Erik Koskinen: Playing music for a living is a highlight, so nothing gets taken for granted

Photo By Nate Ryan/The Current

Erik Koskinen | Turf Club | Thursday, August 28
On any given day of the week, Erik Koskinen is either leading his own top-notch band through a set in town, or lending his skills to a friend's performance or recording session. The talented singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/engineer makes everything he touches better in his own distinctive way.

Earlier this year, Koskinen released his newest solo album, America Theatre, a record that was three years in the making and was entirely worth the wait. Give it a good listen and you will agree that it is one of the best Minnesota releases in a year chock-full of local gems.

Koskinen is set to play the Turf Club's grand reopening tonight, along with Frankie Lee and Dead Man Winter. Ahead of the big show, Gimme Noise asked Erik a few questions about his plans for the rest of his year, and the projects he's been working on.

See Also:
Turf Club finalizes grand reopening weekend lineup

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Inside the joyful noise of Coax From Chuckanut

Photo by Stacy Griffin
Coax From Chuckanut | Aster Cafe | Sunday, August 24
A little quirky and a little bit rock 'n' roll, husband and wife duo Libby and Ryan Sutherland make up the Minneapolis band Coax From Chuckanut. On their self-titled debut album, Libby and Ryan mix heartfelt indie rock and folk adorably.

Gimme Noise caught up with Ryan and Libby before their album release at the Aster Cafe on Sunday night to talk about how they keep their relationship healthy and what it really means to be coaxed from a chuckanut.
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Jeff Bridges: In music, I'm finally able to realize my teenage dreams

Photo by Danny Clinch

Jeff Bridges and the Abiders| Pantages Theatre| Sunday, August 24
The week before his new sci-fi film The Giver is set to come out, actor Jeff Bridges exits a plane that has just touched down in New York. His assistant warns, "We are heading towards a tunnel, so if we lose you, we'll call back," before handing the phone off to the 64-year-old star. His deep, booming voice -- one that we've all come to know as it's filled out so many characters over the years -- carries across the miles between Minneapolis and New York. In those characters, Bridges is a man who has lived a hundred lives in his one. He laughs, "Isn't that weird? Isn't that funny? Making movies, I feel each movie is a little lifetime in itself -- a little incarnation of a different person."

This time the character he is looking to redefine is himself -- as a musician. It was surprising to see Bridges fill the role onstage after his Academy Award-winning role as Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, yet those who are close to the actor saw it coming, since he's been performing music since his teenage years. In the veins of country/folk-rock, Bridges's songs communicate as sagaciously as the characters he plays on camera.

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Strange Names have a Frenchkiss Records deal, and are Brooklyn-bound

Categories: Interview

William Nixon
Strange Names

Strange Names| Summer Set Music and Camping Festival| Friday, August 15
This September, the self-described "next-wave funk" men of Strange Names will officially relocate from Minneapolis to New York, where they will finish recording their upcoming full-length to be released on the independent Brooklyn-based record label Frenchkiss Records. By joining the label, started in 1999 by Les Savy Fav bassist Syd Butler, Strange Names find themselves in the company of an array of successful artists including the Hold Steady, Local Natives, and Passion Pit.

"It's been crazy," says Liam Benzvi, one half of the duo, who is originally from Brooklyn himself. He is quick to defend the importance of Minneapolis to the two, who have accomplished various local music rites of passage: they have been featured on City Pages' Picked to Click list, performed both at countless house shows and on the First Avenue main room stage several times, played ex-mayor R.T. Rybak's birthday party, and will be doing a set at this weekend's Summer Set festival at Somerset Amphitheater. "Just to squash this, though... I would always consider us a Minneapolis band. I don't really want to be a New York band, necessarily. There are so many New York bands."

The prospect of a new home and fresh start with Frenchkiss is also an appealing one to Benzvi's partner in crime Francis Jimenez, the other half of Strange Names, and a born and raised Minnesotan. "I'm kind of ready to go," he says. "I've been in Minneapolis for almost six years. It's time to make a move."

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Grolar Bears find happiness in the pursuit of symphonic funk

Categories: Interview
Photo by Joel Menk

Piñata Records Field Day| Nomad World Pub| Saturday, August 16
Homespun Minneapolis label Piñata Records has a reputation for signing acts with an old-school ethic and a modern aesthetic. Grolar Bears, led by bassist and producer Jonathan Kramer, put a slight twist on that formula, creating a lush, symphonic funk sound akin to the much lauded scores for African-American cinema created by the likes of Isaac Hayes and Quincy Jones during the 1960s and '70s. Synthesizing a myriad of takes by a host of talented local musicians, Kramer spent years crafting a soundtrack for a hypothetical film called Cos in 2012, and has spent the subsequent time forming a group of players to transform his deep, heady recordings into a powerful 12-piece live band.

