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Showing posts from January, 2020

Harper's Jar - "home is a roach motel" | Premiere

Noted cow band Harper's Jar has been one of the Twin Cities' most revered and most mysterious bands of the last few years. Despite all the (deserved) attention, they still haven't released a full-length record. That is about to change.

Today, we're happy to (sort of) premiere the second single off the debut record from Harper's Jar. "home is a roach motel" keeps things mostly within their wheelhouse, but fortunately, that is one of the best wheelhouses known to man. In an interview with Radio K, the band said that this song is the one that they're most proud of, and it shows. While the overall palette may be similar, it subtly reinvents the expectations fans/listeners may have built up over years of relentless gig-attendance. It lives up to the more colorful, more flavorful sonic universe the band promised. This sounds like a song that will inspire the next generation of DIY punks to start their own bands and flourish in their own realms of noise. List…

Thank You, I'm Sorry - "How Many Slugs Can We Throw Against the Wall Until We Question Our Own Mortality" | Sunday Single

Every once and a while, we extend our "local music" coverage to include bands elsewhere in the Midwest when they have a strong connection to our lil' scene here. Usually, this just means it's a Wisconsin or Chicago band signed to a MN label; in this case, it's Thank You, I'm Sorry.

Until recently, TYIS was the solo project of Chicago singer/songwriter Colleen Dow. They wrote an EP of acoustic demos, the malta house demos, and released it online in March of 2019. It was really great. Now, to kick off 2020, they are releasing a re-recorded version of these demos, simply re-titled to The Malta House.

Titled after the tiny Illinois town that Dow lived in while writing these songs, the EP is a hauntingly beautiful look inward at the struggles of mental illness and functioning in an inherently flawed society. If the EP's lead single, a re-done version of "How Many Slugs Can We Throw Against the Wall Until We Question Our Own Mortality," is anything t…

Zaq Baker - "Down For Whatever" | New Music

Zaq Baker is getting ahead of the curve. He's released "Down For Whatever," his newest melancholic ballad, in the middle of January instead of July, when I can guarantee that it will soundtrack a montage in a summer romance movie. Or something like that.

Baker's songwriting emphasizes the timelessness of love. "Down For Whatever" was specifically crafted to represent the feelings of a youthful affection, but it functions outside of the concept of age — it could just as easily have been inspired by characters born in any decade. The arrangement is instrumentally spare, laying bare the dual vocals of Baker and Lydia Pelletier. It lends itself to the song's story, giving voice to both of the young lovers.

Fans of exceptionally genuine piano-rock have much to be excited for, as "Down For Whatever" is the first of a trio of videos teasing towards the spring release of Baker's sophomore record, Good Kid Manic Summer. See? It sounds like the title …

Fox Theory - "New Beginning" | New Music

(Cover art by Micha Rose)
Sometimes bands reinvent their sound from album to album. Maybe after a few years on, after an album or some EPs. Fox Theory operate on an entirely different level.

After only one release, last December's River Kids EP, Fox Theory have pivoted from off-kilter indie to a more emo-oriented sound. On the surface, it seems like a twinklier, riff-driven version of the sounds they had been playing with. Everything has been sonically upgraded, giving the trio a much more robust sound. Gone are the synth-parts of yore.

On a deeper level, the song goes further into a very specific feeling that far too many newer DIY bands have been through. It would be a fair guess that the titular new beginning refers to the fact that, well, it's a new year/decade. But, it's far more anxious than that. Guitarist/vocalist Jack Daily details a reluctance to step into something new — in this case, the local house show scene. By referencing the unsettling Alan Resnick classic &q…

Team Killer, Tommy Touchdown, Con Davison, & Double Grave | LMR

Team Killer - "Morn" & "Woops" (self-released)

Sometimes, I'm frustrated with bands. I see them rip a sick gig, or hear glowing recommendations from other bands, but I have no way to enjoy their music outside of shows. It's selfish, I know. I just really want to be able listen at any given moment. Team Killer were one of those bands. The quartet built up some healthy DIY buzz over the last year or so and finally they're releasing their first recorded music. It was worth the wait (shout out to NATL PARK SRVC for turning me onto them).

The first of two new songs, "Morn," is a surprisingly tuneful piece of foggy rock. It sounds like a shoegaze version of the Strokes filtered through a reverb pedal. "Morn" is also better than virtually anything the Strokes has done in a decade, so jot that down. Nothing is quite clear - vocals, synth, and guitars all wash in and out of focus. However, Colby Boek's drums pound throughout with the fo…

New Primals - "Modern Lover" | New Music

New Primals have made a name for themselves blending 70s glitter-punk aesthetics, dance grooves, and noise rock to craft a confrontation sound that is all their own. Combine that with their high energy live performances, and you have a highly volatile cocktail begging to be messed with. The band put out their spastic debut EP Wraith in 2017 and followed it up with a two-song split with the Texas band P I N K O a year later. Now, New Primals has just released the first single in the lead up to their debut album, Horse Girl Energy.

