Birthday Suits

Since their debut in 2005, the Minneapolis-based duo of Matthew Kazama and Hideo Takahashi has excelled at tossing elements of late-‘90s mathcore and classic Reagan-era punk against the wall with disarming power and impressively fresh results. Their latest release, The Minnesota: Mouth To Mouth (Nice and Neat Records), sticks to that formula, but with a smidge more spit-polish shining up their succinct sense of melody. The Birthday Suits’ biggest asset remains the way their blurry-but-brilliant mix of sharp edges and curvy hooks matches up neatly with their dark-humored lyrics and stage presence that feels as gleeful as it does dangerous. Fans of Future of the Left and No Means No will not be disappointed.

Band from Minneapolis (Minnesota) formed in 2009, honing their early sweet take on punk and garage in a K Records vein.

Animal Lover

Animal Lover have a sound that hits you in the forehead and gut simultaneously. Frontman Addison Shark's guitar explodes like a dirty bomb of feedback, and the pulverizing bass and drums of Evan Bullinger and Nate Fisher add to its shrapnel spray. This is noise rock powerful enough to leave a lasting physical impression -- albeit a confusing one for venues assembling punk nights. "It does get pretty tunnel vision as far as being genre-specific," Shark elaborates. "We'll wind up on a straight hardcore bill because that's kind of just what goes on in that particular scene."

Originally hailing from the Fargo punk and metal scenes, Animal Lover met while sharing bills in a series of groups including Gumbi and Høst. After self-releasing a 7-inch and touring the Midwest a few years ago, they packed up and moved permanently to our fair cities. The connections they made in the DIY tour circuit made the Twin Cities attractive, but they're still out on the road several times a year, to places as far-removed as Washington and New York. "We really like getting out of town and meeting people," explains Shark. "It's really fun making friends and playing with those bands again."

For now, they don't have a well-manicured Tumblr page, and almost no internet presence whatsoever. But make no mistake, this is not a bad thing. Despite their online invisibility, their three short-run EPs still have received a healthy share of accolades locally and even a Pitchfork write-up. There's merit in shredding genre pigeonholes, and that's something Animal Lover seems to take a quiet joy in. Be it an incredibly faithful cover of the Who's "Substitute," or flashes of spiking melodicism within their noisy assault, the group's unapologetic character recalls their DIY forebears in the Minutemen. "There's the politics of doin' it yourself," says Addison. "But we don't have anybody knocking on the door to do it for us. That's the only way we can." [City Pages, Picked to Click 2013]



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