Local Current Blog

Local Radar: Taj Raj, Up Rock and Psymun

Taj Raj return with a folkier sound and a new EP. (Press photo)


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.

Taj Raj

Taj Raj have gone the alt-country route on their new EP Fine Hearts Alive, and while their more rocky previous work suited them well, this new direction really strikes gold. It’s been almost two years since we last spun this band on the station, and I have a feeling they’ll be getting a larger spotlight with the new release. Here’s six songs that truly give a nod to the Midwest landscape, especially with stand-out track “Romani,” anchored on a colorful mandolin strum and light, driving drumbeat. But the true smile-inducer is Benjamin Burwell’s airy voice, accompanied by some spot-on background shouts by the rest of the band.

The EP will see a release on Be Easy Music, a label traditionally focused on hip-hop. They liked the band so much that there was no doubt about branching out representing them. Available to the world on May 28, the release show will go down on June 1 at the Turf with support from Bethany Larson & The Bee’s Knees, Savannah Smith and The Person and The People.

  1. Listen Taj Raj – “Romani”

Up Rock

The guys behind Up Rock – Dundee and Digie – have long ties to Minnesota hip-hop. They were members of The Abstract Pack which morphed into an influential collection of MCs called Headshots that included Atmosphere’s Slug (known as Urban Atmosphere at that time), Beyond (aka Musab), Black Hole, Spawn and Phull Suckle.

Up Rock put out a fantastic, gritty EP in 2012 that included “Hit The Floor,” a cut that was marked by its impressive flow, big beats and unabashed crank of the volume knob. The new album Let That Bass Shake is a logical extension of that original sampler. Like the title suggests, the bass is heavy, and it’s a little more electronic as evidenced by second single “Grinding.”

They’ll celebrate the release on May 11 at Icehouse with up-and-comers VANDAAM and DJ collective Mode. It will then be available in select stores and online on May 14.

  1. Listen Up Rock – “Grinding”


I’ve heard a lot about Psymun in the past several months. He’s been extremely active on Bandcamp, with five EPs now available to peruse, and he’s preparing his first full-length. In his words, it’s a collaborative, split LP with producer Damacha that’s been in the works for six months. They’ll release it on local cassette label MJ MJ Records, joining an impressive roster of cryptic acts like Maymok, Wild Ghosts and Vacation Dad.

The guy is also young. While only 21, his fanbase is pretty solid for such a quickly emerging talent. New song “Flight” is the first taste of the upcoming debut, and it’s a confident showcase of his beats, as well as guest vocalist K.Raydio who now more than ever sounds like our very own Erykah Badu. Her singing sounds so effortless — sometimes whispered — and yet you hang on every word.

The release show is May 18 at the Kitty Cat Klub.

  1. Listen Psymun – “Flight” feat.  K.Raydio