Ten best Minnesota albums of 2014 (so far)
A whole lot of stellar albums have crossed our desk in 2014 so far. Across the spectrum of rock, hip-hop, R&B, and more-experimental recordings created by Minnesota talent, several have immediately become a part of our lives.
Here is a list of the ten local albums that we just couldn't get enough of so far in 2014.
The 10 best Minnesota albums of 2013
Votel - Votel
This evocative, electro-pop masterpiece comes from a talented crew of Twin Cities music scene veterans -- Lookbook's Maggie Morrison, Marijuana Deathsquads' Mark McGee, Seawhores' Adam Marx, Ben Clark, and Polica's Drew Christopherson. There are sonic elements of those other bands layered within Votel's seven intoxicating songs. Still, the pulsating work on this record is consistently fresh and original, and will take you somewhere special if you let it.
Spooky Black - Black Silk
The captivating songs on Black Silk -- and Spooky Black himself -- seemed to arrive out of the ether. The mystery behind the man and his entrancing music initially baffled those in the R&B and hip-hop community, who couldn't quite get a grasp on this singer/rapper who seemingly came out of nowhere. It turns out that Spooky Black (who originally recorded as Lil Spook) is a teenager who comes from St. Paul, and his ambient debut jam, "Without You," caught fire throughout the country. This may be the first you hear of this talented young artist, but it certainly won't be the last. (For more of Spooky's work, check out the Standard.)
Jeremy Messersmith - Heart Murmurs
Heart Murmurs is the grandiose rock record that Jeremy Messersmith has been building towards his entire musical career. After baroque and acoustic arrangements in earlier recordings, he amps up songs like "Tourniquet" and "Ghost" louder than ever before. Messersmith seamlessly blends massive choruses alongside fragile moments of sincerity, all wrapped up in sprightly melodies and arrangements that hook you and never let go.
Leisure Birds - Tetrahedron
There are plenty of electronic layers to get lost in on Leisure Birds' saturnine new album, Tetrahedron. The record's seven songs are drenched in exquisite synth strains and drone-fueled rhythms, which fluidly combine to give the material plenty of room to breathe when they require it, while also crafting a dense, moody modern sound. The quartet spent a few years perfecting the material on this album, and it clearly shows. Each dynamic song continues to reveal more upon repeat listens.
Haley Bonar - Last War
Breakups abound in Haley Bonar's fervid new album, Last War. But rather than wallow in heartbreak, Bonar turns broken relationships into acute character studies -- both in the people she has left behind as well as herself. With cutting rock guitar and synth-based arrangements (and some Justin Vernon backing vocals) these passionate tales have a catchy beat as well as a backbone. The songs suggest these subjects have learned from their mistakes but might be tempted to repeat them just for fun. Bonar is one of the best songwriters in our current music scene, and on Last War she took her talents to another level entirely, challenging her listeners to follow along.