2013 local albums with ‘90s flair

The dream of the ‘90s is alive in Minneapolis

Alexander Brodsky

We all pine for the glamorous days of the ‘90s. Today’s 20-somethings fondly remember the Bill Clinton era as a time of jean jackets, Nickelodeon cartoons and boundless hope. Twenty years later, the culture of the decade has gradually crept back into relevance.

Locally and nationally, the music of the time has resurged. Almost every aspect of ‘90s music has found its way into one album or another in the Twin Cities. Here’s a list of some 2013 records that fit the bill.

 

Fury Things — ‘EP 2’

Fury Things’ second release, “EP 2,” harkens back to a time when “alt rock” wasn’t a slur. There’s nothing garage-y about their chunky, upbeat riffs. Without the vocals, you could mistake them for college rock stalwarts Superchunk.

You can’t help but imagine a group of scuzzy dudes playing these guitar parts while sporting ripped jeans and chugging Crystal Pepsi. They embrace the loud-quiet-loud dynamic like it’s going out of style (which it did). The vocals may be more restrained than the alt-rock bands of the ’90s, but the instruments are firmly entrenched in that bygone era.

 

Hollow Boys — ‘It’s True’

Hollow Boys’ rough-around-the-edges take on shoegaze harkens back to the very early ’90s when My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” was first blowing minds.

“It’s True” might not be quite as drowned in reverb as that indie classic, but the influence is still there. The effect-laden guitar sounds, courtesy of front man Ali Jaafar, pay homage to shoegazers of yore.

The recording doesn’t do the guitar tone justice. Live, the wall of sound bellowing from his amp replicates the louder moments from “Loveless.”

 

Sundowners — ‘The Larger Half of Wisdom’

Sundowners pull no pop-punk punches. They’re full of the same piss and vinegar that powered ’90s acts like The Offspring and Blink-182.

Their huge power-pop sound would feel at home on a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack. They’ve nailed the subtleties that makes late-’90s pop-punk feel so distinctive: the scruffy voice, the muted power chord riffs and the requisite smarmy attitude.

Their boundless energy will make you feel young again.

 

 Poliça “Shulamith”

The dour, low-key R&B of local darlings Poliça conjures up memories of everyone’s favorite ’90s trend, trip-hop.

Their reliance on retro synthesizer sounds gives the entire album a distinctly old-school electronica feel. The chunky bass synth of “Tiff,” for instance, recalls those of trip-hop forebears Massive Attack. Lead singer Channy Leaneagh’s breathy vocals complete the effect

“Shulamith” also features faster tracks like album opener “Chain My Name” and “Torre” that break the trip-hop mold of slow, gloomy tracks. Still, the reliance on drum machines and 808 claps firmly root the record as a byproduct of the ’90s.