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the-loud-minority-lp

There seems to be no slowing to the police killing of African American citizens, with two alarming incidences this past week. The rapidity with which the Tulsa County prosecutor has charged officer Betty Shelby in the shooting of Terrence Crutcher is progress of some kind, but somewhat of a pyrrhic victory in that the 40 year old Crutcher did not survive. In issuing the charge, the prosecutor said in part that Shelby “reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation.

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina have taken a different — and if we have learned anything from the past couple year, divisive and potentially harmful — approach by refusing to release video of the killing of 43 year old Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday. This, naturally, has led to widespread protests in the city of more than 800,000, which is about 35% African American. The city is also the site of the terrifying and tragic mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last June.

Protest and unrest in Charlotte recall the powder keg climate of the late sixties, and police and city leaders there seem unaware their response is likely to, in the words of Tulsa County prosecutor Steve Kunzweiler, “unreasonable … escalate the situation.”

This title song from former Count Basie Orchestra saxophonist Frank Foster’s 1972 album, The Loud Minority, seemed fit for today’s paper. We can’t say we always agree with the tactics chosen by protestors, but we can say with certainty that we agree with the urgency with which their voices should be heard. To turn a deaf ear has become tantamount to escalating the situation.

The Gated Community

Country Hymn opens with a warm, old-time revival atmosphere. “Betty on the Road” sounds like a Gillian Welch and David Rawlings collaboration, but the disc takes a quick turn towards more familiar Gated Community territory with a raucous cover of “Odds and Ends,” a song from Dylan’s Basement Tapes. This band has always had a knack for sitting on that fence between traditional country music and novelty, which isn’t as easily done as one would think.

A little levity goes a long way in adding weight and depth to the more sentimental moments on the album, like “Fading Flowers,” a Tom Petty-ish tune about growing older with a little grace. Sumanth Gopinath lets himself be the subject of self-depreciation and sarcasm throughout (with lines like “I’m a piece of a work of art”), while the delivery is traded through the group in the same way classic country-rock outfits would share the role of lead vocals, ie Poco, the Byrds, the Band, etc. In tunes like “I Can’t Get Right” Gopinath remind us of the Carpetbaggers, one of the most criminally under-appreciated Americana acts to ever come out of Minnesota. There’s probably more of a scene to support this sort of music in the Cities today, and the Gated Community has already recorded as much as that great mid-90s trio.

You can hear the whole album on The Gated Community’s bandcamp page here. It’s more cohesive than their last disc (which we posted here), and there’s a definite improvement in the recording. Country Hymn was recorded and produced by Secret Stash’s John Miller, and the homey warmth of those 70s country-rock records reverberates through the disc, along with the more general clarity of those bigger production bluegrass records, the Welch/Rawlings sound we mentioned up above. Miller might be known for his work on Secret Stash’s retro-soul recordings, but he was a great choice for this project as well.

(Incidentally, we posted our favorite song by the Carpetbaggers (here) after finding there was so little of their music to be heard online, and later received a nice note from John Magnuson who wrote it. Having had a chance to see some of our favorite local acts from the 90s reunite a couple years ago for the Extreme Noise 20th anniversary celebration — including the Strike and Dirt Poor — we’d love to see the Carpetbaggers once more)

These days, there’s enough Americana acts in Minneapolis to fill the bill of every neighborhood bar for a three day weekend, so its actually become a competitive market. Heck, without even leaving our garden we can look over the fence to see the homes of two country acts who have played here in the record shop and recorded new songs over the past couple years. The challenge these days is to distinguish one’s self — which The Gated Community has done with their third disc.

The album release show for Country Hymn by the Gated Community is tonight at the Eagles Club #34. Maybe we’ll see you there, but we’re gonna also have to rush across the river to the Turf Club for Black Market Brass‘ show later this evening! We’re sure to post some songs from their new album soon, but we only just got our copy yesterday!

 

Your friendly neighborhood record shop will be open 1-6pm today.

Everyone here at Hymie’s hopes you have a happy Labor Day! Even though Americans work more hours than nearly every other nation on Earth, we have celebrated the first Monday of September each year by resting for a hundred and thirty years.

If you have the opportunity to go out for breakfast, lunch or dinner today, please remember that people in the service industry don’t get a day off for Labor Day and tip them accordingly. We recommend one of the many awesome restaurants here on East Lake Street!

back to school

We’ve already posted that we’re excited for the next release in our catalog, a 45 with two new songs by Tree Party, but tonight’s show at the Cedar Cultural Center will also celebrate the release of even more new music. The Brass Messengers, have treated us to a long-overdue new album.

