Culture Bully’s Best of 2008 Guest Posts
Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: Interviews, Lists, Music, Twin Cities.
To close the year out, Culture Bully solicited contributions from artists sharing their year-end lists, reflecting on their favorite things of 2008.
Top Five Things I Could Not Criticize Any Longer in 2008 by Ali Elabbady aka Egypto Knuckles of the Background Noise Crew
Numerous folks in 2008 decided to use the auto-tune pitch correction software to make them sound like they could sing and carry a note. However there are two efforts this year that basically shattered my disdain for auto-tune and they came in the form of 808s and Heartbreak by Kanye West and Thr33 Ringz by T-Pain. For the longest time I wanted to write this off as a gimmick, but with T-Pain and Kanye’s albums this year, it was too tastefully done or just plain bangin’ for me to insult. Let me be clear (yes, Barack Obama) – Autotune is acceptable to me at least if used in a tasteful manner.
#2) Monotone Voices
By nature I’ve long been a fan of such folks as Tom Waits, Guru, Bob Dylan, moreso for the lyrical content and the way these three told some kind of story of feeling in the song. I, like many listeners or first time discoverers, had found no expression, no enthralling yelp or scream within either of these artists that could justify me claiming this type of stuff as absolute truth music-wise. But then I learned something, maybe it was just a way of sitting down and talking to me. It was like listening to a friend, it wasn’t very expressive, and it didn’t have to be.
#3) (Certain) Actors/Actresses Releasing Albums
Ludacris, Ice Cube, and Scarlett Johansson’s respective albums released this year were reason for worry. How could rappers turn actors or actresses turned singers not make something such as Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time” 2008? Ludacris, fresh off his acting stint in Crash and a guest spot on Law & Order: SVU – released the long awaited Theater of the Mind with two monstrous bangers such as “MVP” (produced by DJ Premier) and the track “I Do It For Hip Hop” (featuring Nas & Jay-Z). Scarlett Johansson got approval from Tom Waits to put out Anywhere I Lay My Head, which received considerable assistance from Dave Sitek (of TV On The Radio) and help from such notables as David Bowie. In addition, one comeback which was worthy of noting was Ice Cube, who had a welcome return to form with the new album Raw Footage which pretty much released the aggression that was missing from such efforts as War & Peace. You can always count people down, but you can’t count them out.
#4) Politics and its Relationship with Music, or Vice Versa
Evidence of this came from reading Pitchfork Media’s news section to find who blogging about their experiences of their father on the campaign trail and such noteworthy mentions of Stereolab? Meghan McCain. Yep, you heard right. Funny how she mentioned a Stereolab song to aptly state the current economic crisis and how her dad would be a good candidate. Damn shame that Sarah Palin was part of that ticket.
On the flipside, seeing the numerous musicians/rappers/entertainers all rally around Barack Obama’s campaign was very encouraging to help get the youth vote encouraged. Such folks as The Decemberists, Bruce Springsteen (!), and numerous rappers like Nas, Young Jeezy and countless others giving their endorsements to help encourage a change in leadership and a fresh new mindset with a can-do spirit. If nothing else it got tons mobilized especially when the RNC decided to stop on through. Rage Against the Machine Vs. Cowboy Troy, now that’s a death match worth seeing!
#5) Digital Music Stores (namely iTunes/eMusic)
Don’t get me wrong, I still go buy a shit ton of the physical albums in the stores. I am the addict in every new release Tuesday at the local (insert big name retailer here). However I still do dig at the mom and pop shops and shop for the good indie stuff at my local store when I can make it out there.
However one thing this year that has aided me this year in deciding whether to make the physical purchase a second time around has been the use of iTunes. Having to purchase a digital album for nine bucks on iTunes has helped reduce my spending plus get tons of extras with the albums I’ve purchased. For example, since I don’t have the advent of cable, there are downloadable videos. So taking the iPhone on the go helps with watching “Blue Magic” by Jay-Z or “Heartless” by Kanye West. Other times, since I purchase a shit-ton of DVD’s as well, it’s good to see the fact that they come with the iTunes Digital Copy to place for future watching when I am on the go helps tremendously as well. This year alone, at least 35-40% of my purchases were made on iTunes or eMusic. We’ll see how that trend continues in 2009.
Not Necessarily The Five Best Albums of the Last Year, But Rather Five Albums That Caught My Attention (And I Spent A Decent Amount of Time With) by Big Cats!
Prolyphic and Reanimator The Ugly Truth
This is an album I had been anticipating for a long time. I saw Prolyphic at the 7th St. Entry in 2006, and had been awaiting new recorded material from him ever since. I was familiar with Reanimator’s work through his work producing for Sage Francis. Pairing the two together seemed like a brilliant move by Executive Producer/Strange Famous Records founder, Sage Francis. Reanimator’s layered, luscious beats, full of change ups and surprises provide a perfect background for Pro’s raps. Speaking of raps, Prolyphic has taken another huge step forward as an MC, as he seems to with every release. He sets the bar so high with his verses on “Flashlight,” “Two Track Mind” and “On The Side,” it’s hard to imagine him continuing to improve. Pro is consistently on point throughout the album. His straightforward delivery, severe East Coast accent and working man style begin to grow stale by the end of the 50 minute plus record however.
The production is a little more hit or miss. There are huge highlights, like the brooding “On The Side” and “Artist Goes Pop,” but there are also some less than impressive tracks such as “Ugly Truth” and the album’s closer, “Playing With Old Flames.” It sounds like Reanimator took a shot at incorporating some live drums into his beats, and it sticks out horribly. Some of the mixes are peculiar as well, with some very strange panning (drums panned hard to one side, for example) and low end deficiency. Overall, The Ugly Truth is an impressive “debut” for Prolyphic and Reanimator, but could have benefited from more stringent editing.
Mike Mictlan and Lazerbeak Hand Over Fist
2008 was a huge year for Doomtree. With their debut crew record, Cecil Otter’s Rebel Yellow, a False Hopes or two and Hand Over Fist all dropping last year, it was hard to pick just one to write about. I found myself drawn back to Mike and Beak’s album more frequently than the others though. Like Prolyphic and Reanimator’s album, this is one I’ve been waiting on for a long time. Lazerbeak has been one of my favorite local producers for years now, and the more times I see Mictlan live, the more I want a record that captures his energy and persona. Well, shit, we got it this year. Hand Over Fist is a fantastic blend of Beak’s “Lava Bangers” and Mike’s in your face raps. The first half of the record is unbelievably hot (the intro beat is the most banging shit I’ve heard in a while), but the intensity trails off slightly after that. If this album were a couple tracks shorter, (say it skipped from Butcher’s Lament to Prize Fight) it would definitely be my album of the year. Regardless, this is album is just good rap. Clever writing, good delivery, hot as fuck beats, it’s all here. My only real complaint is the number of times “Doomtree,” “DTR” or “Doom Unit” is said (approximately 28 times per song). We know who you all are by now, let it go.
El Guante El Guante’s Haunted Studio Apartment
Don’t get me wrong, El Guante is one of my favorite MCs right now, but his debut full length is kind of a mess. If there was one word to sum up this record, it would be inconsistency. Guante has his fair share of “holy shit” moments (”Orwell Oh Well,” “Flicker”) but there are plenty of “what the hell?” moments (”Home Sick Home”) here as well. Guante himself is responsible for far more of the “holy shit” than the “what the hell” though. The rapping is top notch throughout the record, but the production and recording/mixing quality is all over the damn place. At nearly 80 minutes, the album is probably about twice as long as it should be too. Haunted Studio Apartment will undoubtedly earn Guante some new fans and a reputation as one of the Twin Cities most insightful, coherent rappers, but to really leave his mark on hip hop, the production end of things will need a lot of work.
