Twin Cities Critics Tally 2011: Songs, live acts, 'signs of life'

More best-of lists from local music critics.


Pink Mink was a favorite live act.

Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

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1. Sims with Lazerbeak, "Burn It Down" (50 points)

2. Poliça, "Wandering Star" (20)

3. Pink Mink, "Hidden Beach" (18)

4. Night Moves, "Headlights" (17)

5. M.anifest, "Suffer" (16)

6. Doomtree, "Bangarang" (15)

7. Howler, "I Told You Once" (13)

8. Doomtree, "No Way" (12)

9. Dead Man Winter, "Nicotine" (11)

10. (tie) Blood&Stuff, "A Fire Out at Sea" (10)

Brute Heart, "Eclipse"

The Cactus Blossoms, "Stoplight Kisses"

Communist Daughter, "Ghosts" The Cloak Ox, "Prison"

Doomtree, "Punch Out"

John Maus, "Quantum Leap"

Sleeping in the Aviary, "Karen, You're an Angel"

Unknown Prophets, "Nowhere"



1. Doomtree (77 points)

2. Poliça (43)

3. Marijuana Deathsquads (41)

4. The 4onthefloor (27)

5. Pink Mink (22)

6. Davina & the Vagabonds (20)

7. The Book of Right On (16)

8. Astronautalis (14)

9. Zoo Animal/Holly Newsom (13)

10. (tie) Molly Maher & Her Disbelievers (11)

Peter Wolf Crier

Honorable mentions:

Cactus Blossoms, the Japhies, Night Moves (10 apiece)



1. Doomtree, "No Kings"

2. Dead Man Winter, "Bright Lights"

3. Mason Jennings, "Minnesota"

4. Pink Mink, "Pink Mink"

5. Rogue Valley, "False Floors"

6. M.anifest, "Immigrant Chronicles: Coming to America"

7. The Blind Shake, "Seriousness"

8. Low, "C'mon"

9. Astronautalis, "This Is Our Science"

10. Davina & the Vagabonds, "Black Cloud"



David Campbell (host of 89.3 the Current's "Local Show"): Even with two hours of time each week to cover our beloved scene, it has become impossible to fit in everything that deserves coverage on "The Local Show." The new releases, the forthcoming week's best shows, the freaky one-off collaborations, and all the notable news have become more substantial then our allotted time allows.

Andrea Swensson (City Pages music editor): We've had a diverse scene here for years, but it seems like the national (and international) media is finally starting to pay attention. With Howler, Prof, Poliça, Elite Gymnastics, John Maus, and many more gaining traction in 2011, we have a new round of talented artists spreading the good word online and out there on the road.

Pamela Espeland (Minn, KBEM, bebopified. com): I'm always surprised by how much jazz happens in the Twin Cities. It's not uncommon to find up to 50 different events in a given week. When one venue closes (the Clown Lounge), others open or make room for jazz (the Black Dog, Studio Z, the Nomad). New bands are starting all the time. Not bad for a music that's supposedly dead.

Erik Thompson (City Pages contributor): Consistently sold-out shows for local bands, whether it was the string of seven for Doomtree, Caroline Smith selling out First Ave for her record release show, or Poliça selling-out the Turf Club based on word of mouth alone.

Tim Campbell (Star Tribune senior A&E editor): Only a few years ago, maybe a couple local acts could pack First Ave. Now I could probably name a dozen. So listen up, anybody who's terminally nostalgic for the good old days of the "Minneapolis scene" -- the heyday is right now.

Chris Riemenschneider: As impressive as Doomtree's seven-night run, Rogue Valley completed its own marathon in April with "False Floors," its fourth album in a year. Even with the time crunch, Chris Koza's band did not take the easy road (read: do it all on a Mac) and crafted carefully refined, thematic, classic-sounding studio albums, an art form clearly not lost on this scene.

Kyle Matteson (Reviler, Cakein15 blogger): From making up a huge chunk of SoundTown's inaugural lineup to the 7 nights of the Doomtree Blowout, local music is blurring the line between local and national music, and thankfully just being considered "great" music.

Peter Scholtes (freelancer, City Pages contributor): The three best exercises in local-music nostalgia -- the Original 7ven's '80s-esque "#Trendin," Unknown Prophets' scene reminiscence "Nowhere," and Zach Combs' rap memoir "Headspin, Headshots & History: Growing Up in Twin Cities Hip Hop" -- come from artists still making great music.

Jim Walsh (author, columnist): The "Local Current" stream, 24-7 at

Tom Horgen (Star Tribune nightlife reporter): Doomtree -- all day, every day.

The rest of the TCCT voting bloc: Jay Boller ( contributor); Jon Bream (Star Tribune); Cyn Collins (City Pages contributor, author, KFAI host); Jay Gabler (Twin Cities Daily Planet arts editor); Raghav Mehta (Minnesota Daily assistant arts editor); Jim Meyer (freelancer); Jason Nagel (Cities 97 "MN Music" host); Pat O'Brien (City Pages/Gimme Noise); Jessica J. Paxton (KYMN Radio host, Northfield); Jahna Peloquin (; Ross Raihala (Pioneer Press music critic); Mike Rietmulder (; Jack Spencer (City Pages); Rob van Alstyne (City Pages, Metro magazine).



2002: Atmosphere, "God Loves Ugly"

2003: Atmosphere, "Seven's Travels"

2004: P.O.S., "Ipecac Neat"

2005: Atmosphere, "You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having"

2006: P.O.S., "Audition"

2007: Brother Ali, "The Undisputed Truth"

2008: Atmosphere, "When Life Gives You Lemons ... "

2009: P.O.S., "Never Better"

2010: Jeremy Messersmith, "The Reluctant Graveyard"

2011: Doomtree, "No Kings"

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  • Audio: "Headlights" by Night Moves

    Wednesday December 28, 2011

  • Audio: "Suffer," by m.anifest

    Thursday September 22, 2011

    "Suffer," by m.anifest, from the CD Immigrant Chronicles: Coming to America

  • Audio: "Bangarang" by Doomtree

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  • Audio: "I Told You Once," by Howler

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  • Audio: "Nicotine," by Dead Man Winter

    Thursday September 15, 2011

    "Nicotine," by Dead Man Winter from the CD Bright Lights

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