Who Are The Best New Bands?

A&E introduces you so some of your favorite new local bands.

Local group Night Moves will be playing First Avenue's Best New Bands of 2011 Wednesday, Jan. 25. Other Minneapolis talent joining them are Gramma's Boyfriend, Fire in the Northern Firs, Dream Crusher, Mally, Bloodnstuff, and Sexcat.

Marisa Wojcik

Local group Night Moves will be playing First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2011 Wednesday, Jan. 25. Other Minneapolis talent joining them are Gramma’s Boyfriend, Fire in the Northern Firs, Dream Crusher, Mally, Bloodnstuff, and Sexcat.


What: Best New Bands of 2011

When: 7p.m., Jan. 25

Where: First Avenue Mainroom

Cost: $7

Ages: 18+

Line Up: TBD

On Wednesday, seven of the Twin Cities most exciting live acts from the last year will descend on First Avenue for the annual Best New Bands showcase. This year’s bill illustrates the hallmarks of Twin Cities music: A D.I.Y. aesthetic, open collaboration and a love for hip-hop. At $7 a ticket, it’s a great, cheap primer for local music.

Andrea Swensson, former music editor for City Pages and brand new local correspondent at The Current, will be hosting the event along with Radio Ks Chase Mathey and Jason Neigel, host of Minnesota Music on Cities97.

So who are the Best New Bands of 2011? We chatted with a few of them about their sound, the Twin Cities scene and what albums have influenced them most.


A&&undefined;E: What is Dream Crusher?

Brian McDonugh, guitar/synth: It’s a group of musicians that get together and play whatever kind of music we feel like playing at the time. A couple of us organized it, and it&undefined;s grown into twelve to fourteen different people that kind of rotate in and out.

A&&undefined;E: The recorded material I’ve heard is very post-rock, very improvisational. Would you say that’s the style you guys are focusing on?

BM: That’s generally what we do. We also have an EP of fully written songs we&undefined;ll be debuting on Radio K next week, but all of our live performances to date have been 100% improvised.

A&;E: What should people expect at Best New Bands next week? More improvisational stuff? Or will you be debuting that written material?

BM: I honestly don&undefined;t know. Part of Dream Crusher is that you don&undefined;t know what to expect, so I can&undefined;t really say what we&undefined;re going to do.

A&E: I’m reading your list of guests âĦ Hastings 3000, some of the members of Fort Wilson Riot, Mark Mallman âĦ

BM: Yeah. And we’ve had some of the Doomtree rappers get up on stage with us before&undefined; there are a lot of people who want to do it.

A&E: So would you say Dream Crusher is a pretty open group? Are you open to collaborating with just about anyone?

BM: Not anyone. We&undefined;ve had people try to get up on stage and grab something, and it kind of pisses us off [laughs]. It throws off the groove and I just have to push them off the stage [laughs].

A&E: What album or albums have influenced Dream Crusher the most?

BM: The number one influence for the band is probably The Flaming Lips “The Soft Bulletin” “Also You Forgot It In People” by Broken Social Scene and “Rubber Soul. It just depends on what mood we’re in. I just picked up some old Geto Boys records.



A&E: How did Fire in the Northern Firs come together?

Shane David Kramer, bass: Scott [Weller] and I were in a band a few years ago called Sun in the Satellite. We played a show at The Whole with First Communion After Party; Carin [Barno] and I were sitting around and she said; Why don’t we start a shoegaze band? We were only half serious about it.

A&&undefined;E: You guys assembled your first tape “Field Guide” by hand. Could you tell me a little about what went into that?

SDK: Adam [Kirsh, of Good Day Montag] and Carin [of First Communion Afterparty] did most of the work. Scott and I mostly just sat around and drank copious amounts of beer [laughs]. But yeah, we spray painted all of the tapes, one side gold, one side pink. We went to coffee shops took some old burlap sacks, Carin cut and sewed those up and we hand stamped them all. We made about a hundred.

A&&undefined;E: Do you think that do-it-yourself approach is important?

SDK: I think D.I.Y. is definitely the way to go. It&undefined;s more imperative now than ever to put something tangible in someone’s hands. I like to hold a vinyl record, I like to hold a cassette. Listening and downloading is one thing, and it’s very convenient, but having something tangible is very important. That’s why they sell vinyl at Best Buy [laughs].

