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Showing posts from May, 2020

GrayBeat - "Fisherman's Gambit" | Premiere

GrayBeat is the solo project of multi-instrumentalist and producer Robin Sedivy. With his brand new single "Fisherman's Gambit," he ushers us into a new era for GrayBeat.
The scattered yet full-bodied "Fisherman's Gambit" sounds like it was recorded by a large Arcade Fire-sized band, with different instruments or chopped vocals phasing in and out of consciousness. Everything was recorded by Sedivy himself. His background as drummer lends itself fully to the immaculate kit playing on the track. The backbone provided by the drums gives support to the kaleidoscope of music contained within the song as a whole. Upon listening, one can immediately tell that each moment was tinkered with until it was exactly right, until the bass and myriad synths worked just perfectly together. Additionally, Sedivy recorded a whopping 26 guitar tracks.
While the craftsmanship is apparent instantaneously, the story being told is less clear. Sedivy told us:
The song tells the story o…

Warren Thomas Fenzi - "Live in the Atrium" | Review

There's a reason cutting a record, live on the floor, has the vibe it does, because you are putting lighting in a bottle. So when musician and engineer Colin Loynachan approached multi-instrumentalist Warren Thomas Fenzi about trying to capture that magic, the pair went all out with Fenzi's newest project, Live in the Atrium.

"I wanted to approach this project differently to that of past projects," Fenzi told Ear Coffee. "The main goal being to really capture the human aspect of acoustic performance in all of its imperfect glory."

Loynachan, Fenzi, the Kremblems (his backing band), and the Delphia Cello Quartet set out to record the album in the four-story-high atrium of the A-Mill Lofts, where they not only put music to tape but also shot a series of videos that feel less like individual performances and more like film vignettes. Fenzi's knack for storytelling combined with the vision of filmmakers Alex Munro, Garrett Wells, and Charlie Berg put in an el…

YYY - "Cool World" | New Music

YYY is the alias of Minneapolis' Austin Carson, a multi-faceted songwriter and producer. The project kicked off in a big way in 2017 with a front-to-back cover of the Beach Boys' classic Pet Sounds, featuring guest spots from artists such as Lydia Liza, deM atlaS, and Doomtree's P.O.S. Starting in March of 2019 and ramping up in the past few weeks, YYY has been teasing towards the release of his debut album aquadungeonafterdark (out June 19th). His last single is the effervescent "Cool World."
Carson's vocals and production recall the goofiest moments of Beck's discography, but injects them with a caffeinated-jolt of electro-pop. The technicolor joy masks a sarcastic disenchantment with the supposedly cool world; "Cool World" is the musical equivalent of smiling through your teeth. Carson matches whimsy with a too-good-to-be-true unease to great effect.
The eye-popping video for "Cool World" was created by Minneapolis animator and musici…

Sister Species - "Light Exchanges" | Interview

(Cover art by Cora Rose Nimtz)
Sister Species is the longstanding chamber pop project of Emily Kastrul, also of Betazoid. That funky synth band was how I was introduced to Kastrul's music at large, which subsequently led to Ear Coffee's coverage of the first two singles off of Sister Species' new album, Light Exchanges. Previously titled Still I Am Still, Kastrul and their six collaborators (including three trumpet players) created a love letter to stillness and the peace that comes with it. Allusions to nature and the elements flow in and out of Kastrul's lyrics, as they dwell on their relationship with things greater than any of us. I sent a handful of questions to Kastrul, who was kind enough to answer. The following interview has been edited and (minimally) condensed.
How did the current band that performed on/contributed to Light Exchanges come together? You worked with nearly all of them on the last two Sister Species records as well (2016's Closer Now and 2018…

Sister Catherine & Floodwater Angel | LMR

Sister Catherine - normie (self-released)
DIY is an ethos, a way of creating art, not a genre. That being said, some records scream "DIY" in the best possible way, no matter how it sounds. Sister Catherine's normie, released two weeks ago, is one of those records.
normie is more of a quilt than an album. Juniper Django, the project's mastermind, has stitched together a vast range of lo-fi styles to create a strange yet friendly mountain of music. The scattered feeling makes sense, since all the songs were put together over the last few years in various collaborations, often starting and ending as loose ideas recorded onto a four track. 
Another way of thinking of normie is as a sketchbook. Each page contains its own unique idea, but any listener can recognize that the same hand drew each sketch. While the looseness is apparent, this isn't a collection of demos, tossed online simply as an act of posterity. It may have began as that. Django has been toying with the re…

Lettering - "Corpse and Catholic" & "Better Hell" | New Music

(Cover art by PJ Rork)
Oh, how I've missed Lettering. The Chicago trio have blessed us with their first new music since last year's phenomenal Harbinger / Less Violent EP.
The two tracks only add up to just under six minutes of material, but Lettering packs as much punch as humanly possible in each. The A-side, "Corpse & Catholic," is bursting with waves of fuzzed-out guitars and emotive vocals. Defiance of one's past and the guilt of moving on fuels the intense energy. Instead of simmering in shame and complacency, the band fights back. The single's B-side, "Better Hell," kicks off with a drum pattern reminiscent of Foo Fighters' "My Hero." However, it doesn't dwell on it. Almost immediately, the band crashes in with another vigorous yet heavy song. Riff after riff builds the intensity to a shredding scream.
Listen to "Corpse and Catholic" and "Better Hell" below, out now via Brace Cove Records.

