Air “Pocket Symphony” Review

Why is there air; or for that matter Air? As humans our bodies necessitate the need for air but since electronica’s booming 1990s wave it doesn’t seem as functional to still maintain a similar relationship with Air. The French-electropop duo still elude even the finest of dancefloor fan with its latest release, Pocket Symphony, a twelve track walk through the park that falls far closer to The Virgin Suicides soundtrack than Talkie Walkie; though even that comparison doesn’t entirely succeed.

The answer to why this group is needed in today’s musical landscape remains just as illusive after listening to Pocket Symphony as before. Long gone are the days of the overcompensating electronic tracks such as “Kelly Watch the Stars” and “Sexy Boy” but at the same time Air still seems discontent with harnessing a slower, moodier sound as its sole replacement. Tracks such as the album’s first single “Once Upon a Time” and “Left Bank” offer themselves as tempting grasps towards pop without entirely uncovering the group’s soft sound. Not to say that these songs are anything like Moon Safari, but rather they represent the ideas behind much of that album – that being an attempt to experiment with popular music without attempting to be considered a pop act.

“Left Bank” is in itself one of the most enjoyable songs on the album as it reflects the decades struggle to find another Nick Drake or Elliott Smith. The track helps divide the group from the moody ambient sound that had been increasingly standing as its lone identifier. Though much of the album still focuses on that sound including “One Hell of a Party” which works in synthesized harps and piano to help broaden Jarvis Cocker’s voice, though it hardly needs it. The direction the group takes as the body of the album develops leads us to a question, why is it that the songs which tend to expel the soft wavy electronica of the album become the most anticipated after multiple listens?

“Mer du Japon” tracks an eloquent piano loop through a swirling set of electronic synthetics which manipulate the listener into believing that it isn’t following the previously mentioned pattern of the soft, wavy electronic music. Despite bearing glimpses that suggest otherwise the album is entirely solid based on its foregoing of rock, house, indie-pop or strict electronic beat-wave. Why is there Air? Because even at their most deceiving Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin are as brilliant as ever.

Air “Pocket Symphony” Review

Why is there air; or for that matter Air? As humans our bodies necessitate the need for air but since electronica’s booming 1990s wave it doesn’t seem as functional to still maintain a similar relationship with Air. The French-electropop duo still elude even the finest of dancefloor fan with its latest release, Pocket Symphony, a twelve track walk through the park that falls far closer to The Virgin Suicides soundtrack than Talkie Walkie; though even that comparison doesn’t entirely succeed.

The answer to why this group is needed in today’s musical landscape remains just as illusive after listening to Pocket Symphony as before. Long gone are the days of the overcompensating electronic tracks such as “Kelly Watch the Stars” and “Sexy Boy” but at the same time Air still seems discontent with harnessing a slower, moodier sound as its sole replacement. Tracks such as the album’s first single “Once Upon a Time” and “Left Bank” offer themselves as tempting grasps towards pop without entirely uncovering the group’s soft sound. Not to say that these songs are anything like Moon Safari, but rather they represent the ideas behind much of that album – that being an attempt to experiment with popular music without attempting to be considered a pop act.

“Left Bank” is in itself one of the most enjoyable songs on the album as it reflects the decades struggle to find another Nick Drake or Elliott Smith. The track helps divide the group from the moody ambient sound that had been increasingly standing as its lone identifier. Though much of the album still focuses on that sound including “One Hell of a Party” which works in synthesized harps and piano to help broaden Jarvis Cocker’s voice, though it hardly needs it. The direction the group takes as the body of the album develops leads us to a question, why is it that the songs which tend to expel the soft wavy electronica of the album become the most anticipated after multiple listens?

“Mer du Japon” tracks an eloquent piano loop through a swirling set of electronic synthetics which manipulate the listener into believing that it isn’t following the previously mentioned pattern of the soft, wavy electronic music. Despite bearing glimpses that suggest otherwise the album is entirely solid based on its foregoing of rock, house, indie-pop or strict electronic beat-wave. Why is there Air? Because even at their most deceiving Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin are as brilliant as ever.

House of Pain, “O.P.P.” & Fake Reggae: My Regrettable Introduction to Hip Hop

An old friend recently reminded me of something that I had blocked from my memory, my embarrassing introduction to hip hop; and in particular the exact time when I fell in love with “Jump Around.” I suppose that’s the problem with talking to friends you haven’t spoken to in over a decade, you start remembering the things you had long since put out of your mind. The year was 1993 and our hockey team was unstoppable…our soundtrack? The Much Music branded Dance Mix ‘93 which included smash hits by some of the year’s hottest acts including C + C Music Factory, Bobby Brown and the aforementioned House of Pain. A good memory, but regrettable nonetheless.

