Gayngs Related Minneapolis Band Poliça to Play Voices Warehouse in Dubuque 9/25

What does one do when Ryan Olson, the mastermind behind the Minneapolis Supergroup Gayngs suggests that you start your own band? Well, if you are Channy Leanagh (née Casselle) formerly of Minneapolis folk band Roma di Luna and one of the vocalists in Gayngs– you take the suggestion and help. Olson took some of the songs that Channy had been writing and added some of his own electronic wizardry– a process similar to how he grew the Gayngs album. Olson then called in some other musicians he had worked with the vision of creating not just a solo Leanagh project but a complete band.

The unique formula of Poliça (pronounced POE-LISA) takes the vocoder fetish from Gayngs (and Bon Iver for that matter) and layers it over a no-guitars lineup of electronics (mostly handled by Leanagh in a live settng), insane bass guitar by Chris Bierden of Twin Cities Indie Psych band Vampire Hands, and twin drummers Drew Christopherson (of Olson’s bands Digitata and Blunts) and Ben Ivascu (of Olson’s bands Building Better Bombs and Marijuana Deathsquads). Mike Noyce of Gayngs and Bon Iver guests on a couple of tracks, too. Poliça brings a significant pedigree to the table and the results are impressive– a very trip-hop electronica sound reminiscent of Portishead in my opinion.

Since Poliça released their debut album Give You The Ghost on February 14th on Olson’s Totally Gross National Product label (on CD and LP) they’ve been touring seemingly non-stop in the US and Europe. They played Iowa City in February as part of their album release shows, so it’s pretty interesting that they will be back in Eastern Iowa playing the Voices Warehouse Gallery on September 25th. Voices is a really special venue down in the Warehouse district of Dubuque. Beautiful exposed brick and pipes with a well-worn wood floor housing interesting sculptures, prints and paintings. I’ve seen a couple of shows there– Tortoise and Bo Ramsey and both were cozy personal shows.

Poliça played “Dark Star” on Jimmy Kimmel last week, and it was announced that they have signed to Mom + Pop Music (home of Andrew Bird, An Horse, Sleigh Bells) who will reissue the album and have already released a remix EP for “Dark Star.” All really great news for the band who will be opening for Bon Iver’s upcoming four-night run at Radio City Music Hall, which is just before the Dubuque show.

Opening the show will be Canon Blue, aka Daniel James. James’ new album Rumspringa is a orchestral/chamber pop album that was recorded while on tour with Efterklang. Check the audio out on his site– beautiful stuff.

Tickets for Poliça and Canon Blue are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. The show starts at 8PM. For more information check out the Voices Warehouse website.

Check out Polica’s Daytrotter Session Here.

12 Releases I’m Looking Forward to in 2012

The month of January was named after the Roman goddess Janus who had two faces.  Like the goddess, January is the month of the year when we both look back on the previous year that is over as well as ahead to the year coming up. I just posted my favorite releases for 2011— here is a list of releases that I’m looking forward to in 2012.

The Right Now – sophomore release (April 21st) – The Chicago R&B group The Right Now has had a pretty great run since their first album Carry Me Home came out in 2010 (which I was the Executive Producer on). They’ve played some pretty great headlining shows as well as opening for many of the bigger R&B acts touring. They flew out to L.A. in 2011 to work with Sergio Rios of Orgone at his studio for their 2nd album. Most of songs for this album have had their fair share of live workout and it shows– as someone who has seen the band a lot over the last year, the new songs have already become standards. The album will be released on Record Store Day.

Jeff Parker – Bright Light In Winter (February 2012) – The guitar-slinger for post rock fountainhead Tortoise is releasing his third solo album on Chicago Blues/Jazz label Delmark. Jeff Parker’s first solo record Like Coping was released on Delmark, with his second solo record The Relatives on Thrill Jockey. Credited as the Jeff Parker Trio, the album will feature Chris Lopes on bass and Chad Taylor on drums.

BTW: Don’t get me wrong– I’m a Thrill Jockey fanboy of the first order, but when was the last Jazz release from Thrill Jockey? (It was Chicago Underground Duo…) Thank goodness for Delmark, or we wouldn’t get these crucial releases from Chicago’s Jazz scene!

Garbage – title TBD (March or April 2012) – I reported on this previously. The new fifth album from Garbage is apparently in the can and mastered. There have been reports of an extensive tour in 2012 as well.

Snow Patrol – Fallen Empires (January 10) – After developing a big crush on the Tired Pony record, I was waiting expectantly for this album as it was produced by Jacknife Lee who also produced R.E.M.’s album Collapse Into Now, and with all of the ties to R.E.M.– Pete Buck was in Tired Pony, Michael Stipe helped Gary Lightbody get through some writer’s block– I was hoping for something great. The first song from Fallen Empires was “Called Out in the Dark” which has an unstoppable beat and build to it. I think that the promise of Tired Pony delivers on Fallen Empires.

Poliça – Give You The Ghost (February 14) – Technically, this album is already out as it is available as digital download from iTunes and Amazon. But, the debut album from GAYNGS lead vocalist Channy Leaneagh’s (formerly Channy Moon Casselle) new band Poliça will be officially released on CD and vinyl on producer Ryan Olson’s record label Totally Gross National Product on Valentine’s Day 2012, complete with sold-out shows at First Avenue. If you are a fan of the vocoder-laiden production of GAYNGS and Bon Iver (Mike Noyce from Bon Iver helps out on vocals on a couple of tracks, too), then you’ll love this album as much as I do! The lineup of two drummers, bass, vocals and keyboards gives the band a very unique sound, but also pretty reminiscent of 90’s trip hop from bands like Morcheeba, Sneaker Pimps and Portishead.

