As Mx2007, he's taking rock blogs to the Max

Max Timander, 12, has found his passion in writing about music.

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Max Timander’s blog, areyourockin.com, covers Twin Cities musicians and reviews new and “retro” CD releases. He’d like it to become the next Pitchfork.

Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

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He's an important enough music blogger that indie-pop star Jeremy Messersmith personally delivered a CD to his house in south Minneapolis. Local promotions company Tinderbox Music also "services" him with all their albums.

Imagine how big he might be if he didn't also have to do his sixth-grade homework.

Field Middle School student Max Timander, 12, has taken blogging's egalitarian spirit to a new height, despite his lack thereof. He runs areyourockin.com, a reviewer-centric rock blog covering a smart mix of hot albums (the new Green Day "is so addicting," he says) and "retro" discs -- by early-'00s acts such as the White Stripes and David Gray.

The real attention-grabber on Max's site, though, is its heavy coverage of Twin Cities music. Never mind that its operator is usually too young to see these bands in clubs.

What he lacks in all-access and perfect grammar, Max makes up for in enthusiasm and ambition.

"My goal is it to make my blog as famous as Pitchfork by the time I'm 20," he said, referring to the big kahuna of rock blogs, PitchforkMedia.com.

The mop-topped, 5-foot-3-inch blogger started his site last year after seeing copies of a music fanzine that his dad co-helmed in the late-'80s called the Wrap Sheet.

"We spent a lot of late nights at Kinko's putting it together," remembered Kerry Timander, 44, sounding like the old man telling his kid he walked uphill to school in 10 feet of snow.

Pointing to the computer outside Max's bedroom, Kerry added, "Now, everything he needs is right here."

That everything includes Max's iTunes songs -- 4,113 and counting. His list ranges from '80s electronic-pop heroes New Order to new songs by current indie-folk darling Iron & Wine to nearly everything the White Stripes and Coldplay have recorded.

There's a Coldplay poster hanging in Max's bedroom, too, but his walls are mostly lined with memorabilia from local acts: Haley Bonar, White Light Riot and -- Max's favorite band besides Coldplay -- the Hopefuls.

"If no one has heard of the Hopefuls or the Honeydogs, then your [sic] in for trouble." Max wrote under his blogger pen name, Mx2007, after seeing the two groups together at First Avenue in March.

More of Mx2007's prose:

•"Andrew Bird is a musician who plays violin but instead of what people usually do he likes to pluck the strings and play it like a guitar. He also likes to whistle during his songs. I think the reason he whistles is because his name is Andrew 'Bird.' "

•On the Decemberists' new concept album: "I really don't get any of the lyrics though because they don't make sense."

•About the Yeah Yeah Yeahs: "The fun loving voice of lead singer Karen O. and the sounds the guitar can make in the background are amazing! I'd say this is the best guitar I've heard since White Light Riot came out with their CD. This CD combines sweet rock to playing on what seems like the acoustic guitar. I think her voice reminds me of the Melismatics a little bit."

Max started frequenting shows with his dad about two years ago. He's been to First Avenue many times, as well as the Varsity Theater and Cedar Cultural Center. Because most club shows are usually 18-and-up, though, he more often attends coffee-shop shows or free outdoor events.

"I love going to see local bands," he said. "Once you know the songs, they're as much fun as any other band."

Kerry Timander, director of marketing at the software/video-game distributor Navarre Corp., not only passed along a passion for music to his son, he also taught him the technical know-how of running a blog. They use Google's Blogger.com program to post the writings, and the free audio streaming site Lala.com to provide music samples.

Spreading the word

Max said his main goal is to simply spread the word on his favorite bands. He now trades musical tips with a more-famous kid blogger, Spencer Tweedy, son of Wilco singer Jeff Tweedy (Max believes he has turned Spencer on to Minnesota band Cloud Cult). He has also recruited a cousin and a few friends to contribute reviews to areyourockin.com. He's a little frustrated by that process, though.

"They're not writing enough!" he complained, like an exasperated editor. Sounding nothing like an editor, he added, "I try to write reviews as long as I can, to keep people interested."

Local musicians are certainly interested in hearing what Max has to say.

"In a way, you can take his opinion more seriously because he's a kid," said Messersmith. "Kids don't have any trendy biases about music. They either like it or they don't."

As an example, the singer/songwriter pointed to the fact that Timander's best-of-2008 list "has a bunch of local bands -- and then Coldplay," he said.

Kerry Timander, too, thinks, "It's cool how he looks at a local band with the same excitement as a really famous one."

With school about to let out, Max plans to really get the blog cranking over the summer. He hoped to catch the Memory Lanes Block Party over the weekend to see Lucy Michelle or Black Blondie (or both). He has also penciled in some upcoming all-ages gigs by Messersmith and Bonar. Plus, he's taking lessons at Twin/Town Guitars and rehearsing a few songs with his new White Stripes tribute band.

"Music is my life," Max said. "I really want to be a musician, but I want to be around music whatever I do."

Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658

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