August 15, 1988 12:00 PM


Much of this decade’s underground pop music owes a debt to Minneapolis, where bands such as the Replacements and Hüsker Dü developed a style that might be called sloppy rock. (This is to be differentiated from those Minnesotans who have come out of Prince’s Land of 10,000 Funks school of music.) Using off-key vocals, repetitious rhythms and murky accompaniment, these bands project raw emotion and bring fresh energy to garage-style music. Their revolt against slick studio rock sometimes gives a free ride to lesser bands who pass off lack of talent as intentional messiness. But every once in a while a band such as Agitpop sets about expanding the sloppy-rock art form. Agitpop’s three imaginative players, who come from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but have a Twin Cities orientation, embellish the raucous songs on their third album with odd percussion, woodwinds and toys. Accompanied only by wood blocks and bells, lead singer John deVries rasps out Three Boys and Space in a style that suggests an oddly appealing tribal chant. Punctuated with repeated moans created by sliding a beer bottle on bass guitar strings, Without a Trace is an emotional song about romantic rejection. The beat winds down and stops a few times like a broken toy, an appropriate sound to express the end of a love affair. Some of Open Seasons’ songs are standard fare, nothing to write home to Minneapolis about. But at its more creative moments, Agitpop displays admirable finesse and real method in its messiness. (Twin Tone)

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