From what I remember Everlast, Danny Boy and DJ Lethal brought our team a serious jock jam that fueled our undefeated season to the X-treme! …for shame… Continuing with the theme of poor judgment in my musical tastes I continued to develop a liking for the sounds of club and house which lead to the unfortunate discovery of some of the most superficial rap the 1990s. Naughty By Nature’s “O.P.P.,” the undeniably false “Here Comes the Hotstepper” by Ini Kamoze, the sickeningly embarrassing “Whoomp! (There It Is)” by Tag Team and Coolio’s “Fantastic Voyage”; all songs that I couldn’t get enough of between 93-94.

I will say however, that if it weren’t for my taste in dance and pop-minded rap as a youngster I might not have come to appreciate inspiring artists such as Public Enemy, KRS-One, Wu-Tang Clan and even (squirms in pain) Nas. If it weren’t for these acts I would have never began an appreciation that lead me to watching Much Music’s Rap City in the mid-90’s where I discovered that hip hop could be something far greater through the likes of Jeru and The Roots. I can’t be entirely honorable though as I still had a bit of a taste for a bit of commercial rap for quite some time; thus explaining my odd infatuation with a track from the Space Jam soundtrack.

Twin Personas: Local Bloggers Kyle Matteson & Steve Engelmayer


As an outsider looking in on the local Twin Cities music scene one may be left with a simplistic look as to what it is that The Cities and their modern artists have to offer. But aside from conversations surrounding Hüsker Dü, The Replacements or even Tapes ‘n Tapes what does the rest of the nation honestly know about the music and the musicians of Minneapolis and St. Paul? As an outsider myself it is overwhelming when attempting to step into The Cities and figure out just where to being when attempting to find the best music that they have to offer.

In this edition More Cowbell founder Kyle Matteson fields some questions about why he started the site, his favorite local record stores and the possibility of the Minneapolis hip hop scene exploding on a national level. Also local music blogger Steve Engelmayer discusses his site The Rock ‘n’ Roll Star as well as his interaction with the scene including his favorite artists, writers and albums. And what better way to begin the search for excellent local music than to discuss just that with those who live for it?

Were you as closely interested in music as you are now before you lived in Minnesota?

Kyle Matteson: Music has been one of the most important aspects of my life since I was like 7 or 8 years old and saw my first concert (The Beach Boys). But moving from Montana to the Twin Cities in 1999 allowed me infinitely more opportunities to see live music and to live somewhere with an incredible and thriving local music scene. So to answer your question, I’ve always been huge into music, but moving to Minneapolis has only fueled my obsession.

Steve Engelmayer: I actually grew up in Vienna, Austria. Not to be confused with Australia. I can’t tell you of how many times people have asked me about kangaroos… As for music, yes definitely, I’ve been listening and sharing music since I was a little kid. I remember taping American Top 40 with Kasey Kasem on audio cassettes (remember that format?) and then making mixtapes and sharing them with my friends. So actually, nothing has changed since my childhood in that regard. I did upgrade the “Walkman” to an iPod, though.

Has living in and around the Twin Cities helped expand your musical taste?

Kyle Matteson: You bet it has. Now I was a pretty big fan of the bigger Minneapolis acts (Prince, Soul Asylum, The Jayhawks, etc.) while I was living back in Montana, but since moving here I’ve certainly gotten into those artists much more and had the chance to see them tons of times. In addition to the older national acts that hail from here, I’ve also been exposed to the amazing hip hop scene (Rhymesayers, Doomtree, Heiruspecs, etc.) that we are blessed to call our own. As you can imagine, back in Montana, your options are mostly newer country, oldies, or mainstream/top 40 music in terms of radio play and who usually stops in Montana for tours (jam bands used to all the time as well). And just being around a lot more people who are really big music fans has also helped shape and further my musical taste.

Steve Engelmayer: It’s a culturally diverse town. You can go out and find great live local and national music any night of the week. The people here are great too. Too bad we have the 6 months of winter. What’s this Al Gore all complaining about?! Then again, I think that’s all changing at the moment. I really don’t think it matters anymore where you live. The internet has changed all that. You can stream live radio on your computer or stereo, check out MySpace and music blogs, download music, the list goes on… Even if I lived in Zimbabwe, I’d still listen to the Arctic Monkeys.