The Pines – Dark So Gold – (January 31) – The third album from The Pines on Red House Records find principal members Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt living in two different cities. This doesn’t prevent them from turning out their best collaboration, yet. I caught three of their shows back in May and their stop at CSPS in September and got to hear songs destined for Dark So Gold, so I was already looking forward to hearing the studio versions of “Cry Cry Crow” and “If By Morning.” Produced again by Benson’s dad, Bo Ramsey. The Pines are kicking off a tour at the beginning of February in support of the new album and will be making stops at CSPS again as well as The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.

Cheyenne Marie Mize – We Don’t Need EP – (January 24) – What started out as a release on My Old Kentucky Blog’s label Roaring Colonel has been picked up by Cheyenne Marie Mize’s new label home YepRoc. I loved her last album Before Lately and managed to catch her at The Mill where she performed the percussion-plus-vocals “Wishing Well” which Consequence of Sound is debuting. You can also check out her Daytrotter session to listen to “Keep It” which is also on the 6-track EP available on 10″ vinyl and digital download.

Jacob Jones – Good Timin’ in Waynestown – (August?) – Jacob Jones is someone my wife and I met in Nashville during an overnight stop on a Monday night with Brendan of The Right Now. We were on a marathon road trip getting the mastering done and dropped off for the vinyl version of Carry Me Home. Brendan insisted we needed to hit this local-yokel  bar called the 5 Spot where they have this over-the-top dance party on Monday nights. This dance party called “Keep on Movin'” is hosted by Jacob Jones and his label partner Reno Bo and consists of mostly 50’s and 60’s country, R&B, garage rock and blues– typically spun on a turntable (though sometimes from a MacBook). The drinks are cheap, the folks are friendly and the floor is packed. Suffice it to say, it was one of the most memorable events we’ve been to, and certainly one of the high-points of the trip.

In addition to purveying this party, Jacob is also a singer/songwriter with a couple of pretty great Americana records under his belt. I introduced blogger Amber Valentine to his music and she wrote this really great review of his last release, which is a free download. When I was pinging folks for releases I reached out to Jacob and he told me about his 2012 release, Good Timin’ in Waynestown which is inspired by the 5 Spot Monday nights! “Good Timin’ In Waynetown” is about the good times. plain and simple,” Jacob told me in a recent conversation, “The songs are for dancing. drop the needle and get to work. The songs are filled with huge sounds of New Orleans and Nashville, Memphis and Mussel Sholes. They are about the finer things in this world like love and having good friends, that’s it, plain and simple.” Indeed, based on the couple of rough mixes he sent, this album has a big sound somewhere between Ray Charles, Chris Isaak, and Lyle Lovett. This release is going to come out on vinyl, too, so that is really exciting! A sure bet for my best of 2012.

The Diplomats of Solid Sound – TBD – I don’t have any details about the third release of Iowa City-Chicago-Austin band The Diplomats of Solid Sound with the Diplomettes other than it was recorded in Iowa City in 2011 and that they played some of the new songs at their gigs leading up to and on New Year’s Eve. I loved their last two albums, so there should be no reason to believe I won’t love this one, too!

Camper Van Beethoven – TBD – News of this release– their follow-up to 2004’s New Roman Times— was delivered with a run of tour dates starting this week. No other details other than this run of winter dates will include some of the songs from the forthcoming record.

Hiss Golden Messenger – TBD – As if  releasing the amazing 1-2 punch of Bad Debt and Poor Moon over the last two years wasn’t enough, M.C. Taylor is planning to come back in 2012 with another album! As part of one of the Poor Moon pre-order bundle he included a bonus digital EP called Lord I Love The Rain that included outtakes and demos, but also had early versions of tracks that will be on the next album. Though we’ll see if this is the next album or maybe another project he hinted at in a recent conversation!

The Horses Ha -TBD – In a recent conversation with Janet Beveridge Bean she told me that James Elkington and she were done recording the follow-up to the debut Horses Ha release The Cathmawr Yards which came out in 2009. I absolutely loved the jazzy folk harmonies from The Horses Ha. You can read my review of The Cathmawr Yards here. Watch my site for updates as I get them!

 

The Play B-Sides Guide to Hip Hop and Rap on Daytrotter.com

 

 

If you’re familiar with Daytrotter.com, it is probably because of the extensive coverage of the independent rock, folk and Americana scene. Daytrotter has established itself as one of the premiere tastemakers in this space, contributing to breaking bands like Dawes, Bon Iver, Mountain Goats and Deer Tick by featuring early sessions of the groups.

What you might not be familiar with is the impressive coverage of Hip Hop and Rap by Daytrotter. These sessions get lost in among the more visible or “buzzworthy” sessions by the Fleet Foxes, Andrew Bird’s and Timber Timbre’s of the scene. It’s as if while no one was looking, Sean Moeller has amassed sessions from notable and diverse artists from the so-called “Underground” Hip Hop genre and is certainly worth a closer look. So, I present The Play B-Sides Guide to Hip Hop and Rap on Daytrotter.com! This is a list of the sessions I’ve found on Daytrotter, each with a short write-up about it.

