Monday, April 30, 2012

Earworm Of The Week: David LeDuc

David LeDuc (of Pictures of Then and The Less Complex) released the video for his new track "Amends" last night. This project was collaborative, calling on the talents of seven musicians worldwide in addition to LeDuc, who penned the tune. Paul Haataja (of the Twin Cities rock band Far From Falling and Fuzzy Fotography) directed the video.

"The track was recorded piece by piece and each contributor wrote and recorded their part in separate studios from around the globe," LeDuc explained in his press release. LeDuc then collected the contributions via the Internet and arranged and mixed the final track in Minneapolis.

Musicians featured on the track are Ein Astronaut (Germany, drums), Laurena Segura (Quebec, vocals), J.B. Dazen (The Netherlands, bass), Arno Ceres (France, MIDI Sounds), Raven Zoë (Oregon, vocals), Bob Clagett (Georgia, guitars) and Mykl Westbrooks (Minneapolis, guitars).

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" every Wednesday from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio.

- Erica Rivera

Friday, April 27, 2012

Earworm Of The Week: The Further Adjustments

The Further Adjustments are a roots-rock band that have been jamming on the Twin Cities scene for three years. Members Reilly Partridge (Guitar/Vox) and Josh Wiederin (Drums) began making music as high-schoolers in Iowa. They later joined guitarists Zach Olson and Alec Albright, both from Fargo, when all four paths collided in Minneapolis in 2009. The band has since played steady gigs around town and released their first full-length album Foxfire.

The Further Adjustments will be our in-studio guests on Wednesday, May 9. In the meantime, whet your aural appetite with this tune, “Guns n’ Gold” and see them live at The Fine Line on April 29 and opening for Sleepy Sun at the 7th Street Entry on May 3!

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" every Wednesday from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio.

- Erica Rivera

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On Deck: Chastity Brown

Chastity Brown is a Tennessee-raised, Minneapolis-based soul songstress with an alluring tendency to turn heads and hold audiences captive with her jazz-tinged folk compositions, mesmerizing voice and expressive musicianship. Brown's latest album, Back-Road Highways, features stellar support from long-time bandmates Michael X. (percussion) and Adam Wozniak (of Tarlton, upright bass), plus the talents of Robert Mulrennan (of No Bird Sing, guitar), deVon Gray (of Heiruspecs, keyboards), and Jef Sundquist (of Hildur Victoria, bass) as well as The Hummingbirds (backing vocals) for a tighter, more impressive collection of tunes than ever before. On this album, Brown weaves a gritty, groove-based sonic tapestry that pulls from rhythm, blues, rock, and country sounds.

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" on Wednesday, April 25 from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio to hear Brown's in-studio performance!

- Erica Rivera

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Take Five: An Interview With The Lower 48

Formed in Minneapolis in 2009, The Lower 48 made the all-too-familiar pilgrimage West to Portland, OR, after releasing their debut EP Everywhere To Go. Now comprised of Ben Braden (Vocals/Guitar), Nick Sadler (Vocals/Drums/Harmonica/Trumpet), and Sarah Parson (Vocals/Guitar/Bass/Piano), the trio makes melodic, lively tunes that evoke bonfires, backyard barbecues, and carefree reverie. The band’s first full-length, Where All Maps End, was released in 2011. I spoke with Ben Braden in anticipation of the band's May 4th show at the Cedar Cultural Center.

Based on the band's name and song lyrics from your latest album, geography seems to play an important part in your music. Could you speak to its influence?

Ben Braden: That's mainly me. I'm fascinated with maps and moving, how you can move so little on a map yet the distance between places feels so far. The band name has nothing to do with geography; I just thought it was a really cool idiom that not enough people use anymore. The record name, Where All Maps End, came from when we moved out here--and by "out here" I mean Portland. We were still stupid kids--we're still stupid kids now, hopefully a little less stupid--and we'd never done anything like that before. I'd always had a map for life: school, summer, school. Moving out here meant there would be no map anymore. This is where all maps ended.

One of your bios describes your band as "organic". What does that entail?

BB: We record ourselves. We don't have a producer. We use all real instruments. We play simple songs and we play them beautifully. The music is not dressed up or fancy. It's not auto-tuned or synth-y. A lot of people can pick up their guitars and play our songs. People can do what they want with the album; learn the songs and cover them.

Many musicians have gone back-and-forth between Minneapolis and Portland. Talk about how the scenes are different.

BB: A lot of people ask this question and I never have a good answer. People expect it's going to be the same, but it's different. The Twin Cities has three good radio stations where it's possible to get your music played or get interviewed on (The Current, KFAI, and Radio K).  Radio is an amazing resource because it focuses on local bands and gets people out to shows.  The Twin Cities has so many entry-level music venues, like the 7th Street Entry, the 400 Bar, the Cedar, the Varsity, the Triple Rock.  There are not as many entry level venues with good sound that people can go to out here and there's nothing you can listen to on the radio--except college radio, with a limited signal--that will tell you about local shows. I think that's just the culture of this town. It's harder to build a fan base in Portland, though our following in both places is similar now. We can get 400 to 500 people in a show in either place, though it took 2 1/2 years out here, whereas it took 9 months in Minneapolis.

