This region has a rich history of rock 'n' roll of the loud, fast and weird variety, but the local punk rock scene is anything but past-tense. A groundswell of young talent has been springing up in basements, dive bars, art galleries and warehouses. The new punk community is more diverse and inclusive than ever before. Here are a few names that you should keep on your radar.
Monica LaPlante's killer new EP Noir is a portrait of the artist shedding the doo-wop trappings of her debut Jour, donning a leather jacket with a 8 oz can of bear mace in the pocket, and hitting the mean streets. LaPlante's smoky croon crackles all with the danger of a televised PJ Harvey interview, complimented by layers of slashing guitar and punishing Misfits bass, all played by LaPlante herself. Complemented live by an ace band filled out by members of gone-too-soon indie rock outfit Murder Shoes, LaPlante is poised for a breakout when Noir drops on Halloween.
If you're looking for a great barometer of where the Twin Cities' DIY scene is at, look no further than the orbit that exists around Tony Peachka. Guitarist Stephanie Murck and bassist Danielle Cusack came up together in the She Rock She Rock family, linking with drummer Hayley Briasco and singer-guitarist Melissa Jones, and quickly building steam thank to a sound that started on the weird fringes of jangly surf-punk and has steadily leaned towards muscular Belly-style rockers on their stellar new record dirty knees. Jones's lyrics gleefully skirt any easy cliche, displaying the kind of playfulness that allowed the band to nail an utterly sincere cover of Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" to a crazy enthusiastic reception at their recent release show. Most exciting of all is the the fact that Tony P's members are in their early 20s and leading something of a femme-powered youth movement found in a handful of other rad bands including Bruise Violet, Wetter, Sass and Tights.
Frentic post-punk trio the Florists' debut EP Can You Feel the Stasis? captures the breathless, excited creativity of a young band still willfully uninterested in "finding a sound," as the industry types like to put it. Singer-guitarist Jo Kellen's lyrics have a tendency towards the verbose, but to thanks to their confessional nature seem specific and humanizing. Musically, the group veers wildly between droning Wipers guitars, hooky Kim Deal bass lines, Manchester jangle, and outright noise. Kellen's spoken-word dynamic is not as far from LFTR PLLR as they might like to admit. Catch their upcoming residency at the Seward Cafe to witness the Florists in all their frenetic glory.
Ego Death's shy and winning personalities translate well to their music. The trio combines sugared shoegaze textures with twee strumming, spiked with discordant noise that's as debilitating as a sudden anxiety attack. While Jeremy Warden's lyrics traffic in hopelessness, his intimate chemistry with bassist Bree Meyer and drummer Seth Tracy creates a camaraderie that's irresistibly sanguine. Already making some waves nationally thanks to a persistent touring schedule, Ego Death is also teasing a nearly-finished full-length debut in addition to the myriad of local bills they seem to find themselves on.
Originally formed as a just-for-kicks bedroom project by guitarist Erik Anderson and drummer Alyse Emanuel, Ahem hadn't played much locally before deciding to cold-call Forged Artifacts owner Matt Linden. They pitched him on what would eventually become the group's debut EP, Just Wanna Be. Blowing busted-lip kisses to college-rock pioneers like Superchunk and Guided By Voices, Ahem's blown-out guitar pop makes excellent use of Anderson and Emanuel's familial harmonies to sweeten all the riffage. Fresh off a successful release show for Just Wanna and the addition of bassist Sam Stahlmann to round out their sound, Ahem will be going platinum by this time next year, if there's any justice in this world.