A&E: What are some albums that, for you, have really influenced the sound of Fire in the Northern Firs?

SDK: I’m a big fan of the shoegaze stuff from the 90s like My Bloody Valentine. Scott is really big into stoner rock and kraut rock, bands like Can and Dead Meadow. Black Moth Super Rainbow, things like that.



A&E: You’re the first hip-hop act on the Best New Bands in a couple of years. That must feel pretty good.

Mally: Yeah, I was pretty excited to hear that. I can’t lie: I kind of expected that there would be at least one more hip-hop group selected. But I was also the only rapper on the list for Picked to Click. It’s definitely a good feeling.

A&E: Your profile really exploded after Soundset this past May, right?

M: Yeah, I saw the confirmation email at like midnight. That was exciting. Then, on the day of, we were driving there, and I was calm as hell. It really didn’t hit me until I stepped onto the grass, onto the grounds of Canterbury. Then seeing Slug [of Atmosphere] wearing my shirt âĦ I was in awe. It was crazy. It was a great feeling, man.

A&E: And now you are doing the Welcome To Minnesota Tour with them?

M: Sure am! I’m very excited about that.

A&E: You’ve described your upcoming album, “The Last Great,” as different than what people are used to from Minneapolis hip-hop. What do you think defines Minneapolis hip-hop, and what sets you apart from that label?

M: I think the Midwest is a diverse scene, but I think people have a tendency to think of Minneapolis hip-hop only as &undefined;backpack&undefined; rap. The record that I’m going to drop isn’t going to sound like the typical rap people expect to come out of Minnesota âĦ Also, I think a lot of rappers try to do what [Atmostphere] has done. I’m trying to do my own thing. I want to show people that Minneapolis isn’t all backpack, just like the West Coast isn’t all long flannel shirts and synths and low-rider music.

A&E: What artist has had the biggest influence on your music?

M: Man, that’s hard. I’d have to say Skyzoo. He really inspired me to do what I do best and not worry so much about all the bells and whistles of the game.



A&E: You had your debut album, “Colored Emotions” online for free, but it’s been taken down. Are you prepping for a re-release with Domino Records?

Micky Alfano, bass: Yep, we’re about to send it off to get remixed. We might be taking off a song or two and adding a couple of songs. We feel like we’re ready for [another album], but “Colored Emotions” isn’t going to come out until August. I don’t know when we’ll be able to start thinking about a second album. All that’s planned at the moment is South By Southwest and some re-recording out in LA.

A&E: What are you guys going to be playing on Wednesday?

MA: We’ve been working on some new stuff, but we’re definitely going to play the more radio friendly, stuff off of “Colored Emotions” mostly.

A&E: What do you like best about the Twin Cities music scene?

MA: There is a very cool underground scene going on in Minneapolis right now, and it’s really neat that it’s starting to get attention. Polica just had that video [for “Lay Your Cards Out”] premiere on Jay-Z’s Life+Times blog âĦ Elite Gymnastics has been getting Pitchfork love, Howler has their album coming out, we’re all going down to SXSW âĦ I feel like right now is a really cool time to see what happens in Minneapolis music.

A&E: You guys have a pretty unique sound: Kind of sexy-underwater-soul-country. What albums have influenced that?

MA: We all really like Gram Parsons and “All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison, kind of like a Phil Spector-y wall of sound. Any 70s rock, we draw from that. Personally, Todd Rundgren’s “Something/Anything” album is a big one âĦ and the new Drake album [laughs].


Also performing is Gramma’s Boyfriend, a one-off supergroup made up of Haley Bonar and Jeremy Ylvisaker (Andrew Bird, The Cloak Ox), as well as members of Bon Iver, Halloween, Alaska and Rogue Valley. The band is described on their Facebook page as playing the prom at Twin Peaks high school.

Sexcat, which features two sultry vocalists and Baltimore transplant beatmaker Garrett Neal, will also share the stage on Wednesday. Sexcat makes champagne-soaked dance pop and has the unusual honor of being the only band on the bill that wasn’t formed from members of other bands.

Rounding out the line-up is Bloodnstuff, a manic noise-rock duo born from the ashes of local fuzzed out quirksters Economy Team.