Looking at the list below, you get a sense of how in-tune with the Underground Hip Hop scene Moeller is. In fact, three of the acts he recorded are featured very prominently in this month’s Spin Magazine in a feature titled “The Changing Face of Hip-Hop” on Underground Hip Hop (G-Side, Danny Brown, and Main Attrakionz). But, more than that, we have some names that have been on the scene for a long time– producers Kid Koala, RJD2 and DJ Spooky and Tricky all turn in impressive sets, but also Lateef the Truthspeaker, and Aesop Rock as well as a surprising meetup with Naughty By Nature and Minneapolis Wunderkinds Solid Gold. Speaking of Solid Gold, a lot of the hot Minneapolis Hip Hop Scene is represented in Doomtree, P.O.S., Marijuana Deathsquads and Brother Ali.

I’d like to point out that typically the term “Hip Hop” is used these days to mean both DJ/Producing and Rap and I also tend to use the term to mean both, but since this list includes sessions with producers and M.C.’s (and combinations) I’m making the distinction. A very scholarly dissertation on hip hop is Jeff Chang’s “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of The Hip-Hop Generation” and I heartily recommend this to anyone interested in this music and culture. According to Chang, initially, “hip hop” was used to describe the culture surrounding three things: b-boy/breakdancing, DJ’ing and graffiti. Once M.C.’s took center stage, this idea changed to what we know today. It would also appear that graffiti as an artform has moved from it’s initial exclusive ties to hip hop culture. And, as far as breakdancing, well…

So, put on your headphones, sit back and take a tour of Daytrotter Hip Hop and Rap!

BTW: While you’re enjoying this treasure-trove of music, please consider paying a couple of bucks a month to support the efforts of Daytrotter who make this possible– and you get some bonus video and higher-quality downloads as a result.

(in alphabetical order- click on artist name to get to the session)

Aesop Rock An early session– 2008 by Definitive Jux artist Aesop Rock around the time of his None Shall Pass album. This is one of my favorite Hip Hop sessions on Daytrotter.

Astronautalis Minneapolis native Charles Andrew Bothwell performs as Astronautalis. Nice flow– reminds me a bit of Buck 65 (who really should do a Daytrotter, dontcha think?). He just wrapped up an extensive tour in support of Tegan & Sara. Tegan helps out on Astronautalis’ new video “Contrails.” One to watch, I think.

Brother Ali From Minneapolis via Madison, WI and signed to P.O.S.’s label Rhymesayers. According to a press bio, he’s influenced by classic hip hop and specifically KRS-One, who I think Ali’s style reminds me.

Busdriver Twitchy, frustrated spitting– vocally and musically. Busdriver at times seems to remind me of Mike Patton (Faith No More).

Curumin While not strictly hip hop, Curumin’s approach to his craft are well-steeped in that esthetic. Being signed to Bay Area massive Quannum Records helps a bit, too. Brazilian electronic goodness. Read my interview with Curumin here.

Danny Brown One of the artists featured prominently in the aforementioned Spin article. Brown’s slightly tongue-in-cheek nervous yelping seems reminiscent of Biz Markie with a bit more smutty bent.

DJ Spooky aka “That Subliminal Kid” turns in a brilliant set, bouncing and fresh. His other hobby is scholarly writing about symbolism and semiotics and I’m left pondering how his use of signs informs this set.

Doomtree Minneapolis’s other home of hip hop next to Rhymesayers is Doomtree. This is a set with multiple MC’s so we get 16 tracks. Dessa, Mike Mictlan, Cecil Otter and SIMS. I guess we assume that Lazerbeak did the beats? Learned about this group just ahead of the Gayngs Affilyated show where they performed as a group set on the main stage and as solo sets. The group just released their second album as a group titled No Kings that is shaping up to be a critical success.

Grieves This is an early (ish) recording of Grieves who is now part of the Rhymesayers label and apparently runs in the same circles as Mac Lethal, so it makes sense he shows up on a Daytrotter session. This 12 minute smooth rant is pretty great. The late DJ Jimmy Hands from Fort Collins on the turntables.

G-Side G-Side is part of the Huntsville, Alabama hip hop scene that is based around the Slow Motion Soundz record label that is also featured prominently in the Spin issue. Out of all of the sessions on Daytrotter, this one is one of my favorites and I’ve listened to it a dozen times in the last week. You can hear the hunger of a group trying to break. Plus, some really great beats– the use of strings on “Came Up” is brilliant.

Kid Sister Spitters of the fairer sex aren’t represented heavily on Daytrotter, but Doomtree’s Dessa and Kid Sister from Chicago are both MC’s I’m a fan of. This is a really fun session and Kid Sister is able to take the attitude and finesse that Fergie embodied on “Glamorous” (and never achieved again, IMO) and run. “Right Hand Hi” is a real trunk-rattler (if you’re into that kind of thing) Worth repeated listens, seriously.

Kid Koala Koala has been on the scene since the mid 90’s if you can imagine that– as long as I have been following the turntablist phenomenon, he has been a staple and is as important a figure in that space as Mixmaster Mike, DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist and Q-Bert, in my opinion. An interesting session as he recreates his beat-juggling manipulation of “Moon River” like he did during The Hard Sell tour opening for Shadow and Chemist.

Kimya Dawson & Aesop Rock For Aesop Rock’s return to the Horseshack, he is in support of Kimya Dawson, who is likely best known for her band Mouldy Peaches and the Juno soundtrack. This collaboration resulted in tracks on Kimya’s album Thunder Thighs, but it seems that none of these songs made it on that album. I’m compelled by the idea of this session, but I’m afraid it doesn’t quite live up to the promise. Maybe it’s just a little early in their work together?

