The Crate Digger 3: Minnesota Pride

Just one (or five) of the many reasons The Riveter loves its home in Minneapolis. 

by Pierce Courchaine 

The Riveter is based in a city with a long and rich music history, and in honor of that history, I dug up five songs from five artists from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps – “Tanktop”

“Tanktop” has its hooks in me. The way Smith swings her voice up and down like the slight nod of a head is absolutely intoxicating. And, I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for songs about young love in the summer, so I’m sorry if this gets sappy. But it’s impressive when a song can conjure images of the one you love with just a listen. It’s another thing entirely when it can conjure images of everyone you’ve ever loved in that listen.

Haley Bonar – “From A Cage”

Bonar (it rhymes with ‘honor,’ you pervs) sets the tone early on in “From A Cage” with a pounding, repetitious keyboard line. She then leans on lyrical punches like, “You were born into an ocean / I grew up in a swimming pool” to drive home her feelings of being trapped. To Bonar, cages can come in many different forms, be it suburbia, relationships or even her identity. In the end, she concedes and croons, “I’ve learned to love my freedom from a cage / From a cage.”

(we couldn’t find an adequate video for “From a Cage” so here’s a pretty vid from when she was a SXSW showcasing artist)

Dessa – “Warsaw”

The Twin Cities-based hip hop collective and label Doomtree has quietly built an extensive catalog during their 13-year existence. Dessa carved out a space of her own in the label’s lineup. Blending the hip hop Doomtree is known for with pop sensibilities, “Warsaw” is complex not just in its beats but in its lyrical content as well. Dessa’s delivery is aggressive and direct at first, but it melts into the beat and fades at the end, almost as if she didn’t really mean it at all.

Chastity Brown – “I Left Home”

Even though Brown comes from the banks of the Mississippi instead of the Mississippi Delta, I doubt there is anyone out there who would call her a blues poseur. The tunes off her latest album, Back-Road Highways, pay homage to the past while still being a product of the present. “I Left Home” is a great example of this hybrid method. It thrives in traditional blues lyrical structure while incorporating flashy, twangy guitar that meanders in and out.

The Andrews Sisters – “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)”

The Andrews Sisters’ music, so ubiquitous with American culture at one point, hasn’t quite stood the test of time as much as the jazz of their era did. “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” is a nostalgic trip, though, even if you never lived during the Sisters’ heyday. Picture a crowded seaport pub with men in uniform on leave and the Andrew Sisters up on stage, and it’s hard not to be romantic about the time. You know, as long as you can suppress the memories of rampant racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and that whole World War thing.

Postscript: While researching this blog, I came across a compilation series called Minnesota Beatle Project featuring many wonderful Minnesotan bands covering, you guessed it, the Beatles. Check it out on your favorite streaming service.

Pierce Courchaine is a contributor for The Riveter. You can follow him on Twitter at @PJCourchaine

Top photo by Flickr user Chauncer.