echo of The World
6. Dissolution
7. So Right So Clean
8. Another Way Of Life

Last Building Burning is out October 19 via Carpark Records and Wichita Recordings.

Listen: Juniper Douglas - "fibastimpastastan"

Minneapolis indie band/collective Juniper Douglas have a new song in the world today, and it is good. It is considerably less off-the-walls than previous single "Promiseland Bakery," and all the better for it. The song's groove is straightforward and minimal, anchoring the exploratory vocals. Listening to "fibastimpastastan" is like staring at a layered cliff face - as your eyes gradually scan down its side, each new moment reveals a new layer and color. Arpeggiated synths sneak in and grow to almost overcome the ecstatic melody. However, in an almost counterintuitive way, they sink back beneath the waves of drums, bass, and keys. The lyrical and frantic vocals are almost always unintelligible, with the exception of few howled phrases ("it's just a numbers game," "I like to play it safe"). I cannot emphasize how insane the singing is on this track. There's no rhyme or reason to the vaguely syllabic notes, but they craft a universe o…

Local Music Round-Up 8/9/18

Back for week number two! Consistency is my only personal goal - so far, so good! Otherwise, here's another crop of awesome local musical from the last few months. 

Miloe - Miloe EP
Miloe is the extremely chill indie pop project of Bob Kabeya, and this is his debut EP. Described as "sad boi music for all your events and occasions," it is a hypnotizing, translucent collection of tracks. Most of the songs are built on simple guitar and synth loops, but there is intense beauty in the minutiae. Kabeya's light tenor is like a sunshower on a summer day. I can't wait to hear more from Miloe in the future. 

Scrunchies - Stunner
Scrunchies is a supergroup, plain and simple. Featuring members of Kitten Forever, Double Grave, and Tony Peachka, the band is a self-contained wildfire of punk energy. Songs like "Stunner" and "Wichita" evoke the classic riot grrrl sound without falling into any tropes. Stunner is music that demands to be danced to.
Stunner by S…

In Pursuit Of Something Interesting: Twins Lakes - "Stag" EP

This week's column is going to be more mellow than previous editions. Distorted guitars have been traded in for an acoustic as we take a look at the Rochester-based band Twin Lakes. Their debut EP Stag is one of the freshest takes on the folk-rock/folk-pop genres that I have heard in a long time. After a couple of spins, I was ready to trade my denim jacket and black skinny jeans for a pair of vintage trousers with suspenders, a collared shirt, and a wide-brimmed hat.

The opening track "Fiend" feels akin to an Ed Sheeran tune, but it doesn't feel like a rip-off or a cheap imitation. Instead, the track is just really fun, despite the darker subject matter. "Fiend" is also one of the grooviest songs on the EP. The last quarter of the song features a drum break that I was not expecting in the slightest. One thing that you can find throughout this EP is that all instruments work to not overplay even when it would be easy to do. The drum break keeps it impact whi…

This Will Destroy You Announces New Album, Releases Song

Los Angeles post rock band This Will Destroy You announced a follow-up to their 2014 album, Another Language, but in the vaguest way possible. They updated their social media with what appears to be an album cover and shared some odd photographs with what may be song titles. The images are all captioned with the date September 28, 2018, which is hopefully the album's release date. The group also announced a fall North American tour, which will "follow the release of the band's fifth studio full-length, via Dark Operative." Check out the dates below.

Additionally, TWDY has released a new single - "Escape Angle" - that will appear on a forthcoming Dark Operative (their current label) compilation. The song was created as part of the score for an unreleased sci-fi film. It is a bit more synth-driven than many TWDY tracks, but it fits the atmosphere perfectly. The compilation, which will also feature Iron Reagan, Power Trip, and The Dillinger Escape Plan, will …

New Music Friday 8/3/18

Today is a big day for the hip-hop heads in terms of hugely anticipated releases. But the indie kids won't be left behind - today is providing a healthy slew of quality underground releases.

YG - Stay Dangerous (Def Jam)
Stay Dangerous is the third full-length from the Compton rapper and "boolest man alive." It took a while to get here, but it's finally here to provide more West Coast anthems than anyone is ready to handle. The album features A$AP Rocky, 2 Chainz, Nicki Minaj, Big Sean, Quavo, Ty Dolla $ign, and more. Singles included "Suu Whoop," posse cut "Big Bank," and the Rocky-featuring "Handgun." In 2016, YG released his sophomore album Still Brazy and a follow-up mixtape - Red Friday.
Listen on Spotify here Listen on Apple Music here

Travis Scott - Astroworld (Epic)
It's real. It's finally real. After years of teasing (it was announced before Scott's last album even came out), Astroworld. "Butterfly Effect," w…