A Minnesota music golden age might be going on right now!

Categories: Local Music
Polica_Fallon_2.jpg
Put your hands on the wheel, let the golden age begin.
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Minnesota Public Radio has just introduced a new feature posing the question, "Is Minnesota Music in a golden age?" MPR reporter Chris Roberts interviewed local figures covering music, booking music, playing music, and a fella who's a fan to try and answer that inquiry. It's a fun question to pose, but a hard one to answer definitively.

When Roberts and I spoke for the piece, he said that one of the motivators to report this now was recent TV appearances by local acts -- Polica on Fallon and Trampled by Turtles on Letterman -- but there are plenty of other angles that figure into the story. He even got your Gimme Noise editor on tape saying "I think the short answer is 'yes.'" Of course, my longer answer was ... longer and not as coherent for a radio report.


A "golden age" is something like "a period in a field of endeavor when great tasks are accomplished" and it's a wildly subjective topic. I threw a lot back at him about how to measure this age's gildedness. "Do we have enough strong local labels for a golden age?" I asked. "Do labels hold the same level of importance that they once did?" he countered. And so on and so forth.

We also spoke a bit about whether or not Minnesota was a place that outsider musicians and music fans would flock to strictly for its draws in that area. Although the Minneapolis music scene was named second-best in the U.S. in this poll, which omitted most of the major music hotspots around the country, most people outside of the region I've spoken to seem to know more about our abundant bike paths than they do about Jordan Gatesmith's cocky stage banter or how oversaturated with rappers we might be.

On the one hand, a couple of the successful bands mentioned prominently in the story, Howler and Polica, are relatively new on the scene -- albeit with members who are veterans, in some cases. Roberts also mentions Doomtree and Trampled by Turtles, a couple of groups with a longer history who are undeniably at glistening points in their respective careers. Are these bands -- and a few others, like Now, Now, who get interviewed in the piece -- enough to look back at the early 2010s as a golden period? Perhaps, but it'll have to come a few years down the line when we're truly ready to look back.

Getting back to that longer answer I gave about our current golden age, it was pretty noncommittal. Everyone's personal golden age usually comes when they have the most time to attend shows -- and some disposable income to do so. For now, I was most comfortable saying that we have an all-time high of local music news sources -- blogs, newspapers, radio stations, and even venues -- contributing heavily to the local music conversation in nuanced ways. And then you have the added impact of social networking. Finding the local music that resonates with you is easier than it has ever been.

Put in another light, if you've got the time and some money in your wallet, there's no excuse to not experience the local music scene for what it is in 2012. When is the last time in Minnesota history that the statement wasn't true?  

Listen to Roberts' entire piece, "Is Minnesota Music in a golden age?" here.


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31 comments
myjah
myjah

A Minnesota music silver age might be going on right now. Or maybe a bronze age.

edawggg
edawggg

Fischer you're a turd. And what a stupid headline. Have some conviction... either you think mpls is having a "golden age" or you don't. Judging by the bands written about in the article, I'd say it's a golden age... the scene is piss poor!

Christian Vogt
Christian Vogt

the scene is pretty shitty not gonna lie., to many shitty hipster bands and terrible rap artists. Minneapolis is plagued with garbage.

AllMediaReviews
AllMediaReviews

Cloud Cult should definitely be part of this type of discussion. Along with some others. But making national talk show appearances doesn't necessarily make anything more significant, especially when there have been and still are other bands making just as significant music. But of course much of that goes largely un-noticed. Lehto & Wright for example. like Cloud Cult, have been making excellent records for over a decade, yet only have a niche audience. Despite that, it hardly detracts to the fact they are making significant music. Just because an act receives some mainstream attention, doesn't mean their art is better or even deserving any more appeal than many other acts.

MarcelloPellegrinoErnetti
MarcelloPellegrinoErnetti

YAY! MINNEAPOLIS IS THE BEST CITY EVER! AND I LIVE THERE! PROPS TO ME!! I KNEW IT!! ALRIGHT! WOO! URBAN UTOPIA USA!! AOK!!

pure energy
pure energy

the Golden Age was the early to mid 80's. and all because of The Information Society. Duh.

Cbats
Cbats

In 1984 Purple Rain, Zen Arcade, and Let it Be were all released. Is there a chance that we'll look back 10 years from now and say 2012 was even remotely comparable? There's lots of great music in the cities right now but let's calm down a bit and stop patting ourselves on the back so much.

