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With its highly anticipated announcement of this year’s Soundset lineup coming Wednesday morning, Rhymesayers Entertainment added to the buzz by announcing details of the next album by the fest’s resident headliner, Atmosphere. It’s titled “Southsiders” and will land May via the Minneapolis indie-rap imprint.
As has been apparent by at Atmosphere gigs over the past year, the city’s most celebrated hip-hop act is back in rapper/DJ duo mode, with Slug and Ant leaving behind the live band that defined their last two albums. Along with the record-release news, Rhymesayers dropped the first single off the record, “Bitter.”
The frost-biting track not only shows off the more electronic two-man sound but also hints at the lyrical content of the album, with Slug looking back at his ascent from his native south Minneapolis and the certain amount of jealousy that went with success: “Came home, everybody want to judge now,” he says midway through the song, “Don’t want to let them see you celebrate your touchdown.” Other song titles on the album include “January on Lake Street,” “Southsiders,” “I Love You Like a Brother,” “The World Might Not Live Through the Night” and – most curiously – “Kanye West.”
While they're a sure bet at Soundset, Atmosphere has also announced a few other shows behind the album that includes an appearance at the second of two Sasquatch Festivals near Seattle on the Fourth of July with Soundgarden, Frank Ocean, Kraftwerk, New Order and Spoon. Pre-orders of "Southsiders" are now available via iTunes or Fifth Element.
The Sonics at First Avenue Saturday (photos by Tim Campbell)
For garage rock lovers and vintage vinyl crate diggers, it was a night of "Nuggets" and Big Hits From Mid America" -- not surprising, since the ringleader runs one of the Twin Cities' landmark record shops.
Mark Trehus, owner of Treehouse Records (nee Oarfolkjokeopus), teamed up with First Avenue to present Tacoma, Wash., '60s legends the Sonics in concert Saturday night on a bill with Twin Cities punk-rock pioneers the Suicide Commandos and Curtiss A (with his superb but seldom-seen Jerks of Fate), plus a ringer from south Florida, roots-rocker Charlie Pickett.
Pickett, who recorded an album here in 1986 for the Twin/Tone label (produced by Commando Chris Osgood), hasn't played the Twin Cities in decades. Let's hope he becomes a regular again -- the Turf Club would be perfect. His set climaxed with a cameo from old pal Bill Batson of the Hypstrz/Mighty Mofos on a roaring cover of the Flaming Groovies' "Slow Death" -- which also served as a tantalizing teaser to a May 11 double bill (at the Turf) pairing the Groovies and Mofos.
Not to be outdone, the Commandos brought out Curtiss A to reprise their 1978 collaboration on "Land of the Free" (released under the name "Buzz Barker and the Atomic Bums" on Twin/Tone's "Big Hits of Mid-America Volume Three," as a few dozen of the record geeks in attendance Saturday would no doubt be pleased to inform you at considerable length).
Could headliners the Sonics -- making their Twin Cities debut 50 years after scoring a minor hit with "The Witch" -- measure up to the buzz they've built since reuniting in 2008? They did, and more, rocking out in black dad jeans that belied their cred as punk-rock progenitors for the likes of the White Stripes and Cramps.
While rooted in 1950s-60s R&B, especially Little Richard -- screamed authoritatively by bassist Freddie Dennis -- the quintet brought a Stooges-like grind to its own songs like "Have Love Will Travel" (copped by the Hives for their hit "Main Offender") and set-closer "Louie Louie." You might think you'd never need to hear that song again, but the Sonics took it to "Fun House" territory via the tough guitar licks of Larry Parypa, abetted by fellow original members Gerry Roslie (organ and lead vocals) and saxman Rob Lind, and backbeat-slamming drummer Dusty Watson.
Click here to see a gallery of photos from the show.
I don't think Hank done it this way: Justin Vernon read lyrics from a Mac during Sunday's brunch gig at Icehouse in south Minneapolis with Mike Lewis (bass), JT Bates (drums) and Jeremy Ylvisaker (guitar). / Photo by Stacy Schwartz
How hot was Icehouse this past weekend? So hot that the 2011 best new artist Grammy Award winner actually saw the least attendance.
Granted, Sunday’s brunch performance by Justin “Bon Iver” Vernon wasn’t advertised as such. It wasn’t promoted, period, aside from a listing on the S. Nicollet Avenue eatery/club’s website promising “country covers” by an unknown group with the huh? name Ephasis. Word of the true identity surprisingly stayed on the lowdown. And anyway, how many people would’ve believed a rumor that Vernon was to be served along with French toast?
