It's the end of the year already! 2009 was yet another fantastic year for music in Minneapolis and St. Paul (let's be honest, what year hasn't been great? OK, maybe 2002...). Here are the highlights:
15. Now, Now Every Children - Cars [Afternoon]
A sweet, heartfelt release by an adorable duo who formed after marching band practice (awwww). They're on tour right now with Paramore.
Recommended if you like: Stars, Belle and Sebastian, Haley Bonar
14. Kill to Kill - Fighter [EP] [Guilt Ridden Pop]
Rough around the edges but confident, this band shows a lot of promise. Slightly ethereal vocals and waaaay down-tuned guitars.
Split EP from these two projects who share a singer (Allison Labonne, also of The Owls). They couldn't sound more different, but Labonne's voice shapeshifts perfectly between The Starfolk's anthemic pop and Typsy Panthre's haunting electronic sound.
Recommended if you like: The Owls, Portishead, St. Vincent
12. A Paper Cup Band - Detroit vs. Farming [Anti-Civ]
Self-described as "bastard-folk," these Wisconsin natives write songs that are artful, frankly delivered and catchy. It's part folky and part pop, but not in the way you're probably thinking. "Bodies Got Bones" is one of my favorite songs of the last year.
Recommended if you like: Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Adrian Orange
11. Eyedea & Abilities - By The Throat [Rhymesayers]
The local heroes are back, and effortlessly combine hip hop and rock into something that could best be described as the ANTI-Linkin Park. Intriguing and a little bit mysterious.
Recommended if you like: DJ Shadow/UNKLE, Themselves, Subtle
10. Total Babe - Heatwave [EP] [So TM]
Absolutely adorable low-fi pop from a band of extremely talented teenagers. these kids will definitely go far - everyone I know is already in love with them!
Recommended if you like: French pop, Camera Obscura, Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles
9. Sharp Teeth Lines and Stars [Self-released]
Straightforward rock songs coming out of a swirl of fuzzy smoke. This trio evokes what was so great about mid-'90s garage rock (I won't say grunge), but with a slightly more cynical twist that puts it in a category all its own.
Recommended if you like: Babes in Toyland, Unwound, older Heavens to Betsy and Sleater-Kinney
8. Michael & the Mumbles - Michael & the Mumbles [De Stijl]
Reissue of Minneapolis legend Michael Yonkers' 1966 record with The Mumbles. This is revolutionary today; I can't even imagine how mind-blowing it must have been in 1966!
Recommended if you like: Nuggets compilations, The Animals
7. Daughters of the Sun - Rings [Modern Radio]
Jammy at times, but DotS' psych-rock makes perfect sense. Lots of interesting percussion and synth elements. You don't so much listen to this album, as you experience it.
Recommended if you like: Psychic Ills, Hopewell, Vampire Hands
6. Gay Witch Abortion - Maverick [Learning Curve]
You'd probably never guess that this band is a two-piece...but it is. Forceful, but not a wall of noise. Maverick is melodic enough that you can appreciate all the elements. They held their CD release at a strip club!
Recommended if you like: Melvins, 400 Blows, Saviours
5. Zoo Animal - Young Blood [Self-released]
Zoo Animal are the masters of space - like how white space is just as important to a work of art as the art itself. The songs are spacious and minimalist without seeming cold or distant. A very intimate recording.
Recommended if you like: Cat Power, Anni Rossi, The Breeders' Pod album
4. The Chambermaids - Down in the Berries [EP] [Modern Radio]
Martha Weir's angelic harmonies perfectly complement her brother Neil's vocals. A little shoegaze-y, but in a completely new way.
Recommended if you like: My Bloody Valentine, Joy Division, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
3. Dante & the Lobster - Wonders [Self-released]
Low-fi psych-pop at its finest. "Polaroids" will be stuck in your head for weeks.
Recommended if you like: Bibio, Brian Glaze, Velvet Underground
2. Zombie Season - Life Is Tragic [Self-released]
At once tongue-in-cheek and completely serious ("Heathers" is as heartfelt sounding as anything Arcade Fire's ever done), Zombie Season combines spooky, ethereal elements with (gasp!) an actual sense of humor to create one of the best local albums of the past few years.
Recommended if you like: Arcade Fire, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees
1. Lookbook - Wild At Heart [Self-released]
Wow. No other band has built such a signature sound, or such a huge buzz, so exponentially in such a short time. It was not so long ago that rumors of the collaboration between Maggie Morrison (of Digitata) and Grant Cutler (of Passions) started to surface, and look at them now - epic, dramatic, intelligent pop-meets-dance music that should be played at every high school prom. This band will be huge.
Recommended if you like: Kate Bush, Digitata, Solid Gold
Anni Rossi - Rockwell [4AD] (not technically local, as she now lives in Chicago)
Vampire Hands - Hannah in the Mansion [St. Ives]
Red Pens - Reasons [Self-released/Grain Belt]
Gospel Gossip - Drift [EP] [Guilt Ridden Pop]
His Mischief - The Perfect Lover [Modern Radio]
Brother Ali - Us [Rhymesayers]