by Rob van Alstyne
Green Shoes + 4 EP
Ed Ackerson and his backing crew in Polara have been keeping a remarkably low profile as of late, and understandably so. Between Ackerson’s nearly nonstop production work (Sarah Lee & Johnny, forthcoming records from Tim Easton and Limbeck) at Flowers Studio and the other band members’ commitments, it’s amazing the Polara crew can even find the time to grab a bite to eat together, let alone concoct this tasty EP.
teaser of what’s to come on this fall’s upcoming Polara full-length
(provisionally titled Beekeeping), this limited edition EP (only 500
were pressed) seems inevitably destined for beloved collector status in the
hearts of Twin Cities music fans. From the chugging boy-girl pop of the title
track to the anthemic “Thirty Seconds,” Ackerson serves powerful
notice that in addition to being one of the cities’ best lead guitarists,
the man knows his way around writing a pop tune. There’s room left for
some moodier material (“What’s Come Over Me”) and even a Beach-Boys-styled-ballad
(“Time Slipping Away”). The disc manages to capture a wide range
of sounds in its scant running time, and one can’t help but hope the band
gets the itch to start playing out again around town (gigs are currently rumored
to start sometime in July).
Vets sound unlike any other band on the Twin Cities scene (and probably the
greater Midwest). Alternating between languidly slack electric guitars and buzz
saw fret attacks, the trio of Adam Burt (guitars), Andy Larson (vocals/guitar)
and Ryan Parsons (drums and alto saxophone) keep their windy songs on a taut
wire. So that means that even when the cuts push past the 7-minute mark, which
is often, the listener stays on the hook. It helps that the instrumental textures
so key to fully understanding Ad Infinitum’s riches are captured
with expert crispness by Brooce Templeton (Volante, Hello Blue). Dark and complicated
music for similar times, Larson certainly doesn’t offer any comfort when
his brash bray intones lines of vague dread (“to extort to extinct no
exit? (a ticking bomb)”). This is music meant for nighttime listening,
but only by those comfortable with the possibility of self-inducing insomnia
courtesy of The Vets haunting sophisti-drone.
Mike Lane Presents
Five Acts to Follow
this album is basically born out of the craziest idea ever. Local popster Mike
Lane decided to craft a new covers album concept: he would write a batch of
songs and then track down the best undiscovered artists from around the world
to record them in tandem with him. He ended up getting bands from across the
continental U.S. but also places as far flung as Costa Rica, Alaska and Iceland.
Lane’s compositions here are uniformly strong so the skills of his performers
are really what sets the tunes apart from each other. The stand-out act is hands
down Sitka, Alaska’s own the Poppyotts. Their two contributions of smooth
soulful pop (“Pop Music/Soul Music” and “When Summer Comes”)
are the top-flight tracks on this hit-and-miss collection of eccentric pop experiments.
Some of the music on here falls flat on its face, some approaches greatness—I
guess that’s what one should expect from such a bold venture.