Jake One White Van Music
Plenty of amazing beats here, ruined by some very uninspired verses from some of raps biggest names. “Kissing the Curb” for example, is a RIDICULOUSLY hot beat with Bishop Lamont rhyming all over it like a drunk frat boy minus the education. “I ain’t got shit to prove, unlike you fag-ass rappers that’s packaged on YouTube… you see a bitch when you peer in the mirror, I’m not you.. Bitch ass N…. got sand in they vagina… Prolly caught your girl on myspace, when she fucking you she seeing my face”. Really? Not to mention Busta on the bullshit hook… Brother Ali’s verse on “The Truth” makes him look like a god compared to the other horseshit raps that made the cut here. Jake One has amazing chops as a beatmaker and arranger, but good god, you got the worst of the worst rhyming. MF Doom contributes a couple Doom-esque verses that are pretty nice, and there’s Ali’s aforementioned verse, and Little Brother comes OK, but man, there’s really not much else here. If you can, pick up the instrumentals, skip the record.
Bernard Dolan The Failure
Maybe the best record top to bottom on this list. The premise is that rapper/poet/general awesome dude, Bernard Dolan, is the last man alive on Earth. There has been some sort of catastrophic event that leaves Dolan trapped in an underground bunker, drinking and arguing with himself. The record is an amazing combination of poetry, theatre, and rap. It may not be the most original concept, but Dolan pulls it off nearly flawlessly. Dolan’s versatility is in full effect, jumping back and forth from live spoken word to aural chaos, to self produced instrumentals, all without missing a beat. By far the most innovative record I heard this year. Didn’t really seem to get the push/recognition it deserved.
Best Concerts I Went To This Year by Big Zach of Kanser
1) Harvest Fest @ Harmony Park (September)
2) Soundset ‘08 @ Metrodome (May)
3) Heiruspecs CD Release @ First Ave (December)
4) Westbank Music Festival @ Nomad Parking Lot (July)
5) Big Zach’s Birthday Fest @ Cabooze (November)
The Top 5 Music Moments of 2008 by Bill Mike
#1) Biodegradable Music Download Cards
Yes, holding a CD or a record in your hand and looking at the art work and liner notes is a spiritual experience. I’m way with ya. But, musicians in an innocent way, actual contribute to the earth’s problems big time. You ever try to fucking tear that little security strip on the top of a CD? It takes me ten minutes and reminds me there are too many toxic components in a packaged CD. I love record stores and the people in them, but like any other business world these days technology is forcing all of us to be creative and smart. It’s a challenging music world right now, we’re in that transition phase that happens every few decades. Oh yeah, musicians can actually make a profit with these things and save a ton of dough on manufacturing. ARTIST FRIENDLY isn’t in the music dictionary so I’m thankful for the creators of these things.
#2) Cafe Maude
Um, the best and most progressive instrumental music can be heard at this little south Minneapolis spot and it’s free man. Go in after 9:00 p.m. when all of the Porsches are gone and bask in the tunage. Musicians get discounts and Kevin (owner) & Robyne (music booker) are the most artist friendly pro-musician people in town. Maude rules.
#3) RNC Music Marathon
I never saw so many diverse music events/benefits being hosted in one town in all of my life. Talk about some shit kickin’ causes. Minus the brutality of the Saint Paul Police, all musicians from every angle came together and played their guts out for their pro American rally’s. Now that’s punk rock and freedom of speech!
#4) Minneapolis Music Blockparties
Pizza Luce, Bryant Lake Bowl etc. Music is the urban uniter and brings all of the hermits out to celebrate all things Twin Cities. Good vibe central. I love all of these outdoor events and it makes me have hope. You ever go through your daily life and feel like your fuckin’ Tom Hanks in Castaway? Get outside in The Twin Cities in the Summer and you realize that you aren’t alone and like minded folks actually live on your block. Music rules.
#5) Bill Mike Band CD Release
Yep, I’m an ass for puttin’ this one down, but with all honesty, your talkin’ to a ten year music underground vet and to have that much support for such an off the radar band was overwhelming, humbling, and a new experience for us. It really wasn’t about the Bill Mike Band or people in the band. No egos that night, just a powerful reminder that music hits everyone’s DNA and that music is one of the biggest forces on the earth. Musicians are just little worker bees trying to do some good. I felt really small in a good way that night and I’m forever grateful. No peyote needed, just some rad rock n’ roll can do the trick.
Top Five Twin Cities Concert Moments of 2008 by Charlie Smith of Military Special
Soundset ‘08 at the Metrodome Parking Lot
The clouds rolled in and the wind picked up and it looked like a tornado was going to land on top of us but the hip-hop played on. The storm rolled over as Atmosphere took the stage. I later learned that storm created tornadoes a few miles east of the Cities that destroyed whole blocks of houses. Close call.
Lucy Michelle’s CD Release at the Bedlam Theater
Turning around from the front row and seeing all those people dancing and realizing that Lucy and co. were about to blow up from their album. Never before have I felt so strongly that I was watching a group on the rise. Those guys deserve every bit of credit they’re getting for what they’ve contributed to the Twin Cities music scene over the past year.
Sharon Jones at the MN State Fair
When the security guards were being dicks and keeping everyone away from the stage, one pioneer broke through and started dancing. As security tried to drag him away the guitarist came off the stage and said it was cool, and then everyone was charging the stage. That’s what a good band does, gives the audience an uncontrollable urge to groove, rules be damned.
Balkan Beat Box at the Cedar Cultural Center
Gypsy brass band meets club music from an Israeli disco. I couldn’t believe their energy and ability to pack a crowd in and make them dance. Definitely some of the most unique new music I’ve heard all year.
Rage Against the Machine’s March on the RNC
Police prematurely cut off the power to their appearance on the State Capitol lawn, so Rage led the crowd in an a capella version of “Bulls on Parade.” Just another example of police “stirring up the anthill” at the RNC, citing the slightest signs of resistances as justification for mass arrests and gross misuse of violence.
Best of 2008 by Chin Chin
#1) Tye Tribbett and G.A.
#2) 88 Boadrum Boredoms Gang Gang Dance
#3) The Flashing, The Fancing
#4) Ween. Live!
#5) TV on the Radio on TV
Top Five Local Concerts Attended by Chris Koza
#1) Joanna James “Moving to LA” show @ Fine Line
#2) Vampire Hands, Blind Shake & Tapes n Tapes @ Turf Club
#3) Haley Bonar CD Release @ Varsity Theater
#4) Alpha Centauri & Starfucker @ 7th Street Entry
#5) Any Monday night at the Clown Lounge
Top Five Musical Moments of 2008 by Chris Perricelli of Little Man
#1) Liz Phair @ First Avenue
Early Liz Phair albums have been a big influence in my guitar playing style. It was just amazing to me to stand a few yards from her and watch her play. To promote the reissue, she played the entire Exile in Guyville album plus more from Whip-Smart. Perfect concert.