Does that ever make you want to move back?

BB: There are other, personal, reasons keeping us here. There's a song on the new album, which we wrote after moving, called "Miles From Minnesota". It's cheerful and upbeat, and while I still like that song, real life, which has been a fun and exciting experience, isn't like that. I pay my own bills now, which was a big undertaking. It's tougher and harder out here. It's not all roses and buttercups.

Have you ever run into a musician that left you starstruck?

BB: There are a lot of big bands in Portland and I've had personal run-ins with big names and it's like "Holy crap!"  But when we're a band, onstage, I feel like we can take on anything, like nothing can faze us, and I don't say that to sound arrogant.  My first instinct when I run into another musician is to treat them like anyone else.  Some people think it's important if a big person likes your music, but it really doesn't matter to me.  There's no quick way to fame; there's no short-cut.  You just have to work.

Are you doing music full-time or do you have day jobs?

BB: I'm doing music full-time. Some of us still have day jobs. We're in a weird, transitional stage right now. [Yawns] Forgive my voice. I turned 21 last night.

As I was looking over your Facebook photos, I noticed a lot of neck ties.  Is that a "thing" for you guys?

BB: Ties, yes. I like ties. It's a burgeoning theme. Me and Nick always want to wear black neck ties.

What was the inspiration for that?

BB: Some bands can pull off that "I don't give a damn; come as you are" thing and look cool, but we can't, so I had the idea to come up with some sort of uniform, some sort of look. It might sound like a cheap gimmick, but I wanted to store that familiarity in our image. It's like the difference between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The Beatles had the suits, the ties, the haircuts. The Stones looked like "whatever" and it worked for them, but not for us.

What's your goal for the band? Is it fame or to be self-sustaining?

BB: That's a big question for me. I'd like to take it as far as we possibly can. We're really motivated. We're close to being self-sustaining. In a year, we'll be living crappily off of it, like Ramen noodle living off of it. I don't know if we'll ever play an arena, because we aren't that kind of band. I guess we're going to find out.

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" every Wednesday from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio for more local acts making their way home!

- Erica Rivera

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Earworm Of The Week: Deep Soul Deities

Deep Soul Deities is a funk/soul/hip-hop/Afro hybrid group from Minneapolis. Featuring Tim Edstrom (vocals), Dave Tiede (drums), Rachel Price (alto sax and vocals), Jake Staron (guitar, keys, and vocals), Kyle Novak (tenor and soprano sax, flute, vocals) and Dan Zamzow (bass), Deep Soul Deities specializes in "grooves inside of grooves inside of grooves inside of grooves inside of grooves." The six-piece released their debut EP, Strange Brew in 2010 and is currently putting the final touches on their first full-length, set to drop on May 13.

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" every Wednesday from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio for more obscure--yet awesome--local acts!

- Erica Rivera

Friday, April 13, 2012

Earworm Of The Week: Trampled By Turtles

How could we not choose Trampled By Turtles as this week's featured band? The locally bred bluegrass outfit just released their new album, Stars and Satelittes, and had their own official day proclaimed by the Mayors of both Duluth and Minneapolis as a tightly packed, and very rapt, sold-out crowd at First Avenue looked on.

This tune, Alone, encompasses both the frantic fiddle-heavy sounds and the tender lullaby lyics that frontman and primary songwriter Dave Simonett is known for.

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" every Wednesday from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio for more Twin Cities musicians making waves on the local scene.

- Erica Rivera

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mayors Crash Trampled By Turtles Show At First Ave

Last night's sold-out Trampled by Turtles show at First Avenue included some surprise guests: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Duluth Mayor Don Ness. (St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman was also rumored to be in the audience.) After These United States played a crowd-rousing set, Mayor Ryback presented TBT's frontman (and KFAI interviewee) Dave Simonett with a proclamation that declared April 11 Trampled by Turtles day in Minneapolis and Duluth.

Then, encouraged by both the band and concert attendees, Mayor Rybak took a dive into the sea of bluegrass music fans and crowd-surfed. Mayor Ness, who was initially hesitant to participate, dove in the crowd after witnessing Mayor Rybak's brave display of solidarity with Twin Cities music fans. Photographer Erik Hess captured the moment below.

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" every Wednesday from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio to stay up-to-date on all the concert happenings in the Twin Cities!

- Erica Rivera

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Take Five: An Interview With These United States

Photo by Sarah Law

These United States are an Americana act defined by their boisterous sound and energetic live show. The band’s tunes are as lively as they are wistful, as renegade as they are poetic, as rough around the edges as they are sensitive. Like The Lost Boys of indie music, these vagabond wanderers are a little bit country, a little bit rock n’ roll, exuding both a bad boy edginess and an endearing innocence. These United States straddle the line between trouble-making tendencies and old-fashioned Southern charm. There’s an untamable, almost dangerous air about Jesse Elliott, J. Tom Hnatow, and Justin Craig (the band’s core, who have played together for four years) yet they’re the kind of guys your mom would insist on inviting over for a home-cooked meal.

