After a couple of years of flirting, it was about time Ed and Ashley Ackerson went for it. And I'm not talking about getting married.
One of the Twin Cities music scene's royal couples, the longtime Polara bandleader and Flowers Studio guru (Ed) started a new band with the Mood Swings darling (Ashley) two years ago, three years into their marriage. Funny that their musical hook-up took so long, although they had already more or less joined each other's bands.
The act they finally formed, noisy and feisty fuzz-rock duo BNLX, is just now getting around to releasing its debut full-length album. Not that the Ackersons have been sitting around idly. Succinctly titled "LP," the new record follows seven EPs that the couple wham-bammed with surprising frequency and consistency since BNLX's inception, each similarly titled "EP #1," "EP #2," etc.
Turns out, those EPs were integral to the concept that Ed and Ashley had for their duo from the get-go, a vision now somewhat blurred -- but in good ways -- by the recording of "LP." Now joined by drummer David Jarnstrom onstage, the couple will celebrate the release with a two-night "BNLX Fest" with eight of their favorite bands Friday and Saturday nights at Cause.
"We wanted to have this continuous musical dialogue and not be seen as trying to do anything too precious," Ed explained. "We wanted this group to be nothing but fun, and those EPs were really a lot of fun."
Those short collections also had a logistical advantage. As the owner of Flowers, Ed often works on his own projects "in short bursts" between outside acts who book the studio. Of late, that has included Motion City Soundtrack (he co-produced their new album, "Go") and the much-ballyhooed one-day Replacements session with Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson for an upcoming Slim Dunlap tribute EP. ("Speaking strictly as a fan, it blew me away how good it turned out," he said.)
After the seventh BNLX EP, however, it became apparent that a full-length record was the next logical step. "So many people just kept asking when we were going to do it, we sort of just gave in," Ashley recalled. Ed added, "A lot of people on the business end of things don't really take you seriously until you put out a full-length."
The Ackersons and Jarnstrom certainly took the making of "LP" seriously, holing up for many days over the summer to create a cohesive but varied mix from the band's sonic palette. Tracks range from the poppier New Orderly gems "Everything Must Go" and "Vibrant" to the dark and snaky "Peacock Throne" to the snarky punk workout "Message from HR."
But they didn't want to lose the fast and loose energy of the EPs, so the 36-minute album whizzes by in a dizzying whirl. It's no coincidence that the record begins and ends with the two most spastic songs, the snarling 50-second burst "999" and the rapper-mocking finale "Mixtape." Best of all, the cover features a photo of the Ackersons' cuddly Boston terrier, Wiggy, his payoff for letting Mom and Dad hang around the studio.
"We still had a lot of fun making this," Ed confirmed. In other words: mission accomplished.