What lead you to start your blog?

Kyle Matteson: People ask me this all the time, and my honest answer is to keep track of all of the live shows I go to. That was mostly the main inspiration for it at first. My wife could check out the concert calendar and know when I had shows that I was going to, etc. It then sort of spread to my friends and fellow local music fans who found it useful, and it’s just sort of spread out from there. I would love to have enough time to devote to it to where it might be up there with some of the bigger blogs (Stereogum, BrooklynVegan, Gorilla vs. Bear, etc.), but for the time I’m able to actually spend on it, I’m pretty proud of what it’s become no matter how many visitors I get. I’m also not really that great at self promotion at times, so I usually just kind of rely on friends and others who enjoy my site to tell other people about it.

Steve Engelmayer: I got sick of emailing people all the time. I’d share music-news and mp3s and simply couldn’t keep up anymore… I then stumbled on Ms. Valerie (Rock Snob) and other music/mp3 blogs and thought, “Hey, this medium would be perfect for me”. I remember all these blogs in the beginning (My Old Kentucky Blog, Gorilla vs. Bear, etc.)… I still can’t believe the whole music/mp3 blogging thing has gotten so huge. The funny thing is… I now get more emails than ever.

Have any interesting opportunities arisen as a result of the work you’ve done with More Cowbell?

Kyle Matteson: Yeah, but probably too numerous to list. I’d say mostly I just love the camaraderie and friendship that exists among both big music fans as well as many local musicians.

Steve Engelmayer: Oh my god, totally. It’s really changed my life. I’ve had a concert photo published for a promo poster for The Editors on their last tour, for example. I think I’m over 3,000 photos on my Flickr page by now. Also, I’ve met so many fellow bloggers, music journalists, local concert promoters, record-label and promo company folk; I get lots of free stuff, including concert tickets… I do really like that aspect. Then again, running a music blog is like having a second job sometimes.

Through the website, which opportunities have most enriched your experience with local music?

Steve Engelmayer: As mentioned earlier you can go out in Minneapolis/St. Paul any night of the week and catch a pretty decent local band.

Why do you think More Cowbell has experienced a high level of success within the Twin Cities?

Kyle Matteson: Tough question. I don’t really know I guess. I’m just happy that people enjoy it and find it a useful resource. Like I said, I wish I had more time to devote to it, but such is life I guess.

Your name was included in a recent discussion on Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current Music Blog surrounding the best local music critics. Do you see yourself as a music critic?

Kyle Matteson: Yeah that was a bit surprising for me. I don’t consider myself a music critic per se, but I guess I am very passionate and opinionated about music and do enjoy sharing my thoughts with others. The term “music critic” or “rock critic” has sort of gained a bit of a negative connotation, so maybe that’s why I sort of shy away from considering myself one and just usually state that I’m a huge music fan that enjoys writing about music from time to time. But I’ve certainly noticed a big improvement in my writing over the last 3 years, so that’s a good thing at least.

What voice do you believe The Rock ‘n’ Roll Star caters to within the Twin Cities?

Steve Engelmayer: Mine. I thought about that before… I gave up a long time ago (thinking of) “what people think.” Otherwise, I’d never get a post up…

Who are your favorite local music journalists?

Kyle Matteson: I suppose the obvious answer is Jim Walsh. But I enjoy reading a lot of different local writers (from the big papers, to the weeklies, to blogs, etc.) from time to time. Even if I don’t always agree with them all the time, I still find most to be big assets to the local music scene.

Steve Engelmayer: Locally I follow all the major publications, I don’t have a favorite local music journalist. I check the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, City Pages, The Rake, Pulse, How Was The Show, local music blogs, etc… Again, that’s just a small part of my daily reading/blogroll… There are over 200 blogs and websites on my daily RSS feed, plus I read Blender, URB, and other publications when they come out. The daily New York Times is essential. It’s almost a full time job keeping up, but I love it…

Has the success of More Cowbell succeeded in helping you champion any local bands?

Kyle Matteson: None specifically that I can pick out, but I’ve been trying to cover more local stuff over the last year. The thing is, there’s so much great local music, that it would be easy to just devote all my time and energy to writing about local music, so it’s a bit hard to find a balance. Plus sites like How Was The Show cover the local scene better than I could ever dream of doing anyway.

Who released your favorite Twin Cities album in 2006?

Steve Engelmayer: The Alarmists Details of Soldiers.

Your recent list of the Top Local Albums of 2006 ranks Tim O’Reagan’s self titled release as the best of last year’s bunch. Thus far this year which have most excited you amongst Twin Cities’ releases?

