Episode #19 – March 26, 2014

jaybone_bellEpisode 19 revisits the new EP from Winona’s roots-rock & bluegrass collective Jaybone Bell & Restless Light, in addition to featuring music from Rochester reggae-rock act Push & Turn, MPLS post-hardcore trio All the Way Rider, electronic multi-instrumentalist Dosh, MPLS techno duo Complicit, Appleton WI folk-rockers Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons, and Québec roots trio De Temps Antan.

It’s been a pleasure to witness the development of Jaybone Bell & Restless Light over the past year and a half. Defying the somewhat unfair “flash in the pan” stereotype of college bands, this six piece has demonstrated an applaudable level of commitment to both their music and the community. Not content performing only in front of friendly college-aged audiences, the band has performed throughout the region for new, diverse, and unfamiliar audiences alike. The group’s various members are also involved in a variety of other community projects, events, and ensembles.

Most importantly, their sound, songs, and stage show have gotten tighter and more polished along the way; showcasing a refreshing and unique take on a genre that sometimes seems over-saturated in our area. From front man Jason Ziebell’s Dylan-esque crooning to guitarist Kelly Blau’s virtuoso noodling, The Wind Shine EP is a satisfying snapshot of a credible young band that’s found its voice.

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Episode #18 – March 19, 2014

sapsucker1This episode gets off on the right foot with new music from Viroqua’s charming old-time country duo The Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, MPLS indie-pop shoegazers Strange Relations, and Winona’s high-energy 7-piece Americana act Gravy Train; in addition to vintage cuts from mind-melting electronic folkie Jeff Mitchell, lyrically-driven alt-country group The Oh Eeks, Winona electro-rockers Apartment 4, and MPLS roots duo The Floorbirds.

The aforementioned Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers are a charming, and frankly adorable, duo that performs both original and traditional old-time fiddle tunes with tight harmonies, while bringing a light musical touch and a great sense of humor. The are involved in other musical projects in the Viroqua-area, including the Pie City Ramblers and the Kickapoo Barn Dance radio show on WDRT. They will be performing in Winona for Mid West Music Fest in the front room of Broken World Records on Saturday, April 26th, 2014 at 6pm.

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Episode #17 – March 12, 2014

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Episode 17 features brand new music from Winona’s preeminent pixie-goth sludge rockers The Ultrasounds, in addition to tunes from Duluth alt-country crooner Old Knifey, battle-ready melodic post-hardcore act Boats vs Manatees, MPLS synthpop Depeche Mode devotees CLAPS, now-defunct Americana aces Roma Di Luna, and Winona’s favorite fiddling clogger Matthew St. Francis (AKA Matthew Francis Byrnes).

The Ultrasounds’ Lost My Mind EP is a solid debut recording that leans heavy on deft distorted guitar work — just like their raucous live performances. The EP is a polished snapshot of this co-ed quartet’s 90’s rock-influenced sound. And while the guitars are indeed prominent, the mix shifts from song to song, and Megan Hanson’s bittersweet vocals never lose their inherent dreaminess. Coinciding with the release of their EP, the band also embarked on a mini-tour that took them into Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa — no doubt winning over some new converts to the holy gospel of Winona-bred pixie-goth sludge rock.

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Episode #16 – Feb. 19, 2014

vlcsnap-2013-02-19-13h47m30s281Episode 16 shines a spotlight on brand new music from Eau Claire indie rock quintet Adelyn Rose, in addition to anti-folk acoustic blues from Winona puppetmaster Robert “Dr. Bob” Armstrong, dark-wave “witch-house” from Winona to MPLS transplant Breakaway, post-rock Winona throwbacks Good Luck And Godspeed, indie soul from 9-piece SMUMN alum act Ali and The Scoundrels, indie rock from up and comers Bad Bad Hats, and last but not least a pair of heart-on-their-sleeves tracks from Winona’s Amanda Grace and La Crosse’s (now defunct) Elliot Arms.

Robert “Dr. Bob” Armstrong is known along the Mississippi River and beyond as a singer, songwriter, puppeteer, psychic surgeon, and taco provocateur. He also used to operate the former Green Lantern Coffeehouse in Winona. In collaboration with filmmaker Noah Hauser of “Little Noah Productions”, Dr. Bob created an attention grabbing music video for his song “Eyeballs”, which is featured in this episode. The video is a prime example of the irreverent creativity and uniqueness found in all of Bob’s projects.
Click here to view the music video for “Eyeballs.”

