Local Radar highlights bands that the local team at The Current is spinning heavily at their desks. You’ll be able to preview a track from each as well as hear them on The Local Show and Local Current.
Here’s a slice of disco courtesy of Matthew Masurka’s Gigamesh project and out on the venerable Kitsuné label in France, which spawned some popular mix-tapes in the mid-2000s that were definitely my go-to playlist for a string of months. Kitsuné has also put out releases from more than a handful of artists that later got huge across the world: Cut Copy, Klaxons, Yelle, and Phoenix are among the names that grace their roster. If you’re like me, you may not know Gigamesh immediately, but you’ll probably recognize the two hit singles he produced: Mike Posner’s “Cooler Than Me” and Outasight’s “Tonight Is The Night.” And while those were top-40 charting gems, Masurka seems more inclined to relegate his music to a different niche, one which exemplifies Masurka’s crossover appeal. It also doesn’t hurt that his project’s aesthetic exudes cool.
“All My Life” is futuristic gold that I only wish could loop on for another 10 minutes. Twin Cities vocal talent Jana Nyberg lends her chords to the first two tracks of this EP and it’s safe to say that without her this song would not be as complete. You can feel her body pulsating to the beat just as easily as yours probably will, and in an instant we’re transported back to the height of Studio 54. The All My Life EP is out now on Kitsuné.
Stream: Gigamesh – “All My Life” from the All My Life EP out now
It’s hard not to write about a band that takes such a blatant name as “Minnesota.” It could invoke a variety of styles and ranges upon first mention, and we weren’t exactly sure what this would sound like until we turned the case around and saw who was in the project. The brainchild of Peter Himmelman, the new album Are You There was produced by David Hollander with the help of session musicians Jeff Victor on the organ and Noah Levy on drums (both of The Honeydogs), as well as award-winning bassist Jim Anton, Jake Hanson (of Halloween, Alaska and a million other bands) on guitar and the very impressive Kristin Mooney and Claire Holley on vocals.
Recorded in the dead of winter in Minneapolis last year, the somber and brooding outlook is definitely the seventh member of this band and probably the most apparent. While “Hitchhiker” at first sounds hopeful, it all fades away within just 15 seconds, wasting no time to establish a gloom and doom disposition. Himmelman, Mooney and Holley sounds like an even more disaffected Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell and the results are wonderful. There’s no guarantee that this project will go any further than a record considering the great scope of each musician’s other projects, but we should just lap this up for all it’s worth – an ode to a city, a state and the seasonal depression that takes hold. Are You There is out this summer.
Stream: Minnesota – “Hitchhiker” from Are You There
The Murder Of Crows
One of the highlights for many at this year’s Duluth Homegrown was the larger debut of The Murder Of Crows. Any project with Alan Sparhawk is something to watch, often just for his ease at shifting genres. But the real focus of Murder Of Crows is his counterpart, Gaelynn Lea. While this music is devastating to a certain extent – think an even sadder Low – there still manages to be this underlying optimism that slowly breaks through the fog as the song progresses. The instrumentation, just a simple guitar and violin, cooperates with breathtaking ease and matches the vocal volume of Lea and Mimi Parker (Sparhawk’s wife) with dynamic results.
It’s as if this collaboration was always meant to be, first developed in 2011 when the duo did a live soundtrack to a Lon Chaney film. It’s particularly moving since Lea is in a wheelchair, but goes to show us what you can do if your attitude, spirit and strength are robust and there’s ample encouragement from your friends and family. I’m grateful she gave me a call a few months ago out of the blue and told me about this project. I was clueless at first but got an immediate e-mail follow-up which gave me more insight. The Imperfecta EP has a limited run of only 50 copies available here but will be available on iTunes soon.
Stream: The Murder Of Crows – “Let It Go” from the Imperfecta EP out now