Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Top 10 local albums of the decade

Usually this is a fashion and design blog, but I do ocassionally cover local music for,, and Go2, and I used to cover exclusively music for The Minnesota Daily back in the day. I was still sort of surprised when MN Daily arts editor Jay Boller asked me for my top ten picks for local albums of the decade. (Kate Iverson of l'etoile and Secrets of the City also contributed.) Here they are in entirety, with my notes as to why I selected them:

Best local albums of 2000-2009 (in no particular order):

Solid Gold, "Bodies of Water," 2008
For longtime fans of the band, which toiled in obscurity for years and scrapped an entire album of material, the release of their debut was what we'd all been waiting for. Mixed by the incomparable Ryan Olcott of 12 Rods fame, the band's sound became even sleeker and sexier while maintaining a vulnerability setting them apart from their electronic-rock peeps.

Lookbook, "I Fear You, My Darkness," 2008
Though Lookbook didn't really hit the airwaves until this year's full-length debut "Wild at Heart," it was their first EP that really got me. Low-key, moody, and retro without feeling dated, the two-piece electronic act managed to cull an organic, emotional quality to a genre largely devoid of it.

Thunder in the Valley, "A Long, Long Walk," 2006
When Thunder in the valley first came on the scene with their rawkus, dark-folk sound that seemed to have come to life in the basement of an abandoned saloon with a wayward preacher's son at the helm, it was unlike anything I'd ever heard. Within a couple of years, the music scene was aflood with this dark-folk sound, but few did it as imaginatively as TITV.

Low, "Things We Lost in the Fire," 2001
Low sounds like the depths of a Minnesota winter - hauntingly beautiful, lethargic, and sometimes hopelessly depressing.

Faux Jean, "Kiss Life on the Lips," 2002
Faux Jean was one of the first local bands I got into (I first saw them opening for Flipp at the Quest when I was 16), and despite having reissued it as the full-length "Nature," their debut EP holds a special place in my heart. It hit just as I was getting into Brit pop and mod rock, but Matty Schindler's exquisite songwriting is what pushes this recording up into the next echelon.

Vampire Hands, "Hannah in the Mansion," 2009
The freak-out psych-blues act gained a buzz locally for its textured sound, heavy on percussion and psychedelic dirges. But what really sets them over the top is Chris Bierden's ghostily beautiful vocals, which received a greater showcase in the increasingly melodic songs on the band's sophomore effort.

Jeremy Messersmith, "The Silver City," 2008
The Twin Cities have a lot of folk singers, but Jeremy Messersmith sets himself apart with his thoughtful lyrics, full of longing and heartbreak. His sophomore full-length is a brilliant take on city life that's instantly relatable and classic.

12 Rods, "Lost Time," 2002
Having a 12 Rods album on this list is a given, and 2002's penultimate album from the brothers Olcott seems fitting. 12 Rods' spacey, synthed-out, pop---infused jazz was simple ahead of its time, and they nail it on "Lost Time."

Melodious Owl, "Melodious Owl," 2005
The son of music video pioneer Chuck Statler, it quickly became clear that Melodious Owl's Wes Statler was some kind of wunderkind. The live shows were electric, with the skinny, big-haired frontman's hips gyrating a la Mick Jagger and his impossibly high falsetto encouraging the crowd to catch "Dance Fever." Anyone should be hard-pressed to come up with another group of not-yet-legal teenagers that could write such a flawless dance-pop album.

P.O.S., "Never Better," 2009
The Twin Cities are known as a hotbed for hip hop, so though I'm not a big hip hop geek, I'm going to give props to P.O.S. His rapid-fire wordplay, his nods to punk rock and pop culture, and his ever-endearing smart-ass charm make P.O.S. lovable to the indie-rock crowd.

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