Torres: 'I Wanted it to Sound Like the Voice of God'

Shawk Brackbill
Torres | 7th Street Entry | Wednesday, May 20

It's a rock 'n' roll tradition to be flippant about death. But on her sophomore effort under her Torres moniker, Mackenzie Scott fashions the subject into a revered opponent. On this month's Sprinter, the Brooklyn-via Nashville-via-Georgia singer-songwriter takes the thick-veined guitars of '90s rock and slingshots that period's typically navel-gazing worldview toward the heavens. Scott's questions are big, and there's deliberately little in the way of resolutions.

And that's OK, because Scott and the musicians at work on Sprinter made a record that's a lot more fun to hangout with than it sounds. Contributors such as Rob Ellis and Ian Olliver of PJ Harvey fame and Portishead's Adrian Utley have a history of working in the shadows of iconic female voices, and they've built a jungle gym for Scott's elastic vocal range. Catching up with Gimme Noise by phone before her show Wednesday at the Entry, Scott was equally dynamic in conversation.

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Freedy Johnston Fixes Up a New Album

Photo by Dina Regine
Freedy Johnston | Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant | Tuesday, May 12

In America, we have a terrible tendency to take homegrown musical treasures and bury them in our own backyard. Especially the songwriter who stays at home working on the tunes, instead of posing for photo ops or marrying a movie star.

Freedy Johnston is a good example of the guy who's got a singular songwriting gift and is always working hard to perfect it. Since his breakthrough disc, 1994's This Perfect World, and its hit single, "Bad Reputation," Johnston's been in the darkroom, developing one gorgeous, unsettling musical picture after another.

Johnston is back with his first new record in five years, Neon Repairman, another stunning collection brimming with both indelible melodies and wonderfully seedy characters. Johnston will be performing them tonight at the Dakota Jazz Club, and ahead of the show, we spoke to one of our finest living songwriters about his new record, how it got made, and why he's so often drawn to the noir side of life.

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The Vesh: Minnesota Rap Battle Legend and Family Man

Categories: Q&A, Rap/Hip-Hop

The Vesh Will Serve You

Tonight (at 33rd Realm) and Saturday (at Club Underground), the rap battle league No Coast North is staging The Invasion. Set to be one of Minnesota's biggest rap battle events of the year, The Invasion matches up some of the state's best talent, squaring them off with some of the hottest names in battling.

One local battle veteran set to step into the ring Saturday is the Vesh. A longtime battle favorite going back to the Scribble Jam days, his success in the rap battle scene's various forms has made him one of Minnesota's most prolific and respected battlers. Known for some of the sharpest, most well-constructed punchlines on any card he's booked on, Vesh has also had success with his comedic timing in the world of stand-up comedy.

We spoke to Vesh, who faces reigning No Coast North champion, XQZ, this Saturday, about how his style's evolved over the years and what impact being a family man has had on exchanging barbs with opponents.

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Dan Andriano on Alkaline Trio's Triple Rock Residency

Photo courtesy of the artist

Alkaline Trio|Triple Rock Social Club|Monday, April 27-Thursday, April 30

Forget those tours where a band plays their fan favorite record from start to finish. Nineteen-year vets the Alkaline Trio are taking that concept to a new level. They've rehearsed every song they have written and recorded in their long career, and they're coming to the Triple Rock to play all eight of their albums over a four-night span.

The Monday-Thursday residency is an exercise in mixing it up for the longtime trio, and they are set to play two albums each night. Each concert features different opening acts, and different albums in the mix. They tested the multi-album format in a mini-tour last year that saw them play similar shows in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. In 2015 the three members are meeting up and taking the band on the road, with Minneapolis one of a few chosen cities.

We talked with bassist Dan Andriano before the band hit the road on their current tour to ask him about these upcoming shows and revisiting their old songs.

See also:
Five Bands to See at This Year's Warped Tour

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Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner Is Embracing Change While Trusting His DIY Instincts

Photo by Michael L. Smith

"It's bleak," jokes Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner, referring to the release of his band's upcoming untitled record. The album is nearly ready, but needs more funding to get it out the door. As a result, the band is trying their hand at PledgeMusic, selling band nostalgia, original art, and unique deals such as a "lifetime guestlist" to help get the record out of the studio and onto your iPod.

Pirner is up front about the perks and pitfalls of crowdsourcing a record, but he's excited for the new music to get to fans. The band has seen a lot of change in recent years. With the death of original bassist Karl Mueller and other member turnover, it's a new start for the group, and Pirner is beginning to embrace those changes.

