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Showing posts from April, 2020

Sockhop Massacre, Griffin Energy Turtle Thiel, Little Lizard, & Prairie Clamor | LMR

Sockhop Massacre - "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" (self-released)

I guess this is a debut single?

Sockhop Massacre have built a reputation in their short lifetime as an off-the-walls live band. Their first official single "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" transfers that chaos from the stage to a streaming service near you. Good recording adds a ton, creating a dimension of immediacy that sets the track apart from any of their demos (which are still worth checking out — the Parquet Courts cover is especially sick).

Imagine a concoction that mixes the rhythm sections of post-punk, some surf-rock-esque guitars, and lo-fi vocals. Got it? You probably came up with something similar to "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques." The band comes across like they're on a mission from God and if they falter for ever a moment, everything will fall to pieces. It's a seamless combination of danceability and noise.

Listen to "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques&…

Colin Bracewell - "Back Together" | New Video

Musicians and bands have been struggling to adjust to our (no longer) new quarantine lifestyle. They have to figure out how to engage with listeners while they are totally incapacitated in their ability to play shows. Mostly that has resulted in Instagram livestreams of acoustic sets, maybe a mini-multi band digi-festival, maybe Minechella. Colin Bracewell and his band have found a unique workaround — recording a music video for a new song over Zoom .

"Back Together" was written in the wake of quarantine as a tribute to the cancelled U of M Spring Jam. While the song could ostensibly be seen as an ode to an individual, the true object of Bracewell's desires isn't a person. The thing with which he wants to be reunited is shows. "Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays / were meant for you" spells it out about as clearly as it could get. A sentiment that is weighing heavy on virtually every member of every band is bottled up and repackaged as an upbeat rock song. The fu…

Steven Sayles - "Should Have Known" | New Music

It takes a special courage to bare one's soul in their art, no matter the medium. Twin Cities guitarist and songwriter Steven Sayles dives headfirst into an ocean of sentiment on "Should Have Known," his first single in six months.

Sayles has produced wondrous, ethereal songs over the years, no matter under which name he releases them. His most recent work includes a pair of EPs (My 22nd Year I & II), several collaborations with Ambient Endeavors' Andrew Schibilla, and a quickly-growing catalog of tracks as Sayl (one even came out last week). Despite the constant output, "Should Have Known" is resounding in a way that already feels momentous.

More than anything, Sayles is rooted in grief. The song was written after his sister's suicide attempt and depicts the emptiness of unknowing in an absolutely gut-wrenching manner. His greatest curse is inaction; his guilt is borne of helplessness. The instrumental echoes the more guitar-heavy songs of Nashville …

Try Not to Breathe - "Stationary" | Sunday Singles

Live music may not be a thing currently, but we still have new music and new projects popping up that we can hopefully see live in the future. The first to bless us is the new art-rock project from Braden Fischer (formerly of Bob Ross Mob Boss, currently of Baumgardner), Kinsey Nephele, and Greg Siganos (Pinched.), Try Not To Breath.

"Stationary" is hauntingly beautiful from the get-go. Wilting guitar leads are underpinned by a fizzy bass rocking back and forth. It almost feels like that bass is the only thing keeping the whole song from just floating away. The whole affair turns up the 90's lo-fi slacker vibes as Nephele's vocals come in. Her voice is just close enough to be heard but stays aloof among the haze of guitars and drums. It's not until the last few seconds where we can hear Braden and Kinsey's overlapping duet, leaving us with a final line, "I find no peace in sleep, no stillness in silence, no calm for my heart."

Try Not to Breathe restl…

niiice. - "Sweaty Hamm's" | New Music

(Cover by Alexis Politz)
On this illustrious Friday, we've been gifted with a "new" song from Mineapolis' very own niiice. "Sweaty Hands" been a staple of the band's set ever since coming out at the very end of 2018 on the Brace Cove Presents (Vol. 1)compilation (where's volume two?). If the 2018 version was the song's first Pokemon evolution, then this video from DIY Prom last fall (filmed by Bethünni Schreiner) is the second stage, which in turn makes its official re-release as "Sweaty Hamm's" the third and final stage.

Do not fret, this is still the same song we know and love. It fully retains the air of anxiety and desperation so candidly depicted in Roddie Gadeberg's lyrics. The lopsided uncertainty of questions like "are you still there?" and "will it ever get better?" are flung into the open as an act of catharsis. Answers may not come, but sometimes all you can do is ask. Bravery is inherent in the act…

Bek Allenson, KYM, Sarlas, & Admiral Fox | LMR

Bek Allenson - "Jetta" ft. Alan6333 (self-released)

Bek Allenson is a new songwriter and producer based in Andover; "Jetta" is his second single.

"Jetta" is a skeletal electro song, matching scattershot production with Allenson's resonant voice. Despite the title, he sings of lost love and the arduous process of trying to move on. A sideways glance, a missed phone call, general emptiness — the gang's all here. Allenson layers his production piece by piece, adding in synth lines here or plunging bass notes there.

Things stay relatively subtle until the song crescendos with arpeggiated synths into a brief verse from Alan Coronado aka Alan6333. Coronado continues with Allenson's themes, but adds some punchlines for good measure. He's cut off mid-line, like he was forcibly yanked away from the mic. Like it was depending on his presence to continue, the song subsequently dissolves into a sea of bass.

Listen to "Jetta" below.

Jetta (feat. A…

Sass - "11:11" | Premiere

(Artwork by Stephanie Murck)
Following the release of their 2019 debut record Chew Toy, the grunge-pop quartet Sass showed they were anything but easily tossed aside. The record had the band's quick wit and petulant punk attitude on full display while handling some heavy topics. Stephanie Murck, Joey Hays, Alex McCormick, and Willem Vander Ark are now back with their first new single of 2020, "11:11."

