First, Strange Names booked a hometown show at First Avenue. Then they announced that their debut album would be released in 2015. Now, to complete a rock ‘n’ roll hat trick, they’ve signed with Frenchkiss Records—home of bands including the Antlers, the Dodos, and the Hold Steady.
The funky electropop duo have been steadily gaining steam since Liam Benzvi and Francis Jimenez first met in the University of Minnesota freshman dorms. Sharing tracks quickly turned to recording music, and in 2012 the friends played their first shows. Reviewing their performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands showcase in January 2013, the Current’s Andrea Swensson wrote that the duo “showed that their songwriting abilities extend far beyond the disco-dance-pop of their self-titled EP, and one slower, brooding jam had me longing for more new recorded material from the duo.”
She got her wish: Strange Names have now released two EPs and a single 7’’ with White Iris Records (Best Coast, Electric Guest), with their Frenchkiss debut now forthcoming. She also—along with 1,600 others—got to see the duo perform at the Current’s ninth birthday party this past January. In another milestone, Strange Names had their song “Potential Wife” remixed by none other than local legends Information Society.
If Strange Names make “making it” it look easy, it’s only because they’re that good. While many groups claim the electropop label these days, it’s a rare thing to see that descriptor torn up and mutilated so lovingly. Strange Names’s songs are danceable, groovy, and so catchy you could lose yourself in a rabbit hole of clicking “repeat.”
In what will surely be a celebratory night, Strange Names share their August 8 First Avenue bill with fellow Minneapolis boys Carroll, as well as Tickle Torture, Two Harbors, and the Current’s own DJ Jake Rudh.
Nina Slesinger is a student at Macalester College.