Red Pens
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Red Pens

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | INDIE

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Alternative


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WHY THEM? Appropriately sobriquetted, the Minneapolis two-piece Red Pens are like a point-by-point correction of the still-burgeoning revival of early-’90s lo-fi aesthetics — or lack thereof. Call us old-fashioned, but fuck: the Pens’ combination of soupy Goo guitars, plunging nosedives of noise, sing-songy Yo La vocal melodies, and bright sheets of shimmering noise (cassette hiss — is that you?!) is just about perfect. Does it sound a little familiar here and there? A Bee Thousand times yes, but isn’t that kind of the point: figuring out what made us all stop rocking this truly?

BONUS BIT! Astute indie-pop dweebs of a certain age may recognize guitarist/singer Howard W. Hamilton III as the man behind beloved bedroom-electro magnate Busy Signals. - The Boston Phoenix

In a south Minneapolis apartment filled with only the very best thrift-store scores (including a dazzling glass grape collection), its walls covered in the artwork of its dwellers, Howard W. Hamilton III and Laura Bennett are living and creating in sweet harmony.

They're the ultimate DIYers; their band Red Pens' CD was mastered, mixed, produced, and anything else you can think of by Hamilton. Their music is both salty and sweet, incorporating droning background loops and walls of abstract sound à la Sonic Youth/My Bloody Valentine, while remaining joyfully melodious à la the Jesus and Mary Chain. And Hamilton is a master of the bendy, distorted guitar string, and an ingenious looper, using cool effects such as a scratching record spinning in endless rotation to break into song. These tunes make you want to dance foot-to-foot, Peanuts-style. If Red Pens were a flavor, they would be butterscotch—sugary and slightly weird.

While Hamilton, a music-scene alum formerly of the Busy Signals, tends to business like a tugboat captain, Red Pens' drummer Bennett fuels the creative fires with her sunshiny optimism. A Beloit, Wisconsin, native, Bennett came to the Twin Cities after hearing about a magical place called First Avenue, and it is easy to imagine her arriving at the Greyhound station, crossing the street to the club, and forever being transformed.

Hamilton and Bennett recently sat down with City Pages to talk about their lives as artists and their new CD, Reasons. - City Pages


Don't Be Sane EP (2008)
Reasons (Fall 2009)



Seeing the Minneapolis duo Red Pens is like witnessing a demonstration. A demonstration in raw sonic bliss. Howard Hamilton III is a string bending master and knows how to make feedback work to his advantage. His confident vocal stylings coupled with drummer Laura Bennett's all or nothing kit pounding are about as uniquely refreshing as it gets these days. The stage is littered with junk shop amps and guitars Hamilton seems to almost get tangled up in while he and Bennett exchange doses of laser beam eye contact showing off a seemingly deeper connection between the two of them than your average indie rock outfit.

Hamilton and Bennett met in the arena of visual arts and started Red Pens as a way to express their deep love for rock and roll. Howard's old project The Busy Signals went on tours with The Shins and it's beat and loop based jams proved to be an underdog favorite in the early two thousands. Laura is well known as a painter and is best known for her painting on guitar effects boxes. She even has her own signature fuzz pedal, not bad for a drummer.

Their debut album "Reasons" on Grain Belt Records is a mid-fi bonanza of fuzzy reverb drenched art rock. The wiggly winding guitars, slap back vocals and killer back beats are sure to give you that silly grin you've been starving for.