#2) Playing Guitar with Ike Reilly
I had been on the road with these guys as a guitar tech/roadie way back many years ago and have kept up a great relationship with them over the years. Without connecting with these guys I would have never been introduced to the jewel that is the Twin Cities music scene. I was honored to take the lead guitar spot for the night at their always well attended Thanksgiving Eve show at First Avenue. Little Man also got to open and the whole night was a huge high for me. Had blast being a part of all that.
#3) Rock For Pussy
This is an annual benefit show for local no kill cat shelters held at First Avenue in which local guest musicians sing their favorite David Bowie songs with an all-star band backing them. I’d been a guest singer a few years back, but this time I got to play lead guitar with the band on many of the classic tunes.
#4) Faux Jean Reunion Show at The Turf Club
The Faux Jean original line-up came together for two shows back in March. This was one of the bands that my wife introduced me to when I lived in Chicago and really got into but I never had the chance to see them back then, so it was cool to see them play. The show completely rocked from the get go and most of my favorite songs were played.
#5) Recording Of Mind And Matter
Being in the studio is one of my favorite things. Getting into the environment to create and realize my songs is a really good feeling. I went down to Chicago to work with producer Ed Tinley (who actually worked with Liz Phair for a couple years), drummer Dave Cottini (a past Little Man band member and now drums for Ike Reilly) and St. Cloud bass player Andy Ferkinhoff. We tracked live to tape in an old hunting lodge and got alot of one-takes. We then spent a couple weeks overdubbing at Ed’s house. The album includes strings too and coming up with those parts and hearing Ed’s mixes really brought a smile to my face.
Top Five Musical Moments of 2008 by Chris Roberts of Vice Records
#1) Black Lips @ McCarren Pool
#2) King Khan @ McCarren Pool
#3) Raveonettes Lust Lust Lust (their best record yet!)
#4) Black Lips lighting their guitars on fire at Coachella
#5) Japanese Motors release their self titled debut!
#6) Chromeo @ Coachella
#7) Chromeo on Conan O’Brian with a full string orchestra
#8) Justice playing Madison Square Garden with the Chromeo duo!
#9) Daft Punk’s Electroma released in the most beautiful packaging we’ve ever created
#10) King Khan world domination!
Top Albums of 2008 by Copycat
Bears Simple Machinery
Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago
Fleet Foxes Ragged Wood & Sun Giant EP
MGMT Oracular Spectacular
Headlights Some Racing, Some Shopping
Jeff Hanson Madam Owl
Locksley Don’t Make Me Wait (reissue)
Sons & Daughters This Gift
Grand Archives Grand Archives
The Tallest Man on Earth Shallow Grave
Best of 2008 by Dave Fischoff
1) Dave Tompkins
Dave Tompkins is a music writer I found out about this year. I was at the Printers’ Ball, a once-a-year Chicago event where you can check out bands and DJs and load up on all the free magazines you want. I picked up an copy of Stop Smiling, their “Hip Hop Nuggets” issue, and there was a story in it by Mr. Tompkins called “The Night Time Master Blaster.” He starts by talking about the time his friend collapsed on the front lawn from an asthma attack, then explains how this led to his discovery of electrofunk. It’s a personal essay that also doubles as a brief history of the Vocoder. Which, of course, couldn’t be more appropriate reading in 2008, the year of the Autotune.
#2) Playing the Building by David Byrne
This was a musical instillation that David Byrne set up in the Battery Maritime Building in New York this year. He put an old church organ in the middle of an empty warehouse and ran wires from the back of the organ to the windows, radiators, plumbing and other surfaces inside the space. The organ was set up so that any time a key was pressed, an electrical signal traveled down one of the wires to a little machine that would tap on a window, buzz in a radiator, or blow air through a pipe like a giant flute. Anyone could come in, sit down at the organ and literally play the building.
#3) Cassette From My Ex
Jason Bitner, one of the guys who started Found Magazine, has a new website project he’s calling Cassette From My Ex. The idea is simple and great: he asks various musician/artist/writer types to pull out that mixtape from an old flame that’s still tucked away in the bottom of a shoebox or the back of a desk drawer and share it with the rest of the world. Each mix is streaming in its entirety on the website, along with the homemade artwork and handwritten tracklistings that make these things still beautiful for the ears and the eyes. And the person sharing gives a guided tour behind the events that led to the tape being made in the first place. Mostly, they’re stories of young love, when relationships are funny and sad and awkward and wonderful and summed up perfectly in pop songs.
#4) Mark Ronson’s Authentic Shit show on East Village Radio
This isn’t a 2008-specific thing, but it’s the first year I started listening regularly to this podcast. Mark Ronson is a big time producer (Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, Kaiser Chiefs), but there’s absolutely nothing slick or professional about his radio show, and I mean that in the best way possible. He hardly ever lets a song play through without breaking in to make some comment, and sometimes when he realizes he’s been talking too long he’ll just start the track back at the beginning. I know this sounds like it could be completely annoying, but I find it really endearing—he’s just so damn excited about the music he’s playing and he wants you to be excited, too. It’s like that friend you had in middle school, the one who’d come over with a new record for the stereo, put in on, and proceed to give a riff-by-riff analysis, never missing a note on his air guitar.
#5) Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell
I moved to New York this year, and one of the first things I did was head over to the MoMA for a screening of this documentary about Arthur Russell. I first got into Arthur Russell’s music through his cello songs, where he uses his cello to accompany his voice the way most people would use a piano or a guitar. It’s such a beautiful and unique sound, but it’s only one of the musical personas he came up with in his short but very prolific life. I don’t think he saw many boundaries when it came to genre, and he seemed to think it was perfectly natural to float between pop, rock, disco, folk and modern classical. There’s a scene in the film of him walking around New York with his Walkman and I can only imagine how excited he’d be if he’d lived long enough to have an iPod. A whole world of shuffling, blurring genres, all of it equally exciting and good.
The Top Five Shows I Saw This Year by DJ Soviet Panda
#1) Hercules & Love Affair @ Metro
#2) Gang Gang Dance @ 7th St. Entry
#3) Holy Fuck @ Triple Rock Social Club
#4) The Juan Maclean @ 7th St. Entry
#5) Foals @ 7th St. Entry
Freddi Vignette’s (of The Vignettes) Absolute Favorite Top Five Minneapolis Bands
Le Deux Magots
Top Five Musical Moments of 2008 by Holly Muñoz of Aviette
#1) Celebrating the release of Sam Keenan’s debut album, All Of The Dark Colored Markers Went Dry at the Triple Rock Social Club (April 18, 2008)
#2) Celebrating the release of Aviette’s sophomore album, The Way We Met at the Triple Rock Social Club (June 28, 2008)
#3) Celebrating the release of Adam Svec’s debut album, Enemy Swimmerat the Kitty Cat Klub (July 18, 2008)
#4) Celebrating the release of Bill Mike Band’s sophomore album, Truce at The Cedar Cultural Center (November 14, 2008)
#5) Celebrating the release of The Hopefuls sophomore album, Now Playing At The One Seat Theater at First Avenue (December 20, 2008)
Top Five Musical Moments of 2008 by Jay Gabler of TC Daily Planet
The Avett Brothers, “Tear Down the House,” 1:24
Banjo acts are a dime a dozen these days. Plenty of them can write decent songs and pick those strings real quick-like, but the Avett Brothers’ secret weapon is their absolute sincerity—even when they’re being goofy, there’s an edge of honest desperation. This is the first track on the Gleam II EP, the brothers’ last hurrah on Ramseur Records en route to presumed adult-contemporary glory with Rick Rubin and whatever major label he hasn’t pissed off yet. When an Avett sings about crying tears, he doesn’t mean he’s cryin’ tears, he means he’s CRYING GOD DAMN TEARS!
