The Replacements: 2013 in review

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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
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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

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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
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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

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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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Best Twin Cities concerts 2012

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Photo by Erik Hess
The Gimme Noise crew attended a lot of concerts, festivals, events, gatherings, and what have you this past year. As is the case with every year in live music in the Twin Cities, the cacophonous noises etched history into the walls of our storied venues and into our minds. There were a lot of firsts -- and hopefully not lasts -- that highlighted the live experience.

Judging by what was said, written, and photographed in 2012, here are 20 of our favorite concerts of the past 12 months.

See Also:
50 Awesome Concert Photos from 2012

Best Twin Cities songs 2012: Staff lists
Best Twin Cities albums 2012: Staff lists
Best Twin Cities music videos of 2012

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Best Twin Cities music videos of 2012

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From L'Assassins' "Backseat Bomp" clip.

Whether or not Minnesota music is in a new golden age or not is a debate for another day further down the road, but there should be little question that local bands recorded and released some truly amazing records in 2012. There was one triumphant record release party after another, and with each successive album, the musicians consistently dropped equally impressive videos that only accentuated the original music itself.

There were so many great new music videos coming out each week that we had to create a new feature to keep up, Local Frames, which helped provide the proper focus and respect to the creative efforts of the talented directors and the bands themselves. And, as 2012 draws to a close, we turn our attention to local videos one last time, and present you with 10 of the best Twin Cities music videos of the year.

See Also:
Best Twin Cities songs 2012: Staff lists
Best Twin Cities albums 2012: Staff lists


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Five underrated records of 2012

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Photo By Erik Hess
METZ at 400 Bar

New music came at us from all angles in 2012, to the point where we give something a cursory listen, hastily tweet out our opinion about it, then quickly move on to the next hot song/band of the moment. Within that constant deluge of music and the instant social media dissection of its merits (or lack thereof), invariably songs and artists that truly deserve closer attention get lost in the mix. Here are just a few bands who have released some truly remarkable albums this year that warrant additional focus and certainly another listen as 2012 draws to a close.

See Also:
Top 5 most underrated artists of 2011
Top 5 most underrated artists of 2010


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Notable 2011 deaths in country music

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Charlie Louvin
It's an annual tradition to look back at year's end to those who've passed on in the previous twelve months. Whether it's just filler for the year's final broadcast of Entertainment Tonight, or Americans really do feel a need to reflect with sadness on the deaths of celebrities, I do not know. What I do know is that many fans of country music bemoan its transition away from the traditional, and so it is tangibly bittersweet to remember the elder fathers and mothers of the genre who have now passed, and whose voices will only carry on these American musical traditions into the future courtesy of their legendary recordings.


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Best nationally released albums of 2011

Categories: Year-end blitz
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It's a good thing we waited until the last week of 2011 to publish our final best-album lists, since a few bands managed to eke out stellar releases just this December (the Roots' undun and the Black Keys' El Camino in particular made their way onto a few staffers' lists). With only a few days left on the calendar, we thought this would be a good time to call it: See below for the top 10 favorite albums of each of our most frequent contributors, and click here for more of our year-end lists.


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