Careful Gaze - "Sunrooms" | New Music

Careful Gaze are continuing their streak of 2020 one-off singles with "Sunrooms."
All three tracks have depicted different emotional struggles, from existential loneliness to fighting domestic abuse. "Sunrooms" finds lyricist/vocalist Gabe Reasoner offering a testament to friendship and community in the wake of a flood of death. He grasps at the past while drowning in the present. Despite the claim that eloquence was left "dangling on a clothesline in the summer wind," each impressionistic line uses its poetry to capture an individual strand of the tangled web of human connection.
The band builds to a crescendo gradually. Most of the song's first part focuses on Reasoner's words and affecting vocals. He reaches into his trademark screamed range, but the rest of the band remains subdued. "Sunrooms'" peak arrives as a sea of gang vocals bursts in alongside Reasoner and repeats the chorus over and over. The bond being demanded ("I wo…

26 BATS! - "National Anthem" | Sunday Singles

Following up their January single, 26 BATS! is back with the next track from their forthcoming EP, Sweet Fang. This time the genre-fluid quintet is back with "National Anthem," a scathing look at the American existence and the privilege that "us white folks" enjoy on a regular basis. 

"National Anthem" hits you from the get-go as Bailey Cogan paints a picture of the apathetic middle Americans. "Mom's drunk and dad's watching TV / I think they're stuck doing the same thing," Cogan laments. The situation is a common occurrence in the Orwellian existence that seems to plague our world. Cogan croons over a smoldering r&b ballad continuing to pick at society's failures with its unflinching look at Flint Michigan and unrestricted consumerism. The track is unrepentant in its criticisms choosing brutal honesty in the hope that it may lead to future change before the world ends. 

"National Anthem" is out now. Listen to the tra…

VIAL - "Therapy" | New Video

Bands are in a rare position in which they can't record, tour, or play any local shows. But, as proved by the brand new video from Minneapolis' VIAL, they can release new videos.
The latest from the band is a choreographed piece to the lead-off track from VIAL's absolutely stellar debut album Grow Up. "Therapy" was remotely filmed and created by Movement X Media, featuring choreography from Sophie Boisvert and cinematography by Josie Nelson.
Depending on how long social distancing lasts, this might become the new normal for video creation. The Movement X duo came up with the concept on their own and shot it while under lockdown. Not only is the song phenomenal, but the video surpasses the limitations imposed by quarantine to create something truly special.
Watch the new video for "Therapy" below.

Fringe Pipes & Sister Castle Theater | LMR

Fringe Pipes - Whiskey Kisses EP (self-released)
Colin Loynachan wasn't sure if Fringe Pipes would ever come back. The alt-country songwriter and multi-instrumentalist put his project on hiatus shortly after releasing a debut album - 2015's Karma Bricks. Friends moved away and post-collegiate life came rushing in. A great deal has changed since then, but Fringe Pipes found a way back. Whiskey Kisses, the band's new EP, is a collection of some of the songs that Loynachan "managed to write...along the way."
While Loynachan's writing is unquestionably the core of Fringe Pipes, he has once again surrounded himself with a murderer's row of local collaborators. Singer and violinist Jillian Rae adds gorgeous backing vocals to two-thirds of the tracks and members of 26 Bats! and Lucid VanGuard play across several songs.
The music on Whiskey Kisses sounds wizened, even as the songs burst with life. Loynachan writes with a timeless pen without sinking into caricature.…

Dad Bod - "Spirits" | New Video

Dad Bod, simply put, are the best. After only releasing two songs, they've become one of the most revered bands in the Twin Cities.
Their latest single, "Spirits," has now been blessed by a fantastic new video, shot and directed by the one and only Keegan Burckhard. Pastel colors blur with echoing shots of the band. We don't get videos like this too often, but for Burckhard, it's par for the course. This is probably the best since "New Song No. 2." Watch the video for "Spirits" below.


Dad Bod will be releasing a new "stripped" EP on June 12, presumably consisting of the recordings that Callie Marino and Wilson Zellar have been working on lately. Maybe even "4/9" from the recent Brace Cove comp? Either way, we're excited. The band will also be releasing their debut record at the end of the summer (!).