R.E.M., “Supernatural Superserious,” 0:49
Like their contemporaries and supposed nemeses U2, R.E.M. have stuck around long enough to hear their original sound become contemporary again. This track brings it all together: the headlong rush of Murmur, the guitar crunch of Monster, the empathetic (and decipherable) lyrics of Automatic for the People, and, starting 49 seconds into the song, Mike Mills’s heartfelt harmonies.
Rihanna, “Disturbia,” 0:02
When you can turn on KDWB and hear a hit song that starts with the chant “bom bom be-dom bom bom be-dom bom,” you know that top 40 radio isn’t dead yet. Neither is Phil Spector, though fortunately we’re well past the point when any artist thinks it would be a good idea to bring him back into the studio for a stab at that classic pop sound. (Of course, if any artist would be safe working with the infamously gun-happy Spector, it would be a woman who hangs out with T.I.)
Kate Nash, “Baby Love,” 2:56
She may have surfed into the spotlight on a wave of MySpace buzz, but my bet is that Kate Nash has a long and fruitful career ahead of her—and happily, indications are that she’s going to get louder before she gets quieter. She didn’t have an official release in 2008, but this take on the Supremes classic was released—where else?—on her MySpace profile. Over a spare guitar-and-keys arrangement, Nash trades Diana Ross’s pleading coo for a bracing, pained declaration. “All you do is treat me bad, you break my heart and make me feel so sad!”
David Byrne and Brian Eno, “Everything That Happens,” 2:45
Re-convening with Brian Eno—producer of arguably the three greatest Talking Heads albums—didn’t inspire David Byrne to new heights, but then, he didn’t need to be. He’s never lost his knack for non sequitur lyrics that mean nothing, yet somehow mean everything. This track starts gently, with Byrne revisiting familiar lyrical territory—“I ride on a perfect freeway, many people on that road”—before rising to a majestic chorus that just about sums up my year, and must have special resonance for a man whose influence can be heard in every corner of contemporary music. “Everything that happens will happen today and nothing has changed but nothing’s the same and every tomorrow could be yesterday and everything that happens will happen today.”
Top Five New Albums of 2008 by Jenny Dalton
#1) Santogold Santogold
#2) Lykke Li Youth Novels
#3) Why? Alopecia
#4) M83 Saturdays = Youth
#5) Loquat Secrets of the Sea
The Top Five Shows of 2008 by Jeremiah Conlon of Nyteowl
Athletes in Slacks & Primadonahue @ Terminal Bar (April 17, 2008)
The second strangest show of the year – I was really drunk. So, I was sort of heckling this performer and really nice guy – Primadonaue for being so “self indulgent,” but seriously I was jealous of his midi-knee pad solos. There were like TWO people at the show besides me, and family members of Athletes…
…and one of those people was this dude who gave us the finger when we all rushed the stage (See pic).
Cut Copy @ 7th Street Entry (May 6, 2008)
I should vote for Presets/Cut Copy at the Fine Line. For starters, the Presets kicked Cut Copy’s ass that night. But the Cut Copy show at the Entry was smaller, sounded better to me, and they did less lip syncing/pretending to play instruments. I mean, at the Fine Line I remember one part where all the members of Cut Copy raised their hands like a high school show-choir, and the guitar was still playing.
Does It Offend You, Yeah? & Yo! Majesty @ 7th St Entry (May 12, 2008)
The most strange and sad show I have been to ever – due to Shunda K’s father(?) death and she wasn’t able to be at the show. First though, DIOYY rocked it way better than when they played on their own tour (7th St. Entry) later in the year. But back to the story, Yo! Majesty played the show without Shunda K (so JWL B rapped alone) and everyone, including T.I.M and Nyteowl ran on stage and danced around. Awkwardly at first. Then it just kicked ass and was a night to remember.
Lookbook & Red Pens @ Big V’s (October 4, 2008)
Pretty good night with the two bands I wanted to see the most and hadn’t yet in one venue. T.I.M was actually working sound there so we hung out and enjoyed the show – even if there were only a few other people there. Red Pens were solid. I fell in love with Lookbook right away. Their live show surpassed the recorded music I heard – they were on fire… have been every show I have seen in 2008.
Diplo, Boy 8 Bit & Telepathe @ First Avenue (October 24, 2008)
I was pretty excited for this show and it didn’t let me down. First, Boy 8 Bit has been a cool guy toward Nyteowl so it was nice to meet him in person. So, the music was great, big party, Diplo’s lights were nuts, and sovietpanda and I ended up on stage dancing around during the show, looking like a bunch of idiots (thanks j. ackerman). T.I.M watched from on the floor and heckled us later with a text message.
Realest Concerts by the Realest People (This list celebrates good people who were also able to put together some good ass shows in Minneapolis and Saint Paul in this, the year of 2008) by Joe Schweigert of Military Special
1) Togetherness @ The Caverns (April)
2) Grotto @ Turf Club (May)
3) Lucy Michelle & Velvet Lapelles outside in their backyard (August)
4) Shout Out Out Out Out @ 7th St Entry (November)
5) Lieutenant Girl @ Eclipse Records (June)
Great Albums of 2008 (and why I’m a dumbass for not writing about them on MFR) by Jon Graef
Truth be told, most of the editorial decisions in my life have been informed by my realization that I am being a dumbass. There are a multitude of examples from which to draw (including: why is homeboy writing about MPLS bands when he lives in Chicago?).
But one particular, stinging example came when I was organizing my best-ofs into nationally-known, local MPLS, and local Chicago categories. I realized that, with a few exceptions, I had not written about music that I had regarded as the year’s best. We might have written blog posts about what these various artists had been up to during the year. But as far as an album review? No. Which makes me, someone who has a hobby of wanting to tell people about great music, a dumbass.
Hopefully, I can remedy that with this list.
First, I’ll start out with two MPLS examples: one obvious, one less so.
Dosh Wolves and Wishes
Why it’s great: The Master of Puppets to The Lost Take’s Ride The Lightning, multi-instrumentalist multi-tasker Martin Dosh’s latest effort, Wolves and Wishes, finds the polyrhthymic songwriter further refining a sound that he’s developed over the course of four solo records. So granted, Dosh, a frequent collaborator of Andrew Bird’s, hasn’t evolved much stylistically. But when you start out with such a dense, limitless world of constantly coalescing musical motifs, you can’t be knocked for wanting to explore it endlessly. In a strange way, listening to Dosh’s Wolves and Wishes is to be constantly processing a new stream of musical ideas from the instrumentalist’s effortless blend of jazz, hip-hop, indie, post-rock and electronica. That’s a shit-ton to process in one sitting, and Wolves and Wishes sometimes puts together so much that the music becomes jarring. But the thrill also lies in hearing tracks like “Capture The Flag”, “First Impossible” and “Bury The Ghost” become musical puzzles put together before your very ears.