Gimme Noise spoke with Pirner, who now lives in New Orleans, as he returned to Minnesota for a tour of mid-sized Midwest cities with John Mark Nelson, American Scarecrows, and Carnage the Executioner.

See also:
First Avenue at 45: Our First and Favorite Shows

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Fort Wilson Riot Continue to Chase Their Sound Ahead of Icehouse Residency

Photo by Dave Mendolia, cutup by Jesse Draxler

Fort Wilson Riot have been slowly evolving their electro-tinged R&B sound over the last few years. That change in sonic direction has been made easier with the addition of a full five-piece band during their live shows and studio sessions, which allows Amy Hager and Jacob Mullis to expand their rich sonic palette even further.

Ahead of their two-night residency at Icehouse (which begins on April 12 and continues on April 19), we are pleased to premiere "Tryin,'" the first of two new singles the band are releasing in conjunction with those performances. We were also able to talk with Mullis about the sessions that produced these new tracks, and what the band has in store for their Icehouse shows and beyond.

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Bryce Dessner Is Redefining Classical Music for the Modern Era

Photo by Anne Mie Dreves
The Music of Bryce Dessner | Walker Art Center | Friday and Saturday, April 3-4 

While Bryce Dessner is predominantly known as the guitarist in the National, he is a classically trained musician and scholar, with a Master's degree in music from Yale. In recent years, his compositions have been performed in illustrious locations throughout the world, like Carnegie Hall in New York, the Barbican Concert Hall in London, and the Walt Disney Performance Hall in Los Angeles. During that time, he's worked alongside a host of renowned composers, including Steve Reich, Philip Glass, David Lang, and the Kronos Quartet, while firmly establishing his own distinctive voice in the world of contemporary classical music. 

This weekend, the Walker Art Center and the SPCO's Liquid Music Series are celebrating Dessner's unique musical gifts, as well as the talents of his contemporaries who will be joining him on Friday and Saturday. Ahead of these special shows, Gimme Noise was able to chat with Dessner from his Paris residence, where he shared his inspirations for his current work, how his approach to his classical pieces are similar to his songwriting with the National, and what we can expect from these upcoming performances.

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Diva 93 Is Bringing Awareness and Attitude to the Twin Cities Scene

Photo by Ronnie Droher
Diva 93 | Hexagon Bar | Friday, April 3

Diva 93 is the musical brainchild of Jess Buns, who describes her current endeavor as a "bitchy, lusty, rusty vocal+synth+bad beats project." Since 2012, Diva 93 has put out a wide array of compelling releases that fluidly blends experimental electronic numbers and tone poems. The results are often arresting and challenging, providing (along with Buns other musical outlet, Yoni Yum) a distinctive sonic layer to the modern Twin Cities sound.

In anticipation of Diva 93's PUNISH/ABANDON/REWARD tape release show at the Hexagon this Friday, Gimme Noise caught up with Jess to chat about the show's eclectic line-up, how hyperbolic ​fantasies weave their way into her lyric-writing process, and the ​responsibility that comes with being a​n engaged​ feminist in the local punk scene.

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Human Kindness Bash Out Midwest Angst on Not Apathetic

Photo by Nina Perkins
Human Kindness | Turf Club | Thursday, March 26

Minneapolis rock quartet Human Kindness packed a lot of ambition into their full-length debut, Not Apathetic. The eleven guitar-fueled songs are catchy, anguished explosions. Longtime Madison friends and bandmates David Lawrence Anderson, Alex Brodsky, and Willem Vander Ark all moved to Minneapolis to attend college, and eventually hooked up with Josh Olson to complete their lineup.

After self-recording their awesomely-titled debut EP, You Are So Loud That I Want To Die, the group enlisted the help of Hollow Boys' Ali Jaafar for their LP, recording it in his sonic playground, Ecstattic Studio. Ahead of their tape release show tonight at the Turf Club (where they will be joined by Gloss and Nancy's Raygun), we spoke about Ali's influence and how the culture of the Midwest helps shape their songs.

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VAN STEE Going Under the Microscope During Nomad Residency

Photo by Kayla Sotebeer
VAN STEE | Nomad World Pub | Thursdays in December
Indie-rock quintet VAN STEE have continuously redefined their sound since last year's debut, We Are, weaving in traces of pop and shoegaze rock into their aesthetic. But that doesn't mean the transformation is complete. The group still feel they haven't settled on want they want to be yet.

This month, VAN STEE will push their musical boundaries further with a residency at the Nomad World Pub along with some musician friends. In his hilarious fashion, lead singer Charlie Van Stee shares what the band has been up to and what is on the horizon for the group.
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