The 14 Twin Cities college bands you need to hear

Categories: Lists

9. Total Trash

College connection: Singer Jessica Katz is a senior at the U of M, and bassist Joel Gomez is a graduate student there. Guitarist Dustin McChesney graduated from MCAD and drummer Jared Sather graduated from Augsburg.

"Punk rock, minneapolis, no bullshit." It's probably somewhat blasphemous for us to go beyond what Total Trash writes about itself on Facebook, so we'll try to keep the Pitchforkese in check for this one. Total Trash started with Katz and McChesney bought 100 blank cassette tapes last year and set out to fill them. That led to their debut self-titled release last summer. It's pretty much exactly what it says on the tin -- songs built around Black Flag influenced riffs that stay in your head for days and a spastic energy always searching for destruction. "We're trying to express as much rage and passion as possible in under a minute," Katz said. No bullshit. You can experience Total Trash at the Rathole on February 25 or at the release show for their new tape You Don't Try at 7th Street on March 14.

Check out Total Trash here.

8. Asker

College connection: The band met at St. Thomas.

The seeds of Asker were planted in fall 2010 when lead singer Alex Rollins met guitarist Jack Vondrachek in freshman Theology -- call it divine inspiration. The band plays with the poise of industry vets, creating perfectly-executed indie rock with a moody and personal edge. Their polished yet emotional sound scored them a record deal with Nashville's Schematic records this summer, sending them to Tennessee to lay down tracks a week after finals ended. The band is currently taking time off from school to tour and record. They'll swing through the Twin Cities for a homecoming gig at 7th Street Entry on April 27, and their first full album should drop sometime this fall. Though all three are still technically enrolled at St. Thomas, the band is already looking towards the next phase in their career. Rollins summed up their big ambitions, saying "I hope I don't have to go back, honestly." From what we're hearing, they might not have to.

Check out Asker here.

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7. Is Home Is

College connection:
Is Home Is graduated from Macalester last December.

The artist formally known as the Olsen Twinns, a.k.a Mickey Davis, has been featured on Gimme Noise before. Since then, he's released his sophomore album Found Things, toured the West Coast, graduated from college and landed a job in Des Moines. You could say he's been busy. Davis dropped the original name after receiving a, quote, "really nice" letter from the former tween idols' publicist last November. Though the name may be different, Davis remains the quintessential electronic music composer. No sound or rhythm seems out of place, and the dense and complex grooves never feel cluttered or overproduced. Is Home Is comes back to town on February 21 at the Cedar. Davis is currently in the process of choosing a label for his third album, planned to be released sometime this spring.

Check out Is Home Is here.

6. Nerves

College connection:
Bassist and vocalist Mitch Schooler graduated from the U of M last semester.

Nerves is the product of high school friends Sam Lewis and Char Nolan, but they didn't become fully formed as a band until March 2011, when they started playing live shows around the Twin Cities. They put out a self-titled EP on January 25 that showcases what they're about, and what they're about is weird experimental metal that still kicks you in the face. Citing influences from jazz to shoegaze, Nerves creates some seriously intricate progressive mental that never gets so wrapped up in its layers and build-up that it forgets to form one kick-ass whole. The band expects to release a full length album sometime next year, and you can see them next in the Twin Cities on March 23 at the Hexagon.

Check out Nerves here.

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5. Bad Bad Hats

College connection: Lead singer and guitarist Kerry Alexander and drummer Chris Hoge graduated from Macalester last May, and bassist Noah Boswell is a current student.

It seems we can't get enough of Bad Bad Hats in recent weeks. And we're not the only ones: their most recent EP It Hurts, available for free via Afternoon Records, has been on everyone's ears since its release on January 28. Songwriting and recording duo Alexander and Hoge recorded their first song together to enter Macalester's 2012 Battle of the Bands. Mac has played a big role in the band's history, and Hoge is helping to keep the scene going with his recording project Sea Prime Demos, where he's recorded several artists from his alma mater. Bad Bad Hats, joined by Boswell at gigs and in brainstorming sessions, perfectly straddles the line between sock-hop and garage band.

Alexander's voice, light and substantial like a helium balloon that never floats away, tells stories of the trouble with love over quick guitar tracks with just enough weight to keep everything together. "I'd say that we're cute and tough," Hoge said. "Like a baby lion," Alexander added. Catch these cats at the Cedar on February 21, at the Turf Club on February 22, and at's Are You Local? showcase at Mill City Nights' Nether bar, where the band will compete with Carroll (along with rap crew Audio Perm) for $1,000 and a spot in a South by Southwest showcase.

Check out Bad Bad Hats here.

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