Thursday, February 21, 2019

My chat with Under the Pavilion

On cold February evenings, I like being able to sit by the fireplace in my NE Minneapolis home with a cup of Spyhouse coffee. Thursday night was no different, except I had some wonderful digital guests.

As a new blog, I'm trying to find ideas to separate myself from other music blogs. I decided to try to conduct an interview with a band entirely on Instagram DM, à la @fuckjerry. So, I threw on my favorite Shins record, "Oh, Inverted World", and had a digital chat with Pat, Adam, and Devan of Rochester band, Under the Pavilion.

These guys were exceptionally fun to talk with, as they kept me laughing the whole time. We talked on everything from the experience of recording their first record, to favorite beers (which inspired me to grab a PBR or two).

The part of our conversation I enjoyed the most was our chat about the Rochester music scene. As someone who grew up in Seattle, then moved to Minneapolis at 19, I've always lived in a city with an exceptional music scene. Pat and Adam chimed in on how Rochester really needs a different mindset on how they look at art, especially local music. Under the Pavilion is one of the biggest bands in Rochester right now, and they're only getting bigger, so I'd say they're extremely qualified in this department. 

Under the Pavilion has played all over the state of Minnesota, and the midwest, and praised cities like Duluth, Fargo, and St. Paul for being their some of their favorites to play. We also talked about upcoming projects! They talked about recording an EP just weeks after the release of their debut record, as well as hinting at an upcoming tour, but they didn't want to give up any additional information on that. 

Read my whole talk with Under the Pavilion!

A few things to note:

- Devan Glander is messaging through the band account
- I crossed out a joke made about drunk driving to save everyone a lawsuit, and Devan a lecture from his mother. No one in the band condone's driving drunk, and neither do I.

I really enjoyed my chat with Under the Pavilion. If you haven't checked them out yet, do it! They're great guys with great tunes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

#TBT - Misunderstood - Ennen

Last August, I had the pleasure of catching an awesome local show full of local talent. I ended up discovering two new artists (Under the Pavilion, Ennen) that are super rad.

Today in a new blog segment (appropriately titled "Throwback Thursday"), I'll be checking out a release that I completely missed at the time it came out. Today, that is Ennen's "Misunderstood".

Noah Norton, better known by the moniker Ennen has been making his way up the list of Twin Cities hip-hop artists. Now, we, as the Twin Cities aren't known for our hip-hop scene, making it especially difficult to grow and maintain a following here. 

Ennen, who has only been recording music for about 2 years, already has a respectably large catalog of music, with two full length records and a whole bunch of singles, as well as an EP.

This single, Misunderstood is Ennen's best work. With a brilliant mix, brought to you by Russel Munson of Small Circus Studios. Noah, brother of award winning songwriter Joe Norton of The Nokturnal North, shows he can pull his own weight when it comes to songwriting. Lyrically, the song conveys the common struggles of a teenager, but conveys it in such a way that it doesn't feel like it's coming from some inexperienced teenager, rather a veteran songwriter.

From a creative standpoint, the song is extremely unique. Ennen offers his own style of rap, that since I don't listen to a lot of modern rap and my knowledge of rap sub-genre's is incredibly limited, I will call lo-fi trap. The vocal mix is incredibly creative, with an overdrive reminiscent of The Strokes. The instrumental tracks them self play a lot on modern trap with lots of "whoop"s and triplet piano rhythm and hi hats. To me it feels like a cross between Kendrick Lamar and a more pop style of rap. 

I'm really excited to dig more into Ennen's discography, and I recommend you do the same.

Check out Misunderstood on Spotify here.

Album Review: HEADRUSH - MILKK

Ah, bands that get way too much hype just to disappoint. I should start a blog.

The Nashville / Minneapolis indie pop project started by local producer Jack Vondrachek and Nashville singer songwriter Pat Kiloran blew up back in 2017, showing tons of potential. The artists were veterans who'd worked on several successful projects.

"HEADRUSH" starts off with an intriguing, dark, percussive intro leading into a cinematic electric piano. This is what this album does well. That vibey, modulated pop melody. Eventually vocals enter, to deliver the most cliched lines playing on today's pop cultural obsession with all things 90's. The line that sticks out the most to me on this tune, "And I guess sometimes I love the thought of dying" is fascinating. I think it's a good line lyrically, but it's far from creative. Today's indie pop flashes often into emo.

