The Cedar Cultural Center
I’ve known The Ericksons’ music for years now, and I love their older folksy sound, but I’m delighted about the new direction of their latest album Bring Me Home
. They’ve traded a guitar for a synthesizer and picked up the tempo with a drum pad, all the while their songwriting and characteristic voices have stayed true to their roots. My favorite songs of the night were “Animal” and “My Love”, both off Bring Me Home
. The latter had a Regina Spektor-like vibe because of the strong vocals mixed with upbeat and quirky rhythms. Each song, new and old, was delivered with intention and heart, and kept the audience emotionally present throughout the set.It was clear that both sisters were incredibly thankful to be playing for an audience full of friends and supporters. They couldn’t stop thanking Greg Euclide for creating the artwork for the album and fellow local musician Molly Maher for encouraging them to finish the album. The audience was thankful as well, with people jumping up to give a standing ovation as soon as they could.
Keep an eye out for more local shows featuring The Ericksons and make sure to check out their new album Bring Me Home.
First Avenue Mainroom
Monday, September 1st 2014
Although electronic and synth driven sets never seem to have the same “live” effect as more traditional guitar or piano based bands, Washed Out brought the night to life with feel good vibes. The set felt short and many songs were from their most recent album Paracosm. They definitely left the audience wanting more. Frontman Ernest Greene kept the energy high. Although many fans stuck with their contented head bob, others gathered the courage to let their dance moves fly. While I would have loved to hear more songs from their previous album Within and Without, the fun-loving energy from the band and the audience was impossible to resist and I found myself loving every minute.
Amsterdam Bar and Hall
This release show at the Amsterdam not only showed off some of Minnesota’s best young talent, but also confirmed that young people in the Twin Cities have great tast in music. The show was all ages, and even as a youthful 22 year old, I could feel my age. But once I got over that, I kept thinking about how awesome it is that so many high school and college students will come out to a bar where they can’t even drink to support local musicians.
Hippo Campus has perfected the art of performance. Their flawless delivery and easy on-stage chemistry keeps their set equally visually and musically engaging. It’s only a matter of time until we see these four guys playing somewhere big.
This was my first time seeing Bomba De Luz with their new drummer Judah McCoy and keyboardist John Blanda. Bomba De Luz has always walked a careful line between their alternative rock foundation, and jazz and blues influences. While the new keyboardist is ready to pull them deeper into the world of jazz, the drummer keeps a firm grip on rock and roll. Lydia Hoglund’s vocals pull everything together and maintain that classic Bomba De Luz sound.
I had high expectation for my second visit to the Fallout after my awesome experience last month. I should have known I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Unlike January’s americana acoustic atmosphere, this month’s showcase was filled with high energy and electronica influence. Oklahoma eased us into the night with their alt-rock tunes, hints of Ben Fold, Bright Eyes, and Death Cab for Cutie adding to the mosaic of sound.
Hippo Campus took the stage next, and WOW can they put on a show. With their catchy beats, finger-lickin’ good guitar licks, and personal stage presence, it didn’t take long to the the entire room dancing along, literally. In complete honesty I have not danced that hard at a show for months. I had this feeling that I was witnessing the cusp of greatness. These four guys are going big places, I’m excited to see where they end up.
Last but not least was Bora York. They fed off of Hippo Campus’ momentum keeping the energy high and the audience moving. Their performance of Let Loose, a new song not yet released, left me anxious for more.
There may have been some confusion finding this show, but once we arrived, it was clear we were in for a wonderful night of music.
The long, narrow room was lit by chandeliers and lamps. Each corner had a stack of vintage suitcases, new and old instruments, and live plants placed throughout. The pre-show jazz music played in the background as friends caught up, and musicians encouraged each other.
Ben Rosenbush started the night with a solo set. Well, plus a harmonizing pedal, so maybe that makes it a duet. Either way he didn’t need it, his storytelling and musicianship easily commanded the room of attentive listeners.
Joey Verskotzi was up next. His bluesy electric guitar and catchy tunes cranked up the energy a notch. He mixed the energy of the full band with the intimacy of a solo performance for a set I won’t forget. I’ll be looking for another chance to see Verskotzi perform live.
Fathom Lane closed up the night, complete with a young girl falling asleep next to the keyboard. And I have to admit by 11:45 I was sleepy too, but a good kind of sleepy. A very content sleepy.
Clyde Iron Works (Duluth)
One of the advantages of having a discography as extensive and diverse as Cloud Cult’s is the ability to put together shows like this. The band played two full sets, each an hour and fifteen minutes long, and I could have stayed for more.
I love Cloud Cult’s new acoustic set because you can truly appreciate the musical talent in the band. The sound was turned down enough to not need earplugs, and every instrument and voice on stage shone bright with beauty. My favorite song of the set, and of the night, was the rendition of “Hurricane and Fire Survival Guide” which was stripped down to just Craig Minowa’s voice and his guitar.
After a twenty minute intermission the band came back for a second full set, this time plugged in. Although wearing my earplugs for this portion, the energy emanating from the band can cut through anything. The lyrics dive right to your soul.
Cloud Cult essentially delivered the perfect show for any fan of their music. With all the extra time, they can play way back into Hippo and Aurora Borealis for long time fans, while still not neglecting their newest albums. The contrasting sets show off their adaptability as musicians from contemplative to spontaneous. Through it all I gained a whole new level of respect for Minowa’s lyricism, which speaks clearly in any instrumentation.
“Even though I love you, I’ll break you like a promise.” – “Bridges”
“I want to scream, I want to burst, I want to blame the whole damn universe.” -“It’s Only Dancing”
“I’ve become a ghost in your garden, fading into view” – “Ghost”
From Minneapolis’ music darling, to big time member of Glassnote record label, Messersmith’s latest release Heart Murmurs showcases all the best sides of this beloved artist.
More than ever before this album shows Messersmith expanding musically. I can imagine “Ghost” being played on mainstream radio next to Phillip Phillips. “Heidi” gets me dancing every time I listen to it. The overlaying violin and cello harmonics create a space of uneasy serenity and awe in “You’ll Only Break His Heart.”
Songs reminiscent of his earlier releases are sprinkled throughout the album. The simple instrumentation of songs like “Steve” and “One Night Stand” let his songwriting and voice shine through.
One of my favorite aspects of this album compared to his previous is the band’s brilliant use of a string quartet. More than just adding an instrumental break, or extra texture to the background, the strings actually lead to the climax of the song. From the violin solo in “Bridges,” to the build up after the chorus in “Heidi,” to the show stealing notes in “You’ll Only Break His Heart,” Heart Murmurs’ strings have captured me like never before.
In classic Messersmith fashion, nearly all the song are heart breaking, luckily we do get to end on a positive note with the dinner mint of this album, “Someday, Someone.” Listen for yourself. If you dig it as much as I do, get tickets now for his show at First Ave February 21st!