Scene Not Heard: City Pages Picked To Click IX

21 April 1999 at 9:00 am (Press, Spoken Word) (, , , , )

Scene Not Heard
by City Pages Staff

Computer wizards leave their bedrooms, rappers reach the stage, and the Mason Jennings Band creates the bar buzz of the decade. In the ninth annual City Pages New Music Poll, 60 local music fans pick the bands that made the biggest noise.

Kate Sullivan, St. Paul Pioneer Press

1. Arkology

2. Bellwether

3. Indigenous

4. The Mason Jennings Band

5. Selby Tigers

A generalized rant directed at no one in particular: The local scene is sophisticated, mature, and perennially poised to generate one or two breakout artists a year for the major labels to sign and the radio conglomerates to push. We’ve got a safety-first aesthetic, producing safe music for safe machinery. No one good is going out of his head, and I’m getting bored out of my skull. In terms of crucial contributions to the evolution of rock, the Twin Cities don’t matter anymore. Prove me wrong. I dare you. That said, the five groups listed above each offer intelligent twists on their genres and, most important, share a commitment to simplicity and clarity of vision–be that the elegant authority of Mason Jennings, the poetic abstraction of the spoken-word/jazz collective Arkology, or the unironic teen-rebellion anthems of Selby Tigers.

Rachel J. Joyce, Walker Art Center

1. Arkology

2. The Short Fuses

3. All the Pretty Horses

4. Bobby Llama

5. Annie Enneking

My list this year is somewhere between “Ladies First” and Lilith Fair–a result of my efforts to wrest myself from my consuming passion for all things global and funkified. In developing an appreciation for what the Twin Cities have to offer beyond the ever-shriveling world-beat scene, I have been very impressed by the gals this year. Arkology, a jazz/soul/spoken-word collective, has really come into its own over the last year. Although the group’s Nikki Giovanni-meets-Brand New Heavies vibe has attracted more people each time I see them, they are holding back (either by choice or oversight) on the one thing guaranteed to make them scene darlings: singer/poet/diva Mankwe. This woman could wail the wrap off Ms. Badu’s head. I’ve heard her read a chicken curry recipe that made me tremble; pass her the mic, please. The Short Fuses are a sure sign that bad-ass mama Ms. Georgia Peach is on her way up; she does not return my calls anymore. All the Pretty Horses–glam rock served raw in the half shell–slips down the throat like butter. A lesson to be learned by some local rock boys: If women ever had a fantasy involving dirty-haired, flannel-wearin’ boys with marginal hygiene, it passed when Cobain did. The cool kids are showering this year. The really cool ones are slipping into fishnets and spiked heels. Deal with it. Bobby Llama plays catchy global pop, and that frontgal Ellis is feisty. Finally, ordinarily I would rather watch a Tae-Bo infomercial marathon than listen to acoustic music for the coffeehouse set, so I’m hardly an expert. Ms. Annie’s lyrics, however, have the same macabre twist on the human condition that makes me swoon for Morrissey and Tricky. But just like a spoonful of sugar, her off-handed phrasing makes the medicine go down.

[Arkology featuring e.g. bailey, Mire Regulus, Kona, Dennis Maddix, Mankwe Ndosi and Tom Speath.]

Originally posted on City Pages on 21 April 1999.

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