While the band’s previous album, 2010’s What Lasts, leaned toward a more somber, introspective sound, These United States’ forthcoming, self-titled release is louder, more rowdy, and packed with songs that would make the ideal addition to your summer playlist.

I spoke to frontman Jesse Elliott the morning after the band’s tour kick-off at Cause in Minneapolis, during which they debuted two new members, Aaron Latos and Anna Morsett.

I’ve noticed a few themes over and over again in your music: water, mortality, and maps. Could you speak to how they influence your songwriting?

Jesse Elliott: Interesting. I never thought about that. I suppose there are theories about dreams and psychology and how those things are connected. Water and death, how maps relate to life, and the fun stuff, the exploratory side of life. I like to write about the light and the dark being combined. Everyone in the band believes in being honest to the way we feel about the world and I think we are all equal parts optimists and pessimists.

It seems like you guys are perpetually on tour.

JE: Yeah. We started five years ago and since then, we’ve done around 900 shows. We were doing 200 shows a years and scaled back to work on this new album.

Is home a geographical place for you or is it a state of mind?

JE: I think it’s both. For me, I literally don’t have a home address. Home is New York and Denver and Toronto and everywhere in between. For three of my bandmates, Brooklyn is home and Tom’s home is in North Carolina, but we have many geographical homes. At first, I felt homeless, but now I feel like I have multiple homes. Right now, I’m at my sister’s place in Minneapolis. Chicago feels more and more like home, too, as does New Orleans. We have an extended geographical family and our metaphorical family is expanding, too.

Reading over your blog, it would appear you guys are a thinking man’s band. Not to say that other bands aren’t…

JE: Most musicians are pretty damn smart. Maybe people aren’t willing to admit to it or express that because a lot of music is about fun. And that’s great, but it goes so much deeper. I don’t think of us as all that different from other bands. We’re curious about bigger things. Tom is the most strictly literary of the band members. Justin is a serious reader. I have a writing background, but I wouldn’t pretend to be a voracious reader. I like the idea of collage; I’m more of the multimedia person in the band.

Have your bandmates ever vetoed a song lyric?

JE: Yeah, there have been those moments, for sure. I am just as open to that as Tom is open to me commenting on a pedal steel part or Justin on a guitar part. I have the good fortune of trusting their judgment. Every once in a while, one of the guys will say, “That kind of makes me cringe,” so I pull it back a bit.

This spring and summer, you’re touring with Trampled by Turtles, followed by a tour with Heartless Bastards. Does the testosterone ever get to be too much with that many men on the road for such a long time?

JE: It does. Luckily we have our new bandmate, Anna Morsett, who is a more powerful, smarter individual than all four of us guys combined. She will overpower us with her sheer smarts.

Has the name These United States ever been responsible for misperceptions about the band and what you guys stand for?

Yeah, it has. That’s part of the reason why I chose it. I liked that it was open to interpretation. We’ve been accused of belonging to the far left to the far right and everything in between, and I’m fine with it. I like the geographical and the cultural connotations. It’s representative of the big, crazy, freewheeling country we live in. I think it points out the pluralism of our country. How people interpret our name is usually based on love or hate; it’s also a good indicator of how those people view the world.

What is your favorite gas station snack?

JE: [Laughs] That’s an easy one. We all like crazy, spicy, wasabi party mix. We’ve come across so many variations of it, but most of them have sesame sticks and wasabi peas. We’re party mix people.

And what about a beverage?

JE: That’s trickier. The only one we would all agree on is coffee, because we need to stay awake sometimes and it provides a warm, comforting backdrop to look out the window to. Beyond that, we diverge into various forms of alcohol, fruit based beverages, and, once in a while, water.

These United States open for the very sold-out Trampled by Turtles show at First Avenue on April 11. Visit the band's website for a complete list of upcoming tour stops and look for their new album on June 12!

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" every Wednesday from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio for more must-see local and national acts!

- Erica Rivera

Monday, April 2, 2012

Earworm Of The Week: Caroline Smith & The Goodnight Sleeps

Caroline Smith follows in a long line of Twin Cities indie acts that got their start at the 400 Bar. Following her residency at the infamous West Bank dive, Smith began opening for big names in the biz, from the likes of hometown hero Mason Jennings to music legend B.B. King.

In 2007, Smith joined forces with Arlen Peiffer (of Cloud Cult), Jesse Schuster, and Colin Hacklander. A year later, the quartet released their debut album, Backyard Tent Set under the moniker Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps. The group has since completed four national tours and received substantial critical acclaim for their quirky, storybook-style folk music.

The release show for the group's latest LP, Little Wind, sold out First Avenue last fall. This Saturday, the band is back, headlining yet another gig in the mainroom.

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" every Wednesday from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio for more local buzz-worthy artists.

- Erica Rivera