The 14 Twin Cities college bands you need to hear
College connection: Guitarist Sean Neppl is a student at the U of M and lead singer Jeff Cornell attended Augsburg.
The Twin Cities suburb of Eagan isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of, as their Facebook puts it, "dreamy-ass jangle pop," but it is the first home of Minneapolis band Gloss. Neppl and Cornell grew up there and began playing music together in high school. After adding drummer Jordan Bleu, bassist Jackson Woolsey and synth player Emmy Carter, Gloss began playing shows last May and put out the single "Front Porch" in October. The song got talked up by bloggers around the world, who praised the band's ability to construct their complex gauzy and layered guitar pop without losing the groove. Gloss plays with an brightness like the sun shining off of new snow that you can't help but get lost in. According to Bleu, the band has only performed live all together about 10 times, but there are more dates ahead -- tonight at the Kitty Cat Klub and March 7 at 7th Street. A new single, titled "Ian's Dream" after a former band-mate and current album-cover artist Ian Miller, is set to drop on February 22, and a 7" featuring both singles and a B-side will be released via Manic Pop! records in April.
Check out Gloss here.
3. All Eyes
College connection: Bassist Joe Christensen graduated from Macalester in 2011 and lead singer/songwriter Alicia Wiley graduated from McNally Smith in 2003.
Christensen took an unusual path to graduation, taking two years off to record and tour with now-defunct Minneapolis band White Light Riot. Along the way he met his fiance Alicia Wiley, who began the process of writing and creating the Lynchian (as Christensen described it) sound that brought All Eyes together two years ago. Their November debut made our list of top Minnesota albums last year, and for good reason -- the dark experimental sound defies all constraints, moving through highs and lows like an electric fog that swallows the listener whole. All Eyes is made up mostly of musicians with other projects going on, and that plus a focus on recording leads them to play shows at a rate of one per month, so don't pass up the chance to see them locally if one comes along. The band is also working on new music, but has no concrete releases planned, so keep your ears open.
Check out All Eyes here.
College connection: The band met at McNally Smith in 2010.
The news that dance titans Wiping Out Thousands are pretty good at music will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog. Nonetheless, our list would not be complete without the romantic and musical duo of Taylor Nelson and Alaine Dickman, who first met when Nelson sent Dickman a Facebook message looking for a singer for a more traditional rock project. Though Wiping out Thousands is nowhere near what anyone would call rock anymore, Dickman's voice is still the glue that holds it all together. Her moody and deceptively powerful vocals hold together beats and breakdowns so high energy that it seems like they could fly apart any minute. Wiping Out Thousands is a hydrogen bomb exploding on a dancefloor forever, a sonic concoction flithy enough for the bass heads and funky enough to keep the vibe sexy. Their work, on their January 2012 EP Reaction Machine and their October full-length This Came first, has not gone unnoticed, garnering them a Vita.mn cover story and a spot in First Ave's best new bands of 2012. You can see what's up for yourself at Mill City Nights on March 1 and at Cabooze on April 19.
Check out Wiping Out Thousands here.
College connection: All of the band members except guitarist Max Kulicke (who graduated in 2011) graduated from Macalester last May.
The inspiration for Carroll's name comes from an unusual source: a St. Paul street sign, from the avenue where lead singer Brian Hurlow (of Seattle) shared a house with drummer Charlie Rudoy (of New York). Members of the band, who hail from all over the country, had met before -- in freshman music theory, in Mac's African music ensemble -- but they didn't started working together until Rudoy heard Hurlow's music and the two formed a collaboration during their junior year. Bassist Charles McClung (of Nebraska) and Kulicke (of Philadelphia) joined in and the band as it is today really started rolling in fall 2011.
After a year of refining and perfecting their sound at live shows, Carroll put out their first EP Needs last week. The work paid off, big time. Songs from the record are already in rotation at The Current on MPR, who called them "among the freshest tracks we've heard come from the Twin Cities in a while." No arguments here. Carroll's song structures are immaculate, but that doesn't hold back subtle and powerful emotional resonance they bring. The melancholy yet bright tracks use melodies like tides, inevitable and simple yet imminently mysterious. Carroll will be at the Cedar on February 21 and in the Nether Bar at Mill City Nights for the Are You Local? showcase on March 1. They plan on getting in a few more local dates before touring the East Coast at the start of summer. Though the material for a full-length is "about half written," according to Hurlow, there isn't set release date. No matter when it drops, we're sure it will be worth the wait.
Check out Carroll here.