Thursday, April 24, 2008

Crescent Moon is in Big Trouble

What a difference a day makes. Less than 24 hours after reviewing M83’s dream pop gem Saturdays=Youth, I am back with what may be the polar opposite record as far as style and feel are concerned. The new record is a Minneapolis based rap album entitled Crescent Moon is in Big Trouble. The cool part is that, like Saturdays=Youth, I have nothing but good things to say about this album. In fact, the two albums could be a case study in contrast. Where S=Y was slick and detached, Crescent Moon….is the epitome of gritty and in your face. S=Y was indented to (and succeeds in) creating soundscapes that give the listener a chance to escape into whatever world they want to go to. Crescent Moon is in Big Trouble is the story of the people living around the corner in the rough part of the town that M83 spent his album celebrating.

The album is a combination of the talents of two heavyweights in the Twin Cities hip hop scene. This album brings together Crescents Moon’s gritty, emotional and abrasive lyrics with backing by Big Trouble’s pulsing rhythm section and searing lead guitar parts. Crescent Moon is the lead man behind local rap groups Kill the Vultures and Odd Jobs. He also plays guitar with his wife as folk duo Roma Di Luna. I think the thing I like most about him is that I equate him in my mind as the hip hop version of Mark Lanegan. Everything he does has an authentic feel to it while not making music typical to their genre. I would not go as far as to say either is avant garde, but both definitely do not toe the line with the mainstream ideology of their respective musical fields. Big Trouble is the name of the side project for members of local hip hop band Heiruspecs. Big Trouble came together to play instrumental hip hop and to work with various vocalists from the Twin Cities area. Their work with Crescent Moon went so well that they decided to record an EP. Lucky for us, because Crescent Moon is in Big Trouble is a great record.

The 6 song EP is heavy on driving rock music with Crescent Moon’s smoky drawl switching back and forth between sad and angry. He epitomizes a lot of what I like about indie hip hop. There is no bragging or threatening, no degrading slams towards undeserving foes (although he seems to have an intense dislike for crack heads). His lyrics are thought provoking and engaging while never venturing into the ever dangerous preachy territory. The EP leads with the searing “Hunting Season”, which starts out in a dead sprint and never loses speed over the nearly 4 minutes. Crescent Moon has a smooth delivery that switches between grimy singing and a well paced flow. As the anger from “Hunting Season” subsides, your speakers are suddenly filled with the epic sadness of “Broken dishes.” The song chronicles the emotional train wreck that happens with domestic violence situations. The rest of the EP continues on this emotional roller coaster that grabs you from the first seconds and does not let up. The record ends with a scorching cover of the old blues song “St. James Infirmary” that lets Crescent Moon show off his singing pips and lets Big Trouble really stretch their musical legs.

As far as local release go, this is one of the stronger records I have heard in the last couple of months. Although they are not a full time band, I can only hope to catch these guys live and that they decided to continue their relationship between their other (equally excellent) main projects. Check out their myspace page and buy their CD. You can buy the EP right off of the Afternoon Records (the great local record label) website right HERE. (If you buy soon, you get two tickets to the Afternoon Records showcase this Sunday, which should be great.)


Wednesday, April 23, 2008


For the last year and a half, when there was a sunny day that left with that optimistic feeling you get daydreaming while driving with the windows down, the soundtrack was usually Person Pitch by Panda Bear. Person Pitch now has company, and it comes courtesy of French electronic artist M83. His new album is titled Saturdays=Youth and is a brilliant take on earthy and warm electronic music that seems so rare in a cold and calculated genre. The title is very reveling as the album can recall both the exhilarating and exciting events mentioned in the title. The songs are rich and textured and reveal more and more layers upon each listen. It is an album that is as rewarding on a car stereo blending with the whistle of the wind as it is being dissected in your headphones on a walk at dusk.

I will not do the album the injustice of picking favorite tracks, as it is an album in the truest sense, like Loveless or any Sigor Ros Album. You can lose track of time and space within the warm confines of this record once you hit play. This is an epic album that could have fallen flat on its face, but it is a constant success from start to finish. The lyrics that do sprinkle the album are funny and tongue in cheek, and only serve as an additional supplement to the great soundscapes that M83 has produced.

