Picked to Click 2014: Ballots, Bands, and Fraudulent Pieces of What?

Categories: Picked to Click
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Flickr/samgolanski.com
Not actual Picked to Click voters.

The results of this year's Picked to Click -- our 24th annual poll of local music devotees -- are a true Minnesota fiesta. On Wednesday, the top 10 (well, 11) vote-getters were revealed here, and in the print edition of City Pages. But there is oh so much more to pore over between the doldrums of waking and sleeping at the Picked to Click website.

With 282 artists -- from Allan Kingdom all the way down to "LCD SOUND SYSTEM OF A DOWN SYNDROME" and "Paul Westerburg's suit" --  spread over 136 ballots, this is an uncensored space where absolutely nothing/everything is sacred.

See also:
The Best New Minnesota Musicians of 2014


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Behind the Cover: Picked to Click Photographer Colin Michael Simmons

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Photo by Reed Fischer
Allan Kingdom's cover shoot with photographer Colin Michael Simmons and City Pages art director Emily Utne
The now-ubiquitous cover shot of our Picked to Click 2014 winner Allan Kingdom is the work of now-local photographer Colin Michael Simmons. The well-traveled shooter spent time working in New York, both capturing the flair and fashion of the streets, and putting in some long days working on the imagery of Saturday Night Live.

As he sets up shots, he's talking steadily and creating an atmosphere of collaborative thought. It's deceptively casual, but the finished results show he's taking in every detail. Gimme Noise spoke to him a bit about working on our cover, and the process he brings to his creations.

See also:
The Best New Minnesota Musicians of 2014

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The Best New Minnesota Musicians of 2014

Categories: Picked to Click
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Photo by Colin Michael Simmons
Allan Kingdom is our 2014 winner!

For the third year running, a Twin Cities rap act tops the poll of critics, promoters, fans, and general scene know-it-alls we call Picked to Click.

This field features budding stars from both sides of the Mississippi, an age range of nearly half a century, genres that haven't even been invented yet, and a few gratuitous crotch shots. In all, our voters depict a current local music climate that's fertile with change and possibility.

To quote our winner, "There's a lot of people with their necks kinda breaking right now."

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The Unveiling of Spooky Black Can Wait

Categories: Picked to Click
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Photo by Mike Madison
We needn't worry about when we're supposed to laugh or when we're supposed to cry -- about what it all means.

Picked to Click is City Pages' annual poll of critics, fans, and the local music industry to determine the best new musical talent in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota. Spooky Black is one of this year's finalists. This piece is featured in this year's issue -- on newsstands and online Wednesday.

Make-believe is the cornerstone of popular music. Even artists performing under their own names inevitably create distance -- somewhere between five feet and five planets -- between their lives and their public personae. Fans living in that undefined middle ground can get frustrated, but we can also feel the fleeting thrill of the chase.

Everyone is being at least a little bit fake when they sing about something that really happened to them, and a little bit real when they sing about something completely made up.

Right now, I have no interest in the spelling out of Spooky Black's daily existence. I choose to believe that his father really is DJ Khaled, and that pillow talk is his exclusive form of communication. Via 4G, this fantasy is not only possible, it's popular -- with more than 27,000 Facebook likes and 36,000 Twitter followers. Up until recently, this fantasy subsisted on the strength of zero live performances.

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Picked to Click 2013: Where Are They Now?

Categories: Picked to Click
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Lizzo is doing okay since Picked to Click.

A feature in our yearly look at the best new Minnesota musicians, Picked to Click, is a great honor. But it can also be a bit of a poison pill. Some nascent bands can barely stay together long enough to celebrate the attention they've garnered after the local community rallies around them.

Ahead of Wednesday's reveal of the 2014 Picked to Click crew, here's a look back at the Class of 2013. Spoiler alert: A lot of these groups are thriving -- some much more than others.

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Picked to Click 2013: #1. Lizzo

Categories: Picked to Click
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Photo by Emily Utne

#1. Lizzo: 87 points

"I'm so glad you ain't asked a question about being a woman in hip-hop," says Lizzo midway through a conversation with City Pages. That makes a whole music scene of us.

Everything you need to know on that topic is addressed on her debut full-length, Lizzobangers. "I ain't your hook girl, boo, I'm your feature/And I don't need your attention because of my features," she spits on the menacing "Hot Dish," one of several tracks that interweave autobiography with her brash artistic stance. Far from just another "rapper with a womb," Lizzo has an allure that's far more rarefied. This daughter of Detroit and Houston needed to be in Minneapolis for only about a split second before she started rebuilding it in her likeness.

See Also: Picked to Click official site

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Picked to Click 2013: #2. Greg Grease

Categories: Picked to Click
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Photo courtesy of the artist
#2. Greg Grease: 81 points

Over the past 12 months, we've gotten to know a lot about Greg Grease, but this could be just the jump-off. The rapper, producer, storyteller, and musical collaborator won't let himself be confined to any one thing.

"I really just want to show people that there's more than one way of doing anything," Grease says. And then, as though to play down the importance of such a claim, he adds with a laugh, "I think I'm just trying to impress my friends a lot. And I have a lot of really good artist friends, so that probably plays into it."

See Also: Picked to Click official site


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Picked to Click 2013: #3. GRRRL PRTY

Categories: Picked to Click
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Photo courtesy of the artist

#3. GRRRL PRTY: 65 points

The three entertaining ladies of GRRRL PRTY are captivating enough to host their own hip-hop version of The View. Instead, these friends' in-jokes and convivial banter color one of the area's most exciting new rap acts.

Here, Lizzo's joined by Sophia Eris, her cohort from 2012's Picked to Click champs the Chalice. And then there is Manchita, who also collaborated with Lizzo in Tha Clerb, and has returned to Minneapolis after an extended sojourn to Chicago. Got it straight?


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Picked to Click 2013: #4. Carroll

Categories: Picked to Click
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#4. Carroll: 52 points

Thousands of bands form at colleges every year, but only a scant few are serious enough to grow up to be MGMT (Wesleyan) or Vampire Weekend (Columbia). But the indie-rock foursome Carroll, named after the street they lived on while studying at Macalester, made a solid first step with their debut EP, Needs. With their tightly constructed hooks, reflective synths, and Brian Hurlow's sensitive yet elusive missives, these five songs were a precocious introduction.

"For all the smart and talented people who go to that school, there are a lot of people who talk about the things they want to do and don't do them," says guitarist Max Kulicke, while relaxing on an outdoor patio with his bandmates. "What was so appealing about this project was it was three people who I knew had talent and skill, but who were also trying to actually go out and execute."

See Also: Picked to Click official site

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Picked to Click 2013: #5. Frankie Lee

Categories: Picked to Click
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Frankie Lee comes off a lot like a drifter and a wanderer in the mold of Woody Guthrie -- riding the rails with the clothes on his back and a guitar in hand. He sure looks the part, with his cowboy hat, scraggly blond beard, worn jean jacket, and work boots. But the truth is altogether different. For Lee and his music, it's all about finding a place in the world, one that's real and permanent.

#5. Frankie Lee: 49 points

"My first memories," says Lee, "are of being outside, and of farms." He grew up mostly in Stillwater but spent his earliest years on a dairy farm in Prescott, Wisconsin. "There was a big front porch and you had a beehive and the food was homemade," he recalls. "My mom still has a piano, and every time I go out there, we play music."

See Also: Picked to Click official site

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