ACTN Put Death in Pop

Categories: Interviews
Photo courtesy of
ACTN | Icehouse | Friday, April 24

Gus Watkins originally conceived of ACTN in 2013 as a one-man act. "A part of the original thought behind playing solo was that maybe it would draw more people into the lyricism," he says. These days Watkins is joined by three other members onstage, but it's hard to avoid confronting his lyrics head-on sometimes due to subject matter that is raw, honest and reaching.

Tonight, ACTN will celebrate the release of their new single and video, "My Flesh is Weakness," at Icehouse with fellow synth-driven popsters, Beasthead. We had a chat with Watkins about the inspirations behind his current sound, what went into their new video, and how the group has evolved over the years.

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Nooky Jones Breathe New Life into Twin Cities Neo-Soul

Categories: Interviews

Photo by Tim McGuire
Nooky Jones & PaviElle | Icehouse | Saturday, April 25

It's a little after 9 p.m. and we're crashing a Nooky Jones rehearsal in one of the practice rooms at McNally Smith in St. Paul. The crew of six is grooving through one of their tunes "Hello." Vocalist Cameron Kinghorn sways lightly on his feet towards the mic, his voice airy and floaty. The first word to come to mind to describe his vocals is "easy" -- like a dreamy burst of nostalgia.

There are interludes where each of the musicians is given his own time to flex and shine with improvisational solos, then all ease back into the base melody. They have an agreeable chemistry and all share a similar look of bliss while they're playing. The soulful group is rehearsing for their upcoming show with PaviElle at Icehouse on Saturday night, and we dropped in to catch up with the band before their big homecoming gig following a brief Midwestern tour.

See Also:
PaviElle's Fear Not Is A Soul-Baring Experience

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BNLXFest III Brings Together the Best and Brightest from the Twin Cities Rock Scene

Photo by Jennifer Jurgens
BNLX's clan is growing, as is their music festival
BNLXFest III | The Turf Club and 7th St. Entry | Friday, April 24, and Saturday, April 25

When Cause Spirts and Soundbar closed last summer, BNLXFest lost a home. The annual weekend showcase of local music created by BNLX ringleader Ed Ackerson was born there, but thankfully didn't die there. This month's BNLXFest, the third official installment, has found a new home at both the Turf Club and the 7th St. Entry.

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Pale Spectre Let Their Music Do Most of the Talking

Courtesy of the Artist
Aaron Hammerly, vocalist of Pale Spectre

Pale Spectre| 7th St. Entry | Saturday, April 25
It's a sunny Sunday afternoon at Bob's Java Hut, and the roar of traffic on Lyndale combines with those of motorcycles pulling up to the spot. We're having an afternoon coffee with several members of Pale Spectre, a fairly new local band preparing to make its big debut at BNLXFest III this Saturday evening at the Entry.

Twenty-one-year-old vocalist Aaron Hammerly fidgets somewhat nervously, the wind tousling his blonde hair. Pale Spectre is his first band, and he's had to get over his stage fright fast at their first show.

"That was at Honey last October," Hammerly recounts. They didn't have much material yet and only played four songs. "The first time I actually sang was in front of these people," he says.

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Twin Shadow Brings Sexy Back to Minneapolis

Photo by Milan Zrnic
Back in the venue that Prince made famous, Twin Shadow -- aka George Lewis, Jr. -- returns with a new album that blends a poppier sound with his synth-rock aesthetic. Beneath his intoxicating beats, Lewis infuses soul and sensual rhythms that are reminiscent of the Purple One. On his new record, Eclipse, the Dominican-born, bicoastal musician unleashes the "mainstream" rock star that lives inside his songs.

Before his show at First Avenue tonight, Gimme Noise chatted with George about his last show in Minneapolis, and his thoughts on well-behaved Midwesterners.

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Off-10 Challenges Intolerance Through Hip-Hop and Spoken Word In Jubilee

Unfuh Qwittable and G.P.jacob

Off the heels of an EP release of the same name, this Friday the Northeast group Off-10 present their new show Jubilee at Intermedia Arts, combining their backgrounds as rappers and spoken word poets to create a theater performance focused on dissecting the machinations of intolerance and supporting a multi-racial uprising. 

Former Audio Perm members and brothers G.P.jacob and Unfuh Qwittable join live musicians for an immersive showcase of political art with a wide range of formats, aimed at creating a dialogue about race and oppression in America. Gimme Noise sat with the duo to discuss their work and the combination of their political and creative backgrounds.

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Jake Pavek Creates a Grand World on His New Album, Illume

Photo by Mark Kartarik
"This place was used as a car repair shop, then it was a ceramics studio, and they didn't take anything with them when they left," explains Jake Pavek, about his St. Paul practice studio that he shares with his other bands, A Piano in Every Home and Taj Raj. The space is one large room with a wall full of guitars and a grand piano sitting in the middle of it.

Influenced by Yann Tiersen and Philip Glass, Jake creates modern classical piano pieces that deviates from the indie-rock that saturates this town. On the heels of winter, Pavek will be releasing Illume, a collection of tracks built around a breathtaking world, and shares with Gimme Noise his thoughts on the importance of creating a space of your own.

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Guster Stays Sincere On Their New Album, Evermotion

Photo by Zoe-Ruth Erwin

Guster | State Theatre | Thursday, April 9
Guster is back, but then again, the Boston band has never really left. The quartet may be tired of hearing how their sound has changed over the last 24 years, but what band doesn't undergo some form of evolution over all that time? Tracks off their new album, Evermotion, move in waves of atmospheric shoegaze and synth elements, but underneath, their indie-pop roots still run deep.

Before their show at the State Theatre on Thursday evening, Gimme Noise caught up with lead singer Ryan Miller to chat about Chris Martin, working in an office, and how one bad record could ruin their career.
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OK Go Prove That They Are More Than Just Clever Music Videos

Photo by Makoto Kubota
OK Go | First Avenue | Thursday, April 2
It seems as if indie-rock quartet OK Go try to top themselves with every new form of media they come out with -- from doing a full instrumental video with sounds made from over a thousand instruments (and a Chevy), to the ambitious clip for "I Won't Let You Down" that involves numerous umbrellas and precise timing. Is there any concern that the visuals sometimes overshadow the music? Perhaps, but that thought doesn't concern the group too much.

Before their sold out show at First Ave on Thursday night, Gimme Noise caught up with bassist Tim Nordwind to chat about creating art in an independent world and where their next music video could possibly take place.
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Josh Scott's Therapeutic Musical Return with Aero Flynn

Photo by Cameron Wittig

Aero Flynn | 7th St. Entry | Friday, April 3
"I know that I couldn't have made this record three years ago," Josh Scott readily admits.

There's a tranquil sunset coming through windows of Bev's Wine Bar behind the Rochester native, who recently moved to northeast Minneapolis from Chicago. He's best known for his years shaping the rural rock movement in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, over a decade ago.

In the early aughts, Scott and his Amateur Love cohorts -- Brian Moen and brothers Brad and Phil Cook -- crafted the influential full-length It's All Aquatic. Their friend Justin Vernon loved the heady, guitar- and keys-laden indie rock album so much that he formed the Chigliak record label in part to press a reissue. Amateur Love was on the cusp, but Scott retreated from the scene due to a crippling battle with an autoimmune disease and untreated depression.

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