Arron Dean is from Minneapolis, by the way of South Africa. His biography reads like a patchwork of things: raised in a farming area near Johannesburg, playing jazz in Boston, living the punk-rock lifestyle in New York, and now settled down in the tundra that is Minnesota.
I did listen to his debut album, MPLS, I can tell that clearly the city (Minneapolis) is at the center of his album. Songs like "St. Paul On Mississippi", "Buffalo, South Dakota", and, of course, "Minneapolis" paints the picture of the midwest. I can relate to the stories of staying out late, feeling cold, kissing on the mouth, wishing you weren't here, and beautiful lakes and rivers.
MPLS is a sweet little acoustic album that's written from the heart, about the heart of America. Nice for a quiet afternoon to chill with your tea.
FREE: The song "Minneapolis" is available as a free download from arrondean.com.
BLUE SKY BLACKOUT
Maybe it's the name of their EP, entitled John Hughes, but I do sense a bit of an 80s vibe in this rock band.
Blue Sky Blackout is a project from songwriter/guitarist Jon Hunt with Christian Erickson on vocals, guitarists Brandon Dalida (from Mercurial Rage) and Mykl Westbrooks, drummer Marc Iwanin, and bassist Tim Ritter (from Bella Koshka). A very large band right? That's no surprise, because I have seen the band live before and I wrote "this was a full band, three guitarists and one bassist". Do you need three guitarists? I guess Blue Sky Blackout does.
Of the six songs on the EP, I thought "Figurehead" and "The Great Divide" were the best of the bunch. Their chosen song of choice, available as a free download on susstones.com, is for "The Universe Is Expanding". The song is upbeat so it's a natural choice for a song pick, but I just thought the lyrics sounded like it was copied from a science book: "the universe is expanding at an alarming rate".
They actually never submitted any music for review, but I did liked what I saw a few days ago that I bought their two EPs, No Party and New Science at the show.
Formed only two years ago, Claps is a trio from St Paul. What's interesting about them is that only two members actually play synthesizers or bass, while the lead concentrate on the lyrics and dance moves.
On the two EPs, I thought their studio recording sounded excellently produced, making them sound more new wave pop than anything else. I do think of New Romantic every now and then when I hear their songs.
The downside: the remixes. Not. a. fan.
GHOST TOWN OF THE WEST
You know what's cool is that I was shopping at Down in the Valley the other day and saw the Ghost Towns of the West EP displayed. I've already mentioned the band a few times, but to refresh your memories, this Ed Ackerson-produced EP is out now on Chase Bliss Records. The band consists of Dan Crowe (Guitars), Andy Dwyer (Bass), Joel Korte (Guitars), Ryan Jansen (Saxophone, Keyboard), and Calahash (Drums). The three guitarists and bassists all sings, depending on the song.
It's hard to write about this EP, without referring and remembering the songs sung live. I hear "Pilot's License" and it reminds me of singer Joel Korte talking about getting a license.
My favorite songs are the "Soulweaver" and "That Cold Wind", which uses a bit of saxophones.