The album carries on with many ups and downs. Songs like "Here in My Head" try to achieve a 1975 style vibe, but honestly fall short and seem tacky in the process. Whereas songs like "Honest", "Mean to You", and "Stupid" are executed in an expert way only this group of musicians can pull off. They do an equally good job of innovating, and pulling out beautiful and familiar sounds.

The album reaches the title track in a weird, unexpected spot. I can't determine if it's too early or too late, but it just doesn't flow right to my ears. I honestly can't determine if I like the song or not. It's too inventive to hate it, but too bipolar to settle on an opinion.

The album's final song, "Annalise" is a good cap to an album that is so up and down. It's a balladic take on a culmination of everything they built up to on the record so far. The melody is so unoriginal, but it's the only thing I dislike about this tune. The slow groove sits really well, and the synthetic sax sounds are the highlight of the record.

"HEADRUSH" has moments of impressive dazzle, but it's ultimately nothing more than a sparkler on the 4th of July. It's pretty and all, and somewhat entertaining. But, at the end of the day, there's going to be much more impressive stuff to enjoy.

disclaimer: this record is still totally worth checking out. Just because I didn't like every part of it, doesn't mean you will have the same opinion.

Grade: C-

Best Song: Stupid

For fans of: The 1975, The Japanese House

Check out HEADRUSH on Spotify here

Monday, February 18, 2019

Album Review: When We Started - Under the Pavilion

The genre of garage pop is fading, and has been fading for the last 15 years. It's pretty rare an artist can achieve success in this genre, and do it well. But, Rochester outfit Under the Pavilion has been quietly bringing it back.

Their long awaited first record, "When We Started" is chock full of catchy pop hooks, bombastic drums, and excellent bass lines. It's been on repeat in my house since it came out earlier this month.

The album opens with a melodic bass line played by Adam Lien until the rest of the band comes in, and then never lets up until the very last note. The song "Wednesday" sets an expectation for the rest of the record; a promise and anticipation that things will eventually resolve. Every song is filled with such precise guitar work by frontman Pat Obert and Devan Glander. The parts become more and more impressive with every song.

There is a lot to be said about the production of the album, too. The sound is clearly heavily influenced by The Strokes, and bands of a similar style. It's rare to hear a band intentionally try and achieve this sound, but even more uncommon for them to achieve it as well as Under the Pavilion does.

As I've already stated, the album progresses in a way most albums don't. It's a rollercoaster that keeps going up and up and up, and you're just waiting for it to reach the top. Well, the very top of the rollercoaster reaches a very impressive height on the closing track "Even". The song structure seems so complex, and is paced by a racing drum groove, and opened up by an absolutely mind blowing guitar solo in the second instrumental, which breaks down into a fantastic progression. This is by far my favorite moment on the record.

The only thing that holds this record back in any way is the lyricism. There are some moments that feel recycled, and cliche. I think it could be beneficial for the band to potentially work with more songwriters in the future. Either way, it doesn't effect the way I feel about this album very much at all. And, there are still plenty of moments where the lyrics catch my attention in a good way.

I had the chance to see this band last year when they played in Saint Paul at the Union Depot, and they're just as good live. I highly recommend checking them out if they play in a city near you. I can't wait to hear what they do next.

Grade: B+

Best Song: Even

For fans of: The Strokes, Ramones

Listen to When We Started on Spotify here.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

New Single: Winter Waves by The Nokturnal North

A little preface here before I talk specifically about the single. About a year ago, a pal of mine was visiting from out of town, and as the nerd I am for live music I suggested that we head to a local club and grab a drink and check out a band or two. We decided on Honey, one of my favorite spots in the cities for live music.

I won't go into to many details about that show, but to sum it up, after that show, The Nokturnal North has become one of my favorite local bands, and one that I follow closely.

Now, onto the single.

Winter Waves is an impressive song, dynamically. Joe Norton is really in his sweet spot as a writer, as former member of acclaimed post rock band Midnight Lights. Those roots definitely show on this track with a massive wide open 6/8 groove as its climax, mixed beautifully by producer Brian Shields. The song is the band's best work yet, and makes me anxious to hear the full record, currently slated for April 5th.

Listen to Winter Waves on Spotify here.

New Single: You & Me by M French

M French has become a staple of the Twin Cities music scene, with his endearing blend of Americana and flavors of indie. His very first full length record, "Sweet Love" released just months ago to local acclaim, is a fun, primarily cheerful listen.

His new single, "You & Me", released on Valentine's Day feels like it could fit perfectly well to his previous record. Driven, as always, by a warm acoustic strum, this tune is a perfect love song for a sunny day drive with someone special.

Listen to You & Me on Spotify here.