Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota’

Flavor Crystals are a psychedelic shoegaze band from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Hi everybody, sorry we’ve been pretty quiet lately, but we’ve been busy working on something. It’s been quite a challenging year for most all of us, but we do have some good news in this crazy thing we call 2020…Flavor Crystals album number five has arrived!. After years of exploration and weirdness, they added bubbly liquid and jelloed into a real band, recording their debut album On Plastic as a document of the sleepy wobbly blurry dreamscape vibe they found together.

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Releases November 11th, 2020

The opening riffs to Double Grave’s “Long Drive Home” sound like Kal Marks covering Dikembe’s viscous cover of “If It Makes You Happy.” That all kinda changes when Jeremy Warden’s relaxed vocals take over, steering the single in the direction of its eventual (still grungy) slacker-rock guitar solo. It’s the kind of early single that keeps you guessing as to what kind of album Goodbye, Nowhere! could possibly be.

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A cool band from Minnesota

Performed and recorded at home by the band over the first half of 2019.
The Band:
Jeremy – guitars, vocals, songwriting
Seth – drums, engineering, mixing
Bree – bass, artwork

Released via Forged Artifacts releases August 7th, 2020

Not many bands in the current emo scene have undergone an evolution as swift and drastic as Remo Drive. Their 2017 debut album titled “Greatest Hits” was a fairly standard indie/emo/pop punk record, but the shimmering chords and classic power pop influences of its underrated 2019 follow-up album Natural, Everyday Degradation showed Remo Drive quickly making a leap from their scrappy roots. When that album came out, I compared it to the jump Saves The Day made from Through Being Cool to Stay What You Are, and their just-released third album “A Portrait of an Ugly Man” just might be their In Reverie.

Natural, Everyday Degradation hinted at “classic” sounds, but “Portrait of an Ugly Man” does a deep dive into your parents’ record collection, fusing elements of classic rock, desert rock, and Spaghetti Western scores and coming out with songs that sound wise beyond their years. It’s not just an improvement upon the band’s earlier work because it’s stylistically more “mature” though; as they explore different genres of music, Remo Drive are also getting better at everything they do. They’re better songwriters than ever, and they’re better producers too — like last year’s Natural, Everyday Degradation companion EP Natural, Everyday Extended Play, they produced Portrait themselves. And as much as the “dad rock” influences on this one are clear, Remo Drive still sound like the lively, youthful band that they always were. With the classic rock worship meeting the band’s emo roots, Portrait sounds a little like prime-era Okkervil River, and if you like that band, you should not overlook this one.

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Remo Drive is Erik Paulson and Stephen Paulson

Portrait of an Ugly Man was written and performed by Erik Paulson (Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, and Aux Percussion), Stephen Paulson (Bass Guitar and Midi Programming), and Sam Becht (Drums). Whitney Smith performed Violin on “If I’ve Ever Looked Too Deep In Thought”

All lyrics by Erik Paulson

Released June 26th, 2020

Image may contain: one or more people, people playing musical instruments, people on stage, concert, guitar and night

Haley Bonar was first discovered by Low’s Alan Sparhawk who spotted her at a local open mic club in Duluth, Minnesota and was so impressed he immediately invited her to join t hem on tour. Which is how, a week later, the nineteen year old Haley Bonar, was transformed from college student to ambitious dropout, crammed into a Honda Civic with a guitar and a drummer for company, touring the US opening for Low.

But there is more to this story. In the decade since Haley has released a succession of recordings, each of which have garnered more praise the last, and has seen her collaborate with the likes of Andrew Bird (with whom Haley occasionally plays live) and Justin Vernon (who features on her new album). That’s not to mention the company she keeps in a rotating cast of premium band members including Jeremy Hanson (Tapes ‘n Tapes), Luke Anderson (Rogue Valley), Jeremy Ylvisaker (Andrew Bird, Alpha Consumer) and Mike Lewis (Bon Iver, Alpha Consumer). Now, with her new album ‘Last War’ Haley looks set to find a wider audience.