"Modern Lover" feels like the sonic equivalent of grabbing a live wire and sending a million volts through your body. The song thrashes around like an animal looking to rip apart a room. The incredibly angular guitar riffs from Sam Frederick are counterbalanced by Eric Nordling's basslines. Despite the feelings affection described by Frederick in lyrics on "Modern Lover," by the end, it becomes clear that those feelings aren't retur…

Sonic Sea Turtles - "First Snowfall" | Sunday Single

(Cover art by Billie Renaux)
Here's some of that emo that was hiding from my year-end list. Right off the bat, Sonic Sea Turtles establish themselves as capable songwriters, capturing the specific melancholy and self-loathing of Minnesota's infinite winter.

The quartet put out their debut EP Sound Pollution just last August, but they've kept relatively active with releasing new songs (at least for a DIY band). While "First Snowfall" may describe the sky's initial offering of cold and sleet, the emotions are all-too-familiar. "The winter is holding off the spring" isn't the response of someone encountering a new, frozen reality; it's someone who casts their mind back to years of prior understanding and weight. However, there's a slight uplift at the end of the song's harmonious chorus — "construct a fire when it gets cold / there is still summer under the snow." The framing of the seasons simultaneously establishes that this i…

Sister Species, Rachel Bearinger, justgrey, & Bobby Rethwish | LMR

Another week of mostly catch-up (plus one new one)! If the huge amount of stuff we missed proves anything, it's that there are almost too many great bands putting out great music. Plus, there are only two of us, and we're both busy/tired/sad. Yet we must carry on. There's just too much music journalism money to be made.

Sister Species - "Heat Death (Hold Me Here)" (self-released)
For a song that is ostensibly about the end of the universe as we know it, "Heat Death" is remarkably calm. Lead by Emily Kastrul (of Betazoid), this septet brings their new single into the harsh light of a fresh winter. In this case, the illumination comes not from the sun, but from the vibrant horn arrangements, in delightful three-part harmonies. The world is crumbling and each one of us is helpless without an anchor. Kastrul pleads for someone or something to serve that purpose and provide the strength to persist through the burning winter and maybe even the combustion of our…

26 BATS! - "Magnified Iris" | New Music

(Cover art by Kai Peterson) Nailing down the sound of the genre-fluid jazz-punk quintet 26 BATS! is quite the task. It's a little bit of jazz, a little bit of R&B, a little bit of indie rock, and enough soul to make it interesting. However, that's just how bandleader Bailey Cogan wants it. The band released its sophomore record Onyx in December of 2018, and now the band is back with the single "Magnified Iris," one of the first releases of 2020.

"Magnified Iris" leaves the listener drifting as the band carefully dances around each other. Starting off subtly, the song grows as the imagery becomes more chaotic, leading to a melodic breakdown as Cogan asks, "When will I learn to harness divine intuitive dynamisms?" The last minute and a half of "Magnified Iris" finds the band vamping over the main melody, expertly playing off one another like we have come to expect with the band. 26 BATS! have definitely set the bar high as we start the d…

Ear Coffee Charity Comp 2020!

We have a very special thing to announce today - our first charity compilation is out now!

All proceeds go to benefit TIGERRS, an awesome local trans/intersex advocacy group. Check out the link to learn more!

Special thanks to Why Not, Partition, Floodwater Angel, Natalie Fideler, With Iowa In Between, Doggy, VIAL, niiice., Gully Boys, 4th Curtis, Kate Malanaphy, Keep for Cheap, Internet Dating, NATL PARK SRVC, Juniper Douglas, Alien Book Club, Hawt Glü, Allergen, Dad Bod, and Brace Cove Records for being a part of this!

Buy the compilation below! Thank you (preemptively) for supporting TIGERRS!

2020 Charity Comp by Ear Coffee

Why Not - "No Suggestions Here" | New Music

(Cover art by Isaac Dell)
I think this might be what a Why Not ballad sounds like. It's all relative.

The Minneapolis trio are ringing in the new year with a new single, following up October's switch-up "Ding Dong." If one were to guess what the band's new year's resolution is based on "No Suggestions Here," it would likely "be more deliberate" or "slow down" or something like that. This is the most subdued they've sounded. As a result, it almost doesn't sound like Why Not (at least until the last 30 seconds). I'm all positive that's what they were going for.

With such a dramatic decrease in cacophonous guitars and overall scuzziness comes space. And that space needed to be filled with something. A continued partnership with Caleb of Normal Parents has filled those gaps with a coterie of weird sounds - skittering electro drums, a chime that sounds like it came straight from a N64 game, more synths that you would expe…

Ben Abrahamson, EVV, Flowerstalks, Taylor James Donskey, Greentop, The Key Kids, Hawt Glü, Alexander Natalie, Baumgardner, and Oftener | LMR

It's the first (and hopefully not last) Local Music Round-up of 2020! The passage of time is meaningless! My first column of the year tends to end up focusing on what I missed from the last couple of months in 2019, whether it was due to a focus on our year-end content or the fact that I can't manage my time properly. I missed a bunch of great music, so now is the time to catch up. Here's some gems of 2019 (plus one from 2018 and also Oftener).

Ben Abrahamson - "Fireflies" (self-released)

I can say with full confidence that I never expected to be writing about an acoustic Americana instrumental, but here we are! Ben Abrahamson is a local guitarist with a more extensive background than I think anyone has a right to have - I mean, he studied flamenco in Barcelona. His latest song "Fireflies" is a winding, idyllic snapshot of a humid August sunset. Rich chords trade playful blows with a smiling banjo line. Like the slowly-building clouds before a thunderstor…