The Knux Another brilliant session on Daytrotter– sounds like the Strokes if they were fronted by MC’s. These cats are on Interscope– why they aren’t more exposed, I have no idea.

Lateef the Truthspeaker One of the original artists on the seminal Bay Area label Solesides along with DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born and Blackalicious that would become what is today known as Quannum Records. I hope that this is a sign that we’ll see Lyrics Born or Lateef’s project with LB Latyrx in for a session.

Mac Lethal As I write this Mac Lethal is blowing up all over the place for a video he shot recently of himself rapping and making pancakes. I saw Mac Lethal at the first Daytrotter in 2009 at West Liberty and wasn’t very impressed– at least with that particular live show. I’d like to see another attempt at bringing other genres of music to the barns– but maybe it just isn’t the venue for that music.

Main Attrakionz This Oakland duo was also called out in the Spin article. The production by Green Ova brings a mellow atmospheric vibe to the works.

Matisyahu Matisyahu melds his traditional Hasidic Jewish spiritualism with Raggae music and rap. Matisyahu has been gaining exposure steadily over the last few year since his brilliant and groundbreaking Live at Stubb’s.

Marijuana Deathsquads Originally formed as the backing band for P.O.S., the band has ventured into it’s own and has a reputation for over-the-top improvisational live shows.

Naughty By Nature featuring Solid Gold An interesting pairing as a result of both acts playing RIBCO on a shared Daytrotter-presents bill. Solid Gold, who provides the instruments, is quickly becoming the next-big-thing from Minneapolis with some helpful boosting from their participation in GAYNGS. NBN brings some inspired MC’ing. Would love to see this partnership fleshed out into a formal release, but I’m afraid this magic intersection is a one-night-stand.

P.O.S. Stef Alexander– better known as P.O.S. turns in an early Daytrotter session from 2006 around the time of his sophomore album. Mike Mictlan from Doomtree collective on beats. A fun, and loose session. Minneapolis represent.

Reggie Watts If you aren’t hip to Reggie Watts, it’s time. Every work is improvised on the spot and produced by looping the layers. Mindblowingly cool and typically funny stuff in the funk/soul tip.

RJD2 RJ turns in a fantastic mix. I’m a sucker for his stutter beats.

Shabazz Palaces As buzzworthy as hip hop gets in the indie space– Seattle collective Shabazz Palaces is the first hip hop act to be signed to SubPop. It makes me happy that Ishmael Butler was once in Digable Planets, because Shabazz Palaces is cool like that.

Soulcrate Music Wow, hip hop from Sioux Falls, South Dakota? The Midwest is shaping up to be bringing some really compelling hip hop and Soulcrate Music is a collective to watch.

Theophilius London An oddly short session. “Flying Overseas” gets a great treatment and remix in this session. I agree with the poster who commented that there should have been a couple of other songs.  But, we get what we get.

Tricky Oh, Tricky. You had me at Maxinquaye but not much longer than that. After the bizarre love triangle with Bjork and Goldie, I sort of lost track. However, this session is really great, showing why he was a big deal to begin with. Worth checking out, for sure. The cover of the XTC “hit single” “Dear God” is amazing.

Yea Big & Kid Static From Chicago– kind of “nerdcore” or whatever that genre that Childish Gambino seems to fit in. The cover of “Thank You For Being a Friend” is pretty funny, if disposable.

Upcoming Show : The Play B-Sides Guide to the Gayngs Affiliyated Showcase

The super-mega-conglomerate quinvicatet known as Gayngs released their debut record in 2010. Titled Relayted, it was quickly praised by critics and fans and made quite a few year-end best-of lists. A seemingly impossible feat for an album with– by anyone’s estimation– having way too many cooks in the kitchen and a formula based on 70’s and 80’s soft rock.

Nonetheless, it is a great album and it works due to the singular vision of Ryan Olson: the court jester, band leader, and love train conductor. He is both the “Space Cowboy” and “Maurice” and capably speaks of the pompatus of love.

As if pulling off an album with 25 members wasn’t enough– Ryan gathered all of them for a pair of shows at First Avenue on the Friday following the album release that thematically was “The Last Prom on Earth” complete with limousines, balloons, prom formals and prom portraits. By all accounts it was one of the great live experiences last year. There were no promises that the band was going to ever do another show.

But, it was announced last Fall that a much smaller touring version of the band (a mere ten members) was going to do a quick nine-date run of the East Coast and Midwest culminating with a high-visibility shows in Austin for the Austin City Limits Festival. That tour was received well with a stop on Jimmy Fallon as well as a quick Daytrotter session. Unfortunately, there was some kind of mixup with the tour bus company which caused the band’s gear to end up in Nashville the night before their big ACL appearance and caused the band to cancel. But, it looks like Gayngs will be making up for their missed appearance by making it back to Austin in March for a few gigs at SXSW. The band will head out in the spring and summer for some other festivals and West Coast dates in June.

Gayngs is going to perform a “warmup” gig of sorts for SXSW next Sunday by completely taking over First Avenue Mainroom, The 7th Street Entry and The Record Bar with a lineup of “Affiliyated” bands starting at 6:30PM. In other words, this event will be a festival of 15 or so bands that have a connection with the members of Gayngs!

What we get is a kind of who’s who of the current Minneapolis music scene. I wasn’t familiar with all of these bands, so I did some research, and here is a kind of Guide to the Gayngs Affiliate Showcase.

The first observation I have is that while this might not be the 25-member lineup of Gayngs that played The Last Prom on Earth in May 2010, we should get a bigger version of Gayngs than the 10-person one that toured last fall!

