The best Twin Cities concerts of 2013, part two

Photo by Erik Hess

As 2013 winds down with a wintry bang, the unforgettable live music moments from the second half of the year are enough to still keep us warm.

While some of the bands who were included in our best concerts list from the first half of the year came back to rock our stages with equally potent -- if not better -- local gigs (namely CHVRCHES, Prof, Poli├ža, and Prince), we've assembled an entirely new list of performers who put on incredible shows from July through December that those of us who were there won't forget anytime soon.

See Also: The best Twin Cities concerts of 2013 (so far)

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The 10 most ridiculous metal album covers of 2013

Categories: Year-end blitz

Do they people who conceived and designed these metal album covers not care, or do they care too much? It's not entirely clear, but that's what makes them so awesome. Behold, the 10 most ridiculous metal album covers of the year.

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The 10 best Minnesota music videos of 2013


In addition to all of the great songs and albums released by Minnesota musicians throughout 2013, it has also been a wonderful year for local music videos. Each week, there are no shortage of original, striking clips that I've spotlighted in my Local Frames column, as area bands and filmmakers continue to craft indelible images to compliment the stirring sounds of the Twin Cities and beyond. And now, as the year draws to a festive and fruitful close, we take an affectionate look back at ten of the best Minnesota-based music videos that have captured and held our attention throughout '13.

See Also:
The 10 best Minnesota singles of 2013
The 10 best Minnesota albums of 2013

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The 10 best Minnesota singles of 2013

Photo by Guy Eppel

On both national and local levels, 2013 has been a great year for music. Plenty of talented artists and acts have produced memorable songs and and albums that have kept the area scene buzzing for 12 thrilling months now, making the choice of the ten best singles of the year a hard -- but ultimately rewarding -- one.

Some of these tracks weren't heating up the airwaves or burning up the charts, but they still warrant your rapt attention and should be played loud and proud by those who love local music. These ten songs represent only a fraction of what the area has to offer, but they boldly stood out as being fresh and original amidst the flourishing Minnesota music scene in 2013.

See Also: The 10 best Minnesota albums of 2013

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The 10 best Minnesota albums of 2013

Photo by Mark N. Kartarik
It was especially difficult to narrow down to ten entries for the best albums created by locals this year out of the hundreds that crossed our desk. These records, however, always came up in conversation, kept creeping into our heads while we were in the shower, and created lives of their own to live on for years to come.

These are the ten records by Minnesota-based musicians we couldn't shake this year.

See Also: Twin Cities Music Yearbook 2013
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The Replacements: 2013 in review

Photo By Erik Hess

For fans of the Replacements, 2013 provided one memorable moment after another from a band that no one was sure they would hear from ever again. The 'Mats not only released a new EP to benefit their ailing friend Slim Dunlap, they reunited for a string of thrilling shows that had dedicated fans from all over the world flocking to see them take the stage once again, and were even nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to top it all off.

There were no shortage of headlines and unforgettable occasions provided by Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, and the gang throughout the past 12 months, and here we take an affectionate look back at a year that truly belonged to the Replacements.

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The 2012 Pazz & Jop poll, including my ballot, is live!

Categories: Year-end blitz
This couldn't have happened to a better guy.

The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics' poll officially signals the death knell for any more opinions on 2012 music. But before we spend too much time evaluating Justin Timberlake's return and the ascent of Willow Smith, here's a last, fond look at the year that just concluded.

On the one hand, raw numbers are the antithesis of what makes a song great. Having 124 other people agree with me that Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, m.A.A.d City was one of the year's strongest releases does not make that album better, per se. But, all the tabulating does provide a snapshot of where tastes across the U.S. hovered in 2012. Frank Ocean and Carly Rae Jepsen had a huge role, but you already knew that.

See Also:
Pazz & Jop 2012

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The best reissues of 2012

black task.jpg
Black Task

By Tony Rettman

As I sit and watch the year-end lists of best reissues virtually pile up on the laptop, I can't help but be reminded of something my Uncle Lech once said to me many X-Masses ago when we were down in his basement jamming to some Bobby Vinton. As his light-up speakers twinkled and pulsed in my peripherals, he turned to me, let out a kielbasa 'n' bourbon stinking burp and ominously growled, "Remember, kid: A re-mixed full length with some crappy live tracks thrown on at the end does not a reissue make."

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Top 10 most popular Gimme Noise posts of 2012

Categories: Year-end blitz
Lindsay Lohan as part of a fictional Minnesota hip-hop station on Saturday Night Live.

Gimme Noise readers jumped at a variety of different stories in 2012. Some were serious social commentary by musicians about race and health care, some championed the best aspects of our local community, and some were just celebrating the Graphics Interchange Format, aka the GIF. As seen above, even a starlet in a cornrow wig can get the ball rolling about the status of local rap radio.

Here are our top 10 most popular posts that appeared on Gimme Noise this past year.

See Also:
Most popular Gimme Noise posts of 2011

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The ten best country albums of 2012

kellie pickler 100 proof.jpg
Wait, she had a record this good in her
By Alan Scherstuhl

This list of the year's best country albums is assembled with two important premises in mind: First: If the people who record and listen to these records consider them country, than they're damn well country. Purists who argue that country should still sound like '68, '76, '84 or whenever are in the interesting position of being more conservative than Nashville radio.

I have nothing against the opinion that Hank Williams--or whatever other well-marketed figure of authenticity you prefer-- would love to see Rascal Flatts knocked on their J.C. Penney-endorsing asses. But I also accept that that opinion matters much less than those of the few million people who still actually buy CDs.

Second, Taylor Swift is now beyond country the way that Kanye is beyond hip hop or J.R. is beyond Dallas. She simply is. Red would rank highly here if I were to waste a slot on it, but TS belongs on more broadly focused lists, like maybe "Best Things in General in Recent Years."

This list has fewer men than women, mostly because Nashville's suits allow the he-hunks a more meager emotional range than the spitfires. The fellas are forever singing about some upcoming beer-in-a-cooler party (Wade Bowen's "Saturday Night," Lee Brice's "Parking Lot Party," Chris Cagle's "Wal-Mart Parking Lot") or all the little details that make being in love worth it (Easton Corbin's "Lovin' You Is Fun"; Jason Aldean's "When She Says Baby"). Maybe once per album they're permitted to feel something more complex. Of course, if male country stars sang about their real lives, every song would be called things like "Two Hours at the Gym and a Protein Shake."

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