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Music News: New Elle PF and Christy Costello, an Amazing Twin/Tone Archive, and Absolute Legal Turmoil!!!

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Elle PF & Christy Costello

It's too cold today to do anything but listen to music. Don't worry—we gotcha covered.

It’s February and the Local Music is Gettin’ Good

As a fan of Elle PF’s 2022 album, I Woke up Today Laughing, I clicked play eagerly on my advance of the band’s new 10-track release, After the Snow (out today), and I was not disappointed. The whole album is bigger, trippier, dancier, lusher. Opener “Now or Never” begins with hypnotic (and maybe a little ominous) piano ostinatos and soft vocals from bandleader Ranelle Labiche and builds to a truly dreamy chorus. And when the album gets a mite too dreamy, something like the off-kilter guitar rock of “Happy” shakes it back awake. Also, it’s Bandcamp Friday today, which means if you purchase the new album on that site before midnight, Bandcamp won’t take its usual cut.

And while you’re on Bandcamp, you can check out other local music. For instance, three new tracks from Christy Costello, a longtime scene fixture some of us are old enough to remember from Ouija Radio but more of you became acquainted with in the Pink Mink years. She's been playing in Monica LaPlante’s band for a spell, and these tracks essentially reconstitute that group with Costello taking over the mic and lead guitar duties. “Great Divide” is kinda shoegazy, “Ju Ju Doll” is heavier and witchier, "Uranium Baby" is girl-groupy punk about life after the end of the world and also my personal favorite.

Trademarks and Other Legal Matters

General Mills, headquartered in Golden Valley (though online they claim to be based in Minneapolis—just like a suburbanite!), is such a food processing giant that it’s easy to forget we’ve got another local behemoth cranking out mass breakfastry in the south suburbs. Lakeville’s Post Consumer Brands has chosen to remind us of their existence by creating a legal hassle for the fellows in OK Go, or, as you may know them “the band that made those videos.” 

OK Go, the band, has trademarked its name, but Post, the maker of “high-quality, delicious cereal products” (as they describe themselves in their filings) has a new product called OK GO! (a container of dehydrated milk and cereal to which you “just add water”). The band attempted to enforce its ™, but the cereal producer claims there is no “significant likelihood of confusion,” which you have to prove to stop someone from using your trademarked name. Though they seem kinda corporate and their claims of “bullying” seem over the top, we support Ok Go the band, geographical allegiance be damned, if only because OK GO! the product sounds disgusting. Post, get lost! (Pretend those words rhyme.)

In other legal news, Racket has already written about how Rick Astley sued Yung Gravy for using an imitation of his voice on Betty (“Get Money”). (Bone up on the facts and what a “right of publicity” is here.) But you know, the more I think about this suit, the more dangerous it sounds. Because if you believe in a right of publicity at all, this is what you’re guarding against: a recreation that someone could conceivably mistake for the right-holder. But would that also apply to parody or homage? If more lawsuits follow, it could. I just want to add here that some of us warned of the dangers of rampant litigation when we opposed the Prince estate’s attempt to pass a right of publicity law here in Minnesota. To quote attorney Blake Iverson (now Racket’s lawyer, BTW): “This law is essentially a cash grab for attorneys,” 

Speaking of Blake, Racket would officially like to thank him for securing the trademark to Racket. Your buds are not necessarily very smart business people, but we do one thing right: We listen to our lawyers and accountants and other people who know what they’re talking about. As you may have seen, Racket isn’t just your favorite Twin Cities arts and news website. It’s also the new name that Elon chum and terrible arranger of Twitter threads Matt Taibbi has chosen for his website. (Taibbi first planned to use the name about a decade ago for a publication that never got off the ground.) We’re still figuring out where to go with this, but it feels good to have that ™ in our back pockets. Anyway, legal matters aside, everyone should stop calling things Racket. There are other words, people!

Hell Yeah!! Minnesota Music History!!

Let’s close this week’s local music roundup with a great online resource that offers a refresher course in local music history as well. We all know about Twin/Tone Records, the independent record label started by Peter Jesperson, Charley Hallman, and Paul Stark, which put out early records by the Replacements and Soul Asylum and the Jayhawks and blah blah blah blah can you please stop talking about the ’80s grandpa, it's 2023. 

Still, it’s easy to forget how deep the label’s roster went. Fortunately, this archive will refresh your memory. (I’m not sure how long it’s been up, but it was brought to my attention this week.) Here on Twin/Tone’s site you can find streaming access to nearly everything the label released during its tenure. (It’s not all local music either—you can find good stuff from the Mekons and Pere Ubu here too.) What’s more, Twin/Tone is also streaming much of the output from the smaller local indie labels distributed—that means Amphetamine Reptile, Coyote, No Alternative, TRG, and lots more. Could you find most of this music streaming elsewhere? For sure. But having it all in one place allows you to browse through the local music of the ’80s and ’90s. Listen and learn.

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