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!
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.
Sometimes a song gets tangled in with life, and the threads twist together for a while. That happened to me a few months ago during a trip to Indonesia. As I walked around Jakarta and Surabaya, Robert Wyatt’s song “Catholic Architecture” (from his 1991 album Dondestan) kept nibbling at the edges of my mind, tugging my perceptions. It goes like this:
On August 11, 1973, a young man going by DJ Kool Herc hosted a “Back to School Jam” in the rec room of the above building in the Bronx. That party is now recognized as the birth of hip hop. That’s right, hip hop is 40.
First layer: Blood and hate and keening grief. In the mid-17th century the Duke of Savoy pursues a brutal campaign to suppress communities of Waldensians living in the mountains of Piedmont. The Waldensians are followers of Peter Waldo, a Bible-oriented group excommunicated in 1215 because of their departure from various Catholic teachings. Despite repeated persecution, they have been able to establish small mountain communities. In 1655 an attempt at forced conversion meets with rejection, and is followed by an orgy of rape, torture, and murder that shocks Europe. 1700 men, women, and children are burned alive, dismembered, variously and gruesomely massacred.
In a music scene as crowded as the Twin Cities’, it can be difficult to stand out. This can be particularly the case when you are a gimmick free, rock trio playing loud, fuzzed out rock that would have fit in perfectly in late ’80s to early ’90s Massachusetts. Nonetheless, Fury Things is quickly finding their way to the top of the local heap and setting their sights beyond the Land of 10,000 Lakes. I recently chatted with the band about honest music, the Twin Cities music scene, and the future for Fury Things. After checking out the interview, make sure to head over to Bandcamp and pick up their 2 EPs for the price you want to pay.
Every year the Twin Cities benefits from Pitchfork Music Festival being in Chicago when several of the bands add a stop on their way to or from Chicago. This year that meant the first local date for the ferocious post punk buzz band of the moment Savages.
The show was at the 400 person capacity Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis, and sold out so quickly (despite shows at the Triple Rock selling out rarely enough that a sign on the door announced “Tonight’s show is completely sold out. Seriously.”) that a return date has already been added at the 1,500 capacity First Avenue Mainroom in September. If you read nothing else of this review, read this: See them now before the rooms get even bigger.
Boogie Down Productions – “9mm Goes Bang” (March 3, 1987): B-Boy Records
Formed in the Bronx (the ‘Boogie Down’) in the mid 1980s, BDP was made up initially of MC KRS-One (the name was his graffiti tag) and DJ Scott La Rock. La Rock was working as a social worker at the Franklin Avenue Men’s Shelter in the Bronx when he met shelter resident KRS-One. KRS-One initially dismissed La Rock as just another social worker, but the two struck up a bond when KRS-One arrived at a party to find his social worker behind the DJ equipment, and the duo soon began working together.
I admit it. I have a little Clark W. Griswold in me. So when the family was taking a trip down Interstate 35 to Omaha, NE for a wedding, I informed my wife and toddler that we would be making a stop in Clear Lake, Iowa for a little Americana road side experience. This particular road side experience, however, is a little macabre as well as a two parter: 1) The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, where Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. Richardson, a/k/a The Big Bopper, played there final show; and 2) the cornfield just north of town where their plane went down killing each of them as well as the pilot Roger Peterson. That’s right, we were exploring “The Day the Music Died”.
Memorial Day weekend in the Twin Cities brings independent hip hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment’sSoundset festival to Canterbury Park in Shakopee. This year’s festival promised to be the largest yet with headlining act Snoop Dogg supported by Rhymesayers’ artists Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Aesop Rock, and P.O.S, plus national acts Mac Miller, Tech N9ne, Juicy J, and Schoolboy Q among others. Also on the bill was the great Busta Rhymes, but for reasons as yet unexplained, Busta did not show for the festival. Neither that disappointment nor the unseasonably cool weather and strong winds, though, failed to dampen the spirits of the 28,000+ hip hop fans who turned out for the show.