You’re driving to work. You’re going westbound on 94, or south on 169. Traffic is probably terrible. Your iPod is plugged in; if you’re listening to the Current or Radio K, you’re in the minority. You probably know but don’t consciously realize the fact that there are bands all around you, right here in your hometown. Not just bands, but good bands, who make good music that you would like if only you heard it.
This is the first post here on Suspended Play – inaugural, but think about it for a second – this is probably not your first exposure to local music. Some of us might have a friend in a band, or a cousin who makes beats, or even just a coworker who noodles around on their acoustic guitar when the mood strikes. David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) writes in his stellar book How Music Works about how engaging with ‘music’ only took it’s current shape of passive listening once recording technology became sufficiently cheap and accessible, putting record players in every home. Prior to that, ‘music’ was going over to your friend’s house to try to play that new John Philip Sousa piece with your families in the living room. Of course, I’m not suggesting we all pick up instruments and go full-on Arcade Fire here. I just want us to maybe consider engaging with music in a more active way – starting by connecting you to some local acts that, heaven forbid, you might even like.
With that in mind, this maiden voyage of a post will highlight three bands based here in the Cities. Come back next week for another few, and keep your eyes peeled for upcoming interviews, reviews and features. It’s all very exciting stuff.
The slow-burn of Lazy Scorsese‘s Fear & Love in MPLS proves two things. Psychedelia is not dead in the Twin Cities, and it can soothe just as easily as it can… Discombobulate. The relaxed groove the band settles into is precise, smooth, dreamy, and just eerie enough to keep you wary the whole way through. Especially impressive is the range of instruments the band is able to weave in without making the track feel overstuffed or too busy. You’ll hear sweeping string sections, electric piano, of course plenty of psychedelic guitars, and is that a hammond organ? Of the songs message, frontman Anthony ‘Oz’ Oslund says it’s “about internal hardships as well as external fears … and how someone close to you can make that all disappear for a moment just by looking at you a certain way”. You can find the band this Sunday playing from the rooftop of the BP gas station (!) on 36th and Lyndale, but they do have more traditional shows coming up that you can find on their website.
You’d be forgiven for getting halfway through Wetter‘s Truth Song and asking yourself ‘where is this going’? (which coincidentally seems to be a question singer Melissa Jones is answering with this song). However, about two minutes in, the track begins to take new shape. The instrumentally minimal preamble gives way to a rewarding indie-rock payoff – or ‘bummer-wave’, as the band describes their sound on Facebook – and a syncopated vocal hook that would make Frankie Cosmos jealous, sounding somehow world-weary and empowered simultaneously. This level of compositional restraint elevates the track, making the payoff all-the-more rewarding. Their more recent single, entitled The Big Disappointment (bummer-wave, remember?), is equally as poignant and can be found on their bandcamp page. The band’s next show is June 13th at Reverie Cafe + Bar.
Kazyak put out an EP a couple years ago – See the Forest, See the Trees. I’ll admit, I’m late to the party on this one, but damn if that EP didn’t blow me away. It melded a love of acoustic instrumentation with forays into electronic sound-glitchery, showing an ear for angular, mathy riffs and a post-rocker’s mind for composition – all in the name of folk! However, it’s been a couple years, and the band have recently released a new single in support of an upcoming summer release, Happy Camping. This single – Sundialing – distills that same spirit of acoustic experimentation and sprawl into a shimmering 4-minute indie folk song. It’s the sound of a band who previously threw everything at the wall and saw it stick take this experience and turn it back into a near-perfect summertime folk track to chill out to. Repleat with layers of double-tracked acoustic guitar, understated strings, and a soaring vocal line that begs us all to close our eyes and feel the sun on our skin; after the thinking music of See the Forest, See the Trees (which is still amazing), I have to admit it’s nice to zone out and let this one sink in. You can find the band June 13th at Icehouse, with their new EP coming a week later.