Local Current Blog

Atmosphere, A Firm Handshake, Psymun, and more: This week’s Minnesota record releases

Slug of Atmosphere. Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR.

Atmosphere: Southsiders

On their eighth studio album, out today via Rhymesayers, Slug and Ant pay homage to the Southside of Minneapolis, where the duo have made their homes and careers, name-dropping local landmarks and sprinkling the album with soundbites from around town. Slug’s always thoughtful lyrics look out as well as in, while Ant’s creative, rock-influenced production features deliberate, thumping beats, groovy step-phaser riffs on “The World Might Not Live Through The Night,” and delicate keyboards throughout. Also on the Current, read Andrea Swensson’s review of Southsiders and Mark Wheat’s Artist of the Month tribute to Atmosphere.

A Firm Handshake: Fix Me Up

Very few artists from the Land of 10,000 Lakes have earned over 10 million views for a single music video. Last year, with the help of his collaborators and loved ones, the late Zach Sobiech achieved such viral status for his beloved song “Clouds.” That song is the last track on a 2013 record by a Lakeland band called A Firm Handshake, formed and fronted by Sobiech and his longtime friend Sammy Brown. Now, a year after Sobiech’s passing, Fix Me Up is back with a new, deluxe-edition reissue, out today on Rock the Cause Records. The record’s sunny melodies are complemented by Brown and Sobiech’s quirky, optimistic lyrics, twinkling acoustic guitars, and shared vocal duties. It’s an exercise in appreciating life, lovingly crafted by two best friends. The deluxe edition of Fix Me Up also includes two alternate versions of “Clouds” and a new track, “How to Go To Confession.” A portion of the proceeds raised by the album will be donated to the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund. (Also out this week: Fly a Little Higher, a new book by Zach’s mother.)

Theo Brown: The Void

A classically trained vocalist and pianist raised with diverse cultural points of reference, Theo Brown’s artful soul aesthetic combines the nonchalance of smooth jazz with the sass of salsa and the heart-pounding percussion of African drums. On his second full-length album, The Void, out Friday, May 9, Brown is coolly understated as he showcases his compositional creativity and technical skill. The album’s single, “The Bad Guy” is carried by keyboard riffs that shift from funky to romantic and Brown’s vocals dance and echo over them to stunning effect. Theo Brown will release The Void with an album release party at Amsterdam Bar and Hall, featuring the Not Guilty Band and hosted by Niles.

Psymun: Pink Label

Late last year, ambient instrumental mad doctor Psymun teamed up with vocalist K. Raydio to create the gorgeous chillwave soundscape of LucidDreamingSkylines. Now, in his own sonic sphere, Psymun presents a new record, Pink Label, out today. Pink Label sounds a bit like a springtime answer to LucidDreamingSkylines’ winter chill; like the album’s psychedelic cover art, the music a surreal, technicolor collage. At once, the record evokes the complexity of space-age technology and the purity of nature; it combines lo-fi vinyl static with hi-fi bass drops. Psymun’s innovative compositions more than stand out on their own, but the producer has also enlisted vocal contributions from K. Raydio, Allan Kingdom, Kerry Roy, and others—including elusive Internet sensation Spooky Black. Pink Label is an adventurous trip of an album, a new dimension worthy of exploration.

The Modern Era: Holiday EP

Chock-full of danceable rock energy, hooky four-piece punk outfit The Modern Era—known affectionately as “the mods”—present a new four-song EP, Holiday, out Friday, May 9. The record generously churns out infectious guitar riffs and gigantic percussion while singer Jack Swagger fronts the tunes with his gritty, Brit-rock influenced vocals. Holiday is rock and roll with a charming smirk, reminiscent of the Arctic Monkeys or the Fratellis: aggressive enough to get your blood hot and bouncy enough to get your hips shaking. The Modern Era will celebrate the release of Holiday with a release show at the Fine Line Music Café, Friday, May 9, with performances by Kick, Skittish, Evasive Maneuver, and The Devil Blues Band.

Parachute Empire: Parachute Empire

Crossing the boundaries of genre as effortlessly as travelling through the rooms of a house, Parachute Empire manage to combine blues, funk, country, and folk (among other things) on their self-titled release, out now. “Better Days” rings out with Americana twang, followed by “Master at Arms” slow-burning verses and arena rock chorus. It’s a patchwork quilt of a record, full of great melodies, evocative vocal stylings, and plenty of surprises. The album is available for download now on Bandcamp, and, if you’re into physical music, you can snag a disc at the Electric Fetus in Minneapolis.

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.