Local Current Blog

Local Radar: WriteGroove, Bad Bad Hats and more

This weekly feature on the blog is a highlight of 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.

The six-song (mostly) instrumental EP that WriteGroove just released is one of the most remarkable things I’ve heard come out of the local music scene. Joe Larson’s take on a sound that J Dilla, Madlib, and Flying Lotus have popularized in the past few decades rolls in at just a breezy 12 minutes; I find myself consistently hitting repeat on each track in order to make the experience longer. But Larson has imposed limitations to ensure what we hear is the most cohesive and memorable product possible; there’s no extra flourish needed and one isn’t called for in the first place. In this sense, I am reminded of the great and influential Beat Konducta series. I can only hope WriteGroove gains an audience quickly—this producer is talented.

OK Thief
From Kingston, Jamaica to Portland, Chicago, New York, and finally settling in Minneapolis, OK Thief is the pseudonym of Jerome Rankine, another emerging producer and artist here in the region who has a handful of additional projects also in the can that aren’t necessarily music-related. He’s been steadily releasing new music since the end of 2011 through Soundcloud and Bandcamp. While this track isn’t his newest (it’s only two weeks old), there’s a part about one minute into “Yikes Bytes” that blows me away and substantiates Rankine’s melodic brilliance, even when dealing with numerous, blippy samples. It may take a little while for people to fully take notice, but it looks like he won’t be slowing down.

Bad Bad Hats
People in Minneapolis tend to forget there’s another city across the river with just as many local bands cranking out music. Macalester College seems to be the one to remind people of that little fact. The school has seen of deluge of young bands experimenting with styles of music that the community may not be accustomed to, but there’s others who are taking the increasingly formulaic indie pop sound and making it more distinctive and fresh. Bad Bad Hats is just one instance: cute, twee-inspired, but definitely not underwhelming. It’s a little more lo-fi and reminiscent of early Headlights, a band that never broke out into the mainstream somehow. The music world seemed to cower away from indie pop in the late aughts, but I think we’re warming up to it again, and Bad Bad Hats, the duo of Chris Hoge and Kerry Alexander, might be leading the charge.

So yes, I am very late in writing about Xavier—more than six months late. The reason Xavier is back on my radar is the result of being chosen to play Vita.mn’s Are You Local? showcase on Friday night at First Avenue and the Entry. Alongside Prissy Clerks and the Japhies (two other excellent bands), Xavier will be competing to go down to Austin for South By Southwest. You’ve heard those other two on The Current, Local Current, and The Local Show, but Mr. Marquis is more of a new addition to the playlist. Accompanied by a full backing band, flawlessly fusing rock and hip-hop together, and bold lyrics with agile execution in tow, we can understand why his X-Files Mixtape: Episode 2 has become an underground sensation—he’s poised to gain more than a few new fans on Friday.