On recent trips to Seattle and
New York, two impressive cities for music, I ended up conversing with locals about the great Twin Cities music scene. It made me realize our scene is not merely admired by the people who live here, but it actually has a coast-to-coast reputation.
What makes our fair cities so fertile for music? I’ve concluded it’s the famous “Minnesota Nice.” Sure, there are plenty of hipsters who won’t give you the time of day, but more often than not people are excited to be a part of the scene. And most important, they are supportive.
Several compilations over the past year have given local music a big boost. “Apartment Music” showcased soft and delicate crooners such as Work of Saws and The Ashtray Hearts, while “Crossfaded” proved Minneapolis electronic/jazz/drum & bass groups are a force to be reckoned with. “Midwest Broadcast” brought together all the different pockets of local hip hop. These compilations exhibit the expansiveness of Twin Cities music, and best of all, make us appreciate what is so special about it.
“No Hold BackÖAll Attack!!!,” the latest of these collections, features a massive 54 local “hardcorepunkrockandroll” bands on three LPs or two CDs. From A Summary Execution’s terrifying, run-for-your-life “Aarrgh!” to the pom-pom shaking cheer of The Soviettes’ “Whoo! Wouldn’t you like to come see my town?!?!,” “No Hold Back” stomps its way through everything loud, rambunctious and urgent in local music. The album takes off the instant American Monsters’ Croix snarls a nasty “Huh!” on “Hungry Ghosts.” The energy continues with Rivethead singing, “I love you just as much as I hate the man,” a line so pompous you can’t help but embrace it. Like its mid-90s predecessor, “No Slow All Go,” “No Hold Back” is a slap in the face for anyone who believed punk rock was dead.
An accompanying booklet embodies the unruly spirit of the compilation, with each band decorating a page to its own liking. The Scamps chose to crop a picture in such a way that a sign reads, “F Saint Paul.” With the band members nonchalantly leaning against the sign in grungy jean jackets, cigarettes hanging from their mouths, and one finely spiked Mohawk, they look like they’re posing for a punk rock Tiger Beat.
But the guilty pleasure page comes from Creeping Charlie, a band that writes, “Who killed Charles Schultz? We fuckin’ did!” next to a drawing of a devil-horned Charlie Brown holding a knife in one hand and Lucy’s head in the other. Sure, it’s politically incorrect and wrong, but anyone who gags at the thought of another Peanuts statue on every corner will appreciate the humor.
The liner notes for “No Hold Back” state, “This compilation was produced collaboratively by Twin Cities bands and labels. All labor was donated. Funding was provided by bands playing benefit shows.” Apparently a little “Minnesota Nice” is enough to launch an entire music scene.