Singer-songwriter Peter Himmelman and screenwriter/filmmaker David Hollander announce their collaboration as Minnesota along with their new label Hymn & Holler Records. The first full-length release will be Are You There and features the single “Hitchhiker” – available as a free download at Minnesota’s website www.minnesotaband.com. Are You There marks the first release for Himmelman since 2010’s The Mystery & The Hum and the first album for Hollander, who was the screenwriter for the hit television programs The Guardian and Heartland and also the director/screenwriter for the film Personal Effects.
“To me this isn’t just a collection of songs,” Himmelman says. “It’s more like a theatrical experience.” Indeed, Himmelman’s latest project defies easy categorization – standing as far apart from his acclaimed discography as it does the typical creation of a rock album in this day and age.
Hollander’s storytelling instincts, honed from years of television and film work, bring a fresh perspective to Himmelman’s music – a process that kicked off when the two longtime friends got together in fall 2011 to listen to songs Himmelman had demoed for a new record. “I immediately heard a larger narrative in the songs, saw a story within that felt compelling,” Hollander says.
Himmelman remains one of the most revered singer-songwriters of his generation: USA Today hailed him “one of tock’s most wildly imaginative performers,” while The San Francisco Chronicle said of the Grammy nominated artist “he probes all the passions, from anguish to lust, to depths few rockers can even imagine.” Of Himmelman’s 1991 solo album From Strength To Strength (which yielded the memorable radio hit “The Woman With the Strength of 10,000 Men”), Time Magazine praised “songs written with the same emphatic edge and aesthetic urgency that impelled the Lost Generation to write novels.”
That same iconoclastic drive, however, pushed Himmelman to move beyond his own boundaries on Are You There. For one, it isn’t a solo album – a rare occurrence from someone who hasn’t released a “band” album in over 25 years; then again, it isn’t exactly a “band” album, either. Are You There is cinematic in ambition yet defiantly frayed in execution with boldly raw performances jumpstarted by subtly modernist production featuring a diverse set of musicians including Jake Hanson (Halloween Alaska) on guitar, Noah Levy (BoDeans/Brian Setzer) on drums, Jimmy Anton (Johnny Lang) on bass, Jeff Victor (the Honeydogs/Andrew W. K.) on keyboards, and the front-and- center vocals of Kristin Mooney and Claire Holley. The album hybrids all these contradictions into one of the year’s most startling, evocative musical journeys.