The Best Country Albums of 2014

Categories: Year-end blitz
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Here's my imitation of executives in Nashville: "Let's put the one that sounds like a Lionel Richie ballad right after the tailgating song with the AC/DC power chords."

This year's country-music crop boasts some marvels, but I've never found less to like in the albums pumped out of Music Row, where sequencing three strong tracks in a row is as long-gone a tradition as Nudie suits. Even the best big-biz album on this list, Miranda Lambert's Platinum, demands editing on the consumer end: You'll like a lot, and you'll skip more than you should have to.

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The Best Minnesota Albums of 2014

Categories: Year-end blitz

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Big Hassle

A handful of records always change the course of local conversation each year. It could be a new production technique or a very old one. Sometimes there's a thematic breakthrough, the capturing of a well-honed live aesthetic, or the stars just align during a concentrated writing session, but the finished songs hang together like they've always belonged that way.

Here are our favorite albums to rise up from the Minnesota community from this past year.

See also:
Year in Music 2014: A Twin Cities Rock 'n' Roll Yearbook


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Year in Music 2014: A Twin Cities Rock 'n' Roll Yearbook

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Photo by E. Katie Holm; design and layout by Emily Utne; special thanks to the University of Minnesota Bell Museum; wardrobe provided by Rewind Vintage.
Jeremy Messersmith had a royal year.

Sifting through every Vine, every Facebook invite, every opinionated 140-character review, and every impassioned show during a year -- hell, even a single day -- in the Twin Cities music community would be impossible. But plenty of us can't help but watch the familiar cycles of creative growth and decay with anticipation for what is yet to come.

Before Gimme Noise closes a chapter and starts a new one for 2015, here are the stories that were particularly uplifting, strange, sad, or a bit of all three from the past year.

See also:
The 20 Best Twin Cities Concerts of 2014

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Year in Music 2014: The Jeremy Messersmith Index

Categories: Year-end blitz

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E. Katie Holm
Number of fauna in this photo: 4

The year that was 2014 will be remembered for the winter that almost killed us and the music that brought us back to life. Among the most restorative albums of the past 12 months was Jeremy Messersmith's sensitive rock opus, Heart Murmurs.

The Minneapolis-based artist is fond of numbers, and inspired by the Index found in each issue of Harper's magazine, we decided to let them do the talking to sum up the biggest year of his career.

See also:
Year in Music 2014: Rock 'n' Roll Yearbook


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The 20 Best Twin Cities Concerts of 2014

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Photo by Erik Hess
We had the time of our lives at so many shows in 2014.

This past year in Twin Cities concerts had plenty of musical keepsakes -- those moments that were bigger than the sound, and more intricate than life itself. It was a year of legends, as well as legends in the making. In fact, it was so loud that the Minneapolis City Council passed an earplugs ordinance.

Gimme Noise takes a fond look back with our Top 20 concerts of 2014.

See Also:
Top 20 best Twin Cities concerts of 2014 (so far)


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Gimme Noise's most popular posts of 2013

Categories: Year-end blitz
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Erik Hess
From underrated hipster bars to "pretty reckless" musicians, 2013 was a big year for the music scene in Minnesota. Raise your PBR a glass to the most-read posts on Gimme Noise from this year. More »

My top 20 memorable quotes from 2013

Categories: Year-end blitz
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Photo by Lindsey Byrnes
Be careful what you say in an interview, for it may come back to haunt you in blog form. This year many national acts that came through the Twin Cities shared some stories with Gimme Noise about music, criticism, and hanging out with actors like Kristen Wiig.

Find out who said what in 20 memorable passages from this past year in this collection of notable quotes.

See also:

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The 12 Best Country Albums of 2013

Categories: Year-end blitz

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Brandy Clark wrote or co-wrote the best songs on three of this year's best albums, including her own
The most frequent complaint non-country listeners make about today's Nashville is that the music doesn't sound like it used to. That's true. But it's not that the hitmakers have abandoned their base -- it's that they've annexed the audiences abandoned by rock when rock went crabby after Nirvana.

The sonic palate of today's country is any music that its (mostly white) audience has ever liked, which means Blake Shelton raps, a little, and The Band Perry rocks Queen chord changes. If "November Rain" came out today it would be the CMA's song of the year -- although some label suit would probably insist on adding a rudimentary hip hop beat.

The records that turn up on lists like this tend to cut against the grain. Most of my choices ape older country sounds and favor a self-conscious austerity over the parking-lot party-pop that often storms the charts. That's a preference rather than a swipe at the Lee Brices of the world -- music like his does what good pop always has: It brightens the corners of its listeners' lives.

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Scary things pop music taught me in 2013

Categories: Year-end blitz
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Photo by Tony Nelson

From Kanye's massive ego, to the death of teenage angst and the rise of Miley, 2013 was filled with signs that pop music was on life support and that music fans and consumers have become bored and jaded in the process. I take a sardonic look back at some of the biggest, most frightening moments of the past year that have left me wondering where pop music is heading in 2014 and if it's finally dead.

See Also: 2013: The year of the overhyped album blockbuster



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Best living legends shows of 2013

Categories: Year-end blitz

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Photo By Mark Kartarik
Lee Fields and the Expressions stirred up the Cedar in 2013

My head spins when I think back on all of the incredible shows we all saw in the Twin Cities this year. There are so many great spots to experience live music and the variety of shows throughout 2013 was astounding. Most music loving folks can attest that the Twin Cities can keep you out every night of the year.

I thought I'd go through a list of some of the more seasoned veterans of the trade that graced us with their divine presence this year. With grace and honor, those artists who invented the game continue to spread their music gospel, for both cathartic and nostalgic purposes.

I was lucky enough to soak up many of these stellar shows, and I came up with a fairly platinum list filled with a stalwart roster of creators and pioneers of their respected forms. 2013 looks great when looking back, and reminds us all not to sleep on living legends.

See Also: The best Twin Cities concerts of 2013, part two


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