Record Roundup: Rochester’s 2018 Music Scene

December 28, 2018

From Fall Risk’s punky ska to the classical songs of soprano Carla Thelen Hanson and pianist Ainhoa Urkijo, Rochester’s music scene was filled with creative energy this year. With the bluegrass of Heath Loy and Kahll Shepard’s hip hop in the air, there’s no doubt we had a bumper crop of albums and EPs in 2018. And after at least 30 separate recording projects, Med City might more aptly deserve the moniker “Music City.”

Some of Rochester’s long-time musical favorites released new albums in 2018. Six Mile Grove, a staple for the last twenty years, released “Million Birds,” their seventh album, which includes some ripping tunes like the groove-driven “Shot in the Arm.” Their release party, the first show at the newly-opened Castle Community music venue, brought melody back to a space that saw its share of rocking local shows in its former life as the Rochester Armory.

A few local artists had their releases featured on regional radio. Twin Lakes had their track “Eleanor” played on Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current. Their acoustic earworm hit the airwaves and reached fans all over the state. They also managed to get their song “Bird” from the “Songbird Sessions” EP, one they split with My Grandma’s Cardigan, played on Eau Claire’s Converge 99.9 FM.

Fires of Denmark, Mike Terrill’s solo project, had a stint on The Current with the song “Ten Thousand Things” from his “With Love” album. The track featured a wailing sax solo from local tenor man Nick Novotny. There was a cozy release show at Canvas and Chardonnay for the album which was promoted in part by Art Heads Live.

Rochester’s musically minded also engaged in international collaborations. Auxie, a.k.a. Aubrey Postier, found the time to collaborate with Linus Karlsson, the mastermind behind the Swedish project Linus from the Stars. She co-wrote and sang for the infectiously catchy synthpop song entitled “City Lights,” the first track on the “Summer Diary” EP.

The year’s releases also included some live recording sessions. David Nash returned to his hometown to record a live album at Café Steam. The album was mixed and mastered by Zach Zurn from Rochester’s Carpet Booth Studios and released on Feb. 23.

Let’s not forget the sweaty release show on the second floor of Kathy’s Pub where Local Sports screamed their way through “Basil Bouquet.” Let’s just say this – ear protection wasn’t merely a luxury.

Whether you like big bands, brass bands, or country bands, this record roundup has something in it for you, so be sure to check out what your local musicians have been up to this year. Rochester’s music scene is simmering like a whistling tea kettle, so take a sip – it’ll make you warm inside.

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