For all of the accolades I have just showered on this album, there is a disclaimer. This is not a hands down, no criticism allowed record. I could see people not liking the new-wavish sounds or the disconnected feeling of some parts, and there are days where I prefer music that is more lyrical based, but I feel like that is why this album has had such a strong impression on me. This is an album that can be a genre crossroads for fans of non electronic music (in the same way I think Person Pitch is.) If you are looking for some mood music (and I don't mean Barry White), this is an album that permeates that first whiff of summer and is an overall great record.

Check out the mp3 from the first single below.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Make My Funk the P-Funk

George Clinton is bringing his trusty band of side kicks, the one and only Parliament Funkedelic, to the First Ave Main Room. Tickets are $25, and I will be the first to acknowledge that this isn't the underwear and spacesuit wearing super group of yesteryear, but P-Funk is more than a classic group, they are an institution. With too many classic tracks to even start naming, this is going to be a great show.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hot Chip 1st Ave 4/18

Good dance-rock bands are hard to come by, but when they do…. watch out. After seeing LCD Soundsytem last year opening for Arcade Fire, I was convinced I would never see a band meld those two genres so perfectly and play such amazing music ever again. I was wrong. Although I still would not be able to place them above LCD Soundsystem (simply because they have never written a song as good as “All my Friends”), Hot Chip came closer last night than I ever imagined a band would.

Where LCD Soundsystem seemed to try to reject the dance-rock genre (they played all live instruments and avoid flashing lights and anything resembling a rave), Hot Chip took the best of the scene and ran with it. They seemed to set themselves up to fall into the traps set by this narrow genre, but they never disappoint. They had some ironic clothes, but it did not take away from the solid songs and great energy from the stage. They had some trippy/stop motion lights, but far from seeming like a distraction for repetitive music, it added to the highly visual aspect of the show for those of us watching (compared with the people dancing/flailing their bodies around). Their songs, which can sometimes lag on records, came alive at First Ave with a great mixture of their deft instrumentation and electronic jangling layered with their white boy soul.

They played all of the highlights from their last two records and had the sold out crowd in the palm of their hands as they went back and forth from their propulsive electro dance jams to their newer, slower ballads. They ended the night with a cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2U”, which I thought was hilarious. Most bands lamely call out Prince or Husker Du or the Replacements, but Hot Chip took the next step. Although it is not my favorite song and I could have lived without it, it was a funny touch to a great night of music. Hot Chip are that rare band that seem easily able to mix the ironic with the needed substance to produce great music. I would recommend both of their last two Cd's, The Warning & Made in the Dark, and would unequivocally say that if you get the chance, see this band.

Touch Too Much from Made in the Dark

Get off yr ass (A friendly reminder of the cool shows the week of 4-21)

The weather is getting nice, so why not spend a beautiful evening inside, right? If I missed any shows, let me know.

Mars Volta- Roy Wilkins 7PM $28
Space rockers bring their 10 minute jams to an old hockey arena.

Stars of the Lid- Southern Theatre 8PM $16
MPLS gets in on the “wordless music” series.

Atmosphere- 5th element Midnight FREE
Your chance to get a hold of Atmosphere’s new album and meet the men behind the legend.


Michael Ian Black- Coffman Memorial Centre 7PM Free
Free stand up comedy to start the U of M “Spring Jam”
Haley Bonar- St. Paul Student Center 7PM $5
More from Spring Jam. Sweet, sultry voiced folk rock.
Poison Control Center- The Whole
One of my favorite “local” (Iowa) bands plays at the U of M.
The Blind Shake- Memory Lanes
Noise rockers in a bowling ally. Sweet.

Happy Apple- Artists Quarters 9pm $12
MPLS jazz kings bring their cool rock covers (and great originals) to a great jazz spot.
Ben Kweller- Riverbend Plaza 9PM FREE
Kweller plays his un-offensive pop rock by the river. Hey, the price is right.
Cloud Cult- First Ave $15The band will be celebrating their new CD with this headlining show at First Ave.
Kids in the Hall- Orpheum $35-$47
Some comedy for the kids from back in the day.

Earth Wind and Fire- MPLS Convention Center 5PM $55-$550
Not my band by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a benefit for the PACER center, which is a non-profit that works with people who suffer from disabilities, so if you know an EWF fans, tell them to head out and support a great cause.

Happy Apple- Artist Quarters 9PM $12

Afternoon Records showcase- First Ave 5PM $6
A chance to see some amazing local music from one of the coolest record labels in town. Bands include WHG favorites Battle Royale, Mouthful of Bees, Poison Control Center, Haley Bonar and many more. Highly Recommended.

