Owl City - MN's Biggest Contemporary Pop Star - Debuts Club-Ready New Song

Hip artists like Lizzo, Poliça, and Hippo Campus get all the local love, but Owl City - that unlikely synth-pop megastar from Owatonna - remains Minnesota's biggest Top 40 export since ... dear god ... Semisonic? Did the Minnesota pop recession really span from 1998, the year Semisonic dropped "Closing Time," to 2009, when Owl City released "Fireflies"? ("Too Close" by Next arrived in 1997.) Readers: Get at me if that's not the case, but it's certainly looking to be.

See also:
Owl City's Reclusive Adam Young Opens Up

Anyway, the real-life Adam Young struck pop gold again in 2012 with the Carly Rae Jepsen-featuring single "Good Time," a song that's on par with "Everything Is Awesome" from The Lego Movie in terms of sociopolitical heft. And yesterday Owl City premiered "Verge," the lead single from his forthcoming fifth album, Mobile Orchestra, due July 10. The song (and especially the video, posted below) channels Vitamin C vibes in that it goes hard after sentimental grads. Dads, the other reason for the season, probably won't relate to the tune, which features guest vocals from R&B star Aloe Blacc.

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In Defence: This is Our Best Record - Period

Categories: Album Release

Adam DeGross
In Defence

Minneapolis crossover thrash-metal band In Defence tends to tour more often than release records, so tonight's Don't Fuck with the Dungeon Master release show at the Triple Rock is one you don't want to miss. In advance of their triumphant Minneapolis return, we sat down to get to know guitarist Jimmy Claypool and discuss band business.

"This is definitely the best In Defence record, period," Claypool says. He's referring to the current lineup's top-notch musicianship and the production quality of the record, which was mixed and produced by their friend Joel Grinds of Toxic Holocaust. "He has an ear for thrash and did a killer job on it," Claypool says of Grinds' work on the album.

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Listen to Allan Kingdom Freestyle

Categories: Local Music

Erik Hess
Allan Kingdom at First Ave in 2014
St. Paul-based rap phenom Allan Kingdom premiered a freestyle track entitled "Mandela" yesterday on the popular DJBooth Freestyle Series.

"Mandela," which is produced by Charlie Hurt and Critical, is the 56th entry in the recently relaunched internet rap series that has featured a wide array of emerging MCs, ranging from hip-hop's current patron saint Kendrick Lamar to pop-rap stalwart Wiz Khalifa. Dedicated to his "ancestors and descendants," "Mandela" showcases Kingdom's meticulous rhyme scheme and heady lyricism. You can listen to the freestyle here.

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New TV Show Gives Local Musicians 24 Hours to Write and Record a Hit

Categories: Local Music

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Contestants may use guitars, similar to this one belonging to Caroline Smith, on American Studio
Are extreme pressure and regional TV audiences the secret ingredients to great songwriting? We're about to find out.

The Rolling Stones, who will rock TCF Bank Stadium next week, took almost three years to record Exile on Main St. Reality TV show American Studio, which premieres May 30 at midnight, will be considerably less generous with local musicians' time.

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5 Ways Sisqó Will Impact Minnesota

Categories: Funny (Ha Ha)

Sisqó in the "Thong Song" video

As we reported yesterday, former Dru Hill standout and "Thong Song" singer Sisqó currently resides in Maple Grove, MN. (Semi-related: The New York Times ran a story yesterday about the death of the thong; there are feminist implications.) The silver-headed, early-2000s icon's newfound Minnesota residence delighted our fair state's residents, undoubtedly conjuring memories of slow-dancing to the Rush Hour soundtrack and holding hands at opening-weekend screenings of Get Over It.

But now that we know the 36-year-old singer feels at home in Minnesota, how will the rising levels of Sisqósity change things here? We sought out leading Sisqólogists to assemble a list of five ways Sisqó's presence will impact Minnesota.

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C'est la Lineup: 2015 Bastille Day Block Party Music Acts

Scott Heins
Suzie at the 2015 Memory Lanes Block Party
As summer draws near, thoughts inevitably turn to sunshine, cookouts, and the bloody 1789 flashpoint of the French Revolution. No? OK, well you might think of block parties, at least one of which -- Barbette's annual Bastille Day Block Party, going down July 12 in Uptown -- is rooted in uprisings and guillotines ... but much better known for free live music and street entertainment.

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HHRRIISSTT Hope to Come Off 'Really Angry and Very Scary'

HHRRIISSTT is punk rock gone wrong in all the right ways. The recently born fivesome completed a blistering eight-song set earlier this month at the Triple Rock Social Club, and afterward we're standing in a circle behind the club enjoying some post-show cigarettes underneath a threatening sky.

Vocalist Jacob Laqua seems relatively calm now after spilling his guts all over the stage, but the confrontational energy of his live performance still hangs in the air. At times he stood with his back to the audience, then -- without warning -- he'd spin around and approach crowd members individually, screaming menacingly into the mic and directly into their faces.

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Honky-Tonk Fest Returning to Grumpy's Northeast

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Erik Hess
The Cactus Blossoms at First Avenue in 2014
Dust off your cowboy hat and put on your drinking boots: Honky-Tonk Fest, the annual rootin'/tootin' benefit for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, will swing back into Grumpy's Northeast on June 27.

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Carbon Handshake Grow Up on New EP

Categories: Album Release
Photo by Kassidy Renee Paige
Like coming out of a dream, leaving your teenage years behind to embrace adulthood changes you gradually at first until one day you are suddenly a grownup. On their latest album, Carbon Handshake have assembled their growing pains into a tight little EP titled Pulp Life. The record is a comforting leap into the past and hovers in a newly defined spot between indie-rock with a splash of sing-along pop.

Before their album release on Wednesday night at the Triple Rock, the band shared with Gimme Noise the social stigmas of being in a band and what it's like to have a "quarter-life crisis."

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Babes in Toyland to Follow Rock the Garden with U.S. Tour

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photo by Robin Laananen

Babes in Toyland, currently on their first European tour of the new millennium, have announced a series of U.S. and Canadian tour dates at the end of the summer. After their local appearance at Rock the Garden on June 21, the reunited Minnesota grunge-punk trio will hit the road in all directions, stopping in St. Louis, Vancouver, New York, and Covington, Ky., along with several others.

See also:
Babes in Toyland Bassist Maureen Herman on Addiction, Recovery, and Reunions (VIDEO)

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