Why I haven’t written about it: Because I’ve made the conscious effort not to sit down and listen to this music, but, rather, to literally live with it (no more Frosh philosophizing after this, I promise). Wolves and Wishes is great for listening on a train or bus on your way to the city. I’ve enjoyed it so much that it will probably be my local album of the year. And yet: not a peep, album length review wise. So that makes me a…you guessed it; a dumbass.
Why I’m a dumbass for not doing so: Because once Girl Talk fans start maturing, they’ll want something with a similarly schizophrenic-seeming quality; a sampler-driven collage-making style, but with original music. This is what they should get.
Dark Dark Dark The Snow Magic
Why it’s great: Like The Decemberists’ brand Eastern European prog-folk (well, I guess that’s really Neutral Milk Hotel’s) broken up into 12 bite-size pieces, the debut album from Dark Dark Dark delves into the oeuvres of those previously named bands. The Twin Cities quartet certainly has similar instrumentation to those two aforementioned groups (accordion, banjo, cello and bass are the norm here). But by exploring each instruments timbres and colors in music that’s driven by their own idiosyncratic sense of whimsy. Having percussive help from Martin Dosh doesn’t hurt either. Songs “Ashes” and “A Spell for Letting Go” like rumble and tumble like the best of sea shanties. The Snow Magic plies on catchy minor-key melodies, tragic lyrics and a wildly creative approach to folk music, and each of the album’s 12 songs is worthy of in-depth exploration. So…
Why I haven’t written about it: Having bought the album this past summer at one of the group’s live show, I put off writing about the record after I blogged about the concert in Chicago. I just figured that the album write-up would come up eventually.
Why that makes me a dumbass: The Snow Magic is one pleasure after another, and the more people will hear it, the more people will be enchanted by it.
Seun Kuti & Fela’s Egypt 80 Seun Kuti & Fela’s Egypt 80
Why it’s great: Any one familiar with the Kuti family legacy—as in Fela, Nigerian pop star and founder of jazz-funk fusion genre Afrobeat—will know that Seun’s definitely borrowing a few moves from his Dad. But unlike the real world, musical nepotism can yield some amazing results. Singing in a gruffer voice and playing with his father’s band, Egypt 80, Seun, the youngest of Fela’s sons, at 26, makes his own voice heard on Seun Kuti & Fela’s Egypt 80. Using tight, taut funk rhythms and horns, chicken scratch guitar, and the loose, improvisational spirit of jazz, Kuti crafts lengthy anti-authoritarian anthems that are executed with the discipline of the fascist mentality that Kuti is rightfully opposing. No song is shorter than five minutes, which should allow you plenty of time to be rhythmically hypnotized.
Why I haven’t written about it: Too busy dancing my ass off.
Why that makes me a dumbass: Because this record is too good to not to sit down and spend the time telling people how awesome it is. Check out “Don’t Bring That Shit To Me” as a righteously funky successor to James Brown.
Unicycle Loves You Unicycle Loves You
I’m cheating a little bit with this one, as I wrote it up for another website. But that has, unfortunately, been the only time that I’ve waxed enthusiastically about this energetic Chicago quintet. Though their self-titled debut album begins with a lot of percussive belles, whistles and whimsical harmonization, Unicycle Loves You eventually ditch the sonic shenanigoats for classic power-pop music that any fan should recognize. There are certainly times where the band echoes strongly the work of contemporaries like The New Pornographers. They also should know that resisting effervescent song-craft on track is utterly futile. But Unicycle Loves You are also smart enough to pull sudden musical transitions, like going from Beach Boys melancholia to bright, bouncy Beatles-esque pop rock in one fell swoop. Such unpredictability makes live shows essential, and it makes songs like “Great Bargains for Seniors” and “Hawaii” endlessly playable.
Why I haven’t written about it: Actually, “why I haven’t blogged about it” seems to be more appropriate. After writing 1,000 words about a power-pop album—what kind of dumbass does that?—it felt like I had nothing more to say.
Why that makes me a dumbass: One should use as many outlets as possible to critique—or in this case, celebrate—music. Technology has made that goal a reality.
Kristoff Krane This Will Work For Now
For those wanting to hear the outer-space sounds of rap at its most bizarre combined with the verbal dexterity and social conscious of East Coast hip-hop should definitely have those desires satiated with Minneapolis rapper’s Kristoff Krane’s latest record, This Will Work For Now. Krane’s emcee skills are at their most impressive when he gives Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco’s go-go-gadget flow a run for its money on tracks like opening shot “Escape”. From there, the claustrophobic likes of “”Drousy Dreamer” and the frantic Afronaut sounds of “Empathy Makes MacHine” stand next to more easygoing fare like the raga reggae flow of “bemetooconfused” and the idiosyncratic free-jazz stylings of “Finding Good Friends.” What’s most impressive is the fact that This Will Work For Now all fuses together under Krane’s masterly flow and skill as a lyricist. This record should work for now, later, or whenever you happen to listen to it.
Why I haven’t written about it: This year has been a great one for Minneapolis hip-hop, with a myriad of Doomtree releases (including their crew record from earlier this summer) and Muja Messiah’s official debut album. Krane’s debut release simply fell through the cracks.
Why that makes me a dumbass: Because Krane’s album is as good, if not better, as any of those mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles
Maps and Atlases
The Minneapolis Henrys
Records that I’ll undoubtedly kick myself for not hearing in 2008:
Q-Tip The Resurrection
The Gaslight Anthem The ’59 Sound
The Bug London Zoo
Harvey Milk Life…The Best Game In Town
The Top Five Reasons Why Minneapolis Music Continues To Grow by Jon Jon Scott of Black Corners
#1) Muja Messiah
The hard-core rapper delivers two critically acclaimed records, the 27-track mix-tape Mpls Massace Vol. 1 with its internet jumps “Amy Winehouse,” “Paper Planes,” and “True Lies” with exclusives from St. Paul Slim, I-Self Devine, Manifest & Dodi Phi. Followed by an explosive full length Thee Adventures of a B-Boy D-Boy, riding shotgun are The Roots’ Black Thought, Slug, Maria Isa, Black Blondie, Musab & I-Self Devine. In 2008 Muja finally began to put a few cracks in the ceiling that is Minneapolis emo-centered hip-hop.
#2) Aby Wolf
Laptop, electro-folkie writes warm strummers and tosses in glitchy cool – imagine Bjork doing Joanna Newsome with a healthy dose of Patsy Cline (debut Sweet Prudence).
#3) Solid Gold
The bands massively seductive “Who You Gonna Run” single suggests Beck and MGMT. The critically acclaimed Bodies of Water leads the band to blogs, years end list, cover of City Pages and review in UK’s Guardian. Minneapolis enters the indie-electro era with grace.
#4) Black Blondie
Minneapolis’ answer to Amy Winehouse gone art deco, though singer Samahra Linton-Daly is more Sharon Jones meets TLC. They started the year on URB’s next 100 without a record and already getting airplay at Radio K and The Current, early track “Hunger” was featured on Twin Town High Vol. 10, while Stuck On AM 6: Live From Radio K has in-studio version “For The Taste.” Debut coming early 2009.
Doomtree – the massive collective delivers in 2008 with an array of records, DVD, national touring, press in Pitchfork, and CMJ. Also a new P.O.S. record, Never Better, on deck.