Happy Apple- Artists Quarters 8PM $12

Friday, April 18, 2008

ANOTHER new show

It just keeps getting better and better. First the triple bill posted below, and now the Islands. They will be playing at the First Avenue Mainroom on June 3rd! It is amazing how the summer weather sure draws bands to our fine city (or is it the winter keeps them away?) Again, I will let you know any more information when I find it out, but until then, you can check out some music from the Islands from one of my previous posts right HERE.


CSS/Go! Team

Should be an awesome show. It is cool to see a bill of bands that you would go see separately. I will post something when tickets go on sale. If you are not familiar with these bands, I highly suggest both. Neither will change your life or offer mind blowing social commentary, but they are really fun and should be great live.

CSS Myspace
The Go! Team

Destroyer 400 Bar

What a disappointment. Destroyer came into town Wednesday night to play a show at the 400 Bar as the first stop in his tour to support his great new CD Trouble in Dreams. I haven't left a show that let down in a long time. I don’t really feel like writing a real review, so I will just post some thoughts.

-Was Dan Bejar fucked up? Either he had not slept for days, took too much of something or he was bored silly onstage.

-Was that the lamest crowd ever? There would be cheering for 10 seconds after a song and then silence. Any energy he did have definitely wasn’t from this middle aged, comatose crowd. I think he may have been considering another encore but everyone just left.

-Someone mocked the sound guy, and rightfully so. The vocals are essential for the songs being played, there was no reason for the fact that the bass was drowning them out.

-It is hard when you really love an artist on CD and then they completely bomb live. Does it change your feelings towards a CD in the same way that an amazing show makes your appreciation for a CD grow? I know I will always like Destroyer’s studio output, but this makes me re-think where Bejar and his band stand in relation to other bands.

-I have seen him before (P-Fork 2006) and he was much better than this. Maybe he was sick or tired, and this was the first stop on the tour (they made tons of mistakes and seemed like they had not practiced….lots of songs just kind of trialed off instead of ending), but for a band charging $15, I expect a semi-professional show. I am not saying I want a note-for-note replay of the CD, but I also don’t want the songs to sound flat and I don’t want to get the feeling that they put zero effort in.

Bon Iver remix

Here is Bon Iver's remix of a Rosebuds song from one of my favorite albums of last year, Night of the Furies. Why didn't he bust out the laptop and play this last weekend? C'mon Justin. As for the actual song, who knew he also had some remix skills? I don't think many people would have guessed that. Cool Song.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

New Animal Collective

No would would accuse Animal Collective of resting on their laurels. Just a few days after letting fans get a preview of their new EP, more new music has been released. They always play new material live (they play music ahead of albums instead of after they are released) and this is a song that they have been previewing on their most recent tour.

"Brother Sport"

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wolf Parade-Call it a Ritual

One of my favorite bands from the last couple of years, Wolf Parade, release the first song off of their upcoming LP. Still haven't seen a conformation on the title for the record, but it is out in June. This keyboard heavy, predictably dark and moody rocker sounds like a logical step from their magnificent debut Apologies to the Queen Mary. I have very high hopes for this record, I just hope Spencer and Dan did not use up all of their magic on their numerous (very good) side projects. Judging from this first song, Wolf Parade is going to be just fine.

A couple of gems from Apologies....

I'll Believe in Anything (Live)
Modern World (video)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bon Iver Turf Club 4/13

It is amazing what 6 months of hard touring and experience can do to for a band. Case in point: Bon Iver at the Turf Club Sunday night. After seeing Bon Iver (the stage name of Justin Vernon and band) last October, he has done nothing short of blow up. The last time I saw him, he had just received a glowing review from Pitchfork and was playing what he called his “first big show” in Minneapolis. He was also quiet and nervous, almost shaking onstage during his slow, down tempo songs. When he played For Emma highlight “The Wolves (Act I and II)” last year, he asked the crowd to sing along, which is hard to do with only 30 people. It was no problem last night as the hundreds who had packed into the Turf Club let their voices soar. The effect was stunning. It was not only a transcendent moment for the crowd, you could see Vernon shaking, not from nerves like before, but from an unbridled passion that almost lifted him out of his chair. Last year he hid behind his guitars and had his sole band mate, his drummer and co-vocalist, sitting side by side with him in what seemed like an attempt to divert attention. There will be none of that anymore.