Sharkeyshark
Sharkeyshark

I heard both of those late night TV gigs (Polica and Turtles) were basically last-minute flukes because Tom Waits canceled. Any "journalists" out there able to confirm?

adam
adam

I think it's a little premature and unnecessary to spend time speculating whether or not we're in a "golden age" or not. We've had a lot of great bands here for years and some are getting some major attention and that's great. Just keep focusing on what we've got going on and not spending too much time worrying about whether or not this is some sort overlying significant time or not. Just get out there and enjoy we have so much going on right now.

Sceneparticipant
Sceneparticipant

Way too much navel gazing in this scene right now. What's the point of talking about how awesome you are? That's all everyone does anymore. Puke city. Imagine Westerberg doing this crap. Wouldn't happen. Everyone is taking themselves way too seriously.

Jen Boyles
Jen Boyles

Doesn't "golden age" imply that this age surpasses what came previously? While I love and appreciate the TC music scene, if we look at it under those terms it's problematic. This town once had a entire genre named after it (further proving Prince's footprint here is huge), and I don't think you can talk about him and Doomtree or Howler in the same sentence without making major concessions. Our scene in its entirety has been underrated for decades, and now thanks to a shrinking technological world, we're starting to get due shine. Sure, it's deserved, but "golden age" seems unfitting.

Justin
Justin

Agree that Doomtree is doing better than ever. But where is the mention of American Head Charge? They recently reunited, and there is no better band to have ever come out of the Twin Cities, in my opinion.

Kolby Dickens
Kolby Dickens

I wish Cloud Cult was part of these conversations.  They are all over the place consistently it seems and have also been on some late night stages.  Actually were part of a pretty moving moment on the How I Met Your Mother finally the other night as well.  Another major piece of the brilliant puzzle that is the MPLS music scene.

Gahed Indie
Gahed Indie

Just needs a little black and babyheads. Something 2012..Hmmm wonder who that could be?

ryan mcfarland
ryan mcfarland

 that's how it is everywhere now. The current music "scene" or whatever u wanna call it is garbage. It's very difficult to find, if any, respectable & talented young bands/artists worthy of creating something timeless. I blame the internet. Kids today or the younger generation don't appreciate how much has transpired b4 their time and everything's a click away....definitely entirely too cool for learning old school...or so they think. Most new music I listen to tends to consist of older musicians who know a lot of history...

Mike
Mike

Especially considering that our current pride and joy are watered down suburban hiphop and trust fund unlistenable indie garbage with stupid looking haircuts.

Morebasslesstreb
Morebasslesstreb

Exactly. 

City Pages has been posting all too many articles about speculation and option discussion forum style threads.

How about you go back to covering the crazy large amount of artists in this city?

I don't like this new path CP is taking. This is NOT a discussion forum. It's a news publication. 

Mike
Mike

I'm glad SOMEBODY else gets it! Props to you, sir. As I've said for years on here - DEMAND BETTER!!! Doomsrubs and Yowler couldn't be more mediocre if they tried.

Sceneparticipant
Sceneparticipant

There needs to be more criticism, period. With so much music out there, two things need to happen:1) Writers need to be more critical.2) Musicians need to put out less material less often. E.g., a particular popular local band putting out four albums in a year.

Zach Pasdoe
Zach Pasdoe

I totally agree with you Ms. Boyles.  According to Rolling Stone,  "the Minneapolis sound... loomed over mid-'80s R&B and pop, not to mention the next two decades' worth of electro, house, and techno."  

Renee Aztalanturf
Renee Aztalanturf

Thanks for mentioning the Kilted Farmer blog post, Jonathan. The "darker" genres of music haven't been getting as much attention from the bigger local media outlets as the hip hop and indie rock artists, but there are still some extremely exciting things going on and that's what I was trying to highlight in that post. I've been especially excited by the community I've seen around the so-called electropunk bands and also some of the metal bands.

Whether we're in a "Golden Age" or not isn't actually the point. The point is that there's a lot of cool stuff going on in multiple genres of music right now in Minnesota. Stop, take a look around, find a band or two or 200 you like, and support them in whatever way you can.

Mike
Mike

There's never been a "moving moment" on that awful excuse for a television program.

Stimpy83
Stimpy83

dude, give it up. no one wants "black and babyheads". no one. stop acting like you are the next big thing. you scare people away with your foolish theatrics and then wonder why no one listens to your music. 

Mike
Mike

lol true

Sceneparticipant
Sceneparticipant

I meant 4 albums in a year is too much. Awkward wording.

Adam
Adam

Dude you are an idiot.  Musicians who make it relentlessly promote their music, even when closed minded Flo Rida fans tell them to stop.  Look at Eden.  Nobody liked them at first, but now they're one of the biggest rock bands in the Minneapolis scene right now.  

As for the article, it's kind of sad to see the same four groups being promoted.  There is so much better music in Minneapolis than that, the bands themselves even admit it.  

/rant

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