Grolar Bears are releasing a 7-inch called "Midnight Stew" this weekend at the Piñata Records Field Day party at the Nomad World Pub along with a host of their label mates. Gimme Noise caught up with Jonathan at Diamond's Coffee to talk about movies, and the challenges of his unique style of recording.

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Enter the dream-like world of Coastal Cabins


Coastal Cabins are a young indie rock group out of Minneapolis composed of Jack Ross and Robert Marston. The duo just released their self-titled debut EP last week. Its delicate arrangements and rich vocals immediately caught my attention. Ross and Marston are students at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, who met in high school and bonded over their shared love of music and songwriting while working at a grocery store together.

Their sound belies their youth, and their songs have graceful depth that is refreshingly rare for a debut -- especially when you consider they recorded it on their own and self-produced the material as well. It's easy to imagine hearing a lot more from Coastal Cabins in the near future. Gimme Noise is happy to spotlight these talented young musicians and their story, as well as their gorgeous debut EP.

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Jenny Lewis: People assume I'm always writing about myself

Photo by Autumn de Wilde
Don't try to pigeonhole Jenny Lewis; she'll just push outside of your definition of who she is. The California singer-songwriter is set to release her first solo album since 2008's Acid Tongue with The Voyager, an album that has multiple layers in meaning and sound. With the help of Beck and Ryan Adams, Lewis's new album dabbles in indie-rock and pop.

Gimme Noise caught up with enigmatic Lewis before her show at First Avenue on Sunday night to see what she has been up to since her last album and what it's been like to be the sole female member in a touring group of guys.

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The Body: People's egos are insane sometimes

Categories: Interview

Megan Holmes
Chip King and Lee Buford of the Body

"Chip and I don't like most people," says the voice on the other end of the line, calmly. Its even tone and audible remnants of a childhood spent in the South belong to Lee Buford, Chip King's other half. The two are a striking pair, both tall and burly with substantial beards and dark stares, shown casually posing with shotguns in press photos. Together they make up the Body, a musical manifestation of the past 15 years worth of friendship.

Buford has agreed to a phone chat with Gimme Noise before their return to Minneapolis tonight, where they will play a set at the Hexagon alongside local bands Buildings, False, and Prostate. He is very matter-of-factly explaining his interest in cults, a subject that stemmed from discussing his band's use of field recordings in their material, particularly the looping chant found in their song "All the Waters."

"Trying to distance oneself from society is interesting," he says of cult life. "It's interesting when people come at it from a different way. Mostly it's religious, but that kind of 'done with the world' thing is kind of fascinating."

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Tree Blood: We haven't played too many shows in above-ground venues

Photo by Holly Newlin

It might seem a bit anachronistic in the age of the cloud, but Tree Blood have really kicked the door in on the Twin Cities indie and punk communities thanks to their hand-to-hand DIY practices. Starting with an intriguing (and award-winning) name and a challenging two-piece setup, the duo of guitarists Colin Wilkinson and Simon Brooks added drummer Walker Neudorff of Solid Attitude to the fold this year, allowing Brooks and Wilkinson to follow the noisy rabbit trail that the band has been on since its inception even deeper. Drifting further away from the more traditional melodic punk of their first two tapes, Tree Blood have been carving out a territory all their own during their summer tape series, adding a level of unhinged ferocity with more explosive, unpredictable songwriting than ever.

We caught up with Tree Blood at the end of a marathon 10-hour rehearsal at their practice space in northeast Minneapolis to talk about their slot as the opener for our 10 Thousand Sounds Festival and how their band sometimes acts as group therapy.

See also:
Tight-knit noise rockers Tree Blood are going all out

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Frankie Teardrop: We got to play for a lot of different people and we didn't kill each other

Photo By Erik Hess

Frankie Teardrop remains one of the most exciting characters to emerge from the local music scene in the past year, largely due to the fact that he's just that -- a character. Conjured by the twisted mind of songwriter and guitarist Jordan Bleau, Frankie has grown into a larger-than life persona, characterized by his monochromatic tall-tees, omnipresent Ray-Bans, gold chain, and cocky slacker attitude. But while the Frankie Teardrop identity once stood for a nihilistic rejection of basically everything, he's evolved in the wake of the band's recent tours to become a people's champion for the underground indie-rock community.

Teaming up with photographer Alex Uhrich, Frankie/Bleau is launching a record label called No Problem in an attempt to give some shine to the hardworking and talented bands they surround themselves with. We caught up with Frankie and his band before their release show for his new EP, Raiders, behind the Triple Rock to discuss the recent tours and their plans for our upcoming 10 Thousand Sounds Festival.

See Also: Frankie Teardrop: All of my songs are deadly serious

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