The drummer behind Justin Vernon’s latest band is also back with his other groups this month.
For at least this week and a couple more, Brian Moen might be the busiest drummer in Minneapolis — and he doesn’t even live here anymore.
“I’m playing seven shows there in three weeks with three different bands, and have two recording sessions, too,” the bespectacled heavy hitter reported, not meaning to brag.
Best known as Peter Pisano’s rhythmic backer and studio-wiz accomplice in Peter Wolf Crier, Moen recently followed a girl out to Oakland, Calif., where he works as a designer for a company in Seattle. Ah, the life of a modern-day, Mac-equipped, telecommuting troubadour.
Moen left most of his musical heart in Minnesota and Wisconsin, though. He’s back to work on a third PWC album with Pisano, who took a teaching job in Toronto but remains rooted here. The duo will play its first local gig of the year Aug. 9 at the Turf Club. Last weekend, Moen also got back together with his earlier band, Laarks, which just dropped its long-in-the-works sophomore album, “Fiat Lux.”
This weekend, Moen will immerse himself in the most high-profile but least ambitious of his projects, the Shouting Matches. That’s the vaguely bluesy and surprisingly straight-ahead rock trio featuring Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Phil Cook (Megafaun). They played the Coachella fest back in April, which you might call a warm-up to Friday’s set at First Avenue and a show the previous night at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall — currently their only gigs on the books.
“The whole point of the Shouting Matches is to not overthink anything, to just play together and see what comes out,” Moen said. “It’s sort of a true side project.”
Moen, Vernon and Cook were all cohorts in the Eau Claire music scene in the mid-’00s, and even performed briefly as the Shouting Matches then. Vernon and Moen took it far enough to record a Shouting Matches EP, a more blues-heavy collection that has literally been sitting on the shelf for seven years. The printed copies will finally be dusted off for the merch table at these shows, alongside the new full-length album, “Grownass Man,” which they recorded over the winter at Vernon’s studio in Fall Creek, Wis.
“We made that first one in Justin’s parents’ basement,” Moen recalled with a chuckle, “which was obviously a far cry from the world-class recording facility Justin has now.”
“Grownass Man” is nonetheless a relatively raw and unpretty record, especially compared to the ornate sonic production of Bon Iver and Vernon’s other band, Volcano Choir (coming Oct. 18 to First Ave). At Coachella, Vernon tellingly wore a slacker-looking Hawaiian shirt while Moen’s girlfriend Jill Heinke, who plays in Oakland’s Birds & Batteries, joined on bass.
“We’ve had so much fun with it, I think we’ll keep it going as long as it remains that,” he said.
On the other hand, it didn’t sound like Moen and Pisano were having much fun during a grueling year of touring behind Peter Wolf Crier’s second album for Jagjaguwar Records, 2011’s “Garden of Arms.”
“It became a job to us,” said Moen. They intend to avoid that with the next record.
“We just decided to scale it back and lower our expectations of what we get out of it professionally. Musically, though, our expectations are as high as ever.”
It’s that time of the year again when local bands get to open for movies instead of other bands. Vita.mn’s August Music & Movies series kicks off Friday at the incomparable Lake Harriet Bandshell with orchestral-pop wunderkind John Mark Nelson performing before “The Goonies” (7:30 p.m., free, all ages). The other pairings in the series are Now, Now with “Adventures in Babysitting” on Aug. 9, Strange Names with “Space Camp” on Aug. 16 and Frankie Lee with a movie to be picked by vote Aug. 23.
Walker Art Center’s Music & Movies series also kicked off last week in Loring Park and continues with a wild array of movies selected by Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas, including “Cochochi” on Monday with rootsy favorites Charlie Parr and the Roe Family Singers (7 p.m., free), followed by “In the Pit” with the Chalice on Aug. 12 and “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” with Aby Wolf, Grant Cutler and Zoo Animal on Aug. 19.
A hard-thrashing, loud-howling all-female Minneapolis punk trio in the vein of … well, you know… Kitten Forever celebrates the release of its second full-length album at the Kitty Cat Klub on Sunday with Is/Is and Animal Lover (9 p.m., free). The 13-song collection, “Pressure,” is being issued via Guilt Ridden Pop as a double 7-inch colored-vinyl set. As ultra-hipster as that sounds, the album actually offers some classic-sounding, snarling brat-punk that old-schoolers might love. …