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    Cursive Play 5 New Songs at Tour Opener

    Cursive launched their U.S. tour Wednesday night at Minneapolis' Triple Rock Social Club, returning to the stage for the first time in seven months. Along with classic tunes, the Omaha band debuted five new songs off their upcoming album, Mama, I'm Swollen, which they recently completed with producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, the Faint, Rilo Kiley) for release this spring. "Let Me Up," a new track, saw the five-piece group -- vocalist/guitarist Tim Kasher, bassist Matt Maginn, guitarist Ted Stevens, drummer Cornbread Compton, and trumpet/keyboard player Patrick Newberry -- fuse electric keyboards and slide guitar with heavy organ and bass. "Donkeys," another new cut, began with quiet quitar riffs that slowly built into a wall of sound.

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    Beastie Boys Rock the Vote in St. Paul

    "Tuesday. You gotta fuckin' vote," Beastie Boys' Ad-Rock told a sold-out crowd at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, MN, Saturday night, where the New York hip-hop act -- along with Tenacious D and Ben Harper -- played the second to last show of the Get Out and Vote '08 Tour. The night's first performer, Tenacious D, provided a little comic relief with a sampling of their silly acoustic rock. Later the D joined Harper for a rousing and hilarious cover of Bowie's "Under Pressure." Despite the wild applause, it was obvious that this show belonged to only one act -- the Beasties. From the moment the three rabble-rousers took the stage, a roar filled the arena -- and it was warranted: The Boys haven't performed in the Twin Cities in over 10 years.

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    Neil Young Kicks Off North American Tour

    Last night at St. Paul, MN's Xcel Energy Center, Neil Young kicked off his North American tour with a solid opening lineup that demonstrated the contemporary influence of his storied catalogue -- and breathed new vitality into songs more than three decades old. First up was SoCal five-piece Everest, who held their own with a dynamic sound rich in countrified guitars that supplemented their effortless harmonies. The outfit's relatively short performance set a tone that could have segued seamlessly into Young's performance. But Seattle's Death Cab for Cutie had other plans. The quartet -- who open the first leg of Young's tour before being replaced by Wilco -- stuck to favorites from their last two albums, 2008's Narrow Stairs and 2005's Plans. Understandably, the band initially seemed a little nervous, but soon the worry wore off.

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    The Hold Steady

    What? The Hold Steady are consummate rock'n'roll storytellers, and the band's newest record, Stay Positive, out stateside via Vagrant July 15, proves once again the quintet won't disappear any time soon. With a penchant for sporting Americana influences on their sleeve, the band's combination of sound and vision culminate into a slice of nostalgic pie that's unabashedly all their own; tales of the other side of the tracks, where the stories and their music reflect that things don't stay the same but somehow don't change all that much. On Positive, it's their signature classic rock influence that bursts out, all brilliantly clear through the consistency of their expertly blended layers of reigned-in sonic perfection. Who?

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    The Mae Shi Tear Apart Minneapolis' Uptown Bar

    Making their entrance by weaving through the crowd to the stage, L.A. noise rockers the Mae Shi brought their loud, spastic, and over-reactive sound to Minneapolis' Uptown Bar last night (July 7th).

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    Clinic's Staunch Sound Remains En Vogue in MPLS

    Tuesday night's (May 13) crowd at Minneapolis' 7th Street Entry was packed in like sardines for this long-awaited and much-anticipated showing by elusive Liverpool-based psychedelic garage-rockers Clinic. Warming the stage, Austin, TX's Shearwater unveiled tracks from their upcoming album Rook, as former Okkervil River member Jonathan Meiburg commanded the stage with his haunting voice, that at its most transcendent channeled John Cale (Velvet Underground). Matching distorted and folky guitars, a mournful trumpet, strings, and the occasional flash of heavy metal bravado with Meiburg's moody falsetto and dramatic crescendos, the outfit conjured an eerie, unique sound. While Clinic's recordings are always well executed, the subtle nuances and slow burning energy of their music is a dish best served fresh.

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    Presidents of the United States of America Win MPLS in a Landslide

    Tuesday night (May 7) at Minneapolis' Fine Line Music Cafe, a cozily packed, predominately male crowd jumped up and down, matching the onstage energy of lead singer/basitarist Chris Ballew and guitbassist Andrew McKeag (both play customized version of the conventional guitar), as the Presidents of the United States of America blasted through a high energy and just plain fun performance, defined by perfectly choreographed windmills. And the show included something quite rare at today's rock gigs: abundant smiles radiating from the stage. Opening the evening with a set of extremely danceable, discotheque-ready tunes, Austin's the Black and White Years seemingly leapt out of a portal from the late 1970s.

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    Bob Mould Goes Home

    Alt-rock kingpin Bob Mould may now dwell in Washington, D.C., but given his leading role in the genesis of Minneapolis' music scene, it was only appropriate that his tour behind latest LP District Line kick off with the home team last night (March 5) at legendary venue First Avenue. With an understated look -- fitted black tee, jeans, and sensible shoes -- Mould filled the venue with youthful exuberance as the crowd stood motionless, in a state of awe as he lashed out with seasoned guitar chops and all its thrashing, melodic glory throughout a career-spanning set. From the poppy perfection of District Line's "The Silence Between Us" to Hüsker Dü classic "Divide and Conquer," which had devout fans freakin' like kids at a early-'80s South Minneapolis basement show, Mould's set touched nearly every era in his prolific, nearly 30-year-long career.

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    Sia Triumphs Over 'Real Problems' in MPLS

    The perils of touring come in many varieties, and can often derail a show, but last night (Feb. 26) after Har Mar Superstar delivered his set of ass-shaking funk to the masses at the Fine Line Music Café, Australian popstress Sia showed the road who was boss. With a backing band dressed as glow-in-the-dark renditions of children's drawings, Sia opened with the glitchy, upbeat "Buttons," pushing the surreal factor through the roof as brightly lit swirls flashed like Technicolor.

  • Basia Bulat

    Who? Toronto-born chanteuse Basia Bulat began ticklingthe ivories at the early age of three, and also became skilled atplaying the autoharp, guitar, flute, and sax. The porcelain-facedblonde went on to spend time in both London, Ontario and Montreal,honing her vocal chops alongside her brother, Bobby, who also playsdrums in Bulat's band. A self-released eponymous EP arrived in 2005,while shows with the likes of Final Fantasy, Patrick Watson, SondreLerche and Loney, Dear followed into the next year. Bulat's major labelLP, Oh, My Darling, arrives stateside Feb. 5 via Rough Trade. What's the Deal? Oh, My Darling'slucky thirteen tracks showcase Bulat's soothing, throaty voice and herdead-on aptitude for poignant, classic songwriting. From gracefully sadto hopeful and joyous, she exudes an earthy, organic quality to themusic's mystic, Phil Spector-like backbone.

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