MUSIC | Lookbook’s “Wild at Heart” breathes warmth into synthpop

Minneapolis is becoming increasingly known for being a hotbed of hip-hop and rock/noise acts, but somewhere in the shadows of the city lurks a stellar electronic scene that is just as remarkable. This often overlooked niche is arguably led by the duo of Grant Cutler (Passions) and Maggie Morrison (Digitata) who, under the Lookbook moniker, first captured the scene’s attention late last year with its acclaimed I Fear You, My Darkness EP. Now returning with its first full-length, Wild at Heart, Lookbook has expanded on Cutler’s dancefloor-friendly synths and Morrison’s enthusiastic vocals with an impeccable follow-up that looks to bring the band, and the genre, further into the spotlight. After its breakthrough last year, Lookbook were invited to perform at First Avenue’s annual Best New Bands showcase and were named the Best New Band in City Pages’ 2009 Best of the Twin Cities Poll. Such praise is rarely given to musicians who can’t hang. Continue Reading

MUSIC | Red Pens provide a dozen “Reasons” why they’re the best new band in the Twin Cities

“It’s not every year that the winner of our Picked to Click poll blows the rest of the competition out of the water, but every so often a band comes along that manages to win over the hearts of the entire music scene.” Though a tad hyperbolic, City Pages’ recent introduction of this year’s best new band honors, which were given to Minneapolis’s Red Pens, weren’t bestowed without sufficient rationale. Particularly over the past few months, few burgeoning local acts have appeared so consistently on the radar—the excitement surrounding this band is hard to dispute. A visual artist, guitarist Howard W. Hamilton III originally met drummer Laura F. Bennett after a friend of Hamilton’s suggested that he should check out Bennett’s work. From there they began collaborating until Bennett eventually hit the guitarist with a suggestion that maybe they should play together. Considering that they performed together for a year before actually playing in front of an audience, their album Reasons is more than simply the band’s debut: it’s a sonic time capsule culminating the evolution of their relationship. Continue Reading

MUSIC | Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles’ accomplished new album “Special Party Time for Everybody”

The past year has offered a world of change to the six members of Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles. Dropping the independently released Orange Peels and Rattlesnakes in the summer of 2008 only added to the budding attention that the band had already been attracting for its live performances around the Twin Cities. By the end of the year the group had received best local band honors in City Pages’ annual Picked to Click poll and began expanding its roadshow while anticipation at home continued to build. Now releasing their second album, Special Party Time For Everybody, Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles not only buck the highly dreaded sophomore slump, but offer a change in direction that adds an entirely new dimension to the band’s already remarkable sound. There is no easy way to describe the band. Continue Reading

MUSIC | Eminem’s “Relapse”: For better or for worse, Shady’s back

The idea of relapsing isn’t one that’s solely aimed at addiction, especially so in the case of Eminem. Coming four and a half years after Encore, Relapse is a wildcard; an album coming from an unpredictable emcee, one of the world’s most popular and recognizable musical figures, and one that has been looming his entire career. Relapse occurs when you fall back into an old pattern or habit, and with Relapse, Marshall Mathers’s alter-ego drifts back into familiar subject matter, the bulk of which is accompanied by the beats produced by his longtime collaborator and mentor Dr. Dre. But over the course of the album, there is an increasingly broad disparity between who Mathers is, what he’s been through, and what people expect from the character he’s developed. And throughout the record, the main struggle isn’t to find a lyrical rhythm or a solid beat; after a failed reconciliation with his ex-wife, multiple bouts with addiction, stints in rehab, and the murder of his close friend, the struggle is to find which former self Mathers has now reverted back to. Continue Reading