Saturday, January 3, 2009

The real MMAs...Macedelic Music Award for MN Album of the Year :D

Further Macedelic Music Awards – this time, Minnesota!
by Doug MacRostie

To reiterate what I started with my Top 10 list of favorite albums from 2008, now officially known as the Macedelic Music Award for Album of the Year (which I happen to give 10 times each yeah…), here’s a list of albums I enjoyed the most this year from Minnesota. I’m in a good position to hear MN music hosting Centerstage MN on 91.7 KAXE (, but I’m always listening for talent (if you know a great MN band, leave a comment, or email your suggestions to

There have been lots of great CDs this year and it’s never easy trying to limit to a top 10, so I also again gave myself the easy-out of an Honorable Mentions list at the end. So, also in no particular order…Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the first annual:

Macedelic Music Award for Minnesota Album of the Year
Trampled by Turtles [Duluth]
John Wilber & Timmy Haus [Road Weary]
The Tisdales [Bakers Dozen]
Sam Miltich & the Clearwater Hot Club [Just You, Just Me feat. Dave Karr]
Enchanted Ape [Off the Ground]
Uncle Shurley [Stellar Echoes]
Mason Jennings [In the Ever]
Roma Di Luna [Casting the Bones]
Paul Mayasich & Andy Dee [The Dough Bros]
Wookiewoof [Activate] *

Trampled by Turtles new CD Duluth is just the latest in the ever evolving newgrass that is TBT unique and exciting sound and style. Not only are there the upbeat and highspeed tunes to enjoy like “Nobody Else” and “The Darkness and the Light” but the Turtles really amazed me this time around with the six and half minute “Methodism in Middle America,” a slow moving and haunting song. In the first SECONDS you can tell something profound is coming (like those special Neil Young songs).

John Wilber and Timmy Haus recorded an amazing collection of Blues and Americana songs. I already knew that Timmy had a great voice and was an outstanding songwriter from his work with Friends of Yoder, but I didn’t know anything about John when I first heard the CD. His story as hobo-story teller riding the rails comes through in this album and his gravelly and experienced voice is given all the more contrast by Tim’s clear vocals. And Timmy’s songwriting really shines on “Roots Down Deep” and “Down to the River.” Beyond the originals, they go some great covers like “Talk to You Daughter” which is one of the best songs I heard all year, hands down.

The Tisdales CD Bakers Dozen rocks all the way through. The album has a nice and raw sound. None of that over-produced crap you hear – this CD is 4 guys rockin’ out. The drums are played loud, with intricate guitars and boppin’ baselines. A big part of it is the musicianship, and the rest is the songwriting – great tunes with catchy melodies that are hard not to sing along with, especially “Like a Horse” and “Box of Wine.”
Sam Miltich is a phenomenal musician, and at the age of 23, a true virtuoso jazz guitarist. On Just You, Just Me, Sam Miltich and the Clearwater Hotclub team up with Dave Karr in a fine collection of original and classic pieces. Sam’s electric guitar and Dave’s tenor sax compliment each other beautifully, and listening to the two of them dance back in forth through the melodies is a real treat. Sam continues to prove that jazz music is a living thing that grows and expands with the generations of musicians.

Enchanted Ape’s CD Off the Ground is organic roots music, it’s got a feel of blues, a little bit of jam and rhythms to get your feet moving. Furthering the vibrations of the Grateful Dead, the Ape’s have a great sound that can be both soothing, yet energizing starting with the first song “Heat Waves.” Then the next song, “27 Miles” hits you with a great rhythm and catchy melody. By the time I got to “Red Eye River” and “Crawl” I knew it was something I’d be listening to a lot.

Uncle Shurley have quite a reputation for their live shows, something I have yet to experience (but my wife has). But, when I finally got to hear their CD Stellar Echoes I was very pleasantly surprised. The first song establishes the bands unique and experimental rock style, and “Kellers” is wonderfully colorful trip through odd times, strange melodies and somewhere just within the edge of perception. With songs like “The Tramp” and “Velcro Panties” (my wife’s fav…:p) I get an idea why people enjoy their live shows. But the song “Ghost in the Machine” is what really brought this band to the front in my mind, with the lines “…Who am I to say that we got no soul…and when we die there’s just a big black hole…I’ve got to believe, I’ve got to believe…there’s a ghost in the machine,” – from the writing, performing and production, amazing.

Mason Jennings has something special going on that I really enjoy. He’s a true songwriter with a very unique style and sound. Plus, old people don’t seem to get it, so that makes me like it even more :D From the first song, his CD In the Ever is a pleasure to listen to. Damn near every song has something special or catchy about it that I would like to mention, but that would just be silly. So I’ll just say, “I never knew something about you, Buddha and that fighter girl with her new man back at that river with the soldier boy, the perfect lover in your city.”

Roma Di Luna have a nice and haunting Americana Folk style with a modern twist that is highlighted with a unique vocal style. This husband and wife songwriting duo added a full band for the CD Casting the Bones. The album kicks off with the excellent song “The Romance of Wolves,” from there the album covers a lot of ground before reaching the aggressive and edgy sounds of “Pearls of Pigs.” But, if strip back the production, these songs would be just as haunting and compelling with just a guitar and voice – a sign of a very well written music.

Paul Mayasich and Andy Dee are on dueling dobros for their collaboration project The Dough Bros. This CD is full of excellent music, some originals and some versions of classic tunes. Both of them are well established and experienced musicians (and I love Andy Dee’s project Sweet Soul Sewage), and the sound they created on this CD is great.

* Okay, I am admitting right up front that Wookiefoot’s CD “Activate: The Story of Nothing and the Monkey Part Too: Good for Nothing” didn’t come out in 2008 (or even 2007 I don’t think) BUT, I had never heard it before and thanks to the excellent musical tastes of my wife we checked them out at the 10,000 Lakes Festival and they put on a great show. My buddy Warner talked with them backstage and got a copy of the CD. It’s outstanding, and it was NEW to ME in 2008, so :p

And there you have it! Of all the excellent music that came out of MN this year – these are my favs – the albums that inspire, that ignite and set my soul on fire so it can take flight (or something…) And, here are the albums that ALMOST made the top 10…

Macedelic Music Honorable Mentions for MN Album of the Year :D
Two Many Banjos [Give Me Time]
Terramara [Dust & Fiction]
The Limns [The Limns]
Boiled in Lead [Silver]
Two Many Banjos [Give Me Time]
The Darbuki Kings [Lawrence of Suburbia]
Charlie Parr [Roustabout]
The Magic Castles [The Lore of Mysticore]
Cult of the Sunny Jims [The Shoebox Sessions Vol. 2]

Thanks for reading along – feel free to leave any questions, comments or concerns (but just because I ask doesn’t mean I’ll agree with you :D).


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