Vernon is the reason that there were two sold out shows on back to back nights, and it seems that this fact is finally sinking in. The show was a resounding success, with many moments of pure magic. This is a man with abundance of talent who is coming into his own as a power in the music scene. For this show he added another guitar player to really dig up the effects that floated through For Emma… and brings them out. By adding this powerful counter element to Vernon’s subdued guitar playing and his Jeff Buckley/Ben Harper/ Tunde Adebimpe-esqe plaintive falsetto, the music went from being a folksy version of TV on the Radio to sounding like a spot on (or better) version of TV on the Radio. Bon Iver, in whatever form the band may take, are the real deal. The CD obviously shows a talented group, but my previous experience with their live show was simply that they were just playing the songs from the great CD as they were.
My experience last night was that they were taking these amazing post-folk songs and stretching them out, finding what may be inside of them. What they found is something that I think left a great impression on every person at the Turf Club last night and will continue to astound anyone who is lucky enough to see this rising talent.

Openers The Wars of 1812 were a good band with lots of room for improvement. Their recording had sounded to me like a more pop version of Wilco mixed with Spoon (just like another local band, The Alarmists, whom they also sound like), which I thought could translate well live. I assumed the studio glare would wear off and leave a roots-rock band with some good songs. What I saw was a band that sounded less like an indie derivitive and more like a generic mix of pretty much all of the standard indie rock influences. They had, as I had hoped, lost the studio glare, but it was not in the way I had expected. They seemed disjointed and the bass player seemed like she had won a contest to play with the band. She seemed both in shock and awe and uncomfortable to be on stage. The singer had a good voice and had some great songs to work with, but there was something missing. (It may have been the technical difficulties that were plauging the band all set), but whatever it was, you could just tell it wasn’t there last night. I would see them again, and I can tell from their recordings that they are a talented band, but there live show on this night left me wanting more. The highlight for me was the great keyboard player. The big guy behind the small keyboard. I kept thinking of Chris Farley in Tommy Boy doing the "big guy in little jacket" routine. His playing was perfect and I thought he really carried the band with his sound and energy behind the keys. I think The Wars of 1812 are going to keep gathering steam from the local scene and I think in time they have the potential to be a very good band.

Get off yr ass (A Friendly reminder of some cool shows in MPLS/St. Paul)

If there are any shows you think I missed or want your show added, email me at jdkeller1 (at) hotmail (dot) com.
Plastic Constellations Electric Fetus Free 7pm
Soon to be gone MPLS based art rockers play a free show at the Fetus.

Destroyer 400 Bar 9pm $15
Canadian indie folker brings his whimsical pop songs to the venerable west bank bar. Highly Recommended.

Solid Gold Uptown Bar 9pm $5
MPLS’s own indie dance rockers bring it to the yuppies in uptown.

Kimya Dawson Cedar Cultural Center SOLD OUT
People who first heard of Kimya Dawson from Juno scooped up all the tickets. Sorry.

Alpha Consumer/Andrew Broder Turf Club 9pm $5
Two cool local bands (I am calling Andrew Broder a band because I assume he will play music from his band FOG) that take a different spin on the typical indie rock formula.

Voltage First Ave 7PM $20
A show in which they take local bands and dress them up like human dolls.

RJD2 First Ave 6PM $15
Indie-rap producer brings his cool hip hop to the main room

Kill The Vultures/Story of the Sea Triple Rock 9PM $8
Local roots-rap artist Crescent Moon takes a break from his folk band Roma Di Luna to go back to his previous group for a show at the Triple Rock.

Bret Michaels 7PM Myth $35
Just Kidding

Yeasayer/Man Man Varsity Theatre $14 9PM
A great double bill. I can vouch for Yeasayer and how amazing they are live. If I wasn’t already going to be at another show, there is nowhere else I would be. They are opening for Tom Waits loving rock weirdo’s Man Man. Highly Recommended.

Hot Chip First Ave 9PM $15
Hot Chip coming to town behind their great new CD, Made in the Dark, which I hope will sound as good live as I expect. Highly Recommended.

Kill The Vultures/Seawhores/Mel Gibson and the Pants 7th Street 8pm $6
A really great triple bill of local, non-conformist music. Kill The Vultures and MG & TP bring different versions of indie rap while the Seawhores will bring the noise rock. A good chance to see the wide variety of talent in our fair city.

Welcome to the Terror Dome w/Chuck D Oak Street Cinema 8PM $10
Movie about Public Enemy with Chuck D present to introduce. Sweet.

Saul Williams Varsity Theatre 9PM $15
Poet/rapper Saul Williams will be spewing socially conscious rap for the college kids.

