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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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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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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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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Rap on a Stick? Soundset Headed to State Fairgrounds in 2016

Scott Heins
Atmosphere at Soundset 2015
We've heard of Grandmaster Flash ... but Grandstand Master Flash?

It started in the Metrodome parking lot in 2008, moved to Canterbury Park in Shakopee the following year, and now Soundset will call the Minnesota State Fairgrounds home in 2016. The announcement arrived Tuesday, just a day removed from the eighth annual run of the massive, Rhymesayers Entertainment-organized hip-hop festival.

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The 4onthefloor go 'All In' to Typify Minnesota Rock 'n' Roll

Sara Montour
The 4ontheFloor
One speed -- full speed. One way -- all the way.

This is the working philosophy behind the latest album from the 4onthefloor, possibly Minneapolis's last­-standing rock band. It's been six years since frontman Gabriel Douglas and his kick drum­-thumping foursome roared their way into the Minneapolis music scene, winning the title of Vita.mn's best new band in 2011. Since then, it's been a maelstrom of touring and recording -- 443 shows and five albums, the fifth of which, All In (out May 26), was designed to capture the blue­-collar rapture of happy hour in their home state.

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A Guide to Soundset 2015's Lesser-Known Acts

The top of Soundset's lineup is superb, but who's down at the bottom?

Atmosphere. J Cole. Ice Cube. Ludacris. To anyone with any sense, these names immediately pop off the page of the Soundset 2015 lineup, but the list does not stop after the marquee names.

Down where the font gets little resides a host of talented emcees, rap collectives, and DJs who make up the meat of the festival. They might not have the curb appeal of major-label radio stars like Big Sean or the local appeal of hometown heroes like Sean Anonymous, but these lesser-known roster slots are how you'll be filling your Sunday before the headliners take the stage.

Rather than have you waste your time wandering from stage to stage in hopes of stumbling upon a good time, Gimme Noise has decided to do the legwork for you. Here's the lowdown on Soundset's less-familiar faces.

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