The 10 best Twin Cities punk albums of 2013

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Erik Hess
Ponx at the Total Trash Tape Release

Every year the doomsayers and cynics crawl out of the woodwork and grumble that the Twin Cities punk scene is dead. But if you subscribe to that bullshit in 2013, it's pretty clear that you're old, narrow-minded, or simply not paying attention. True, it might be a little harder to find, but that's because many bands have gone underground, returning to their roots in basements and eschewing the now-standardized social media blitz. What's left is a tight-knit but incredibly diverse scene, separated by style and intensity but united by purpose and an enduring commitment to the DIY values our community has always been known for.

A quick word on format: this is not a ranked list. It's in alphabetic order, because D-Beat Crust and bubbly pop-punk are nearly impossible to compare. Also, for the purposes of this list, an "album" must by at least 4 songs long. Check out the Honorable Mentions section at the bottom for some of the year's best singles, and a few that didn't quite make the cut.

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Courtesy of Diver Dress

Diver Dress - The Silence EP

Diver Dress have been a bit of a slow burn, gaining some attention with a strong 7-inch back in 2011 before taking a break for things like school and baby-having. The four-piece returned this year with a strong showing in the form of their 6-track Silence EP. Engineered and produced by Ali Jafaar of Hollow Boys fame, who's been on a hot-streak this year, at his Ecstattic Studio, the 8-inch record is full of fuzzy, garage punk goodness. Their sound mixes left-coast lo-fi with a dash of angular noise and riot-grrrl aesthetics when bassist Angie Kilcher takes her turn on the mic.

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Courtesy of Kitten Forever

Kitten Forever - Pressure

While they've been college radio favorites around the Twin Cities for a decent while now, Kitten Forever finally made their defining statement of purpose with their second album, Pressure. Still a three-piece, but now more flexible in their instrumentation, all of the women in Kitten Forever now take turns on vocals, although their voices mesh extremely well together. Another awesome release from Ecstattic Studios, the LP finally nails the propulsive minimalism of the band's live show while still sounding presentable for airplay. Fans of local faves like Babes in Toyland and feminist punk definitely need to give this one a listen.

See Also: Kitten Forever: Half serious, half party, all punk

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Courtesy of Kontrasekt

Kontrasekt - End of Destruction

Kontrasekt specialize in a style of bone-crushingly heavy Blackened Crust sometimes referred to by its signature machine-gun drum sound known as D-Beat. With their insane tempos and guttural screams, Kontrasekt fit right in with our burgeoning Crust scene here in the Twin Cities, but their unique usage of heavy reverb and screeching industrial noise have drawn comparisons to the hardcore weirdness currently popular in Japan. In fact, Kontrasekt does their take on the pulverizing genre so well that this record was picked up by the legendary MCR label, something like the Japanese version of SST, which rarely releases American bands, let alone ones from our corner of the nation.

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Artwork by David Watt

Much Worse - Macrocosm is a Wash

God bless groups like Much Worse for keeping the hardcore flag flying high in the Twin Cities. This is the kind of uncompromising, blisteringly fast record that sounds like it could've come straight from the '80s DC punk scene if it weren't for the brutal, contemporary breakdowns. Released on local label Forward!, purveyors of all things heavy, this full-length LP is a breakneck race to this finish, with not a single track breaking the three-minute mark. Recorded by Mat Castore of Condominium at his A Harder Commune studio, the mix is crystal clear without a hint of polish. Technical and ferocious, Macrocosm makes it impossible to sit still.

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Photo by Suzy Sharp

Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band - Promises to Deliver

While his current project probably stretches the definition of the word, Nato Coles is a true-blue punk journeyman for the ages. Veteran of a handful of stellar pop-punk groups based in Milwaukee and Minneapolis, Promises to Deliver sees Nato and his current group embracing the epic, melodic textures of Thin Lizzy and the Boss. But even on the album's mellower, more contemplative cuts there's a restless, rebel spirit that puts this defiantly outside of classic rock cheese. If there was any justice in the world, Nato and the BDB's excellent songwriting would put them in the Gaslight Anthem's place at the top of the rock charts.


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16 comments
slimer
slimer

if you don't like this list, including the honerable mentions, you're not paying attention to the punk scene in the twin cities. some of these bands kill it live, so good. these bands are working hard, its great that a paper like city pages shines the light even a little bit about the DIY scene and gets it.  i dont understand the haters comments here, keep moving forward, turn it up or get out of the way grandpa. (kontrasekt live/lp are/is great)

Erik Tiberius Lervold
Erik Tiberius Lervold

why must when talking about punk, the headline is: punk is not dead, check it out! or a variation of that. okay, we got it, you are referencing something else and you are clever, except you are not. please think of something else.. like, let me see... we got a list of punk albums that were pretty kick ass! or there is like 400 punk bands in the cities alone, and we narrowed them down to a ten albums. or check it out! most of this music can be found free in band camp! but you wouldn't care. go listen to the current, hipster. or ten albums that are so great, you'll never hear them anywhere else. or apparently to appear in the radio k you need to sound like nora jones with constipation, here are 10 punk albums to help her loosen that load off. see? easy

punktothebone
punktothebone

what no RADICAL FUN TIME Awesome Adventure Lp  one of the best records of 2013  form local punX

punktothebone
punktothebone

What no RADICAL FUN TIME Awesome Adventure  that record is amazing and came out this year!

Darin Back
Darin Back

There's nothing punk about Mpls! Ask anyone!

put_some_ranch_on_it
put_some_ranch_on_it

Excellent. Great range in this list, even if it's missing Mystery Date's Dreaming in Black and White 7", which is fucking great. 

ThrobMarley
ThrobMarley

No Goodbars? No Dead End Age? No Pabst Blue Rebellion? What kind of list IS this anyway??

ajlalk3
ajlalk3 topcommenter

Whenever I see lists like these, I am reminded of just how terrible the local music scene is in the Twin Cities.

ZeeMickCee
ZeeMickCee

@justin.peddycoart Great band, definitely punk-inspired but more shoegaze/goth than I was shooting for with my list. Also, their frontman operates Ecstattic Studios, which I mention in here.

Bluetoothjesus
Bluetoothjesus

Ya man ! We don't have extreme noise or the triple rock and all these bands are not punk.

Bluetoothjesus
Bluetoothjesus

Have you been to any of these bands shows? Always a good time.

Erica
Erica

@ajlalk3 You must be a fun person to be around with 24/7. While the Twin Cities music scene is far from perfect, at least we have a music scene and a healthy one at that too.  And here is an idea...if you think our music scene is so awful, MOVE then!!! So tired of people like you who whine about the scene and not do crap about it.

put_some_ranch_on_it
put_some_ranch_on_it

@ajlalk3 Whenever I see that episode of Simpsons where the tall guy drives the tiny car because it's the only automobile he can afford, I enjoy it.

ReedFischer
ReedFischer moderator

@ajlalk3 Whenever I see comments like these, I wonder why you even bothered. How many local music scenes around the U.S. have you experienced firsthand?

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