Plastic Constellations/Doomtree First Ave 9PM $6
Plastic Constellations are pretty much a sure bet live at First Ave. Doomtree will bring their whole crew to open this show.

Kraftwerk 7PM Myth $38
Indie legends Kraftwerk are playing in a former shoe store in a crappy suburb. And tickets are spendy as hell. What gives?

Chuck D/Brother Ali/Slug The Fitzgerald 8PM $22
The latest installment of the Currents Fakebook series brings one of the biggest legends in rap to town, Public Enemy frontman Chuck D. If you only know Public Enemy from Flavor Flav, do yourself a favor and plop down $22 and see this. Slug will also be part of the discussion and Brother Ali will perform.

The Debut/Little Man 9PM Turf Club
Two cool local rock and roll groups bring their fun and upbeat songs to St. Paul

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hojas Rojas

Hojas Rojas, a Minneapolis based indie rock band, have recently released their sophomore album entitled Helium, and are about to embark on a short national tour. Their off kilter indie rock is mixed with a strong sense of the history of the Minneapolis rock scene. The song I received (and posted at the bottom) is called "The Girl Song" and is a fast burning rocker that is both grand in scope and heartfelt in presentation.
With the Pavement-esqe rhythm change and the Bloc Party indie riff for the intro, what carries the song is the boatload of drunken, emotional wailing let out by the lead singer. His plaintive scream takes this song and helps carry its jittery melody and holds the listener in through the frantic music. If not only in style, then definetly in emotional spirit, they convey the spirit of many Minneapolis bands that have come before them, from the Replacements to the Plastic Constellations. The down and out, only you can save me mentality that makes good rock and roll music become great is present in this song. I can image this frantic music and wild singing would present great theatrics for a live show. Check them out if they are coming your way.

Apr 23 2008
Echo Base Collective
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Apr 24 2008
The Lager House
Detroit, Michigan
Apr 25 2008
Rancho Relaxo - Two Way Monologues Showcase
Toronto, Ontario
Apr 27 2008
New York, New York
Apr 29 2008
The Annex
Madison, Wisconsin


I recently found local rapper Guante while surfing some music websites, so I thought I would pass his music along. I will be the first to admit I do not have an extensive knowledge of current rap music, but that has come mostly out of complete disillusionment for what I consider a mostly failed genre. To me, mainstream rap music is at the point that rock and roll was in 1987, when hair metal was what people thought represented the entire body of music. I don't think generic rap artists can get much lower and less original than they are right now. Above and beyond being lame and contrived, I think that they sent bullshit messages to kids who do not know any better than to believe what they hear.

Guante sounds like a cross between Common and Immortal Technique, which is probably why I was initially so interested. A lot of "indie" rappers (especially Rhymesayers and friends) have developed a similar sound (soul samples and a laid back, semi-socially conscious flow) that has become their brand in the same way that crunk or gangster rap is a comfort blanket for fans of other sects of rap. I do not dislike this "mainstream indie" rap, but I find a lot of it to be a less offensive versions of 50 cent and company. The rap artists that seem to get and keep my attention now have been the ones who go out of their way to say something provocative. I love that Minneapolis has so many rappers willing to speak their mind. (M.anifest, Brother Ali and Muja Messiah come to mind, but there are others)

Guante defiantly falls into this category. Upon further examination, I found he is fighting against a lot of the dumb shit that turned me off from hip hop so many years ago.
"As an activist and educator, I’ve facilitated university-level courses dealing with racism, sexism, homophobia and identity in general, helped organize countless social justice-oriented conferences and events, written for and edited a number of publications and helped raise money for progressive organizations through benefit shows, compilation CDs and more."

Above all of his good work, his music is very solid. His rhymes are both entertaining and thought provoking, guided by bouncy and soulful beats that help propel his message. If you are a fan of Common, Immortal Technique, Saul Williams, Boots Riley, Brother Ali, or any other talented social activist rapper, then check out Guante on his myspace page and support him at his shows/poetry reading around MPLS. His new CD El Guante's Haunted Studio Apartment comes out in June.

