With print journalism constantly enduring new pratfalls at the behest of the Internet, the economy and a general disinterest in print media, the current surge in popularity of blogs comes at a bad time. Be that as it may, the dinosaurs of print are increasingly being ignored as media hounds flock to the blogosphere.
In the midst of all this, the Twin Cities has cultivated its own batch of music blogs. Each one contains a wealth of information, and their existence further connects (albeit digitally) lovers of good, local music.
A scene staple since its inception in 2005 (that’s before blogs were cool, mind you), Culture Bully is the most realized satellite in the local blogosphere. Almost reminiscent of a baby Pitchfork , Culture Bully has basic blog fare (record reviews, photos, interviews, ect.) but it oozes a certain authenticity, thanks in part to its superior layout and visual qualities. With a sharply organized main page and a hip, neon pink-and-green color scheme, it’s a visual treat. Like most local blogs, it casts its net beyond Minneapolis at an increasing rate. But, still, at its core, Culture Bully is a localized beast, and that’s a good thing. Check out the innovative “Tag Cloud” and the engrossing yearly “Best of” lists.
Much has been made of Minneapolis’ brimming hip-hop scene, but most of those sentiments are said in retrospect. Sound Verite’, founded by Jon Jon Scott of Black Corner Promotions, maintains a heavy focus on the thriving hip-hop scene, but does so moment-by-moment. Stylistically, Sound Verite’ is similar to MFR in that it relies more on information, clips and links than writing. That’s not to say it skimps in the writing department, though, as they humorously call current “it” group Hyder Ali “Minneapolis’ latest edition to the ‘we don't rap about guns & ho's’ camp.” Updated at a staggering pace, Sound Verite’ spans the entire musical spectrum as it dips its toe in not just Twin Cities underground hip-hop, but also local indie acts and the best of the mainstream.
Launched in 2002 but not legitimate until 2004, More Cowbell stands as the venerable granddad of Twin Cities’ music blogs. In terms of functionality, the blog has not kept with the times. The posts are sometimes visually choppy and the general layout is not too user-friendly. If minimalism is their aim, then stunted and cluttered is the result. Still, More Cowbell is updated constantly, routinely focuses on the better Twin Cities’ artists and, for those looking to a blog to dictate their weekend agendas, premier shows are always previewed. On top of that, there’s an always-changing streaming playlist of blogged-about and buzzed-about groups.
A collaborative effort between Ian Anderson (founder of local stalwart Afternoon Records) and his associate Jon (who also runs a similar Chicago-centric blog), MFR — which stands for Minneapolis F---ing Rocks — treads an even line between covering local and national acts. Less focused on writing and more on the artists themselves, the blog keeps its finger firmly pressed on the pulse of local CD releases and artist accomplishments and is unabashed in its propensity to cover non-Minneapolis mainstream guilty pleasures. At its core, though, MFR offers its readers relevant info on tasteful music before or as it happens. In addition, Anderson’s stature in the scene is a boon to MFR’s credibility.
How Was the Show?
Founded by long-time Minneapolis scene vet David de Young, How Was the Show does exactly what one would think it does: answer its own name. What started on a simplistic notion — to review local shows — has since expanded into full-fledged, multi-faceted blogdom with a small army of editors and contributing writers. The concert reviews remain, but HWTS now boasts a local calendar, theater reviews, concert photography, podcasts and a forum. The writing is sharp, and they usually cover solid acts, but the best part of the site might just be the consistently stellar rock photography that pops up throughout the site and in the “Photo of the Week” segment.