Top Five Backstage Moments of 2008 by Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater
1) When our US tour with Clinic passed though our hometown of Austin, we wanted to do something nice for the Liverpudlians, maybe show them around a little bit, if there was time (which, on tour, there almost never is). But after sound check, I was a little surprised when they all lit up at the prospect of riding in the back of my little Mazda pickup. I loaded them in and took them on a little cruise to Thor’s house through the back streets of East Austin, opening the window in the cab so we could shout to one another. Every time I glanced in the mirror, I saw Brian, Clinic’s affable bassist, beaming back at me. “This would be completely illegal back home!”, he exulted.
2) A fall east-coast tour ended in New York, and I drove the van back to Texas alone, playing a few puzzling solo shows along the way. One was in Asheville, NC, where it was cold and raining, and everyone seemed to be half-asleep. I don’t remember the show very well, but I stopped in to Harvest Records and picked up some new music – Robbie Basho, James Blackshaw, another of the Secret Museum of Mankind series (North Africa), and the new Mount Eerie mini-album, “Lost Wisdom.” I liked them all, but it was Mount Eerie that stayed in the player for the next few days, through the Appalachian foothills and the deep south. The leaves were turning, the weather was half-rainy and unsettled, and this beautiful, sad album seemed to have grown out of the landscape.
3) The handful of shows we played with Coldplay were surreal, to say the least. We all started giggling the first time we drove our little van into the bowels of the LA Forum and pulled up next to five tour buses and six tractor-trailers. It was like mooring your motorboat to an aircraft carrier. Everyone on their team was very gracious, and CP sent us champagne on the first night and kindly let us crash their after-parties, but I kept feeling like we were stowing away. When the house lights went out and we walked up the ramp to the stage, I couldn’t believe they were letting us get away with it.
The audiences were funny. At first, I think some of them thought we were the main event, and cheered accordingly, but when they realized their mistake they settled in to their cell phones and screened us out. The last night was in Las Vegas, at the MGM Grand – a place I never thought I’d see, much less be playing inside, and I was overwhelmed, onstage, with a feeling of how borrowed and strange it all was. After the third song, I sat down at the keyboard, looked out at the crowd, and yelled “Hello Las Vegas!”, because why not? I figured I’d probably be jeered. But they roared, and after that moment I felt like a lot more of them were with us for the rest of our set. I had never realized how much an audience, at a show on that scale, just wants to know that you can see them.
4) One of our last shows in New York this year was at Le Poisson Rouge, a dark, elegant but un-stuffy club with great food, great sound, and an excellent piano. (Kevin: “It’s like this place was designed by friendly vampires.”) We shared the little dressing room with Eric Carlson and William Harvey, two droll, close-cropped, bespectacled violinists who seemed to have stepped out of the early 20th century for the evening. They played Bartok’s 44 duets for violins before we went on, which is kind of like “double nickels on the dime” in that each duet lasts about a minute. After each song they announced the title of the next one (“Jeering Song,” “Pillow Song,” “Matchmaking Song”), which gave the dark but spirited melodies a whimsical, narrative quality. I’d never heard these pieces performed live before, and something about William and Eric’s demeanor suited them perfectly. Or was it the other way around?
5) Winter 2008 seems a long time ago, but Thor and I spent a few weeks of it touring the southeastern and southwestern US with Bill Callahan. It was one of the oddest and most peaceful tours I’ve ever been on; even the tour manager spent a fair amount of the trip asleep in the back of the van. I remember little moments: swimming in a spring in Florida while it was six degrees in Chicago, a grim drive through eastern Kansas to Tulsa, where thousands of trees had snapped and burst in an ice storm, and, best of all, a stop at the Petrified Forest national park in Arizona. We pulled over at a parking area overlooking the Painted Desert and got out, shivering in the wind. A raven flew over the lip of the canyon and peered at us from above, calling in a weird, tentative way, and Bill suggested that maybe it wanted some pita bread. I went back to the van, rummaged in the box of last night’s rider, and tossed a few scraps into the parking lot. Sure enough, the raven landed, picked up the piece of bread in its huge bill, and made a different call; at which its partner appeared from down in the canyon, and the two flew off together. They were just working their beat. So were we.
Top Five Songs People Have Laughed At Me For Loving (But That Only Goes To Prove They’re Fucking ‘Tards) by Kenyata Sullivan of The Majestic Twelve
#1) New Order “Fine Time (Messed Around Mix)”
I grew up in a small town outside of Houston in the late 1980’s, and a quick lie to the parents plus a short drive led to a youth club called “Fast Times.” Ecstasy was not only legal, they gave it away as door prizes, and this was the kind of stuff they played. Extended remixes with weird noises, proto-techno, today it feels minimalist. Still awesome. Lump it in the same category as “Everyday Is Halloween” by Ministry and Dead Or Alive’s album Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know.
#2) ABBA “Dancing Queen”
The Abba cult is beyond ridiculous and most of it’s proponents are would-be divas, wannabe drag queens or tasteless high school drama club lemmings who also think Andrew Lloyd Webber is a fucking genius (God help us all), but this Abba song is awesome. The words and tempo are upbeat, but the melody is sad, minor key, and fucking desperate. Perfect. While disconnected from the theme, “Afternoon Delight” by The Starland Vocal Band and “Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell also completely kick fucking ass in the 70’s light rock genre. And don’t even get me started about The Carpenters. Honkey, please.
#3) The Blue Nile “Tinseltown In The Rain”
When I tried to turn my buddy Dan on to The Blue Nile, he was disgusted, he heard it as bad 1980’s synthpop, and our relationship has never been the same since. The Blue Nile are one of those pivotal bands upon which friendships are either built are destroyed. Either you get The Stooges, or you don’t. Either you get Nick Drake, or you don’t. And while The Blue Nile sound nothing like either of them, either you get The Blue Nile, or you don’t. And if you don’t get it, well… nice knowing ya.
#4) Eydie Gorme “My Favorite Things”
Eydie Gorme has been thoroughly shortshrifted, she’s mostly remembered as a Rat Pack also-ran, but man, that girl had fucking pipes! She could sing circles around most modern divas, but had the great misfortune of being a white girl in the whitest whiteass era of pop music, damn. Tough to be a white coloratura in the early 60’s, sucked into the talk show circuit, and denied her place in history as one of the premiere vocalists of the last century. Love to Ella, love to Sarah Vaughan, but Eydie was a badass, and she needs respect. Also check out “Go Away Little Girl” by her husband, Steve Lawrence, “Wheel Of Fortune” by Kay Starr, and don’t forget that Tony Bennett’s version of “My Favorite Things” is swingin’ as fuck.
#5) The J. Geils Band “River Blindness”
I bought the album seduced by singles like “Centerfold” and “Freeze-Frame”, but “River Blindness” was the song that truly kicked my sixth grade ass. Dark and repetitive, sparse and minor key, it won’t mean shit to you, but for me it stands aside Adam Ant’s “Made Of Money” as one of the cornerstones that dictates how I hear and make music even today.
Top Five Albums of 2008 by Lazerbeak
The Killers Day and Age
Lil Wayne Tha Carter III
TV on the Radio Dear Science
Al Green Lay It Down
T-Pain Thr33 Ringz
(Honorable Mention/Shameless Promotion)
Mike Mictlan + Lazerbeak Hand Over Fist
Cecil Otter Rebel Yellow
Five Favorite Twin Cities Records of 2008 by Mark Miller of Dallas Orbiter
Maps of Norway Die Off Songbird
Vampire Hands Me and You Cherry Red
Knife World Knife World
Private Dancer Trouble Eyes
Mute Era Light Dreams Of Darkness EP/Night Dreams Of Day EP
And the five non-local releases that excited me the most this year: Sic Alps U.S. EZ
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Dig, Lazarus Dig!!!