We listened to it last night while we were working on assembling the Tree Party singles, and one of them had just the right assessment of the Messengers’ new album: “This is such happy music!” The eleven new songs (plus a “Dancehall Remix”!) are filled with such joyous energy Thigmonasty has already become our cure for the rainy day blues…and there have been a few of those kinda days around here lately.

brass messengers thigmonasty

The first half of the disc is recorded live in Creation Studios with an enthusiastic audience, which is essential to the celebratory nature of the Messengers’ music. The group evolved out of the brass bands that played the Heart of the Beast‘s May Day parade, which is one of the biggest celebrations in the Twin Cities. Their two earlier discs present their interest in brass music from around the world, including Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America, and Thigmonasty has really successfully blended this with the dozen members’ other experiences in different bands around town.

 

While they often play covers ranging from cajun classics to Black Sabbath, Thigmonasty is entirely originals by the duodecet.* Trombonist J.B. McLain, who also performs around town as a solo guitarist, contributes several original songs which have more of a street band, New Orleans feeling. These are definitely the sort of songs which gets you moving, and which have that energy which vibrates within you when you see a performance by the Messengers. Tony Randazzo, the band’s tubist and also the album producer, offers songs with more of the Eastern European feel, highlighted by inventive, suspensful arrangements (especially the brief tune “Leo Nursha”). Another song in this vein is a re-recording of the title song from Paul Fonfara’s 7 Secrets of Snow, which we featured here. One last tune is by composer Andy McCormick (of Dreamland Face), and pays tribute to the ruler of Wisconsin’s mythical colony of dwarves. Or so we assume.

The second half, recorded without an audience features some of these more intricate arrangements, but there is still a lot of energy behind them, especially in Randazzo’s “Leo Nursha.” And as we mentioned, there’s a remix at the end of the album. It’s a surprisingly sweet conclusion, and works very well.

We think this is one of the best local albums of the year so far, but the best way to appreciate the Brass Messengers is surrounded by other celebrants smiling and dancing. We’re looking forward to doing just that tonight.

*Had to look that one up!

The Brass Messengers and Tree Party have a joint release show for their new music at the Cedar Cultural Center tonight. Details on the Cedar’s website here

Its interesting to visit seasonal records during their down-time. We don’t necessarily mean pulling out all the Christmas albums in August, although we do have a customer who tells us she does that every summer. Instead, we think of music with a strong seasonal connotation, which becomes an entirely different experience out of that context. For instance, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, which is commonly called “Winter Dreams,” has a very different feel this time of year. Then again, we find ourselves listening to a lot more Tchaikovsky in the winter altogether.

iced over

Tree Party’s most recent disc, Iced Over, now has a couple winters under its belt and we still enjoy the disc as much as we did the first time around. The album of songs centered around Minnesota legends isn’t entirely as wintery as the cover implies, but it is one which seems to get set aside when summer sets in.

We’ve been thinking the same is likely true for the summery-est of songs, too, and we’ve been working on a playlist of songs to re-visit in December when we’re trudging to the shop in snow drifts taller than Irene.

Between now and then, we’re very excited to be participating in Tree Party’s next release, a 45 on our in-house label of two new songs. The sleeves are distinguished by prints from the negatives member Joey Ford found in his father’s photography, and each copy of the single includes a postcard you can send to a friend to share the music. That’s right, each copy comes with two download codes: one for you and one for a friend!

The new single will be released a week from tomorrow with a show at the Cedar Cultural Center. Also performing are the Brass Messengers, who have a new album out as well. Details can be found on the Cedar’s website here. We’re not streaming the songs from the single yet, but here’s a peek at what the singles look like. This is the first of two new 45s with picture sleeves we’ll have out this year from Hymies Records!

tree party single

Tomorrow is Open Streets East Lake — from 45nd Avenue to Elliot Avenue the street will be closed to auto traffic and free for walking and biking. The street will be closed from 11am to 5pm. Businesses along the way will have fun activities for everyone! You can find out more about the event on its website here.

Here at Hymies we’ll be setting up the giant 20′ tent in the morning, courtesy of our neighbors at Nortern Sun, and hosting two of our favorite bands. Come by and hear Tabah at 12:30pm and The Southside Aces at 2:30pm! Here are some Bandcamp players where you can hear the latest recordings from each of these bands!

We’ll also be clearing out the storage space and have a few tables of FREE RECORDS for you to dig through, and also a couple boxes of FREE CDs. It’s gonna be a hot day so remember to bring a water bottle! We hope we’ll see lots of familiar faces on this second annual Open Streets East Lake.

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