Mike Wisti’s Rank Strangers didn’t just release one of the best local rock albums of 2015. They released three of them.
A reliable group that’s never been all that hotly hyped but also has never lacked in respect — call it the Summit EPA of local bands — the raggedly psychedelic and classically poppy basement-rock trio came up with a grand idea to mark the big occasion of its 25th anniversary this year: an album trilogy.
"Sure," I thought, when singer/guitarist and lone original Rank Stranger Wisti first sent word of his plans to issue three (vinyl) LPs by year’s end. "If he and the guys do pull it off, the last record is sure to offer a bunch of throwaway tunes." Even Guided by Voices — a band Wisti’s act is often deservedly compared to — didn’t have that good of a batting average in its most hyper-prolific years.
Here comes the third record, though, and it puts them at a thousand. Titled “The Box,” it follows the hard-blasting winter LP “Lady President” and summer’s more experimental “Ringtones,” and it might even be the most accessible of the batch.
Wisti has a natural knack for clever studio work and ample time to do it, also being the operator of Albatross Recording (see: Grant Hart, Black Diet, Lucy Michelle). Here, the studio guru layers the songs with cool tinges of organ or horn parts but never buries his warped, witty, catchy writing style, apparent right away in the plunky opening ballad “333 Nowhere St.” and such Ray Davies-esque rockers as “The Empire of Dresses” and the all-too-localized “When the Bridge Fell.” The latter tune’s fearful tone permeates several other tracks, too, giving the record a bit of a paranoid vibe. It’s scary good anyway.
With bassist Davin Odegaard and Shawn Davis, Wisti will have the new LPs in tow for the band’s official silver anniversary show Saturday at 7th Street Entry, also featuring the Magnolias, Sex Rays and Wowsville (9 p.m., $8-$10.) They’re also playing an in-store set at Hymie’s Vintage Records on Sunday (6 p.m., free).
Perhaps due in part to the fact that their band name and titles don’t fully translate in Italian, local blues-punk/garage-rock troublemakers the F--- Knights landed support from Italy’s Boss Hoss Records for their new album, “Puke All Over Themselves.” It’s actually their most polished and versatile effort yet, but still wonderfully seedy. Their release party is Friday (yep, the 13th) at the Hexagon Bar with Narco States, What Tyrants and more (9 p.m., free). …
Loaded as always with movies about music, the Sound Unseen festival peaks Saturday with a couple of very noteworthy local premieres. “Morphine: Journey of Dreams,” about the great sax-rock Boston trio, screens at 5:15 p.m. followed by “The Damned: Don’t You Wish We Were Dead” at 7:15 p.m., both in McNally Smith College of Music’s auditorium in downtown St. Paul and featuring Q&As with the respective filmmakers. There’s also a festival after-party Saturday night at Bedlam Lowertown with Nato Coles & the Blue Diamond Band and the Lamp Rays (10 p.m., $5). More details at SoundUnseen.com. …
Newly named the permanent host of 89.3 the Current’s “Local Show” (Sundays, 6-8 p.m.), Andrea Swensson will help It Records owner Ryan Cameron grill Amphetamine Reptile label guru and Grumpy’s proprietor Tom Hazelmyer in the store’s monthly interview series Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., 13 NE. 5th St., Mpls., inside FindFurnish. …
Jim Walsh’s Mad Ripple Hootenanny songwriters’ circle returns to its original south Minneapolis location, now called Studio 2, at 818 W. 46th St., Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with Shawn Gibbons, Sarah Streitz and Steve Diedrich (free). … Singer/songwriter Brianna Lane and KYMN radio host Jessica Paxton are raising money to open a permanent living-room-style intimate music venue in south Minneapolis, dubbed the Warming House. Details at theWarmingHouse.net.