10 Minnesota musicians causing a stir in December
Diane, Natalia Toledo and Youa Vang | The Current
Welcome to The Scouting Report, a monthly list of 10 Minnesota artists with exciting new projects, as curated by our local music team. If you like these picks, check out The Local Show on Sundays from 6 to 8 p.m., hosted by Diane. Also, each Thursday, The Current's music director Jade picks great new tracks from around the world.
Musician Maddie Thies was born and raised in Minneapolis, but she spent a significant amount of her adolescence living in South Korea. There’s a term for humans raised under this unique condition: Third Culture Kids. Thies’ music embraces her woozying habitation of this space between two worlds through emotional, sonic, and poetic exploration. Her delicate new indie-rock single “Postcard Collection” was made possible in part by the Cedar Commissions Grant, where she reflected in an artist statement: “It’s weird, I have that kind of song written and I can just see how it’s supposed to fit on a page and how there’s negative space to it and how music flows between these images.” Thies is also bassist for the alternative rock band Ginny & The Fizz. -Diane
Self-identified as “heart on your sleeve bedroom pop,” Minneapolis-based band Charmme (formerly known as Glassine) is pretty new to the scene. Their latest single, “Mindreader,” is a slow, heavy reverb groove with a melancholic vibe. Members Rachel Phoenix and Jeff Cornell have a very unique sound and I’m looking forward to what else is in store for their career. -Natalia Toledo
Trent Romens Band
When you’ve tasted the stage — opening for artists such as Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jimmie Vaughan, and Soul Asylum — and leave it to get married, raise a family, and simply live your life, does the music fade away? For Trent Romens, it didn’t. He continued to write songs that rang true to him. On “One More Hit,” the artist draws the spirit of (not dead) Ray LaMontagne in his gravelly tone. Produced by Matt Patrick at the Library Studio, the track comes from the perspective of someone rediscovering his dream of making music. Romens make songs that are distant, pure, and clear in both intent and direction. His soulful sound is straightforward because the most important things in life are, too – and we’re left with a feeling of warm introspection. Look for more music from Romens as he releases his next single “Chicago” on December 16. -Youa Vang
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Funny how alluring and delightful a band can sound when everything else seems to signal boredom, sarcasm, and self-depreciation. Unofficial mayor of St. Paul and music scene veteran Martin Devaney writes and records music that is deliberately scrappy and quirky — think The Moldy Peaches meets The Unicorns meets The Lemonheads. His new record “Can You Hear The Clubhouse?” captures the hip aesthetic of musical irony with its awesomely tauntful singing and lo-fi rock ‘n’ roll sound. The four-song EP comes as a follow up to Folios’ LP Dispatch — featuring “Bad Penny,” a single that landed on my Best of 2021 list. -Diane
Minneapolis-based funk/pop artist Grayson DeWolfe has been selling out venues since the age of 17. In October, he released the single “Crazy,” which is heavily inspired by the Minneapolis Sound, with a more updated, polished pop feel. It is refreshing to hear Grayson paying homage to the legendary sounds that inspired him, while also developing his own style; multi-layered vocals and dramatic shifts within his songs, for example. An aspiring pop superstar with funk vibes on the rise, DeWolfe has a promising career ahead. -N.T.
It was cardio day for Gabe Barnett the day he filmed the video for “Easy.” A mainstay in northeast Minneapolis, Barnett runs through the neighborhood to the song’s booming nod to early Bruce Springsteen. The title track is the latest off Gabe Barnett & them Rounders’ EP. It’s a slick, aromatic song – sprightly, gentle and life-affirming. There’s a steady riff that opens the song and punctuates throughout. It’s as happy and carefree as you could hope for, and definitely a soundtrack for an early morning run. -Y.V.
When Eric Pasi isn’t busy fighting climate change, he also creates indie music under the moniker Palms Psalm. This first-generation Tongan-American writes Polynesian-inspired surf rock with hints of shoegaze and a voice uncannily similar to Meric Long of The Dodos. His full-time role is serving as the leader of IPO Solar, the largest commercial solar development company in the Midwest. Music and songwriting is used as an extension for his climate activism in hopes of energizing like-minded individuals to invest in a clean-energy future. Palms Psalm will release a new record as a part of The Great Northern Festival at Icehouse on January 27. - Diane
Formed in 2016 in Minneapolis, baroque-grunge/alternative band Lunch Duchess released their latest album How It Ends in August. Lead singer Katharine Seggerman provides unique, high-pitched vocals over the album’s lead single by the same name. “How It Ends” reflects on capitalism, politicians, and climate change and it was written right before the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. -N.T.
Genres, like fashion, make their rounds and circle back to revisit us. she’s green — composed of Zofia Smith, guitarists Liam Armstrong, and Gray Yoshida, bassist Teddy Nordvold, and drummer Kevin Seebeck — bring us back to the mid-’90s and the Mazzy Star shoegaze era. Their single “smile again” lives in the space between consciousness and deep slumber — like a particularly cozy dream. It enthralls with its rhythm and bewilders the listener by the sheer fuzziness of it all. The band will be supporting Filthy Kittens for their album release show at the 7th Street Entry on January 11, 2023. -Y.V.
Kelley Smith was raised in the Minnesota woods by musicians, yet not until she reached her 30s did she discover the solace of songwriting to ease her social anxieties. She’s an expressive finger-picking guitarist with a tender, raw, intimate singing voice that has been recognized by famed local troubadours like Dave Simonett of Trampled by Turtles. Her debut EP Moon Child constructively showcases these talents with tinged accompaniment of dobro, violin, harmonica, bells, banjo and more. Featured single “Dust” lyrically centers on grief, calling attention to detailed memories and feelings that arise in remembrance of a loved one she lost to cancer. - Diane