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.
John Mark Nelson
There is now no doubt in my mind that John Mark will be one of the most talked about local musicians during the latter half of this year. Second album Waiting and Waiting – although John might consider this his proper debut – is scheduled for release in August. The first teaser, “What Did I Find?,” was a gentle foray into a lullaby-esque world that definitely fit the transition between winter and spring. After that stunning track, one might find it difficult to outdo it. The young John Mark, who last time I checked was still only 18 years old, has created another piece with a composition structure that really many 40-year old music veterans can’t even accomplish.
“Reminisce” puts every instrument and voice in its place. I mean, it really all fits. There’s not a single element here which feels contrived or too embellished. It’s a gorgeous drive through the Midwest backcountry – makes sense considering the album artwork depicts the same imagery. The strongest component of this new song is that John Mark Nelson further branched out into a fully realized band. He added a few singers – Ann Nelson (his sister), Grace Keating and John Cushing – who augment the lilting texture through their soulful harmonies. It’s a great summer song and one that inspires optimism. I’ll be dumbfounded if others don’t feel the same way.
John Mark Nelson and the band will be the in-studio guests on The Local Show July 8.
Stream: John Mark Nelson - “Reminisce” from Waiting and Waiting out in August
Here’s a very cool track from the new duo of Nicholas Larkins Perez and Tess Weinberg (who has worked with Lizzo and The Larva Ink). Its choppy arrangement at first could feel overwhelming, but hit the repeat button and let it sink in a few more times. The configuration on paper doesn’t seem like it could hold up for three minutes, but they’ve created this palette that gives both voices a chance to take the reins, thereby producing two different stanzas. Perez has a groove which complements the blips behind him while Weinberg holds her notes longer, building into crescendos which drown out those blips. Maybe that’s why I love this track so much: the two have taken this rhythm, one which really doesn’t change throughout the piece, and have refused to let it anchor them in a way that might be traditionally expected. Our focus instead goes to their voices and the unique way they’ve commanded them.
They have a CD release show Thursday, June 21 at the 7th St. Entry with Phillip Morris, Lizzo and The Larva Ink and Sophia Eris. Lizzo and Sophie also play in The Chalice who will be featured during Local Current Live at the Cedar Cultural Center on June 27.
Stream: Seyah – “Sleeping Beauty Part One” from the forthcoming full-length debut
Maple & Beech
I’m happy to write about this band because it’s a style we really haven’t touched on. There’s been kind of a lull in the gypsy folk realm – maybe that’s not the best way to describe this music. But nonetheless, it does remind me of traversing the cobble streets of a European country, something I have never done but imagine it would feel like this. There’s a lot of instruments in the mix here, most played by Tyler Tholl: mandolin, bouzouki, hammered dulcimer, toy piano, organ and accordion to name just a few. The accompanying musicians round out the chamber ensemble with strings and horns. There’s a Mediterranean vibe on “Piraeus” that’s particularly strong, probably because Piraeus is a city in Greece, but it really sounds fresh within the borders of Minnesota, a place that’s about 6,000 miles away.
Stream: Maple & Beech – “Piraeus” from the Maple & Beech EP out now