Deerhoof Offend Maggie
Lil Wayne Tha Carter III
Thee Oh Sees The Master’s Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In
The Roe Family Singers Top Five Things that Happened to Us in 2008 by Quillan Roe
5) We Finally Got To Play At The Cedar Cultural Center This Year!
I have wanted to play the Cedar since I started performing professionally with Accident Clearinghouse way back in 1996. I’ve seen so many great performers pass through that place, and so many of our musical peers have played there, as well. Yet we had never been asked to play there. Until December 19, 2008! We opened for our friends Free Range Pickin’, a really tight, well-polished bluegrass band, who were celebrating their 10 year anniversary. Also on the bill were the Twin Cities Playboys, and Steve Kaul (from the Brass Kings) and Dave Babb (from the Front Porch Swingin’ Liquor Pigs) playing together as a duet. It was a fantastic night of music and good feelings. Thank you to Tony Ihrig and Free Range Pickin’ for asking us to join them on the bill, and for making this dream come true!
4) We Have Been Recording Our “Debut” Album For Four Years… FOUR… YEARS
I admit to be a perfectionist, and in the studio it would be fair to say that I am a slave driver. But this album took even longer to finish than I could have ever imagined. We have a large band, consisting of 8 or 9 members, depending on who is in town and who is in the country. Most of us have day jobs, and all of us have lots on our plates, regardless of whether we are gainfully employed or not. This all gets in the way of finding time to make it to the studio to record our various pieces of the songs. But there is just no reason for this album to have turned into the Chinese Democracy of bluegrass. None whatsoever. So it was with great excitement that we picked up the finished CD from Andrew Volna and Noiseland on Thursday, December 18, 2008. I don’t know if I can say it was worth the four year wait, but we are pretty proud of it.
3) On Tour Last Spring We Swung Through Louisville, KY
This was our first trip into the South of our imagination, the South of old hollows and hills, the birthplace of the music we play and love. We played at a club called the Rudyard Kipling, kind of a larger, more financially secure version of the Twin Cities own Bryant Lake Bowl. We opened for this amazing band called the Broken Carousel Orkestra, a 15-member punk hillbilly band, consisting of five mandolins, a bunch of guitars, an accordion, and a drummer. They didn’t use any amplification, nor did they need any; they just played their music, and the sheer number of performers provided all the volume they needed. They did music mostly of their own—our favorite was about a Ferris wheel catching fire and killing a bunch of people—but also performed a few covers, like Liba Cotton’s “Freight Train.” It was an amazing experience.
When everything was done for the evening, and we were all packing up to go home, the owner of the club took me aside to talk to me. He was an older boy from the fabled South Kim and I had imagined. He told me how much he had enjoyed our music, how it was so uncommon to hear music like we were making anymore. He shared that he and his wife liked to get out the guitar and play the old Carter Family songs, as Kim and I do. Then he asked me where my people were from.
My mom’s family is from Southern Iowa, by way of Missouri, and, before that, Kentucky. Our people BECAME respectable farmers, but didn’t start out that way. The family lore has it that we were run out of Kentucky for horse rustling, stealing other men’s women, and general all-around badness. I told this all to the old boy. He took my arm in his still-strong hand and looked me in the eye. With a smile he said, “I knew you had to have some of the old country in your blood. You couldn’t make music like that if you didn’t.”
2) The Minnesota Bluegrass and Old Time Music Association is a Great Organization
Created to both help preserve the old-timey music and to organize the bluegrass community of Minnesota, MBOTMA is a really great organization to our way of thinking. They organize major festivals three times a year, and we were honored to be asked to perform at the biggest of these festivals, the August festival, up at El Rancho Mañana, this year. We performed first on the Marketplace stage, and unamplified stage under a tent, a few hundred feet from the Main Stage. The Marketplace is fairly informal, and much more intimate than the Main Stage, with the physical stage being nothing more than a piece-together dance floor laid over a bed of wood chips, keeping the performers (us) on the same level as the audience. We showed up about half an hour early, set up, and started playing. In no time at all the tent was full. We played for about 45 minutes, and were met with huge applause. This was amazing to us, because this is the crowd that knows this music, OUR music, inside and out, probably better than we do.
Then we were on to the Main Stage! Could it get any better? We were amazed to be performing at THE big local festival, on THE big stage! Wow! Our reception here wasn’t as great as in the Marketplace, and I think it was a combination of our being nervous to be performing where we were and our inexperience with creating the rapport we are used to at the 331 Club and other small venues that we feel VERY comfortable in. That night we ran into our friends Kari and Lisa, from the Ditchlilies, and Adam Kiesling, from the Mill City Grinders. These folks play in some of our favorite bands, are amazing musicians, and really great people. So when they all praised our performances and let us know how great they felt our performances had been, it was icing on the cake. Adam even said he thought we were the most exciting thing happening in old-timey music. I know that, like with the old Kentuckian mentioned earlier, this is only one man’s opinion, but it still feels good!
1) Our Number One Moment in 2008 is Easy To Come Up With: It Was When Kim Discovered That She Was Pregnant With Our First Child Back in June
It has been so amazing watching Kim’s belly grow as the little girl inside grows bigger and bigger, coming closer to her birthday sometime in February. At our last appointment, two weeks ago, the baby was growing right on schedule, with all of her little parts within acceptable size “spreads” and weighing in at an estimated three lbs. three oz. Over the course of this past year we have had three ultrasounds, getting to see our babies heart beating, although it was only the size of the fingernail on your pinky finger; we have seen her little brain and spine develop; we have seen all of her ribs, her femur, and tiny little finger and toe bones, all perfectly formed.
I think the most exciting moment was when we first got to hear her heart beat. It beats so fast, like a little hummingbird’s wings! Kim and I called both of the sets of grandparents and let them hear the heartbeat, too. My only regret is that we can’t see and hear her everyday. The generosity we have seen from friends and family is really amazing. The donations of clothing and general baby gear have been truly kind. We have been deeply touched by all of the folks who have given us baby gifts or have insisted that we accept their own baby’s clothes, since theirs have outgrown them. People we don’t even know have offered to throw baby showers for us! Two gifts that have really touched us: Glen Hanson, a local musician with a long history in this town, is a wonderful guy, full of tons of great stories, and even more off-color jokes. So when we arrived at the 331 Club one Monday evening for our regular show, and Glen called Kim over with that familiar twinkle in his eye, she was expecting another dirty story. “I’ve got something for you,” he said, rummaging through his pockets. “All right, Glen, what now?” she greeted him with a smile. “No, no. Really, I have a gift for your baby,” he said. Then he gave Kim a tiny package. She opened it up, and inside was a tiny, hand-made leather purse, just the right size for a baby girl. Even more impressive, it had a hand-beaded design on it.
Once Kim showed the tiny purse to me, I went over to thank Glen for the gift. I asked him if he had made it and done the beading himself, and he said yes. He explained that, since his own daughters were all grown up, he didn’t have anyone to make gifts like this for anymore, so, when he hears someone is having a girl, he gets excited because he can make gifts again.
