2013 was another banner year for the Twin Cities music scene. Prince introduced his new band, 3rdeyegirl, and started making more appearances than he had in the last few years (including a pajama party at Paisley Park), The Replacements (well, half The Replacements) reunited to record some music to raise money for former guitarist Slim Dunlap and to play some out-of-town festivals (we’re still waiting Westerberg and Stinson…as if you didn’t know), local O.G.s The Suburbs and Run Westy Run also reunited, Low played a 30 minute festival set consisting of a single drone, and Rhymesayers snagged Snoop Dogg for Soundset. Oh, and on top of all that a ton of great new music was released by artists both new and old, with a ridiculous amount of that music being released by one local label that is absolutely killing it right now.
For my “Top 20 of 2013” list I limited myself to a single word or phrase about each album. I think the technique worked in that context because each of the albums on the list already had thousands of words written about them. When it comes to the top releases by Twin Cities artists, however, that isn’t necessarily the case. Accordingly, while I’ll still be limiting the amount I write about each album, there will be more information than in the Top 20. Of note, four of the albums in the Top 10, and several more honorable mentions, are available for free download. So, if you’re at all interested in exploring the Twin Cities music scene circa 2013, get downloading!
Bear the Sound – Anthrocene – Free/NYOP
Carroll – Needs – Free/NYOP
Deleter – 56789 – $3
Dem Atlas – Charle Brwn EP – Free
Frankie Teardrop – Tough Guy – Free/NYOP
Gloss – Front Porch 7″ – Free/NYOP
Greg Grease – Black King Cole EP
Low – The Invisible Way
Metasota – #BlackFriday – $1
The Suburbs – Si Sauvage
VANDAAM – s/t
Female fronted synth pop. VANDAAM is perfect chill music and shares a fair amount in common with Poliҫa, so if you liked #4 go to Bandcamp where VANDAAM is Free/NYOP.
Fury Things – EP2
Allan Kingdom – Talk to Strangers
Smooth, lyrics based hip hop. Kingdom’s style translates well to broader success as he gets his name out. Also had a remix included on Poliҫa’s Chain My Name EP. Talk to Strangers is Free/NYOP at Bandcamp.
The Cloak Ox – Shoot the Dog
The Cloak Ox are an indie rock band that has been around for what seems like an eternity in band years (although they were initially known as Fog), but they all keep busy with other projects as well (probably most well known is drummer Martin Dosh’s solo work as Dosh). Shoot the Dog is an album that routinely shifts genre, thereby avoiding being pigeon holed, and was released on Twin Cities label Totally Gross National Product (this will be a theme).
Pony Bwoy – s/t.
Pony Bwoy is a collaboration between Spyder Baybie Raw Dog’s Jeremy Nutzman and Hunter Morley. Ever since I first heard this album I’ve been trying to come up with a description for it, and I’ve failed utterly. It’s free from the label (Totally Gross National Product again), so just download it and tell me what to call it. Other than great, of course.
Dessa – Parts of Speech
Doomtree’s Dessa followed up the fantastic A Badly Broken Code, with another gorgeous album of poetry set to music. This time, though, in addition to the lovely “Skeleton Key” and “Sound the Bells” she also snagged an absolutely bangin’ beat and created one of the best tracks of the year with “Warsaw”.
Poliҫa – Shulamith
Put together a couple years ago by Totally Gross National Product, Shulamith is Poliҫa’s second full length (released by Mom + Pop). This album is a bit poppier than Give You the Ghost, but furthers the band’s experimentation with dark beauty initiated by that album.
Grant Hart – The Argument
Grant Hart’s interpretation of William S. Burroughs’ interpretation of Paradise Lost. If you like any of the things listed in that sentence, get this album. If you don’t know who Grant Hart is, who William S. Burroughs is, or what Paradise Lost is, go find out. I’ll wait.
Marijuana Deathsquads – Oh My Sexy Lord
Experimental electronic band on Totally Gross National Product (see?), Marijuana Deathsquads is another band that I struggle to define and I’m pretty sure that’s the point. The band incorporates a lot of hip hop (P.O.S. is a frequent member of the band) and just about any other sound they can put through a synthesizer or other effects system.
Lizzo – Lizzobangers
Lizzo is the queen of the Twin Cities at the moment. Last year her band The Chalice won The City Pages “Picked to Click”. This year she won it individually, and her other band GRRRL PRTY finished third. So things are going well for Lizzo. For her solo debut she enlisted Doomtree’s Lazerbeak for beats and released the album on…any guesses?…yep, Totally Gross National Product. Lizzo was raised in Detroit and Houston before relocating to the Twin Cities, and her hip hop style is influenced by all three places giving Lizzobangers a new, refreshing sound that not only tops my Top 10 Twin Cities Releases but finished #8 in my overall Top 20 of 2013. Needless to say, I’m a fan of this album.
An author and editor at MiG, Craig lives in Minnesota with his wife and son and is an attorney in his real life. Once upon a time Craig played the trumpet and spent four years in the Hawkeye Marching Band and pep band. These days Craig finds himself most often listening to experimental rock, hip hop, and post punk, but you can see everything he's listening to at: www.last.fm/user/cafreema Craig is not ashamed to admit the first concert he ever attended was New Kids on the Block.
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