Water Curses

New jam from Baltimore acid rockers Animal Collective. The song, which seems like it would fit in more with the bubbly jams of Feels than last years Strawberry Jam, continues the great weirdness that Animal Collective seems to constantly deliver.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hold Steady Northrop

What can be said about the Hold Steady that has not already been said? Starting out with “Positive Jam”, they worked their way through all three of their studio albums and a couple cool new songs from their upcoming release, Stay Positive. The set list was similar to when I saw them a couple months ago at the State, but the crowd at Northrop was much smaller and significantly less boisterous. (A combination of free tickets only given to volunteers, the early start time, a blizzard and the conspicuous lack of beer at the venue) The band still brings a huge amount of energy, but they have (and always will) look better on a smaller stage in a more intimate venue. Craig Finn can fill up the stage, but they are a bar band who I feel feeds off each others' energy. When Tad has to walk 40 feet to be by his band mates, it takes something away from their aesthetic.

The new songs, “Ask Her for Adderall” and “Stay Positive”, both sounded like vintage Hold Steady. “Ask Her for Adderall” is one that I heard the last time I saw them and is a slower number that ramps up in the bridge and chorus, with Craig Finn asking for, you guessed it, the drug Adderall. It also includes the classic line “Tell her we opened for the Stones, they’re her favorite band except for the Ramones." "Stay Positive" was more upbeat and had a chorus with background of the "Massive Nights" “Wo oh oh oh oh” type vocals from Franz and Tad, with Finn singing “You gotta stay positive”. One song that was played last time that was missed was “Lord, I’m Discouraged”. Judging from these new songs, I am very excited for the July release of Stay Positive.

The rest of the set was highlight after highlight. I mean, c’mon, it’s the freaking Hold Steady, so the well is pretty deep: The raw energy of…Almost Killed Me, the epic scope of the Separation Sunday and the sheer genius of Boys and Girls in America. The Hold Steady could play any song from their catalog and I would be happy (although I do have favorites, but that is a personal conversation over drinks, not a blog post). The Hold Steady are one of my favorite bands of all time, so having a chance to see them for free was great, and like always, they did not disappoint. They said they will be back after the new album comes out, so if you have managed to miss the Hold Steady so far, make it a point to see them. You will not regret it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blitzen Trapper/Fleet Foxes 7th Street Entry

It is nice to run into bands that have the desire to make something new and interesting while not altogether trying to disavow the past. Both Fleet Foxes and Blitzen Trapper harkens back to a heavier bearded, more stoned and less pretentious time of rock and roll without coming across as clich├ęd or a simple facsimile of influences. Their (surprisingly) packed show last night was a wonderful example of how bands can keep one foot on the platform and one foot on the train.

Even though Blitzen Trapper was the headliner and the reason I bought tickets to the show, I will lead off with some thoughts on the amazing set by Fleet Foxes. I have been listening to the wonderful songs from the new EP, Sun Giant, in the recent weeks, but I still was unsure if the soft melodies and the calm, sunny and generally lazy disposition of the songs would translate well into a live setting. Sometimes bands cannot make people feel their songs live and they become a band that is seemingly there for the sake of being a band and having to tour. Luckily, Fleet Foxes are nothing like that. They were both bright and pretty and boisterous and rocking. The lead singer looked like Devandra Banhart, but to my joy, he was nothing like him. There was no “I’m a hippie” bullshit or quest to be mythical; just a skinny bearded guy sitting cross legged playing an acoustic and singing his (very good) songs. The band was rounded out by a lead guitarist, drums, keys and a guy who would occasionally grab a guitar and bass while singing in his bright falsetto vocals that were a wonderful accompaniment to the lead singer. I could not help but think of the amazing harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young while they were playing. Their songs came alive and their abundance of talent was beaming through the nearly sold out 7th Street Entry. They said they will be back soon, and I for one will be there and cannot say enough times that you should not miss this band if you get the chance.