Bands Playing The Mainroom:

Gayngs : Duh. Supergroup that is headlining the showcase. MySpace Facebook Website Twitter Vimeo Daytrotter Session

Doomtree Collective : Minneapolis’s premier hiphop collective with members that contributed to Relayted including P.O.S. and Dessa. Looking forward to hearing the other MC’s– especially SIMS, whose Lazerbeak-produced album Bad Time Zoo has been getting a lot of spin for me. There will be individual sets performed at The Record Bar as well (see below). Website Facebook MySpace Twitter

Solid Gold : It’s safe to say that the core of Gayngs is really Solid Gold since it was the initial collaboration of Ryan Olson and Zach Coulter and Adam Hurlburt of Solid Gold that started the project and they are the core part of the Relayted band. If you listen to Solid Gold’s music, you hear the shared DNA of both bands– Solid Gold has a penchant for 80’s rock and synths– just check out their slowed-down take of the Kenny Loggins Top Gun smash “Danger Zone” on their Synchronize EP. Website Facebook MySpace Twitter Daytrotter Session Daytrotter Session with Naughty By Nature(!!!!)

Megafaun : The first recruits into the Gayngs Army were North Carolina-meets-Eau Claire group Megafaun– the obvious connection being Joe Westerlund who is the one from Ryan Olson’s Wisconsin home town. I’m really loving their latest EP Heretofore– kind of a glitchy atmospheric, vocal harmony Americana. Website Facebook MySpace Twitter Daytrotter Session

Leisure Birds : The garage-psych band Leisure Birds contributed two members to Gayngs- Jake Luck and Nick Ryan. Leisure Birds released their debut album Copper Scroll for the label Totally Gross National Product in October 2010. MySpace Facebook

Alpha Consumer : Alpha Consumer seems to be known more for backing other musicians (Dosh, Andrew Bird) than for their own music– although they have released three albums. Michael Lewis from Alpha Consumer provided saxophone for Relayted. MySpace Facebook Twitter

Mystery Palace :   Mystery Palace is one of Ryan Olcott’s (formerly of 12 Rods) projects that center around his circuit bent music. Mystery Palace records for Totally Gross National Product. MySpace Facebook

Bands Playing the 7th Street Entry:

The Entry ends up being a showcase of bands on Ryan Olson’s record label Totally Gross National Product.

Har Mar Superstar : Wow– well, this should be interesting. I didn’t have an opportunity to see Har Mar Superstar when he was living in Minneapolis– he has moved from being an oddity to being completely embraced for his utter distorted personal view. I love his distinctly 80’s sounding Minneapolis funky sound, though. He recorded a cover of the George Michael classic “One More Try” with Gayngs last year. Click Here to download this from Stereogum. Website Facebook MySpace

Slapping Purses : Slapping Purses is the one-man electronic noise + electro beat of Jason Power. Promises to be loud and abrasive. If you’re into electronic glitchiness and beats, this is the act for you. Also on Totally Gross National Product. MySpace Facebook

Marijuana Deathsquads : Marijuana Deathsquads is Gayngs head honcho Ryan Olson’s other going music project. Marijuana Deathsquads started as a backing band for P.O.S. At the core of the group is essentially Minneapolis hardcore punk band Building Better Bombs also fronted by P.O.S. The lineup of Marijuana Deathsquads changes as they bring outside artists to collaborate with them. I guess you could think of MD as an early template for Gayngs. Records for Totally Gross National Product as well. Currently doing an in-residence with Har Mar Superstar in L.A. at Spaceland. Website Facebook MySpace

Spyder Baybie Raw Dog : Another act from the Totally Gross National Product stable. A spaced-out M.C. I guess you might say. MySpace

Moonstone Continuum : Progressive electronic music. Sounds like 70’s bands like Tangerine Dream or Kraftwerk to me. I liked the couple of songs I sampled on their MySpace page. On Totally Gross National Product. Their self-titled release comes as a 150g vinyl LP with digital download and a 23-page book of works by their “Lunarian Minister” M. Mikah Mackert. A really out-there release to be sure. MySpace Facebook

Albert : Analog synth music by Minneapolis musician Albert Elmore. Elmore has been releasing music via his website bbpwc.com since 2004 and encourages reuse and sampling through Creative Commons Share Alike Licensing, which is great. He also performs under a few aliases including Jon Jacob 3, Never Say DJ Fred Equipment and James St. Murder Laden Mitten Wonder among many others. His new album – a compilation of works dating back to 2004– will be released on vinyl on March 15th on Totally Gross National Product. Website Twitter Interview with MPLS.TV

Radical Cemetery : I couldn’t find much information about this band other than they had a DIY 90-minute cassette release last June in a limited run of 100 titled Stoned Minors.

Performances at The Record Room:

DJ Sets and Doomtree Solos : I think this has the potential to be a really interesting set of performances. I’m really digging the MC’s and producers in this collective. Sims, Dessa, P.O.S., Mike Mictlan, Paper Tiger, Lazerbeak.

The Gayngs Affiliyated Showcase is presented by the City Pages blog Gimme Noise. Tickets are $20 and Doors are at 6:30 PM on Sunday, March 6th. This is an 18+ show.

Click Here for the First Avenue page on this show with information on how to purchase tickets.