Kyle Matteson: Mouthful of Bees record is quite good. The new Cloud Cult is fantastic as well. I like what I’ve heard from Ela’s record too.

Steve Engelmayer: I haven’t picked up anything too exciting this year yet. I’d like to hear the new Little Man CD, though.

Are there any upcoming local music releases that you are anticipating?

Kyle Matteson: Both White Light Riot & The Alarmists full lengths for sure. If I’m not mistaken there’s another Golden Smog album or EP coming out soon as well. I’m really looking forward to the new Heiruspecs as well; those guys deserve to be huge. I’m pretty curious what Tapes N’ Tapes come up with for their second full length as well, if that ends up coming out late this year.

Steve Engelmayer: Obviously Tapes ‘n Tapes. I’m excited to see how they follow up The Loon, especially with Eric in the band. Also, the next The Alarmists record The Ghost And The Hired Gun.

Which are your favorite local record shops?

Kyle Matteson: For just general music buying The Electric Fetus is hard to beat. For vinyl, Roadrunner is probably my favorite, but I love Treehouse, Aardvark (RIP), and the Uptown Cheapo as well.

Steve Engelmayer: The Electric Fetus, Cheapo , Best Buy, my friends and the internet.

Do you believe that the coming year of local music will continue to shroud itself in indie rock or are there any other scenes or genres that you see on the rise?

Kyle Matteson: While it’s definitely what gets most of the press (especially nationally), I think the Twin Cities music scene is pretty damn diverse. For example, the local hip hop scene here is second to none in terms of the rest of the US, and I hope that the artists that are part of that just keep continuing to grow and grow nationally as well.

Steve Engelmayer: Actually, a couple of the biggest Twin Cities artists right now are non-indie-rock: Motion City Soundtrack and Chuck Love, you just don’t hear about it all that much. Then again, I really don’t care about “genres”… I’m happy for any Twin Cities act who makes it big.

Who are your current favorite local acts?

Kyle Matteson: P.O.S., Tim O’Reagan, Hockey Night, The Alarmists, Heiruspecs, White Light Riot, Chooglin’, Story of the Sea… I could keep going on for a while.

Steve Engelmayer: The Alarmists, White Light Riot, Hockey Night, The Umbrella Sequence and Colonial Vipers Attack. Lots of other great local bands I probably haven’t seen yet…check with the HWTS peeps for more details, as I’m usually too busy checking out national and international acts…

Deftones “Mein” Video



Breakdancing, extreme sports and cars sporting hydraulics on a rooftop - would you expect anything less from a Deftones video? It’s a whole different feel than the video for “Hole in the Earth” which was based on its totally 80s graphics for the most part…no theme, just waves of light. In comparison a few BMXers and pop-locking youths aren’t all that bad.

Nine Inch Nails “Survivalism” Video



As the comments of the YouTube upload read “The official video for ‘Survivalism’ distributed via USB pen drives at the London show on March 7, 2007.” Keeping in tune with the rest of the album’s theme the video monitors a set of surveillance cameras, with the government monitoring the nation’s people and weeding out the “immoral” activity.

Klaxons “Myths of the Near Future” Review

One of the most relieving aspects of actually hearing Myths of the Near Future is that new-rave sounds nothing like it sounds…that makes sense, right? New-rave, a term self proposed by the band to surround the idea of its music, had the overwhelming charm of jock-rock when it first crossed my path and still does somewhat to this day. That factor combined with the untimely release of the group’s latest Xan Valleys EP, which came at a time when it was hard to tell The Horrors from its Klaxons counterparts as NME went into straight up pusher mode. A month or two back during a conversation with a friend, a mention came of bloggers’ short-attention spans and the band came up where the defense given on my behalf sided with the band’s overexposure and my friend’s argument suggested that the group’s demise would be a long time off. With the UK release of Myths of the Near Future, his prediction proved itself at least somewhat true and it became my duty to again, try to prove him wrong.

Before my bias was coming by way of hype-snub, but now even after hearing the band it must be noted again that one of the most relieving aspects of actually hearing the band is that new-rave is far from what it suggests. At its most electronic the group plays a guitar based house, but new-house doesn’t really deliver itself in the same light as new-rave, does it?

Tracks such as “Totem in a Timeline” are if anything new-indie, with a flutter of short choppy hooks within a lyrical revolving door in which the one verse and chorus duke it out for a few rounds. Wait a moment, a repeating sound with little lyrical content (though any song that includes “Famagusta’s hive” is alright by me) based on hooks rather than tangents…? Pop the E, stick a soother in your mouth, grab some glow sticks and take your shirt off, because tonight…we (new) rave!

