Local music: BNLX goes long

Rock couple Ed and Ashley Ackerson take it to another level on their group's first full album.

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BNLX -- Ashley and Ed Ackerson -- in a show from September 2011 at Cause in Minneapolis.

Photo: Leslie Plesser, Special to the Star Tribune

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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 a string of 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 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," a song inspired by Ashley's job at a local retail corporation.

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.

Flipped out

Remember Flipp? Anybody who attended the 93X Fest where the clownish metal band hired a helicopter to break open feather pillows over the crowd remembers them (as does local law enforcement).

Flipp's old frontman Brynn Arens is back from a long hiatus with another fun new quartet, the Oddfathers, featuring the veteran lineup of guitarist Casey Gooby (a guru at Willie's Guitars), bassist Krys Baratto (ex-L.A. session player) and drummer Tom Cook (ex-Magnolias).

Theirs is a pretty good gimmick, too: They wear Vito Corleone-style suits and are debuting on record with a "live double-7-inch" featuring four melodic but grimy songs, part New York Dolls and part Monkees. They make their live debut Tuesday at the Pioneer Place Theater in St. Cloud (7:30 p.m., $15).

Random mix

Soul Asylum has booked another First Ave gig around the holidays, this one on Dec. 28 with the Honeydogs opening. Tickets go on sale Friday. It will be the band's first hometown gig without co-founding guitarist Danny Murphy. ... Snooze you lose: Two of Doomtree's three Blowout shows at First Ave are sold out, but tickets remain for Dec. 16. ... Also sold out: Prof's two 7th Street Entry shows on Monday, which wrap up the warped-minded Minneapolis rap wiz's short tour behind a new nine-song set, "Kaiser Von Powderhorn 3." The collection includes the Yelawolf-accompanied track "New Kid" and can be downloaded for free via Bancamp. ...

Mason Jennings heads up the final two installments of the Minnesota Music Coalition's Caravan du Nord series with shows Friday at the Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes (with Caroline Smith opening) and Saturday at the Sheldon Theatre in Red Wing (with Fort Wilson Riot), each preceded by daytime workshops. Details at www.MNMusicCoali tion.org. ... The one Minnesota band featured on the original "Nuggets" '60s garage-rock anthology, the Castaways ("Liar, Liar"), will kick off a cool new series at the Parkway Theater in south Minneapolis on Saturday dubbed "Back to Mr. Lucky's," named after the South Side teen club that was a music hotbed in the '60s (7 p.m., $12). The series continues Dec. 15 with the Del Counts and Jan. 19 with an all-star Stax tribute. ...

Psychedelic folkers the Daredevil Christopher Wright have an unusual gig Friday to tout a unique new release. The Syd Barrett-styled pickers are in the middle slot at the third annual Hennepin Church Rock concert at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Av., Mpls., also featuring rootsy local favorites Black Audience and Chastity Brown (7-10 p.m., free). DCW just released a new split-single with hazy Brooklyn ensemble Cuddle Magic that includes a track, "A Man of the Arts," just featured by NPR in its "All Songs Considered." ...

The Minnesota Blues Society will host a release party Sunday at Wilebski's Blues Saloon for "Minnesota Blues All-Stars 2012," a collection of live recordings at the club by Bill Swanson, Pat McLaughlin, Annie Mack, Jimi "Prime Time" Smith, Curtis Blake and many more (1 p.m., $10, CD with admission). ... Thanksgiving is a big day at Wilebski's, too, as owner Ted Wilebski is marrying his longtime sweetheart, Jennifer Rothe, at the club that night. Congrats. ...

While everybody seems to think Lee's Liquor Lounge will soon be sold except for Louie Sirian -- the guy who actually owns the place -- a grass-roots campaign started last week on Facebook for a community-driven takeover of the beloved Minneapolis club. The effort may be a pipe dream, but it underlines how much people care about the place. Look it up on Facebook under "Let's Buy Lee's."

chrisr@startribune.com • 612-673-4658 • Twitter: @ChrisRstrib

  • related content

  • Audio: "Vibrant" by BNLX

    Thursday November 15, 2012

  • Audio: "Peacock Throne" by BNLX

    Thursday November 15, 2012

  • BNLX's "LP" cover

  • The Oddfathers

  • BNLX FEST

    Friday: Two Harbors, Blue Sky Blackout, International Karate, Fury Things.

    Saturday: Pink Mink, Me & My Arrow, Wiping Out Thousands, Gloss.

    Where: Cause, 3001 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls.

    Tickets: $6 nightly; 21 and older.

    HEAR SAMPLES FROM BNLX'S "LP" AT startribune.com/music

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