Twin Cities Music SceneTwin Cities music scene is vibrant and varied, often blurring the line between genres
By: Rebecca Gilbert, Sibley Scribe
One of the most incredible things about the Twin Cities music scene is the breadth of music available. The Minneapolis hip-hop scene is thriving, of course, with the likes of Brother Ali and POS. The indie-rock scene covers a wide array of styles from the folksy sounds of The Pines to the more electronically driven Solid Gold to the interestingly indefinable Cloud Cult. We also have the constant Jeremy Messersmith, whose inescapably alluring and thought-provoking lyrics along with his poppy yet somber melodies seems to anchor this scene. We also have thrash metal, electronica and just about every other kind of music out there. One thing that’s particularly interesting, though, is the blending of musical “styles” that so many of our local artists are capable of and known for.
One of the most well-known artists from Minneapolis is Dessa. She recently released an album called of remixes called Castor, The Twin. “Dixon’s Girl” from A Badly Broken Code is often heard on 89.3 The Current or Cities 97.1. She is part of the Doomtree Hip-Hop Collective along with POS, Cecil Otter, and others. She is most known for her hip-hop music, but she started out as a slam poetry and spoken word artist.
A lesser-known, but still well-known artist from our very own alma mater is Kristoff Krane. Kristoff is known for his free concerts, which he performs at St. Paul landmarks and parks such as Mears Park. He’s also an advocate for young adults embracing their art; he performs at teen writing clubs and venues for teens. In 2010 he released his first full-length solo album called This Will Work For Now. Those who like thoughtful rap, soft melodies and bands like P.O.S. and Atmosphere would like Kristoff Krane.
On a more folksy side, the band The Pines is made up of two Iowans, David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey, who settled in Minneapolis to make music. They released their first album, The Pines, in 2004 and released their next album, Sparrows in the Bell, in 2007. In their song “Heart and Bones” they sing, “Big bright moon over old St. Paul.” The Pines combine folksy melodies with more modern acoustic and blues lyrics. The Pines’ next local show is February 17th at the Cedar Cultural Center. Those who like Bob Dylan or Neil Young would like The Pines.
The band Trampled by Turtles is originally from Duluth, Minnesota but now calls St. Paul their home. The band is called a “progressive bluegrass band” because of their inclinations to instruments such as fiddles and harmonicas. The band is led by Dave Simonett and is known for their high-energy concerts. They cite Neil Young and Bob Dylan as influences. The band got together in 2003 and released their debut album in 2004, Songs From a Ghost Town. The band has played at such bigwig music festivals as Coachella and Stagecoach. The band’s most recent release, Palomino, features the song bluegrass-y and rambunctious “Wait So Long.”
The band Communist Daughter from Minneapolis is made up of five musicians led by John Solomon. John struggled with addiction and walked away from his band Friends Like These in 2009, however, this decision didn’t stick and soon he got Communist Daughter together. The band is known for their “fragile, daydreaming harmonies” such as in the song, my personal favorite, “Not The Kid” which is featured on their 2010 album, Soundtrack To The End.
Cloud Cult is one of the most revered Twin Cities bands. Though not well known outside the Twin Cities, Cloud Cult serves as a reminder that great music can be made by little people from little Midwest towns. Craig Minowa, who started his own project in Minneapolis, recruited other artists to make up the rest of the band. They have released ten albums, the first of which was released in 1994 called The Shade Project. A well-known song of theirs is “You’ll Be Bright” which combines a big-deal orchestra with soft harmonies. Cloud Cult is unique in many ways. For example, during their shows, two members of the band complete a painting based on the songs and they auction it off, the proceeds of which go to various environmental groups. Those who are fans of Bishop Allen and Jeremy Messersmith will like Cloud Cult.
Aby Wolf is one of the Twin Cities’ artists that combines many music genres to make up her own. Aby often collaborates with Dessa within the band The Boy Sopranos and is featured on the BK One album. Wolf released her first solo album in early 2009 titled Sweet Prudence which received rave reviews from locals. Wolf is known as a singer-songwriter and even plays guitar in every song on the album.
Dark Dark Dark is a Minneapolis-based (with members from New Orleans and New York) chamber folk band. The band formed in 2006 and released their first album in 2008, The Snow Magic. The band is made up of eight members. Their best-known song is “Daydreaming” which has been featured on numerous TV shows. The band embraces piano and is known for their big songs.
Red Pens is another local band from Minneapolis. The band is formed by Howard Hamilton III and Laura Bennett. The band, unlike any other, uses feedback from sound systems to their advantage when playing live shows. The band’s first album, Reasons, was released to awaiting audiences who have been seeing the duo play at First Avenue for years. One of their favorite songs is “Next Summer” which is a loud tribute to rock n’ roll.
If you are interested in more local music, visit thecurrent.org/local where 89.3 The Current has a 24/7 stream of local bands. Another way to support local music is to purchase the album “Think Out Loud,” the album contains 21 tracks from local artists and 100% of the proceeds go to serving homeless people in the Twin Cities through Sharing and Caring Hands and St. Stephen’s Church. The CD includes Cloud Cult, The Pines, Roma di Luna, Dave Simonett of Trampled by Turtles, Ben Kyle of Romantica and many more local artists.