Gayngs 2011 Tour Dates (from Consequence of Sound):
03/06 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
03/11 – Austin, TX @ Stubbs
03/13 – Denton, TX @ 35 Confederate Festival
03/17 – Austin, TX @ SXSW / Mohawk
03/18 – Austin, TX @ SXSW /Lustre Pearle/ Dickies Party
04/15-17 – Indio, CA @ Coachella
05/28 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
05/29 – Quincy, WA @ Sasquatch Music Festival
06/01 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
06/04 –  San Diego, CA @ The Casbah

It’s Time to Play B-Sides Top 20 Albums of 2010

Welcome to the first Top List for It’s Time to Play B-Sides. I’ve considered doing one of these lists every year since 2006, but never before have I had a year filled with as many really great albums that have compelled me to compile a year-end list. 2010 has been a pretty busy year for me as far as music has been concerned. Some fantastic concerts and events and some really interesting local (Eastern Iowa) releases have come out. This list represents releases that spent the most time on my playlist– in some cases I have had direct working relationships with the bands and that certainly was a factor in their appearance in the list, but nothing appears on this list that I didn’t feel very strongly about and in almost every case these were releases I was recommending to others either verbally or in print whether it was here at Play B-Sides or at Radio Free Chicago, or The Little Village.

One thing I’d like to point out is the number of strong releases from Iowa artists this year– this list doesn’t include a comprehensive list of Iowa releases, but I’m proud to include some music from my back yard.

This list is roughly in order of rank– rather than reverse order, I’m listing top to bottom. Truthfully, though narrowing this list to 20 was a tough act, and I left some albums off that I really enjoyed, but these are the albums that I think really struck me this year.

1. Tired Pony – The Place We Ran From –  No album this year has moved me as much as this one has. Brilliant work by Peter Buck and Gary Lightbody who are the core members of Tired Pony. Sounds the way I hope the new R.E.M. album will. “Dead American Writers” is easily one of my favorite songs from this year as well (even if it has a confoundingly bland video). Here is my review at Radio Free Chicago on The Place We Ran From.

2. Hiss Golden Messenger – Bad Debt – MC Taylor released what is the second album for Hiss Golden Messenger this year. Titled Bad Debt, it is a collection of “spirituals” in as much as it deals with the matters of faith. It was recorded during the dead of last winter in his kitchen to a cassette recorder– just Taylor and his acoustic. The results are a stark and chilling introspection and really one of my favorite albums this year. The simple approach of this recording lays bare the amazing singer and songwriter that Taylor is. Here is my article on Bad Debt.

3. Death Ships – Maybe Arkansas EP – Although I’m convinced that Dan Maloney– constant frontman for former Iowa City band Death Ships— doesn’t like the songs on this EP based on the fact that he didn’t play any of them the last two times I saw him perform live at The Mill– this is still one of the strongest releases from this year. It’s a little unfair to call this a 2010 release for a number of reasons– first the songs were recorded some time back in 2006, I think and have kind of lingered in Dan’s archives until last year when he was planning to release an EP of them. The EP was finally released this year. To be fair, I guess Dan has moved on to writing songs for the followup to his last full album, so I’m sure he’s less excited about these songs than the prospect of newer songs. Still, this is a fantastic collection of songs and it would be a shame to let these songs die without people hearing them, in my opinion. Read my review of Maybe Arkansas.

4. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs – I’ll come right out and say it– I was not really a fan of Arcade Fire’s first album Funeral. I have friends who really loved it, but it didn’t really move me. Neon Bible was interesting to me mostly because Calexico covered “Ocean of Noise” on an import 7″ and I really liked “Keep the Car Running.” When the buzz started around The Suburbs, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The first “leaked” track was “Month of May” which showed a distinctive change in sound for the band, but I was still skeptical. In what proved to be a genius move by the band and the label, they made the album $3.99 at amazon.com the day of release– so I downloaded it. It quickly took over my playlist and even today, I’ll listen to this album a couple of times a week. Significant holding power for me. On my short list for acquiring on vinyl.

5. Gayngs – Relayted – This is an example of an astonishingly great album that came out of leftfield. Almost any blogger whose opinion I value ranks this as one of the best releases of this year. Smooth, sexy 80’s influenced pop with electronic twiddling interludes by a supergroup of bands from Minneapolis and Eau Claire, WI. The honest-to-goodness legacy to the original Minneapolis sound started by Prince and his minions years ago. Here is an article I wrote about the release.

6. The Right Now – Carry Me Home – A bit of a disclaimer first– I’m the executive producer on the vinyl pressing of Carry Me Home by Chicago R&B band The Right Now, which came out in September. While this might disqualify me from being an unbiased perspective on the album, the fact of the matter is that I loved Carry Me Home from the first time I heard it on CD when it came out in March. I guess, much as Victor Kiam liked Remington razors so much he bought the company, I guess I liked the CD so much I invested in the vinyl! The Right Now is part of a what appears to be a pretty substantial revival in R&B music right now, but in my mind provides a unique spin on the genre in that it draws as much influence from the classic Motown, Stax and Bell sides as it does from more contemporary R&B and funk. In fact, the band might have more in common with The Roots than it does with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings even though all three bands could be considered to fit in this space. A great record from beginning to end and the band’s live shows are not to be missed. The band is planning to hit the studio in 2011 to start recording the follow up and the songs I’ve heard so far are great as well. Here is an article by the band about the vinyl…

7. Backyard Tire Fire – Good To Be – I loved BTF’s last album and their live shows are high-energy straightforward blues-leaning rock. Good To Be marked the move to a new record label for BTF and Ed Anderson’s blue-collar sensibilities and humor (and production by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos) makes for a great and rocking album from beginning to end. Here’s an article I wrote about the album.

