The shows won’t go on for Twin Cities musicians — not yet, anyway — but their album releases certainly can.
A rather sizable and noteworthy batch of local artists were supposed to play hometown release parties this month or next to tout their latest records. Album rollout plans that were many months in the making unraveled in a matter of days, though, thanks to the coronavirus quarantine.
Fortunately, fans can still get their hands on the music. The new albums by Heart Bones and Poliça, in fact, had already hit shelves ahead of the band’s respective First Ave gigs next month. Several more, including the Ed Ackerson-produced self-titled album by local trio the Stress of Her Regard, still went out into the world over the past week or two despite the band canceling its release show.
“It feels weird to be promoting this work during such a time of uncertainty, [but] we’re very proud of this record and the work that went into it,” frontman Ciaran Daly said. “Ultimately, we hope that having some new music helps lift your day as we all hunker down.”
Vinyl and downloadable copies of SOHR’s and Heart Bones’ albums are available via the artist-friendly site Bandcamp.com, which last weekend made a big splash by waiving its fees for bands. Most other albums can be ordered through other online retailers or even from local record stores, many of which are offering curbside pickup or delivery even with their doors shut.
Trampled by Turtles frontman Dave Simonett actually hand-delivered autographed copies of his new solo LP to his neighborhood store, SolSta Records, saying, “Ordering a record from your local store is wonderful and helps them, too.”
For fans facing the financial crunch of quarantine, Simonett added, “Streaming and spreading the word about your favorite new music is also great and very much appreciated.”
Black Market Brass, “Undying Thirst”
The novelty of a full-blown, Fela Kuti-channeling Afrobeat band rising up out of icy Minnesota has worn off with this nine-man unit’s second album, leaving nothing but the music to stand up on its own. That’s more than OK. From the blustery opening track “Cheat and Start a Fight,” the record turns on fast and doesn’t let up with its elephant-heavy grooves, snake-slithering horn lines and a tasteful tinge of electronic experimentation, all of which builds to an epic two-part, 10-minute finale, “So Who.”
Suggested track: “War Room.”
BMB’s March 20-21 shows at Icehouse will be rescheduled, coleminerecords.com
Chris Castino, “Brazil”
Ace songwriting always helped Minnesota hippies the Big Wu stand apart from their fellow Deadheaded jammers. So it should be no surprise this first solo effort by the band’s guitarist/co-vocalist is a lyrical and melodic wonderland, straight-up accessible and downright moving. There’s ample musicality and light jamming in travelogue-like songs such as “Duluth” and “Chinese Whispers,” some with vibrant vocal harmonies from Jill Mikelson and Nicholas David. But whatever the rich layering, the songs would hold up as raw acoustic tracks, too, and fall in line vibe-wise with Father John Misty as much as Uncle John’s Band.
Suggested track: “Brazil.”
A makeup date for Castino’s March 21 celebration at the Hook & Ladder will be announced, chriscastino.com
Heart Bones, “Hot Dish”
While they’ve dabbled in punk, soul, electro-funk and many other genres in their numerous projects, neither Sean “Har Mar Superstar” Tillmann nor his Austin, Texas-based singing partner Sabrina Ellis (Sweet Spirit, A Giant Dog) have channeled the slick and breezy synth-pop that they and most other MTV-zombified ’80s kids were raised on. Trivia-night-worthy names like Roxette, A-ha and Katrina & the Waves are up for ripe for revision here. There’s nothing tongue-in-cheek about the music, but the longtime pals do have a lot of fun with innuendo and other wordplay in the lightly sexy and heavily catchy songs.
Suggested track: “Don’t Read the Comments.”
Heart Bones’ April 2 gig for First Ave’s 50th anniversary weekend will be rescheduled, heartbones2.com
Poliça, “When We Stay Alive”
The airiest album yet by the pulsating electronic rock quartet — and yes, comparisons to French synth innovators Air apply here — it was half-written while singer Channy Leaneagh convalesced for several months with a broken back. Songs like the low-humming beauty “Feel Life” and the lightly R&B-flavored “Steady” have a wait-it-out underpinning that suits the news of the day, while the rhythmic push-and-pull of drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson with producer Ryan Olson is less abrupt and more of an elegant slow dance.
Suggested track: “Forget Me Now.”
Poliça’s April 10 party at First Avenue will be rescheduled, thisispolica.com
Dave Simonett, “Red Tail”
After years of burying raw ballads amid the thick strings and harmonies on Trampled by Turtles albums, the frontman for Minnesota’s beloved band offers an album’s worth of serene and mellow tunes for his first official solo release. Lyrically, the intimate collection sounds less personal and more universal and environmental. Largely acoustic, lightly ambient songs “By the Light of the Moon” and “In the Western Wind and the Sunrise” have a huddled-together warmth like staring out an icy window from a warm couch. Definitely a winner.
Suggested track: “By the Light of the Moon.”
Simonett’s May 9 show at the Fitzgerald Theater is now set for Nov. 27, deadmanwinter.com
The Stress of Her Regard, self-titled
Who else but the late Ed Ackerson was the right producer for this long-awaited full-length debut by the Brit-rocky fuzz-rock trio born out of the defunct Idle Hands? Transplanted Irish brothers Ciaran and Criostoir Daly and drummer Eric Wilson deliver a tight nine-song blast of snarling, punky pop-rock gems that variously recall Pulp, the Libertines and a less mopey Jesus & Mary Chain, all with an overriding guitar whir that’s just plain thrilling. It’s finally settled then: This is one of Minnesota’s best rock bands of the day.
Suggested track: “Meds.”
SOHR’s March 21 show at the Kitty Cat Klub will be rescheduled, thestressofherregard.bandcamp.com
Matt Wilson & His Orchestra, “When I Was a Writer”
It might not sound very rock ’n’ roll on paper, but working with harp, banjo and piano instead of electric guitar and heavy drums has reignited a more playful, uninhibited side of the guy who gave us “Toolmaster of Brainerd.” The former Trip Shakespeare co-leader’s first LP with his “orchestra” — harpist Phala Tracy, banjo picker Quillan Roe of the Roe Family Singers and bassist Jacques Wait — is based around subtly intricate but loosely spirited acoustic arrangements that lend a new level of elegance and comfort to Wilson’s familiar, lyrical popsmith writing style.
Suggested track: “Come to Nothing.”
Wilson’s April 26 Parkway Theater performance is rescheduled for May 20, minneapolismatt.com
And one more: Look for a write-up on Molly Maher next week for her new album, “Follow.”