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Episode #15 – Feb. 12, 2014

0002317850_10Episode 15 tees off with music from La Crosse alt-rock trio Porcupine, before settling into some funky folk from Minnesota-proud solo act Adja Gildersleve, and music from Duluth folk/roots duo The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank, Winona acoustic duo Tour Funk, and Twin Cities shoegaze/psych/indie/drone acts Chatham Rise and Gospel Gossip.

I kick off the show with music from Porcupine, because they’ve been so prolific, creative, and consistently awesome for at least the past six years. But for whatever reason, they have flown relatively under the radar in the Twin Cities area. Their vinyl releases and high-quality music videos really make the act standout here in the Driftless, but Dan Tennyson of [Twin Cities blog] Rift Magazine sums up Porcupine’s appeal and cred in a review of “The Sensation of Being Somebody” by saying:

“The mark of any band worth their creative salt knows how to utilize their influences and achieve an original sound but also how not to be redundant when they capture that sound. The 3 musicians that comprise LaCrosse,WI’s Porcupine have become so adept at this skill that the recordings are both effortless to listen to but also challenge the listener in a way few rock acts are able to. It’s true that in all likelihood none of the members of Porcupine have a phone number that begins with 612, 651, 952, or 763. But the Twin Cities music scene would do well to accept and embrace this band as adoptive sons. It’s been almost 4 years since the release of Porcupine’s last full length “The Trouble With You”. In that time they satiated appetites with “Live at the Warehouse” and a split 7” with Copenhagen duo Metal Ghost. But anyone that followed the band was intently awaiting their next complete studio recording.”

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Episode #14 – Feb. 6, 2014

Charlie-Parr-HollandaleEpisode 14 begins with a francophone folk-gem from De Temps Antan, a traditional Quebec music trio, who’ll be performing at the MN Marine Art Museum in Winona on March 14th. Music is also featured from Charlie Parr‘s new instrumental album with Alan Sparhawk (of Low, Retribution Gospel Choir, et. al), in addition to tracks from now-defunct Winona instrumental progressive rock trio Brass Lamp and Winona bluesman Mike Munson.

Here’s how Charlie describes “Hollandale” on his website:

“Hollandale is an all instrumental record of 5 songs featuring mostly 12-string with a bit of National resonator and a banjo improv based on “Barnswallow.” The songs are all improvised around 5 different open tunings and are enhanced by the electric guitar of Alan Sparhawk, who also produced the album. I’ve always wanted to do a record like this, I’ve always been real chicken to do it until Alan encouraged me and gave me an opportunity to sit in the house he was renovating and just play whatever I felt. The songs will never come out that way again, but that’s alright, they’ll come out some other way and that’s what I love about this style of music. No one gets hurt, all the air you moved while playing this music just goes back to where it was when yr done.”

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Episode #13 – Jan. 22, 2014

bakerlondonEpisode thirteen features tracks from La Crosse’s Ska & Reggae veterans T.U.G.G., energetic Twin Cities pop-rock quintet Joey Ryan & The Inks, Rochester/Winona experimental rock trio Grey Matter Black, and MN folk/blues institution Papa John Kolstad, as well as a set of related tunes by nomadic mad-cap rock legends Baker London, avant-jazz act Matty Harris Quartet, and Rochester blues prodigy Trent Romens (featuring Johnny Becker).

I was introduced to the fantastic music of Baker London during my time living in Decorah. Formed in 2005 in Chicago, members live in LA, Minneapolis, and Olympia WA, but have deep roots in Decorah and return to visit or perform somewhat regularly (I caught two live performances during my time there). Baker London blends rock, ska, country, and folk to create a sound that is both familiar and strikingly original. Founding member, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Trevor Grimm tragically passed away in 2007.

The remaining members have re-worked, re-arranged and re-recorded several of Grimm’s compositions over the course of creating their 9+ album discography. “Mannequin Factory” is one such example; originally appearing on their first album in 2006 with Grimm on vocals (click here for that version). The version featured in this episode is from 2010 and is a much refined and fuller realization of Grimm’s unique vision. 

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