Unfortunately there are lulls as the album winds down and one ultimately begins to question the ability of a historically singles-only band when releasing an entire album of material; even if there are a few old favorites included along the way. “Isle of Her” is a good song, but it’s the tedious kind of good; it’s the ‘I’ve just spent the evening playing euchre at the nursing home’ kind of good. And by the time “Four Horsemen of 2012” chimes in with its electro-punk chic the band, much like its listener, is tired.

Ultimately the album isn’t bad and new tracks such as “Gravity Skans” add depth which helps prove that argument suggesting the band to be history is a failed one. That being said Myths of the Near Future has a lot of bad qualities, but it’s just that it makes you forget about them by beating you over the head with its unexpectedly solid songs such as that just mentioned. The album is the abusive new-rave husband to my docile housewife.

Twin Personas: How Was the Show’s Andrea Myers & Bob Longmore


As an outsider looking in on the local Twin Cities music scene one may be left with a simplistic look as to what it is that The Cities and their modern artists have to offer. But aside from conversations surrounding Hüsker Dü, The Replacements or even Tapes ‘n Tapes what does the rest of the nation honestly know about the music and the musicians of Minneapolis and St. Paul? As an outsider myself it is overwhelming when attempting to step into The Cities and figure out just where to being when attempting to find the best music that they have to offer.

In this, the introductory edition of Twin Personas, How Was the Show editors Andrea Myers and Bob Longmore take some time to answer some questions about who is better than Tapes ‘n Tapes, the recent closing of The Quest and their favorite local musicians. And what better way to begin the search for excellent local music than to discuss just that with those who report on it on a daily basis?

In the past year how has living in the Minneapolis area affected your personal musical taste?

Andrea Myers: I definitely listen to local music more than national music now, which wasn’t true a year and a half ago. Ironically, I would say I listen to a more diverse range of music now, as I have spent a lot of time exploring local hip-hop, jazz, and experimental music. The bulk of my listening still centers around relatively conventional indie rock, indie punk, and folk rock, though, as those seem to be the most common genres locally.

Bob Longmore: I listen to way more local music than nationally known acts. So living in Minneapolis affects my musical taste greatly.

What has been the most rewarding opportunity to arise through your work with How Was the Show?

Andrea Myers: I have had a lot of opportunities to do fun things. I was approached by Pulse to start writing music columns for their paper, and soon after I became assistant editor and then editor at HWTS. I have gotten to do a lot of great publicity things for the site, like appearing on Drive 105 Homegrown once a month, recording podcasts for Minneapoliscast.com and having our work syndicated by Rift Magazine. The music community here is so interwoven and supportive, and I feel like HWTS has really allowed me to become involved in every way that I can.

Bob Longmore: Well I have met a lot of interesting people through my work at HWTS. I’ve met some writers, musicians, bartenders and just other music fans. It has also opened the doors to some other writing opportunities for me, but more than that it has given me a place to experiment and grow as a writer and editor. I would have to say the most rewarding part of working for HWTS is the other staffers. HWTS is an all volunteer organization and everybody that gives their time to making the site run does it for the love of music. The dedication and passion of these people is a big part of what makes me proud to be involved with the site.

How has writing for HWTS helped broaden your outlook on the local music scene?

Andrea Myers: Writing has given me a reason to stay up to date with local music, and it has helped broaden my outlook in every way possible. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that this is a fairly small town, and that most everybody knows everybody and is in everybody’s band. I wouldn’t have noticed that as much from “the outside.”

Bob Longmore: I certainly hear about a lot more bands being the Assistant Editor of HWTS, but that doesn’t mean I get a chance to check them all out. I wish I could. I definitely have seen bands that maybe I would not have given a chance if not for HWTS. We are constantly trying to find new bands to spotlight.

Andrea, how has maintaining your blog, Minneapolitan Music, helped enrich your overall experience with music?

Andrea Myers: I use my blog to sound off about things that I haven’t necessarily researched enough to write an article about, so in that way it helps me to develop ideas about new music without feeling like I have to be too formal. It also helps to have a sort of electronic journal to look back on so I can remember which bands I have seen and when I first saw them.

With the outstanding publicity of Tapes ‘n Tapes taking much of the attention given to music in the cities in the past year, are there any bands that you feel were overlooked by national media?