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Much of the joy of Bonar’s songwriting is in the tension between her sparkling melodic sensibility and her deeply ambivalent lyrics. Album opener ‘Kill the Fun’ positively crackles with traces of the Cure at their most pop, as Bonar chronicles her travels with a lover, taking some moments to reveal the nature of the relationship: “You’ll be here till morning / You will get back on the plane / Go back to work / where you never knew my name.” On ‘No Sensitive Man’ (which features the most Clem Burke drums outside of a Blondie record), she claims “I don’t want no sensitive man / I don’t want to talk.” While on the captivating ‘Heaven’s Made For Two’ Bonar’s daydreaming vocal drifts ethereally as the instrumentation builds from stripped-back beginnings into a country-meets-shoegaze wall of sound crescendo.

On ‘Last War’, the complexities hit as hard as the hooks, a smart, careful balance achieved through equal doses of mystery and charm.

Originally released September 29th, 2014

When Poliça’s Channy Leaneagh fell off her roof while clearing ice in early 2018, she smashed her L1 vertebrae and battered her spine, leaving her in a brace with limited mobility for months. Yet Poliça’s fourth album, “When We Stay Alive”, is not about one debilitating accident. It’s about the redemptive power of rewriting your story in order to heal, and reclaiming your identity as a result.

While recovering, Leaneagh’s doctor told her to focus not only on physical healing, but to meditate on the mental act of healing as well – working to erase the anger, regrets, and fear she felt about her fall. To do so, he suggested she rewrite the story she told herself about what happened on February 28th. Left alone with her thoughts and her back fully braced, Leaneagh would visualize herself slipping and falling not onto cement, but instead onto a cloud, landing safely before breaking into a sprint over snow melting to reveal tall blades of green grass. As she felt the positive effects of this mental exercise, she set about doing the same for other injuries and pains that she gripped onto from her past.

Prior to Leaneagh’s accident, she had been setting music aside as she raised her children and worked to make ends meet as a nursing assistant. Now in the still silence of healing, she found that a multitude of feelings were becoming very loud. Leaneagh realized her self-identity had become attached to her experiences of physical and mental trauma, and she began to consider what it would be like to live without the past as a burden. “I felt there were many things I could look at and say, ‘This happened to me but I’m okay now. It’s not happening anymore and I got the care I needed for it. Now it’s time to rewrite the story I tell about myself and to myself,’”

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Released January 31st, 2020

Minnesota’s Remo Drive picked up a lot of buzz for their 2017 debut album “Greatest Hits”, which was self-released and soon became the talk of many emo-friendly online music circles. How many more bands with strained, nasally vocals, pop punk chord progressions, and silly song titles do we need? — but Remo Drive quickly caught on, signed to Epitaph Records, and continued to expand their fanbase. And now I’d say the many people who saw potential in them were right all along. Their recently-released second album is — in my humble opinion — much better than Greatest Hits and a pretty huge step forward.

“Natural, Everyday Degradation” has much cleaner production than Greatest Hits (it was produced by Hop Along’s Joe Reinhart and mixed by The National/Interpol collaborator Peter Katis), and the band’s singing and songwriting is a lot stronger than it was two years ago. The album is still under the umbrella of indie rock-friendly emo and pop punk, but these songs aren’t really written like emo or pop punk songs. Erik Paulson’s voice sounds a lot more pristine, and his melodies hearken back to classic pop like pre-acid Beatles or early power pop like Elvis Costello. His voice has evolved from a punky yelp into a matured croon, and he’s developed a real knack for songcraft that was only hinted at on Greatest Hits, and that you don’t hear everyday in the punk/emo scene. Also, Saves the Day and Joyce Manor are touring together later this year, and if you’re excited for that tour, Natural, Everyday Degradation is probably right up your alley.)

