Local Current Blog

Ecstattic compilation, Fire in the Northern Firs, and more Minnesota record releases this week

Fire in the Northern Firs (photo courtesy the artists)

Jake Ilika and the Heavy Set: Jake Ilika and the Heavy Set EP

An experienced and multi-talented musician hailing from Winona, Jake Ilika’s live act ranges from intimate solo sets to expansive performances with his band, the Heavy Set. With the band, Ilika presents six gorgeous, thoughtful songs on the Heavy Set’s debut EP, out March 21. A warm, easy work of Americana that reflects on ideas of love and home, the record showcases Ilika’s vocal and lyrical capacity, layered with highly refined blues guitar and wailing organ and steel. The self-titled EP rings out with notes of both classic and contemporary alt-country sensibilities. It’s timeless, genre-defying, and worth a good long listen. Jake Ilika and the Heavy Set is available for download on Bandcamp, and the band will be releasing a CD version of the EP at a record release show on March 21 at the 331 Club, with performances by Mike Munson, Silverback Colony, and Jillian Rae.

The Crash Bandits: Closer EP

Delivered in the spirit of 90s and 00s pop-punk, the Crash Bandits’ summery, high-energy rock aesthetic has shone through two EP releases and one full-length releases, produced with the help of veteran engineer and performer Knol Tate. Since the three-man band’s formation in 2012, they’ve specialized in killer hooks, sweet melodies, and crunchy execution; now, two years later, they present a new EP, Closer. The record’s first track, “I Don’t Know,” features an infectious surf riff and an earworm chorus, setting the stage for a singalong-worthy collection of jams. The Crash Bandits will celebrate the release of Closer with a release show on March 23 at the 7th Street Entry, alongside Dan Mariska and the Boys Choir, Glow Mechanics, and The Person and the People.

Apollo Quad: The War on Mediocrity

Musicality marks the hip-hop of Apollo Quad, a four-man group that includes a live drummer, bassist, guitarist, and keyboardist. Led by rapper and wordsmith Hythum El-sayyad, Apollo Quad’s unique breed of hip-hop layers funk bass and grand piano under cleverly delivered rhymes that trade the spotlight with Steve Alwine’s epic metal-influenced guitar solos. Their newest effort, The War on Mediocrity, out March 21, acts as a sort of manifesto for the group, dealing with themes of passion, work, and success. Apollo Quad will release The War on Mediocrity with a release show at the Fine Line Music Café on March 21, featuring performances by Crunchy Kids, Lake Avenue, and Earth Insight.

The Sudden Lovelys: Brave and Alive

Though the Sudden Lovelys’ young career as a band started only three years ago, the prolific duo of Daniel and Paige Ferraro already have seven releases under their belt. The band is self-described as “aggressive folk,” and the pair’s marriage of vocals, in that vein, is just as delightfully idiosyncratic. Daniel’s low, gravelly, country-rock moan compliment’s Paige’s pure, poppy harmony. Their latest release, Brave and Alive, out today, was funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign. The album’s single, “Gone is Time,” is a lighthearted, catchy tribute to the pair’s grandparents, timeless enough for listeners of all ages. The Sudden Lovelys will also celebrate the release of Brave and Alive with a release show at Icehouse on Saturday, March 22. The band promises musical guests and teases “plenty of surprises” for those in attendance.

Ecstattic Studio compilation: Towards a Better Future (Through and Uncertain Past)

In getting acquainted with the Twin Cities music scene, it doesn’t take long to notice that many of the area’s best, loudest, and most adventurous records have come from the attic home studio—hence “ecstattic”—of engineer Ali Jaafar. With temporary musical residents including Hollow Boys, Prissy Clerks, France Camp, the Karma Kicks, Diver Dress, and many more, it’s unfathomable to think of how the people of Ecstattic managed to narrow down the studio’s hundreds of tracks down to just 11 for the upcoming compilation, Towards a Better Future (Through and Uncertain Past). Out March 23, the compilation showcases tracks by varied Ecstattic alums—from Fire in the Northern Firs’ dreamy, ethereal “Song for T.K.” to the Okerlunds’ punky, cheeky “A-Non Sexual-Orientation-Specific Love Song.” It’s a sampler platter of sounds sure to please. Towards a Better Future is available for streaming on Bandcamp, and will be available on cassette and for download at Ecstattic Fest, a festival featuring performances by various Ecstattic artists at the Turf Club, March 23.

Fire in the Northern Firs: See You In Hell 8”

Fire in the Northern Firs’ latest release, See You in Hell, must be too epic for seven inches, since the band at the crew at Ecstattic Studios have come together to put this three-song EP on, yes, an eight-inch record. Mixing elements of shoegaze, pop, psychedelia, and post-rock, Fire in the Northern Firs’ sound is a trip through a dreamscape, led by Carin Barno’s gorgeous, husky vocals. Contrary to what the goofy song titles (“Cupcake She Wrote,” “Cat Mountain,” “Tijuana Medical Vacation”) might imply, See You In Hell is a thoughtfully executed, no-nonsense work of songcraft. Fire in the Northern Firs will release See You In Hell at Ecstattic Fest on March 23. The record will also available for download and purchase on Bandcamp.

KT Lindemann is a senior at the University of Minnesota, Morris, pursuing studio art and Spanish. She is a native of the Twin Cities and is a wannabe musician, artist, and music writer.