Blitzen Trapper, creators of last year’s great album Wild Mountain Nation, came back to Minneapolis for their third show in the last 6 months. I had been disappointed in myself for missing the last two, so I made sure that I would be here for this one. How would I know that this band I love and had been waiting to see for so long would be upstaged by their opener? With that being said, I thought Blitzen Trapper put on a really good show. They were 6 strong and they used every inch of the stage to play their alt-country pavement post rock. Highlights were the “Wild Mountain Nation”, “Sci-Fi Kid” and a new number that was more of a slow burner (with the great line “I’ve lost the taste for judging right and wrong”). The band was sloppy, but that is no surprise given the nature of their CD. (I don’t think proficiency is high on their list of essential band functions). Blitzen Trapper, forgetting that they were shown up by their openers, put on a fun set that left me with no complaints.
Overall, you really couldn’t ask for much more than what was presented on a cold and dreary Wednesday night in the “heartland." I often think bands that are outside of the mainstream (“indie”) feel the need to ramp up the “weirdness” factor or try to completely ignore (if not outright reject and battle against) bands and genres that there is no way did not influence them. For some reason you cannot acknowledge that you listened to (or heaven forbid STILL listen to) Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young or Gram Parsons (or Rolling Stones or Big Star or…..). I admit that there is a fine line you must walk in order not to become a cheap imitation of these bands, but you also don’t need to have your style and inspiration dictated by current trends, which lose their original appeal. It becomes sad and tired seeing bands constantly have their finger to the winds of change. It reminds me of one of my favorite songs, “Losing my Edge”, by LCD Soundsystem (“I used to work in the record store, I had everything before anyone.” & “I hear everybody that you know is more relevant than everybody that I know.) Seeing both of these bands (and local opener Themes, who were very good for the 2 songs I heard) was very refreshing and renewed my spirits that there is, and always will be, bands that will carry the torch of good rock music while adding their own personal touch to the matter.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Get off yr Ass ( A friendly reminder of some cool shows in MPLS/ST. PAUL the week of April 7th)

Cloud Cult Electric Fetus 7pm free
Cloud Cult. Acoustic. Free. Any questions? No, then go.

Blitzen Trapper/Fleet Foxes/Themes 7th Street Entry $9
Blitzen Trapper, the gents responsible for one of my favorite CD’s from last year entitled Wild Mountain Nation, bring their country fried post-pavement rock to the entry. Both openers are very good indie rock bands that are sure to make this a solid triple bill. Highly recommended.

To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie Big V’s
Local noise rockers bring their subtle melodies and soaring harmonies to St. Paul.

Tapes N Tapes 1st Ave 8PM $11
Local blog heroes return to celebrate their new CD, Walk It Off, with an official release party at some former bus station.

Hold Steady Northrop Auditorium $not for you
The greatest band in the world plays for a bunch of punk ass volunteers. These idiots did stuff for free and we are rewarding them? Sick, just sick.

Jesse Malin Varsity Theatre 8pm $12-14
Ryan Adam buddy Jessie Malin brings his Pete Yorn type adult pop rock to some theatre on some campus.

The Black Keys 7th Street/1st Ave
This bluesy rock duo are playing an early invite only show at the Entry before their sold out show at 1st Ave later for the drunker crowd. If you win tickets, I demand you take me. These guys are awesome.

KRS-One Trocodaros
What can I say? KRS-One is great. If you are a self respecting old school rap fan, your ass will be here on Friday night.

Bon Iver/Collections of Colonies of Bees Turf Club 9PM SOLD OUT
Local freak folker does his first night of two at the Turf Club. Don’t know about the opener, but I can say that Bon Iver is a solid live performer, so if he ever gets off his Turf Club kick, check him out.

Caribou/Fuck Buttons Triple Rock 9pm $12
Caribou bring their moody, Beatles influenced indie rock to Minneapolis. Expect a trippy show. Hot buzz band Fuck Buttons open with their pretty/abrasive noise collages.

Elf Power 400 Bar
Elephant 6 Veterans Elf Power keep the indie pop psychedelic torch burning bright for all of the great E6 bands that have fell by the wayside (dear god Jeff Mangum, come back!!!!!).

Bon Iver/The Wars of 1812 Turf Club SOLD OUT
Bon Iver back for his second night of acoustic TV on the Radio-esqe folk. Tonights openers are local buzz alt country/rock band The Wars of 1812, who just celebrated the release of their new record, Status Quo Ante Bellum.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Mark Mallman

Local madman Mark Mallman will seen be taking his antics to a national audience. Mallman will take his piano pop and manic live show to stages from sea to shining sea. Before that, he will be playing tonight at the Rox in St. Cloud for myself and a couple of my friends (other people are invited, but usually it is just us). I have seen Mallman probably 20 times and I have never been disappointed. Maybe one day, if I go to a show and don't get piss drunk, I will remember enough of the show for a review. From what I usually remember, he plays his songs really well and rides his keyboard, so you should go see him.

Check out his tour dates at his website or his Myspace page.