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Natural, Everyday Degradation is the kind of creative, artistic progression that you usually don’t hear this early on in a band’s career, so it already has me excited to hear where Remo Drive go next. If there are still some setbacks, the songs could be a little more musically diverse and Remo Drive could use a really strong chorus or two — the new album may remind me of Stay What You Are but they haven’t written their “At Your Funeral” yet — but at the rate they’re going, I wouldn’t be surprised if they churn out a modern classic one of these days.

Sass live up to their name, but they use sarcasm and cheekiness as a deflection tactic against a looming darkness. The songs on their debut album, “Chew Toy”, are about heavy shit, and Stephanie Murck never undersells the very serious topics she’s singing about. But the gnarled and fuzzy towers of attitude that Sass build up around that are stunning — frustrated bursts of pure release.

released May 31st, 2019

An indie rock band from the land of lakes , led by Kerry Alexander who when she wants to write a song, turns on the radio. That’s because Alexander, the lead singer and songwriter of the Minneapolis band Bad Bad Hats, is interested in pop tropes – how to play around with them, why they work the way they do.

After alternating between acoustic offerings and revved-up, garage-leaning rock on their debut, the band settles into a comfortable mid-tempo groove on the new LP, with richly-produced synth-pop sound.

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Band Members
Kerry Alexander,
Connor Davison,
Chris Hoge,

In one of the most impressive stylistic pivots of the year, indie-emo vets Now, Now returned with drum machines and synths in tow for their third LP Saved, one of the most pleasing and unique pop records of the year. After the opening guitar notes of “SGL,” the Minnesota duo of Kacey Dalager and Brad Hale fill out their sound by weaving in swelling electronic soundscapes and catchy dance-pop hooks. The differences between Saved and previous album Threads are immense. Mostly, they’ve expertly traded in their garage-y rawness and emo leanings for a more polished dream-pop vibe – without sacrificing any of the poignancy or intimacy of their songwriting. Shimmering dance-pop jam “MJ” mixes Michael Jackson references with flickering synth textures and emotions that stir an aura of bittersweet, childlike wonder.

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There’s also the nostalgia-soaked “AZ,” with its ticking acoustic guitar and flurry of lo-fi synths that beautifully crescendo during the song’s dramatic outro. The album explores the disillusionment of adulthood and the tangled nature of spirituality, with religious imagery complementing Dalager’s pleas for love and affection, or in her case, emotional salvation: “Oh my God I’m saved!” she proclaims on the trippy, seismic title track. Meanwhile, album highlight “Yours” is the sort of earnest and maximalist alt-pop tune that should’ve been a huge hit in this streaming era. With Saved, Now, Now reveal a stunning new side of themselves, and pull off one hell of a creative left turn.

Low’s 12th album is awash in noise – static, electrical hum, broken down electronics. Over 11 songs, these forces work to obscure Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s voices, wrapped together as always in close harmony. Recorded at Justin Vernon’s April Base with producer BJ Burton, the album implodes the Low template and builds something terrifying and confusing in its place. Many songwriters have attempted to document the pressing anxiety of our overloaded information age; with Double Negative, Low processes the ugliness of our age without abandoning their signature haunting beauty.

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Slowcore pioneers Low first introduced electronics to their moody, minimal instrumental palette cautiously, on 2015’s Ones and Sixes; the change, partially brought about by working with producer BJ Burton, helped revitalize both their sound and creativity. On Double Negative(also recorded with Burton), those electronics become a key component, truly directing the album—warping vocals (opener “Quorum” feels like a constantly-interrupted transmission), incorporating rhythmic noise (“Dancing and Blood”), adding a glacial effect to guitars (“Poor Sucker”). It took the group nearly two years of trial and error to craft. This is all true, but it doesn’t capture what a terrifying, majestic, heavy gut-punch of an album Double Negative is, how emotionally affecting it is, how it feels like an ice cave one crawls into to find solace from worse weather and to escape potential predators. A stunning album, one that reveals new depths with every play.