Two summers ago in the Twin Cities, Solid Gold was inescapable, playing everywhere from Rock the Garden to Grand Old Days and filling both First Avenue and the Minnesota Zoo on the heels of a little international buzz.
Partly by the band's own doing, Solid Gold became close to scarce over the past year. Two members of the band's core threesome, Zach Coulter and Adam Hurlburt, spent the fall and spring on tour with Gayngs. Their only local gig of note so far this summer was at Barbette's Bastille Day party. Maybe their most high-profile work of late was tweeting from the Sade concert.
Turns out, though, there has been plenty of activity behind the scenes.
"We regrouped a while ago and pared things down a bit, and now we're starting to crank it back up again," singer Coulter reported last week.
As far as the paring down goes, they split with slide guitarist Shon Troth (now in Me & My Arrow). They also stopped working with a manager in London and recruited a guy closer to home: Nate Vernon, who also manages his brother Justin in Bon Iver and worked with Gayngs.
As for the cranking up, the group has been holed up for weeks working on a new album, which Coulter described as "a little more epic and grandiose" than its predecessor. The songs are finished to the point where they're about to start feeling out possible producers and labels (in that order).
After the buzz around "Bodies of Water," their breakout 2009 album, Coulter said, "We talked to everyone from the biggest majors down to some cool indie labels, and it just made sense to keep it to ourselves. This next one, we're a little more open, but we're still playing it by ear and happy taking it as it comes."
In the meantime, the band is getting back to being everywhere locally. Its upcoming gigs include the Link benefit for homeless youths with Me & My Arrow and Howler Sept. 3 at the Nomad, plus Summit Brewing's 25th anniversary bash Sept. 10. Also look for the group as part of the truly stacked lineup of local bands performing Saturday at the SoundTown festival before the Flaming Lips, whose festival in Oklahoma two weekends ago coincidentally featured Solid Gold -- but the staging fell apart in a windstorm before the Lips performed, eerily preceding the Sugarland tragedy in Indiana.
"So it's extra cool we get to see the Lips in Wisconsin now," Coulter said.
There will be at least one new Solid Gold track released this year, too: They're working on George Harrison's "Love You Too" for the holidays-geared "Minnesota Beatle Project, Vol. 3" album. Can't wait to hear about the rest of that one.
Dessa seeing double
If Dessa uncharacteristically botches a lyric in her headlining set Saturday at the West Bank Music Festival, you could write it off as a brain-fried byproduct of making two albums in one summer. The rapper/singer/poet finished off a new solo album several weeks ago and then dove straight into the making of Doomtree's second all-crew LP, both of which are slated for release this fall.
First up is "Castor, the Twin," her own disc, which features new versions of songs straight out of her live set -- this time recorded with the powerhouse backing trio she took on the road to promote last year's breakout album, "A Badly Broken Code." Among the remade tracks are "Dixon's Girl" and "The Chaconne."
"I just got the masters back on that one two weeks ago, and they passed the test," Dessa said. She offered this explanation of what that test actually is: "Lazerbeak and I put it on in his parked Camry. His test is if he feels his pants leg vibrating against his skin. Mine is if I can see the rearview mirror vibrate."
As for the Doomtree record, only the second full-length to feature all seven members, it's going to be called "No Kings" and will arrive Nov. 22 to help hype more Blowout concerts. Dessa said the record includes a couple of their most accessible tracks yet, but also a lot of "totally weird, dark, ambitious material."
Apologies to Ryan Olcott and especially his girlfriend for last week's misquote of the Mystery Palace lyric, "I need a girl that I can call" (it sounded like he sings "poke," i.e. an ironic use of Facebook terms). Hear it yourself and get the band's great new EP at Mystery-Palace.com. ...
If you're headed to opening day of the State Fair on Thursday, the wide of array of local acts taking over the free stages that day will include Rogue Valley, Van the Man tribute band the Belfast Cowboys, folk duo Lehto & Wright, twangy songwriter Jennifer Markey and country rockers Six Mile Grove, who will back former Johnny Cash guitarist Bob Wootton at the Leinie's Bandshell for the early go-getters (sets at 10:30 and 11:45 a.m.). ... Two Harbors also performs Thursday at 3 p.m. at the fair, the kickoff to a slew of afternoon on-air performances at the Current (89.3 FM) booth that will also include Rogue Valley (Aug. 26), Peter Wolf Crier (Aug. 28), Jeremy Messersmith (Aug. 29), Sims (Aug. 31), Caroline Smith (Sept. 4) and Tapes 'N Tapes (Sept. 5). TNT is also headlining the Leinie's Bandshell the final two days of the fair (Sept. 4-5). ...
Two years after a viral YouTube cover of an Animal Collective song helped land him a deal with Frenchkiss Records (the Hold Steady's first label), St. Paul-reared singer/songwriter Colin Caulfield will finally release his first full-length album under his still-fitting pseudonym Young Man on Sept. 27, titled "Ideas of Distance." The first video and single, "Enough," is making the rounds online. ... Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles, Ashley Gold and the Lost Shepherds will perform in the lot outside St. Paul's Family Tree Clinic on Saturday to celebrate the reproductive health care center's 40th birthday, also featuring food, drink and kids' activities (2-7 p.m., 1619 Dayton Av., free). ...
As the pending breakup of Roma di Luna became public knowledge last week, singer Channy Moon Casselle was off recording in Austin, Texas, at Spoon drummer Jim Eno's renowned studio with none other than Gayngs guru Ryan Olson and the aforementioned Zach Coulter as backers. Details are still under wraps, but word is Eno drummed on a few of the tracks. ... Speaking of the Doomtree and Dessa albums, the Hideaway Studio where those records were made -- as well as a lot of Atmosphere's and Brother Ali's discs -- is now open for business for like a regular for-hire studio. Owner/producer Joe Mabbott previously hogged the space all to himself. Details at TheHideAwayMpls.com.