MINNESOTA’S PROG SCENE CAN KICK YOUR PROG SCENE’S BUTT
The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota are stuffed to the gills with aspiring artists. It seems like everyone here paints, acts, or plays music. It’s frankly a haven for weirdos in the entire upper Midwest; north of Chicago, the number of cities with “arts districts” of any note become few and far between. The high population of art majors and hipsters allows for some truly bizarre music to thrive, including our outrageously rich progressive rock scene. Here is a criminally limited selection of my favorite local heavy bands with a progressive flair.
Hardcore Crayons are my absolute favorite Minnesota band, and now they’re about to be yours. I haven’t heard anything else like them. Years ago they started as an off-kilter ska band, and their style has morphed into twisted , polyrhythmic dub-metal. (That’s dub, NOT dubstep. Look it up.) In fan favorite “Crayogenics”, they put an infectiously brain-breaking 15/8 groove through 3 iterations, catching the listener off guard every time, before showing the world what the fuck a fretless bass is for when they drop into the ass-shaking dub groove to end all ass-shaking dub grooves. I could fanboy on and on about them, but just fucking listen to it, ok? They’re recent material has only gotten more heavy and twisted, aka more fucking rad.
Bloodnstuff is what “hard rock” could be if it only grew a brain and a pair of functioning gonads. They’re fun like Torche, tastefully mathy like Battles, and LOUD like Melvins. They opened for Alice in Chains on part of their recent U.S. tour, and whoever made that decision is a fucking genius. Watch the below video and keep trying to remind yourself that this is a two-piece band with only one guitarist who never uses loop pedals. Seriously.
THE ROYAL VEIL
Here is my own humble submission to our great city’s musical landscape, my weird-ass band The Royal Veil. Our core sound is essentially grunge-prog (Soundgarden, Tool) with some zany Mars-Volta-style math grooves (13/8, for one) and a healthy amount of drum shredding. Our repertoire is balanced by a couple verse-chorus sludge-pop tunes, made unique by Alex’s inimitably inelegant voice. We worked diligently on the flow of our record as a whole piece, so I will make the incredibly selfish request that you listen at least through a couple consecutive tracks before making a final judgment. The Bandcamp player below will start you off right at the prog-as-fuck B-side of the album. I don’t want to spoil any surprises but if you’ve gotten this far into this article, you are probably the sort of person who will shit yourself at the transition between the “Into the Sun” and “Battletoad.” It still makes me grin with pride every time I hear it, and no one is a harsher critic of my band than me.