Following the release of its latest cd, "Bodies of Water," Minneapolis buzz band Solid Gold has spent the year mesmerizing critics and fans with its electronic pop. The band will cap off a breakthrough year tonight with a show at First Avenue.
Solid Gold sends out waves of dreamy, hypnotic synth pop colored with minor chords and warm, pulsing beats. The melancholic melodies match the moody tenor of the lyrics, which speak of catastrophic relationships and deep disappointments, as well as new beginnings.
Solid Gold's music has been called euro dance rock, psychedelic pop, even techno. But band member and lead singer Zach Coulter said Solid Gold is all about experimenting with pop music formulas.
"We kind of look at it and say what can we add, what can we take away, or what can we use instead of the basic guitar and piano structure that will change the song around and give it its own feel," Coulter said.
"It all kind of just harkens back to us trying to take the old and the new and hopefully push some kind of boundary."
Matt Locher is a founding member of Solid Gold going back eight years to its start in Madison, Wisconsin. The band has never been afraid to embrace digital technology in its quest for new sounds and rhythms; it's even employed a drum machine. But Solid Gold never flips a switch and lets the machines do the work when it performs live.
"We do a lot of multi-tracking in the studio and we have to sample a lot of things, but the core of it is still executed by our hands live," Guitarist Adam Hurlburt said. "I think having everybody held accountable for that is a good thing."
"They're much more soulful, much more organic sounding on the rhythmic end, and they're good songwriters too..."
About a year ago, Solid Gold replaced its mechanized rhythms with a real drummer, and also recruited a slide guitarist. That's when Star Tribune Music Critic Chris Riemenschneider hopped on the Solid Gold Bandwagon.
"When they added those guys it became something special," he said.
In Riemenschschneider's view, the new additions gave more depth to Solid Gold's songs, which he said remind him of the loopy, trippy dance music coming out of Manchester England in the 1980s. He said many of today's synthesizer-driven groups mimic the colder, more robotic sounds of early '80s new wave.
"I hated new wave," Riemenschneider said. "This band isn't like that at all. They're much more soulful, much more organic sounding on the rhythmic end, and they're good songwriters too, so that always helps."
At the dawn of 2010, Solid Gold is poised to go to the next level. It's got a blogosphere buzz going, and through touring it has built fan bases in Britain, Europe, Iceland and New York City. The band also got hooked into a song contest sponsored by Mountain Dew and has a video on MTV.
To Chris Riemenschneider, that sounds a lot like the last blog-fueled band from Minneapolis, Tapes n' Tapes, which might be a cautionary tale.
"Tapes n' Tapes had that, signed a pretty sizable record deal, and then by the time the record came out it somewhat fizzled and there was kind of a backlash," he said.
Solid Gold members don't have a record deal yet, but they question whether they need one. Up to this point the band has done everything on its own, from putting out records, setting up tours and producing videos, to designing CD covers and T-shirts. Matt Locher said the band has worked too hard to give up its creative autonomy.
"Now we're at the point where we work at our pace. We do things the way we want and that's the bottom line," he said. "There's no straying from that formula from this point on."
Band members say they started making better art when they realized that, and that's when people really started to gravitate to their music.