The Creeper

The Islands are a band that I have liked for a long time. The main members began as a indie pop weirdo band called the Unicorns and they put out an amazing CD called Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?, which is a CD I still throw in frequently to lift my spirits (the song "jellybones" usually does the trick). When the Unicorns spilt, the lead singer (Nick Diamonds) took his drummer and started a new band called the Islands. They put out an equally weird and epic CD named Return to the Sea. The songs on both were poppy and psychedelic. They were both childlike (lyrically) and epic (7 minute new wave rock out jams). They still kept their sense of humor, with the first single from the album titled "Don't call me Whitney, Bobby", which honestly should be enough for anyone to buy the album and support these guys.

The Islands have a new album coming out in a couple week called Arms Way and judging from the first couple songs, they are taking a darker turn. Their live shows have gone from band members wearing all white to wearing all black (just like the Polyphonic Spree). The new song just out is a dark epic churner call "the Creeper". The direction the islands are taking reminds me of the changes that Of Montreal made on their latest album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?. Of Montreal went from a quirky pop band into a dark and brooding band (sound familiar?) with massive success. I thought it was the best thing the band has ever done and it one of my favorite Cd's from last year. Now, I am not saying that The Arm will be as good as Hissing Fauna, but I am a fan of bright and sunny bands coming back dark and moody, so I will say my hopes are up for this disc.

Here is the Islands new single, Creeper, from one of my favorite blogs, You Ain't No Picasso. At the bottom is the links for the Myspace pages of both the Islands and the Unicorns. Enjoy.

Vampire Weekend Triple Rock

I am sure this show will be covered wall to wall on other music blogs, so I will offer up a couple of thoughts.
1. Yes, Vampire Weekend is good (that comment is neither here nor there). Are they as good as some people are making them out to be? No. Are they as overrated and under taleted as some people are making them out to be? No. (Two of them were music majors, so you could argue the merit of their creativeness, but I would be hard pressed to accept criticism of pure musical talent)
2. I had read they were lame live, which I would argue. They put on an entertaining show. Now, I cannot say whether it lived up to everyone’s expectations, but that is each person’s problem. A band can only carry around the albatross of changing lives one afro-pop song at a time for so long before it becomes a bit ridiculous.
3. Some people look way too into things. Case in point: The girl after the show who was fawning that this “Made her so want to go back to New York” because they reminded her of New York and all of the smart and cool people there. Shut up. They did not remind you of New York, they reminded you of an American Apparel ad and a Sex in the City episode. I don’t know what parts of New York this spoiled bitch hung out in, but I am pretty sure a majority of people in New York don’t dress in dock shoes and preppy sweaters. If you miss it that much, go back, you won’t be missed.
4. I know I lack dancing skills; therefore I do not dance in public unless I am massively drunk. Other people should use this judgment also, not only for their sake, but for the rest of us who have to watch in horror with one eye because we cannot look away (like a car crash) when we really just want to watch the band.

The opener Yacht was cool, although I think James Murphy and his LCD Soundsystem crew could make a pretty good case in court for copyright infringement.

Plants and Animals 7th Street Entry

High expectations often times lead to big disappointments, so I generally try to avoid getting too excited for shows (most of the time I have too many shows on the schedule to even remember, let alone get excited for, a show), but I was very excited for the Plants and Animals show Wednesday night at the 7th Street Entry. Their new CD, Parc Avenue, blindsided me a couple weeks ago and has not left my constant rotation since. I was excited to see they were playing in our quaint little city across the border from their home, and from there my hopes grew in an accretionary manner. Too bad not a lot of other people felt the same.

It is never a good sign when you show up 25 minutes after the music is supposed to start and you are the fourth person there. An hour and a half later, when Plants and Animals had hit the stage, there was no more than 30 people at the Entry. Too bad for everyone else, they missed a hell of a show. Plants and Animal sound like the usual suspects from the Canadian indie rock genre. A couple epic Broken Social Scene/Arcade Fire gems, some Destroyer like vocal phrases and some Wolf Parade like freak outs. They also have a My Morning Jacket/Band of Horse type country rock groove. All of these things add up to a kick ass sound that exploded live. The three piece band was highly energetic and played a nicely paced 70- minute set. The highlights, like on the album, were the songs “Good Friend”, “Bye Bye Bye” and “New Kind of Love”. The band did not seem to mind the small crowd and was very appreciative and engaging with the small group. The only complaint I had was for their encore they jammed out a little too much for my taste, but with their exceptional musical talent, even that was pretty cool.

Like the Le Loup show (previous post) I image the next time Plants and Animals come through Minneapolis, there will be more people at the show. They are a great band that I can highly recommend on both record or live if you ever get the chance to see them.