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Title Fight - HyperviewTitle Fight – Hyperview

Punk bands usually age poorly.  Youthful anger often matures into adult satisfaction and neuters new music.  Happily, Title Fight seem to be avoiding this pitfall by exploring different sonic palates.  The first 5 songs of Hyperview are dreamy punk that show clear influences from My Bloody Valentine and progeny.  Track 6 and after, however, make quite the sonic switch to post punky (almost new wave) sounds reminiscent of the new direction Merchandise took on After the End.  Both halves of the album are excellent, but putting them together does make for a somewhat jarring listen.

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I listened to a lot of music this year.  According to last.fm I’ve listened to around 30,000 tracks, or an average of about 84 a day, in 2014.  A whole lot of those listens weren’t close listens and a lot of them were songs released prior to 2014, but a good number of them were released in the past year.  So while I certainly haven’t heard everything released this year, I’ve heard quite a bit of it and the below list is what I believe is the best.  Unlike most of the writers here at MiG I don’t focus my listening on one or two genres (unless you want to define my listening habits as “blog pop,” which is kind of accurate), so there should be something for most people here.  The blurbs about each album only scratch the surface of them, but I’m hopeful they will lead the reader to explore a couple of them more fully and that you find something you enjoy.  Happy holidays, and here’s to an even better 2015 (Sleater-Kinney is back, so that’s a good start).

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D'Angelo - Black MessiahD’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!  After 15 years and countless false alarms, D’Angelo’s follow up to Voodoo is finally here, and it’s exactly what I hoped it would be: Funky, smooth, sexy, hip hop infused, and glorious neo soul.  Lead single “Sugah Daddy” is particularly strong, but there isn’t a weak spot on the album.  Is it another Voodoo?  Probably not.  Unlike most long gestating albums from reclusive artists, however, it’s a worthy follow up and a fantastic addition to D’Angelo’s catalog.  It also has the benefit of making all previously published ‘best of 2014’ lists invalid.  Better get to revising NME, Paste, Stereogum, and Rolling Stone (well, you should have been revising already).

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Another year has come and gone.  2014 saw another new batch of bands arrive, some depart, and lot of great music get made.  As far as I’m concerned, 2014 in the Twin Cities will be defined by the teenagers who burst onto the scene.  Regardless of genre, it seems like a crazy amount of the best music was made by people who usually can’t get into the clubs they’re planning when they aren’t on stage.  That said there is still room on this list for a man pushing 70 and room at the top for a guy who suddenly finds himself a part of the old guard despite only having been on the scene since about 2006.

As usual, these are just my personal top 15 of the year.  I can guarantee I missed something despite my best efforts to avoid it.  In fact, City Pages just published a list of the best local punk albums of the year and I don’t recognize a couple of them.  So once I publish this list, I’ll be heading over there to explore.  For now, though, here are my favorite Twin Cities albums for 2014.

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Jessie Ware - Tough Love

Jessie Ware – Tough Love

Jessie Ware’s sophomore album comes a mere year and a half after her fantastic debut Devotion finally hit the U.S, and continues her exploration of R&B and electronic based pop music.  Tough Love is a mellow album that should make the perfect accompaniment to a winter afternoon spent under a blanket with a good book and your significant other, at least until “Keep on Lying” and its vaguely calypso beat (which oddly works despite sounding like a programed beat on an early Casio) kicks in and you put the book aside. 

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MiG jumps into the year end ‘Best of’ lists, with Craig McManus leading off with his Top 20 albums of the year:

In the past, I’ve always written a blurb about each album explaining it’s inclusion on my list.  Over the years of checking other people’s lists, however, I’ve noticed that I rarely read similar blurbs.  Instead I scroll through to see what made it, what I agree with, what I disagree with, and with what I am unfamiliar.  Then I move on to the next list.  As I highly doubt I’m alone in this technique, I’m going to dispense with the paragraph of explanation and instead simply note the word or phrase by which it is best encapsulated.  Think of it as a ‘Best of’ word association.  It’ll save me time, and perhaps someone will actually read it rather than skimming to the next image.

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Prince Tickets

As Atmosphere noted in their song “Shhh”, there isn’t a lot to brag about in Minnesota.  It’s cold, there aren’t really any tourist destinations (sorry Mary Tyler Moore statue) and the popular sports teams are varying levels of terrible.  One thing we do have, though, is the Purple Yoda himself: Prince.  Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis and while he has lived outside the state, Minnesota has always been his home.  That said, Prince hasn’t performed in Minnesota since a run of three shows at various venues in 2007.

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This is part of a series suggesting ingredients for mixtapes or playlists on a variety of themes.

Every December I put together a mixtape of what I find to be some of the best tracks of the preceding year.  I say ‘some of the best tracks’ because in addition to including great songs I have two main goals: 1) For the mix to actually be a mix of sounds and styles; and 2) for the parts to make up a coherent whole.

As I noted in my best albums of 2011 post, I found the year somewhat weak when it came to top shelf albums.  When I sat down to put together my favorite tracks that was not an issue, though, and I had to do some serious cutting.  So while this list gives me a chance to recognize a number of bands that do not appear on the album list, tracks like Bon Iver’s “Holocene” (ridiculously good despite my indifference to the rest of that album), Tom Waits’ “New Year’s Eve”, Low’s “Witches”, and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s “Heart in Your Heartbreak” ended up being elbowed out.

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Minneapolis is Funkytown.

No, really.

When Minneapolis natives Lipps Inc. released Mouth to Mouth at the end of 1979, disco was on its last legs. In the years prior, punk had exploded and seeded new musical movements that would become everything from new wave and post punk to hardcore and hip hop, but 1979 saw more direct attacks on the genre.  Everywhere you turned, from rock radio’s “death to disco” frenzy to TV’s anti disco characters on WKRP in Cincinnati, disco was quickly losing steam.  Even professional sports got involved in July with the Chicago White Sox “Disco Demolition Night”, which took its name quite literally when it detonated a crate full of disco records sparking an on field riot.  In the week following “Disco Demolition Night” each of the disco albums that had been in the top ten of the U.S. charts fell from that lofty position, and it seemed that disco was indeed dead. A few months later, though, Mouth to Mouth would provide disco with one more day in the sun through its hit single “Funkytown”.

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