Andrea Myers: Tapes ‘n Tapes is one of those internet phenomenons where the right people liked them at the right time and now they are gigantic. I don’t believe that they are the best band in Minnesota, but they are deserving of the attention and have become especially powerful live now that they have toured extensively. If I had a say in who in Minnesota got to “be famous” next, I think White Light Riot, Stuart D’Rozario, Brother Ali, Stook and Tim O’Reagan are all poised to take the world by storm.

Bob Longmore: I think Tapes ‘n Tapes proved that sometimes you just need a little bit of a break to start an avalanche of exposure. I don’t think there were any bands that were slighted by the national media. I think there are definitely a few bands that given the exposure could really excite people beyond the Twin Cities. I think Duplomacy’s record All These Long Drives could stand next to any release from last year.

Who could take the place of Tapes ‘n Tapes in the next year?

Andrea Myers: What I feel are the best local bands and what is actually going to be favored by the masses next year are likely two different things. Right now the most popular sounds seem to be indie pop, Britpop, and experimental hip hop, so I suppose The Alarmists/White Light Riot or P.O.S./Brother Ali would be the best local candidates of the moment.

Bob Longmore: What happened to Tapes ‘n Tapes last year seemed so random. I have great respect for them and I like them a lot, but a year ago I don’t think anybody would have guessed what a jump they would make onto the national scene. Just like this year I don’t think you could pick someone to duplicate that success.

Are there any local trends that you see developing on a national level?

Andrea Myers: The interesting thing about the internet is that it is allowing sounds to develop regionally; people are relying more and more on MySpace and iTunesto find new music, and it is allowing more bands to be heard by more people. Locally, there is a tendency toward indie rock and the general desire to be the next Replacements, and I can see that trend spreading nationally.

Bob Longmore: I wish I was smart enough to know. I think I suffer from the forest/tree syndrome. I see these local bands like Big Ditch Road, Brian Just, Duplomacyand others and I think they are really good. I fall in love and obsess over them and tell my friends about them, but I don’t often think in a big picture kind of way. Maybe that is a shortcoming as a chronicler of local music.

To reverse that question somewhat – what national or global trends have been accepted and built on in the local scene in recent memory?

Andrea Myers: I think people are pretty much doing what they want right now, though I think the recent rash of indie bands was probably caused by a movement nationally toward all things indie.

Bob Longmore: This is not a new trend, but it is one that I have been thinking about a lot lately; that is the effect of the internet and digital music on a local level. To use HWTS as an example, even before I started working for the site, I used it as a way to learn about new bands. I think the speed at which information can travel even in a local scene can help and hurt a band. I also worry about the effects of digital sales and big box retailers on the local record stores. Let it Be, Aardvarkand Root of All Evil all closed in relatively close period of time. I don’t know what that means to other independents or to local musicians, but I still find it scary.

In the 1980s Minneapolis was renowned as a scene – do you see the chance of a new scene developing as even a possibility in the future given the city’s increasing diversification?

Andrea Myers: Definitely. I think people glamorize that time in Minneapolis, and in many ways things are more exciting now than they ever were before. Instead of have two or three really great bands we have hundreds, and you can go out any night of the week and catch a great local show. I think our hip-hop scene is already nationally revered, and it’s just a matter of time before people catch on to all of the great new bands that are popping up here.

Bob Longmore: I hear stories of the ‘80s for sure, but I don’t know what it was really like. I think when bands kind of support each other and bring each other up it is a good thing. I see some of the Eclectone bands doing that and I see The Alarmists/ White Light Riot/Debut crowd doing that. I think it’s a good thing for those bands and it’s a good thing for up and coming bands to think about. It helps broaden the fan support so a fan of The Alarmists could say, “you know if you like these guys then you should check out this other band.”

Does the recent closing of The Quest, a club which I personally hold positive feelings towards, have any long term indication as to the future of live music in the cities?

Andrea Myers: I doubt it. The Quest was a club that had the misfortune of being managed poorly. There is still a huge demand for live music in The Cities, as evidenced by the number of sold out shows at First Avenue and the creation of new clubs like The Myth, and I think the niche that The Quest filled will be filled by other clubs now. The Entry is already taking on lots more all ages shows, as is The Varsity.

Bob Longmore: There maybe some people that will miss that venue for the venues sake, but I don’t think that there are bands that aren’t going to come to town because of the absence of The Quest. As for local bands, there are so many places to play and be seen that I think the quest won’t be missed in that aspect.

With the exception of the nationally acclaimed First Avenue which local clubs have you found to be the top in the cities in terms of experiencing live music?