Making a wish at 11:11 am/pm has always been used as a moment to speak a desire into existence. It's rare to think about the thing we desire most not being what we expected. From the get-go, Murck questions whether she made the right decision, circling back on the phrase, "I swear that I'd be fine alone." It feels like a tug-o-war as the band goes back and forth between the verse and chorus before Murck relents say,  "But now I know how it feels, and I don't want to let it go." Underpinning "11:11" is a wall of fuzzy guitars that grow…

The Florists - "Hold It Together" | Sunday Singles

Photo courtesy of The Florists
I don't think that it's an overstatement to say that The Florists make some of the most interesting music in the local scene. The trio of Jo Kellen, Jared Hemming, and Luke Michaels released their sound collage of debut record, Prayer Starter in March of last year. Now, the band is ramping to release its follow up full-length Hold It Together in just under a week.

While I don't think The Florists had any sort of knowledge of what the world would look like when they released the self-titled single, it's hard to deny the eeriness of putting out the song "Hold It Together" amid a pandemic. The single is primarily rooted around the chanted line "Hold it together / It's gonna be alright." Damn, do they get the most out of those seven words. The track slowly devolves from a simple drum beat and synth bass line to a surrealist look at what noise music can add - I'm pretty sure there's a slide whistle buried it ther…

Scrunchies - "No Home Planet" | New Music

It would be an understatement to say that we've been anticipating new music from Minneapolis' Scrunchies for a long time. Their 2018 debut Stunner was one of my favorite albums of the year — it was so good that I reviewed it for a different website. The band is back with a new song, "No Home Planet," a new lineup, and a new album on the way, and we couldn't be more excited.

Formerly a quartet, Scrunchies has reignited as a trio without losing any of their trademark ferocity. Stunner's producer Matt Castore joined on bass (while continuing to produce), with Laura Larson (also of Kitten Forever) and Danielle Cusack (also of Bruise Violet) continuing on guitar and drums respectively (they share vocal duties on "No Home Planet").

"No Home Planet" is a potent burst of catharsis. It doesn't need to be longer than two minutes because the band crams enough energy and punk glory to sustain a full album into the short timeframe. Each riff and groo…

Harper's Jar - "Thank You Ancestor Finger" | Album Review

There is no way to describe the anticipation that built up before Harper's Jar released their debut record. The band had already left an incredible mark on the Twin Cities DIY/DIT community with the Paperhouse that could be felt everywhere. Almost every conversation about local music over the last few months has somehow pointed to Thank You Ancestor Finger. I was even invited to attend a show by another band on the bill just so I could see what they described as "one of the best bands in Minneapolis." That band, of course, was Harper's Jar. Like everyone else, I'd listened to Harper's Jar debut EP Ode to a Luna Moth and was instantly transfixed with the band's blend of brooding '80s alt-rock and the cutting side of '90s grunge. When the record's first single "Dandy Golden Blue" dropped last November, I was beyond excited to see what was to come next. 
With all that momentum behind them, the trio of Devin Ware, Alex Dunn, and Kyle Kenn…

Fox Theory - "Mallory" | Sunday Single

(Cover art by Michaela Rose)
Fox Theory are back with their second single of 2020. Following the trend set by "New Beginning," "Mallory" is an exceptionally catchy emo-punk song with profundity hidden inside.

Most of the lyrics are the same, repeated constantly throughout the track. The invitation "Marry me, Mallory / every time I close my eyes" only grows in genuineness with each recurrence. It doesn't matter if it's an expression of romantic dedication or something more figurative. Over an ecstatic riff, Jack Daily never lets his voice match the musical intensity, instead remaining subdued as he offers devotion.

"Mallory" segues into a magnetic verse section about a minute in. Harris Worthman's drums go from driving to almost pummeling. However, the song remains at a gentle simmer. Daily mourns the melting snow and another "day of defeat." He switches the tone back to optimism with the aphorism "Life's about the lit…

Ear Coffee's Heavy Hitters | Winter 2020

As I spend more and more time inside due to what's going on outside, I've been finding that I've started to rely on that shot in the arm, a coffee with a little something extra added in, in order to get going. Since I rediscovered my love for heavy (dare I say extreme?) music over the last year or so, I thought it would be an ideal time to start up a column on metal, punk, and hardcore I've been wanting to write about for a while. Minnesota (and its immediate neighbors) churn out some amazing heavy music, so there's no reason not to check in every few months to talk about some of my favorites. There were a bunch of releases put out the tail end of last year that I hope to add to future editions, but for now, we'll stick to what was put out in 2020.
Former Worlds - Iterations of Time
Upon hearing the first single for Iterations of Time, I sent Wes a string of random descriptors before actually providing context that I was talking about the music of Former Worlds. …

Allergen - "Last Year" | New Music

(Cover by Téa McLawhorn)
One of the last objectively good things to happen before everything started collapsing as a result of a global pandemic was the release of Allergen's "Open Letter." The need has never been greater for new music. From the heavens descends "Last Year."

Gentle melancholy has been traded out for stumbling momentum. The song is swept along by the passing of time and plunging drums. Shannon Maroney's lyrics use the changing of the seasons to frame a portrait of continually attempted progress. The tug of war of self-improvement and seemingly inevitable failure feels lived-in yet remains evocative; similar sentiments are given different contexts to match each season (i.e. "It's fall / and I'm falling backwards"). "Last Year" also has one of the most devastating lines I've heard in recent memory — "While learning to swim, you can still drown."

Alongside the vividly emotional lyrics, the track bursts for…