Sporting a wide-brimmed Hank-Sr.-style cowboy hat, the Eau Claire indie-rock guru took the stage around 11:30 a.m. with prominent local sidemen Jeremy Ylvisaker (guitar), Mike Lewis (bass) and JT Bates (drums). The part about them playing country tunes proved true. Another surprise, though, was the fact that they almost exclusively played country tunes by two legendary Johns: Cash and Prine. They opened with the former’s “I Still Miss Someone,” then played the latter’s “Christmas in Prison.” Other Cash classics in the fest of two sets included “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town,” “Unchained” and “Folsom Prison Blues.” The Prine hit list featured “All the Best” and “Angel From Montgomery.” Per an all-too-reliable source, the second set offered more from each singer as well as Dylan’s “With God on Our Side” and Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire.”
No falsetto here. Vernon already showed off his adeptness for singing Prine on the 2010 tribute album “Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows,” and anyone who knows his records would recognize his ability to bellow deep like Cash. The performance was arguably more a showcase for Ylvisaker, who showed off yet another side to his guitar abilities by playing tasteful ambient-twang fills throughout the sets. Word is Vernon has been in town doing some recording with Sunday’s bandmates and some of their cohorts. If they’re not doing similarly twangy stuff in the studio this time around, they should at some point.
Before a reportedly well-attended and well-executed release-party by Northfield buzz band the Counterfactuals on Saturday, Vernon was also on hand as one of about 80 participants in Friday’s Icehouse gig. The show was officially the last of a three-night run by resident electro-whack-jobs Marijuana Deathsquads. Unofficially, it was a well-wishing bon-voyage-for-now party for Stef Alexander, a k a P.O.S., who will have his long-awaited kidney transplant next week.
“This is a remix of a remix,” Alexander said as he launched into warped, slogged, Skrew-y versions of the first three tracks from his 2012 P.O.S. album “We Don’t Even Live Here,” which the Deathsquads crew did remix in its entirety on record last year.
They only did about a fourth of the record on stage Friday, though, weaving in and out of snippets of certain tracks while a small cavalcade of Twin Cities indie-rock and rap stars took the stage to improvise lyrics and vocal effects. The guests included (in rough order of who made the biggest impressions) Lizzo, Astronautalis, Allan Kingdom and Spyder Baybie. Vernon joined the Deathsquads crew on the decks and gadgets alongside DJ Fundo and Polica’s Channy Leaneagh. Alexander was up there the whole time, smiling the whole time.
“You guys aren’t going to see me for a while, but then you’re going to see me everywhere,” he told the sold-out crowd. Let’s hold him to that.
With their biggest local gig of the year coming up, the Twin Cities’ two best-known kids-music makers have dropped details and previews of their upcoming albums. Each is performing two sets at Rock the Cradle at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts/Children’s Theatre on Sunday, details of which can be had over at the Current’s site.
THE OKEE DOKEE BROTHERS: This time last year, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing were still basking in the glow of their Grammy Award win for best children’s album with “Can You Canoe?” and planning their month-long hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail. On May 20, the bluegrass-picking childhood buds will issue the results of that adventure, “Through the Woods,” another album and DVD filled with songs about enjoying the outdoors and each other’s company. The duo posted a trailer video for the album yesterday, which shows them on the trail and in neighboring towns collaborating with some of the Appalachian area musicians. The Rolling Stones can sing about wild horses all they want, but I bet ol’ Mick and Keith never got up close to actual wild horses like we see young Justin and Joe do here.
KOO KOO KANGA ROO: Coming off their big profile boost from a fall tour with British rocker Frank Turner – like the Okees, the Koo krew also fare well with big kids – dance-rap duo Bryan Atchison and Neil Olstad earned a deal with a national indie label for their next album. Northern California imprint Fun Fun Records -- a childish offshoot of the adult-punky Asian Man Records (see: Alkaline Trio, Queers) -- will issue “Whoopty Whoop” on May 13. Just as they’ve given it up for unicorns and mini-vans in the past, Bryan and Neil champion another uncool subject in the record’s first single, available via iTunes and their Bandcamp page. Here’s a lyric video for the tune, "Fanny Pack."
Yup, sounds like Information Society. That’s the reaction you’re bound to have upon hearing the new single from Minneapolis’ ‘80s electronic pop hitmakers, which premiered today on the Huffington Post and is posted below as a lyric video. Titled “Land of the Blind,” the song is the first track issued from the first InSoc record since 2009, “_Hello World,” due this summer via bandleader Paul Robb’s label Hakatak International.
The album features Robb and the group’s two other co-founding members, singer Kurt Larson and bassist/keyboardist Jack Cassidy, all of whom helmed the biggest InSoc hits “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)” and “Walking Away.” Their new material will also be accompanied this year by a reissue of their 1985 debut, “The InSoc EP,” from Brelin-based Mannequin Records. Also, Tommy Boy Records is releasing a new remix of the group’s 1985 dance hit “Running” in April.
All of this is a great excuse for Robb & Co. to return to the stage with a tour, also reportedly in the works.
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