Andrea Myers: My favorites are The Varsity, which always has top notch sound and lighting, The Entry for its pro sound and The Triple Rock because it books so many great national bands. The Hex and The Uptown are reliable places to see great local music.

Bob Longmore: The Turf Club is always a great place to see a show. The crowd is usually into it, the people there are awesome. The Clown Lounge downstairs is nice reprieve when you need a break from the music.

What sets the Twin Cities’ live music scene apart from the rest of the nation?

Andrea Myers: The camaraderie among bands and people in the music community is mind blowing. People are so incredibly supportive of one another, as opposed to being competitive, and I think that is really unique.

Bob Longmore: I don’t know. I only know what people have told me about other cities. I moved to Minneapolis from Virginia Beach about ten years ago. Virginia Beach had virtually no music scene. There were some cool stores that have mostly closed now, and there were hardly ever any places for bands playing original music to perform. Comparing the two cities, you can see why I fell in love with Minneapolis ten years ago and have remained.

Who are the music influential people in local music today?

Andrea Myers: I would like to think that music journalists have a lot of influence on helping people find great local music, as do local radio show hosts, but I’m not entirely sure since I am sort of in the middle of it all. People who are dedicated to going to tons of local shows and spreading the word about their favorite acts are probably most responsible for helping to fill up clubs and sell local CDs.

Who are your favorite local musicians?

Andrea Myers: This is an answer that changes every week, but at the moment: Little Man, Stook, The Cates, Abzorbr, Brother Ali, P.O.S., Martin Devaney, The Mad Ripple, Dan Wilson, Tim O’Reagan, White Light Riot. I’m also really digging the Ice Palace album, and I just got into Molly Maher.

Bob Longmore: This is a tough question. It changes all the time. I go on little streaks of just absolutely loving bands and just listening to them all the time. I really love the Roma di Luna album right now, I just can’t get enough of it. But really I have respect for anyone that plays around town. I know that just like me writing for HWTS, they are not making any money at it, they are doing it because they love playing music. I may not like their music, but I always respect their passion and dedication.

Reverend Horton Heat at First Avenue (Minneapolis, MN)

One of the best parts about going to a Reverend Horton Heat show is just sitting back and seeing the crowd. Skinheads, greasers, played the show in support of no new material, with no publicity surrounding a new DVD or compilation, but rather the Reverend Horton Heat played because it’s the band’s job. Unlike many groups who have the luxury of taking time off the road to write and record new music, Jim Heath, Jimbo Wallace and Paul Simmons live the life of working musicians and play countless shows each year to support that fact. This show being one of them.

Gear-heads and hipsters alike all seem to come together when the Rev comes to town. Add in the diverse fans of the eclectic Chicago-based Celtic-punkers The Tossers and retro-chic Murder by Death and the crowd alone is more interesting than most opening bands.

The mood was energetic as The Tossers hit the stage and front man Tony Duggins laid into his mandolin. A few rowdy fans began jumping around and singing in unison, setting the tempo for the show.

The band, made up of traditional instrumentalists, included bassist Dan Shaw, guitarist Mike Pawula and the drummer known as Bones as well as Rebecca Manthe on fiddle and Aaron Duggins on the tin whistle. Though general comparisons can be made to any Celt-punk group along the lines of Flogging Molly, The Tossers offered a soulful approach to the genre as Tony Duggins’ voice seemed to speak for his entire ancestry.

There was an unmistakable Irish tension on stage that kept the chemistry lively. As Tony Duggins slurred his way through a variety of anecdotes before and after the songs, the band seemed to gaze at him as if to say, “This is our living, please don’t fuck it up.” Rebecca Manthe seemed like an older sister looking after her drunken brothers. Aaron Duggins would continually blow the smoke from his cigarette at her and lean his mic over to her, taunting a background vocal retort out of her while she banged away at her fiddle.

And so began the setting for an amazing show.

As The Tossers’ fans faded to the back, a new crowd, brandishing Murder by Death T-shirts, made its way towards the body of the stage.

A stunning Sarah Balliet made her way out on stage and, with a flower in her hair, took residence by her keyboard. Murder by Death lead singer Adam Turla, bassist Matt Armstrong and drummer Dagan Thogerson accompanied her. As the songs moved forward, Balliet would abruptly transition between her keyboard and electric cello, which added an amazing depth to the band’s sound. It was as though Rasputina had grown guitars (and a male singer). While Turla kept the crowd at ease with his deep muffled tone, Balliet stole the show on this night with her vivacious thrusts and musicianship. Watching her play allowed me to reminisce of the Led Zeppelin DVD The Song Remains the Same where Robert Plant would tantalize the crowd with his on stage sexuality.