Going Live With Love: A Charity Livestream and Fundraiser for Gambler's Daughter

The Minnesota music scene is a large and sometimes confusing place. This has only become more true during the global pandemic we're currently living through. However, many musicians have taken advantage of this time to come together and support the artists and people who need it the most. A prime example of that is "Going Live with Love."
On Saturday, May 9th, an incredible group of 26 local musicians will be performing as part of a livestream to raise money to help Jessa Roquet, the primary songwriter behind Gambler's Daughter. Just prior to the national shutdown resulting from COVID-19, Roquet was diagnosed with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, a rare liver bile duct cancer. We got a chance to talk with Roquet about the fundraiser and how she's tried to stay positive through it all. Listen to our interview below.

The livestream is from 11 am to 6 pm; tune in here. You can directly support Roquet by donating to GoFundMe and Caring Bridge or through Venmo (@Jessa-R…

Kate Malanaphy, Palm Friends, Superheater, & Jonny Darko | LMR

Kate Malanaphy - "i'll never (demo)" (self-released)
It's absolutely inescapable.
Just about nine months after the release of the ethereal masterpiece that was Soak, Kate Malanaphy quietly uploaded a new demo to Bandcamp. Any new music would be cause for celebration, but "i'll never" is their first truly solo song. Malanaphy played every instrument and recorded and mixed it. 
The looming piano that provided the basis for a majority of Soak has been subbed out for a lightly plucked acoustic guitar. Vocals match its evergreen peacefulness instead of bursting out like a gush of fog over a lake. In so many ways, "i'll never" is step in an exciting new direction. The main thing that has remained the same is the density of the emotion at the song's core. A constant burden is accepted instead of escaped. "I struggle to believe / I'll ever be without this heaviness" epitomizes begrudging acceptance. There may be a flicker of hope, b…

justgrey - "Any More" | New Music

Minneapolis' justgrey are back with their first single of 2020, again featuring the production work of Caleb Hinz. "Any More" has the band sinking into a hazy melancholy.

Even more than with "Harriet," justgrey emphasize a lo-fi bedroom recording sound. Hushed vocals barely hover over a plaintive guitar arpeggio; the more you listen, the easier it becomes to imagine the song coming to life at 6 am as the day's first ideas of sunlight ripple through the window. The band specifically wanted to emphasize a raw, simple recording — going back to basics and letting the songwriting speak for itself. Whispered lyrics capture a freeze-frame Polaroid of teenage love, regret, and uncertainty. Hinz gives the drums enough punch to contrast with the wistfulness of everything else, but not too much to overpower the strong sentiments at heart. It truly does sound like a bunch of teenagers recording in their bedrooms, pouring every feeling into their songs.

Listen to "An…

Optimal Crime - "Reaper" | Sunday Singles

After a bit of waiting, we have brand new music from the Twin Cities-based quartet Optimal Crime. The feminist hardcore act put out a three-song demo in December of 2018 and have now partnered with the Chicago record label Don't Panic Records and Distro to release their debut EP A Lifelong Fight.

The EP's single "Reaper" is nothing short of a pure outburst of energy. At just 47 seconds, Optimal Crime release an unrelenting torrent of sound. Guitarist Siobán Fideler, bassist Mike Giraliaco, and drummer Ace R. synchronize for frenzied blast beats while Alissa D.'s vocal stand defiantly in the middle. "Reaper" is uncompromising as Alissa lets the listener know the score. It's one of those songs that feels like it's over before it even starts, demanding you to press play again for another white-knuckle ride of absolute fury.

A Lifelong Fight is set to be released on June 3. Go preorder the EP and pick up a tape on Don't Panic's Bandcamp. You c…

Another Heaven - "Knot" | New Music

There are few bands in the Minnesota music scene that can translate the world at large into an all-encompassing wall of sound the way Another Heaven does. Their last release For Ever, released in 2018, was described by the band as a "crushingly heavy yet intensely melodic collection of songs that casts a jaundiced eye on the modern American wasteland." There's a certain nihilistic tint to the lens the band looks through, and before the world came to a halt, Another Heaven was in the process of putting together their debut record, but instead of sitting on that music, the band has decided to put out a three-part series of singles over the next few months. Each part in the series features two original songs and a cover.

Another Heaven kicks everything off with "Knot," a slow-burning track about the Earth destroying humanity. The lyric "A dying Earth's sweet revenge" floats among cavernous guitars and washing drums. It's a bleak response to our cu…

A Non-Comprehensive List of Who You Should Support Today

Hey! In case you didn't hear, Bandcamp is waiving their revenue share for all purchases today, just like they did last month, and will do on the first Friday of the next two months (June 5 and July 3 respectively). Virtually every band and artist you can imagine, DIY or not, has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which means they need all the help they can get. Bandcamp is one of the best ways to do that in lieu of going to shows. As a way to spread the love (and financial support), we're shouting out some of our favorites. Buy their music, get some merch if you can. This is by no means comprehensive, but we tried to pack in as many bands as we could (with a slight emphasis on more recent releases). All of these bands/artists are worth checking out and we love them dearly. If you can't afford to buy anything at the present time, stream these tunes on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal(???), or wherever you might want. Here's a playlist of some of our 2020 favo…