The other one came in the form of an e-mail. Jarret Oulman owns the 331 with his Dad, Jon. Jarret and his wife Anya don’t live too far from the 331, and they have two little boys, one a toddler and one a baby. Jarret offered to baby-sit for us any Monday night we needed, since, in his words, he was in the neighborhood and just doing baby-stuff anyways! A cynic would look at this and think Jarret is just trying to protect his club. After all, if Kim and I are home Monday nights with the baby, he loses his Monday night anchor. But I know Jarret; I have worked both with him and for him, and I know that he was sending this offer to us out of the goodness of his heart.
This year has passed so quickly, and it seems like only yesterday when Kim came out of the bathroom one gray Saturday morning and told me she was pregnant. In no time at all we will be heading to the hospital, and then our wee baby girl will be with us! Thank you to all the folks who have helped make 2008 a great year for Kim and I and for the Roe Family Singers. Please continue to remember to be kind and to be safe in all that you do, and to strive to make 2009 the best that it can be.
Best of 2008 by director Ramzi Abed
The Knife Silent Shout
Jill Tracy The Bittersweet Constrain
My Ruin Throat Full of Heart
Favorite Local Extreme Metal Albums of 2008 by Ryan Buege of Mind Inversion
Høst Høst (2008 album released under band name Hennes Siste Høst)
Black metal band from Fargo, North Dakota with a raucous, progressive, and unpretentious new album of majestic wizardry that straddles the lines between Sonic Youth and Emperor. Expect to hear much more from them in the future.
Ambassador Gun When in Hell
Minneapolis grindcore trio who have carved out their own niche of headbang-inducing, fist-pumping grind’n’roll. A new album released this year is their most impassioned and enjoyable yet.
Gay Witch Abortion Maverick
A hard-fucking-rocking Minneapolis duo with a multi-faceted, amazingly innovative approach to their craft. It’s chaotic punk-infused noise metal that you can’t help but dance to. Think, if Lightning Bolt grew up playing Slayer, AC/DC, King Crimson, AND Bad Brains covers…
Top 5 Music Related Things from 2008 by Taylor Carik of Mediation
1) Seeing The Sword at the Triple Rock
“How heavy this axe”? How heavy this show. I listened The Sword’s Gods of the Earth more than all other albums combined in 2008, and so when these kids from Austin, TX took a break from opening for Metallica to play at the Triple Rock Social Club, you bet I was front and center. And although the Triple Rock was little more than half full (it was a Monday, and Minnesota only stays up during the week for the big stars), The Sword packed all the force needed to play a sports arena, and were nothing but the business of br00tality from start to finish. Best album and best show of 2008, hands down.
2) MC Hammer at Glamorama
Maybe it was low expectations, or that I never was that into him in his prime. Whatever the reason, Hammer totally blew me—and pretty much everyone at Macy’s Glamorama—away with his thre and a half song performance. Seriously, only three full songs and a remix of “Can’t Touch This” and Hammer was my second favorite show this year; he was more entertaining while tying his sweatpants than most musicians are for an entire show. The sound was huge, he ran around in the aisles, and he can still dance like crazy. MC Hammer is awesome. (BTW, I’m now closely following Hammer’s comeback via his twitter feed and his dance competition site, DanceJam.)
3) Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Sound Unseen was good this year, but they should be particularly proud about scoring the documentary about Canadian metal band Anvil. You know the movie The Wrestler, where Mickey Rourke plays a once great wrestler who’s now old and beaten down, but can’t give up on the dream? Anvil is exactly like Rourke’s character, except Anvil is real. The four of us who saw this film had a hard time not crying at Anvil’s undying commitment to getting back on top, even though they’re broke and burnt out and no one takes them seriously. Congrats on Sound Unseen for screening it, and watch for this film to get big when it gets a distributor.
4) Dead Prez at the RNC
By the end of the RNC, I had my fill of Rage Against the Machine. I endured Tom Morello’s solo set at the SEIU Harriet Island festival (try reading the Nightwatchmen’s lyrics sometime), I waited as Rage argued with the cops in front of the state capitol and then didn’t play (but got people marching before they jumped into a black SUV and took off), and I caught the full band’s surprisingly intense set at the Target Center (90 minutes of nothing but the hits and the sound wasn’t bad). On the other hand, I couldn’t get enough of Dead Prez. Hearing DP tell a crowd of hippies who were chanting “Obama” that “you can vote for 30 Obamas, ain’t nothing gonna change” was fucking awesome (and true). The beauty of DP is that, along with having truly radical lyrics (check out “Be Healthy” and “W-4″), their beatz also get your behind into overdrive. Their set was awesome, and for bonus points so was their fashion sense.
5: Motörhead Motörizer
Motörhead never strayed from their equation. They never put out shitty experimental records in the 90’s and then had a comeback record that’s on all the Top 10 lists simply on name recognition and familiarity. And Motörhead made a totally fucking awesome record that came out this year that no one cared about. In fact, Decibel shrugged it off with a 7/10, which, when I read it, I was so shocked that I almost fell off the toilet, mid-poop. While James Hetfield was shopping at Verace stores and singing about being sad, here’s what Lemmy was warming up WWE shows with lines like “rock out/ rock out/with your cock out/impress your lady friends.” That’s about as metal as it gets. And if Motörhead ever had a shortcoming, it was that their production could never keep up with their music. With the fat production of Motörizer, Motörhead sound is as big and mean as they have for the last three decades straight.
Top Five Minneapoliscast Musical Moments From 2008 by Tony Thomas
#1) Brian Just
Brian released my favorite album by a local artist last year with lush production and beautiful songs. He played on the show with his full band and the live performances were just as gorgeous. Rick Widen and Andrew Bartelson from Tuesdays Robot also play in the Brian’s band, so it’s not a surprise that they wound up as number one. It’s the Minneapoliscast performance that you shouldn’t miss.
#2) Tuesdays Robot
One of my favorite local bands from last year, Tuesdays Robot really pulled off a fantastic live performance for this show. It was one of the most fun sessions for me to record last year. The playback was even better.
#3) Roundtable Discussion with Ben Kyle as Musical Guest
The roundtable discussion gang is always fun. The usual suspects are me, Stook!, Kyle Matteson & Steve McPherson. This one featured Ben Kyle from Romantica to make it a truly memorable show.
#4) Lucy Michelle’s Appearance Back in July
Lucy Michelle is the real deal. I just knew I had to get her on the show after first hearing her. Her and Chris were consummate professionals and pulled off a truly memorable performance as a duo. Definitely one of my favorite live performances on the show last year.
#5) Rich Mattson’s February Song a Day Submission: “Stihl B. Rokken”
This was a demo recorded to 4-track and as far as I know, Rich played everything. A more produced version later wound up on The Tisdales’ debut release Baker’s Dozen. It’s lo-fi, but it’s a great song about playing music even if you don’t get paid. That what Minneapoliscast is all about.
Top Five Odd/Interesting Instruments We’ve Seen Bands Drag Out To Clubs in 2008 by Will Markwardt of The Absent Arch
The Chord and the Fawn: Push Bells
Skoal Kodiak: Mystery Box + Bleach Bottle Mic/Transducer
Paul Metzger: 21 String Banjo
Doctor Henry Killinger: Fiberglass Bowed Spring-Reverb Box – Lichtenberg Tree
The Dodos: Combination Vibraphone and Trashcan Percussion