Then, as quickly as the set started, it was over and giving way for what would be a Texas-grown gospel revival led by Jim Heath, otherwise known as the Reverend Horton Heat.

As The Tossers and Murder by Death are to making one want to go home and write songs about their lives, Reverend Horton Heat is to making one want to be a rock star. But not just a rock star, a rock and roll star.

Starting with Sub Pop during grunge’s heyday the group was never given its full due or respect as it wasn’t categorized in a generally appealing genre. Nonetheless, over time the group built a truly loyal fan base out of its updated rockabilly sound that would later serve as the blueprints for groups such as Tiger Army and The Horrorpops.

Over the course of the evening, the group began taking requests from the crowd, something I hadn’t personally seen them do before. This allowed fans a taste for such favorites as “Galaxie 500” and “It’s Martini Time,” both of which got the entire crowd dancing around the floor at First Avenue like overmedicated school children.

The important thing to consider though was that while the band played a number of expected songs and hit its usual stage spots, which included the ever-entertaining bass-surf, the band still was not a parody of itself. They could have easily slipped into Reverend Horton Heat playing its greatest hits-mode, but by managing which songs were and weren’t played (see: me screaming my request for “Couch Surfin’”) there still seemed a sense of spontaneity which doesn’t typically travel with a traveling band. At this point in time it’s almost irrelevant as to whether the band is touring in support of new music or not, fans will gather. But if the band were to release a new album, those same fans would have shown up with a few new lyrics memorized and willing to raise hell on an entirely new level.

Given that this show in the main room was absolutely packed, it will be most interesting to see what goes down as the Reverend returns with Murder By Death in August for a pair of shows; this time at The Entry.

[This article first appeared on How Was the Show.]

Paul Revere & the Raiders



A year or so ago I began attempting to rip some of my father’s music for him so that he could relive some old memories while spending his days and nights on his Mac. My conquest was short lived as I only made it a few 45s into the project before realizing the unfortunate reality that my father and I have don’t have much in common in terms of our musical tastes. Though there was really nothing wrong with his collection, taking time to listen to it and edit mp3s meant that I had less time to discover modern music, much of which I would wager to say I might enjoy a little more than one of Stevie Wonder’s top five musical crimes perpetuated in the 80’s and 90’s.

There were a few 45s that stood out however, one of them being Paul Revere & The Raiders’ Him or Me – What’s it Gonna Be?/Legend of Paul Revere (1967). The group, which I’m still only vaguely familiar with, put out a textbook definition of what a single should be. Him or Me – What’s it Gonna Be?, the A-side, is a gritty early-era garage rock track which provided evidence of the band’s confidence, confidence which was further showcased in the group’s first greatest hits album, released in the same year. The B-side showcases the band’s story, literally. The lighthearted song follows the band’s beginnings in Idaho to its appearance on The Dick Clark Show. Wouldn’t it be a lot more interesting if more modern acts released musical biographies? Well, maybe not.

Before esteemed BBC radio DJ John Peel passed in 2004 he was known to have had an estimated collection comprised of some 26,000 vinyl LPs, 40,000 singles and 40,000 CDs. Of these albums Peel was known to have had a wooden box containing 142 singles which he was to have valued more than all others (via). Among these singles was one Him or Me – What’s it Gonna Be?/Legend of Paul Revere by Paul Revere & The Raiders.

What’s most shocking about the 45 isn’t that I enjoyed it, or that it’s acclaimed as one of Peel’s few key treasures, but rather that it might mean that my father actually (even if only for a lone 45) at some point in his life had decent taste in music.

(This article first appeared on Circa 45.)

Recalling Commitment: Only Crime

Only Crime’s lineup alone begs for attention; it includes Russ Rankin (Good Riddance), Bill Stevenson (The Descendents/All/Black Flag), Aaron Dalbec(Bane/Converge), Zach Blair (Hagfish/Gwar) and Doni Blair (Hagfish). The music is somewhat expected from this mash of musician, it’s grinding at times, occasionally it sounds brash and hasty, but even at its most consumable (”Take Me”) it is strong modern punk. The group’s sound can largely be compared to that of Rankin’s Good Riddance in that it combines elements of hardcore into a stricter, lighter sound - all without the abundance of overwhelming screams of unnecessary noise drifts the genre is too often limited to.