8. Pezzettino – LubDub – Brooklyn-via-Milwaukee singer-songwriter and Accordion Girl Wonder Margaret Stutt, who performs as Pezzettino released her third album LubDub this year which was co-produced and created with Milwaukee HipHop producer Jerry Gruvis aka LMNtlyst. Much as her music and art influences before her, Pezzettino draws inspiration from her own life and each of her albums to date have been autobiographical in nature and LubDub is no different. Although we don’t know who the romantic suitors were in songs like “Cold Hard Chick,” “You and Your Headaches,” and “Only One” we know that they may have been star-crossed. The album, taken in whole, can be seen as a progression of sorts in one woman’s journey in love and loss of it. The album started as a tentative collaboration between Stutt and Gruvis who met at a show in Milwaukee last year. As the songs came together it became apparent that this was to be her follow on to Lion. The album is fun, funky and has a sense of humor along with the pain. LubDub was done as a Kickstarter-funded project to wild success which yielded a wonderful CD+vinyl package with the record itself a brilliant transparent yellow. Here is my article about LubDub.

9. Pieta Brown – One and All – The news of Pieta Brown moving to Red House Records was one that I felt was going to be the beginning of a fruitful relationship. Her one foray into major label land was 2007’s Remember the Sun on One Little Indian Records that ended after one release. None worse for the wear, she packed up her guitar and moved home– home being the record label her father Greg Brown was very instrumental in forming in 1983 and continues to be his label today. One and All is Pieta’s seventh release of her very distinctive lazy soprano floating on the Eastern Iowa sound started largely by constant partner Bo Ramsey– but it seems to me like she’s just getting started– maybe it feels like that to her, too. One and All just came out on 180g vinyl, too! Here is my review of One and All.

10. Cheyenne Marie Mize – Before Lately – Postitively lovely, ethereal album from Ms. Mize who is known for her collaboration EP with Bonnie Prince Billy which was her previous release. This album is stripped down to a minimalistic endeavor drawing to focus her longing vocals. Every time I listen to this album I crush on it all over again. She helpfully puts the entire record up on Bandcamp so you can listen to the whole thing. Check out her wonderful Daytrotter session, too. There needs to be vinyl of this release. Here is my article on Cheyenne Mize.

11. Gold Motel – Summer House – I had not heard of Gold Motel until they made an appearance at the August Codfish Hollow show. Chicago-based band has roots in lead singer Greta Morgan’s previous band The Hush Sound. The album is sunshine on CD– 60’s girl bands meets Debbie Harry. I meant to write a review about this album following the afterglow of this show but didn’t manage to– so, here is a review for Mezzic.com by Indie-Rock’s biggest fan, Ms. Amber Valentine.

12. John Legend and the Roots – Wake Up! – I’ve always respected John Legend although I wasn’t really a fan. The prospects of an album with his Philly brethren The Roots seemed like it could be magic. It was. I hope that this is not the last we’ll hear from this pairing. The 2 LP version of this album is the way it is supposed to be enjoyed.

13. Katharine Ruestow – self-titled EPKatharine Ruestow ends up on my list twice– she’s also part of The Diplomats of Solid sound. This is her first solo effort– a collaboration with Matt Grundstad of Euforquestra. Jazzy, almost Trip Hop sounding pop. Totally worth your digital-download dollar. Click Here to read the review I wrote for Little Village Magazine.

14. The Wandering Bears – self-titled EP – This album came crashing onto my Top List in the last couple of weeks. I was doing research for my review of the Pieta Brown “This Land is Your Music” show. The opening act was a trio from Iowa City known as The Vagabonds. Two of the Vagabonds are also in The Wandering Bears which released an EP earlier this year that really took me by surprise! The sound comes off as a combination of maybe Rilo Kiley and Throwing Muses. Free download, so just go get it.

15. Beth Bombara – Wish I Were You – Around the same time that Pezzettino kicked off her Kickstarter campaign for LubDub, St. Louis musician Beth Bombara kicked off one for Wish I Were You. In fact, before I ever heard any songs for this album I offered up a video of me talking about why I love vinyl to help promote her campaign. I found out about Beth through Arial Hyatt’s publicity website– back when there were fewer artists on it and the odds of finding very talented artists was much greater (my opinion). Her CD Robotic Foundation, was a mainstay in my listening rotation for over a year. Robotic Foundation was an edgy indie rock. Wish I Were You has its edgy moments- particular “Lately”, but the album seems to explore a few different styles drifting between blues, folk and country.  I love the album ending track “Don’t You Know” with it’s strings, banjo and harmony. Beth seemingly is part of like 16 bands in St. Louis, but she really shines as a solo artist here. Click Here to read my article about Beth.

16. Wolfgang Schaefer – self-titled EPWolfgang Schaefer is a relatively new musician on the scene and this is his first release. I met him during the tour this fall where he opened up for Pezzettino and both of them shared his very talented brother Ben on percussion and electronic wizardry. Margaret had been praising Wolfgang’s music, but I foolishly hadn’t followed up on it. Then I saw him perform live and was very impressed with his command of an audience. His music is VERY dynamic, so it’s a trick to keep your typical bar crowd in sway. Finger-picked acoustic guitars propel his hoarse vocals delivering pained recounts of love and loss. My friend Amber wrote a really great review of this EP.

17. The Diplomats of Solid Sound – What Goes Around Comes Around – The Diplomats are back with their second release on Italian soul label Record Kicks. Like last time, the Diplomats are fronted by the female vocals of the Diplomettes who have by name apparently been absorbed into the band since they are not singled out in credit. Name detail aside, the band came back with a really strong release filled with the sounds influenced by the 60’s R&B bands. I feel like the band has grown a bit in their songwriting with this release, too. Read my review at Little Village.

