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May 1st, 2013 WW Staff | Cover Story
 

Best New Band 2013

10 local acts that Portland’s music insiders think you should hear.

6. Minden

  • 39 POINTS
  • Formed: 2011.
  • Sounds like: Hot Chip in a lounge setting, with a hint of Ween-like absurdity.

Music videos speak the truth. Take Portland glam-pop sextet Minden’s “Gold Standard” video. It incorporates more spandex and synchronized movements than a swim meet. The slight artificiality, tightly knit structures and lustful looks cast across the faces of the band members are as much an illustration of the band’s sparkling sound as they are ingredients of the video itself.

Minden moved to Portland from Kansas City, Mo., last June, with little in its custody beyond a near-complete and outstanding LP in Exotic Cakes. Landing in a house on Northeast Killingsworth Street dubbed Minden Manor, frontman Casey Burge and company settled in fast. Weekly barbecues and home rehearsals led to shows at clubs like Holocene, Doug Fir and Mississippi Studios, and at Rontoms’ Sunday Sessions. By October, Minden was turning ears at studio and music-scene launch pad the Banana Stand. It wasn’t long before a four-song EP and a shooting session with local music media site Into the Woods were in the works. Now the only thing Burge misses from his hometown is the barbecue sauce.

“There are a lot of really creative people in Portland,” he says. “It feels like home.” 

Keyboard-centric on the verge of smooth-jazz territory, Minden’s sound is a polished glass stiletto, clean and towering. Burge’s near-whispered vocals wind in and around crystalline keys and round melodies. And while Minden occasionally strays down more experimental paths, it always boomerangs back to its sugarcoated pop core. 

Whatever Burge is doing at Minden Manor is working. “I hate to use the word ‘slave driver,’ but I’m pretty controlling,” he says, “almost to a fault sometimes.” As a conductor, though, Burge has Minden in fine form—deserving of spandex. MARK STOCK.

 

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