18. Drive By Truckers – The Big To Do – Love this album front to back– great party music with typical tongue-in-cheek lyricism from Patterson Hood and Co. It’s cool to see this band blowing up a bit. I finally got to see them live this year when they opened for Tom Petty in Chicago. “The Fourth Night of My Drinking,” “Birthday Boy,” “Drag the Lake Charlie,” “This F*cking Job,” and “After the Scene Dies” are all instant classics for me. I never got around to writing anything about this release, although I listened to this album a lot in 2010. Here is the fantastic Daytrotter session for Drive By Truckers.

19. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Mojo – This might be some of my “old guy” coming out a bit. I have been a constant fan of Tom Petty since the 80’s. That said, his last two efforts– The Last DJ and Highway Companion (one a Heartbreakers release and one a solo release) were not as strong or consistent as some of his previous efforts in my opinion. When I started hearing the tracks that “leaked” via videos on line, Saturday Night Live appearances and his XM radio show “Buried Treasures” really started the interest in this release early. Petty stated that for this album they went to the studio loose and welcomed a more jamming approach and this, I feel, really makes for one of the most consistent albums from Petty in a long time. For an artist that could reasonably rest on his back catalog, it is great to see that he’s trying to push the creative envelope.

20. The Budos Band – III – Any release from Daptone Records is worthy of note, but I really love the Afro-Rhythms guitars and Farfisa organ of The Budos Band. The band said that they went into the studio trying to break new ground for the band by braving psychedelic rock and ended up recording an album that sounding like a Budos Band album. After four releases, I feel like this album really shows the band in its element and this album is darker, I feel than the previous releases. Some recent tweets from the band had them soliciting ideas for a new album of psychedelic rock covers for them to tackle which should be interesting. Here is an article I wrote about the album.

Gayngs Fall Tour Dates

In early April, Sherry and I were in the Twin Cities visiting relatives and I managed to get a trip to the Mecca of Records known as the Electric Fetus. While I was flipping through their used vinyl and discount bins an unfamiliar soundtrack was playing overhead. Sherry asked me what it was, and I wasn’t sure but I was as enthralled as she was with the very mellow and groovy music. At one point I found myself singing along with one of the tracks, “You don’t know how to ease my pain, you don’t know…” I asked the guy behind the counter, “Is this a cover of Godley & Creme’s ‘Cry’?” He replied that the thought it was and said, “we’ve been playing this all day and I never noticed that!” He went on to tell me that it was a kind of “Minneapolis Supergroup” called Gayngs (I had to look at the “upcoming releases” board to see how it was spelled). Well, I promptly scoured the file sharing repositories for a leak of Gayngs album titled Relayted and found one. The album quickly entered my regular rotation until it’s release date on May 11th when I  purchased the gorgeous 2 LP vinyl in a white gatefold sleeve.

Gayngs is a 23-member (or should I say “participant?”) band/project assembled by Ryan Olson who had an epiphany of sorts waking up one morning to the strains of 10CC’s softrock mega hit “I’m Not In Love.” It was then and there that he decided he wanted to record an album of a similarly-inspired sound. One that would allow them to use all of those cheesy synth patches any self-respecting musician should stay away from. The beginnings of the album started with Ryan and Solid Gold members Adam Hurlburt and Zach Coulter. Over time Ryan added other members to the band drawing from friends and girlfriends until the assembled cast grew to 23. All 23 members don’t play together on any one song on the album. Other notable groups who donated members include Bon Iver (Justin Vernon, Mike Noyce), Megafaun (Brad Cook, Phil Cook, Joe Westerlund), P.O.S., Leisure Birds (Jake Luck, Nick Ryan) and Roma di Luna(Channy Moon Casselle). The album delivered by this large union of musicians is surprisingly singular in vision given all of the participants– which can only be a testament to how Olson managed the proceedings.

A couple of weeks ago we had a family get-together and my relatives from Eau Claire, WI showed up with a present for me– a copy of Relayted on CD and a copy of the May Vita.mn magazine with an article on Gayngs with a focus on the band leader/arranger Ryan Olson. Apparently my aunt is good friends with Ryan’s mom! It turns out that my aunt and uncle went to The Last Prom on Earth show at First Avenue in May and had a great time! Of course, this was a show that Sherry and I had debated on going to, but couldn’t make it and had been kicking ourselves about. Well, thankfully the band will be bringing their 69-beats-per-minute antics to a quick run of dates at the end of September and beginning of October cumulating in a visit to the Austin City Limits Festival on 10/10. While the Last Prom on Earth shows had all of the members of Gayngs, the touring version will only have 10 members— notably without the women but showcasing new arrangements and new material!

TOUR DATES
09/29/10 Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall
09/30/10 Chicago, IL – Metro
10/01/10 Toronto, ONT – Phoenix Theatre
10/02/10 Boston, MA – Paradise
10/03/10 New York, NY – Webster Hall
10/04/10 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
10/05/10 Washington, DC – Black Cat
10/07/10 Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge
10/10/10 Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Festival

Click Here for Gayngs website

Click Here for Gayngs MySpace

Click Here for Gayngs Facebook Fanpage

Click Here for Gayngs Vimeo Videos (a must-see, frankly)

Click Here to download “The Gaudy Side of Town” (an edit) from Relayted

Click Here to download “Faded High” from Relayted


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