January 1 is just another day.
The idea of an annual fresh start is an illusion—everything that was achieved last year was built on the foundation of the year before. And so it will be for 2018. For many Twin Cities musicians working today, 2017 was a year of great progress. Not everyone may have ridden the rocket of success last year, but some local artists laid the groundwork that primed them for a prosperous New Year.
Here are 10 of those well-prepped musicians and bands, the acts most likely to set Minnesota on fire in 2018.
For fans of: Diet Cig, Car Seat Headrest
Bloomington’s Remo Drive melt crowds into a sweaty pulp, their energy pure ambrosia for teens. They etched their name in the hearts of a national audience with 2017’s Greatest Hits, earning an opening slot on Sorority Noise’s national tour this March and more or less skipping the whole “local band” phase as they went straight to the “1.1 million views on YouTube” stage of their career. With stats like that, we’re looking at the next Motion City Soundtrack.
For fans of: Melissa Nadler, Sharon Van Etten
Tendrils of black hair floating in a cold bath. Mascara running down a pale cheek. These are the images that singer-songwriter Scarlett Taylor conjures as she tests the membrane between despair and rapture. Taylor went deeper than ever on last summer’s III EP, pulling listeners into the well with her as she detailed her struggles with mental health, abuse, and loss in long, beautiful spindles of song. March’s Heaven Punk EP should plant Taylor squarely in the spotlight she’s deserved since her 2015 debut.
For fans of: Kacey Musgraves, Brandi Carlile
Yes, you can be a smoky grifter and still play ukulele. The 23-year-old singer-songwriter Lena Elizabeth proved as much on her 2017 debut, The Line. There are layers of coming-of-age angst and wonder underneath Elizabeth’s country stylings and you-done-me-wrong lyrics. The bluesy baritone-uke player evolved as a bandleader in 2017, shaping her sound with the help of bandmates Jeff Krause, Taylor Donskey, and Dan Staddon, and holding the stage like a musician with double the experience.
Lux & Longley
For fans of: Post Malone, Joey Bada$$
One is an energetic punchline rapper. The other sounds like Chali 2na trying his hand at trap rap. Minnesota rappers Lux & Longley operate on parallel but complementary frequencies, and when they trade verses they’re enthralling, whether they’re antagonistic and aggressive (“Watch How I Flex”) or charming and nostalgic (“All tha Time”). It’s been two years since their debut, In Loving Memory of Innocence, but after some time apart, Lux & Longley are reuniting for 2018’s End of the Earth, which should spell citywide success for the duo.
For fans of: The Exploited, early Black Flag
Tiffani sounds like what you’d hear if you plugged a ouija board into a blown-out subwoofer. Visceral, ravaged, and demonic, the band carved their name into the flesh of the underground last year with House on Fire or No House at All, nine sub-two-minute songs scorched with hellfire and social indignation. There’s a ceiling on how much a band like this can truly “pop,” but Tiffani’s primal magnetism may just awaken a sleeping discontent in the most unsuspecting souls. If you need a call to catharsis, there’s no better soundtrack to your drywall-smashing stress-relief session.
Symone Smash It
For fans of: Charli XCX, Marshmello
Symone Smash It isn’t sure if she’s a robot or an alien. An otherworldly presence, the Minneapolis EDM/rave rapper delivered an eye-opening powerpack with her 2017 debut EP, Symulation, and her commitment to pushing earthly boundaries may just pay off after successful residences at Can Can Wonderland and the Gay 90’s. Producer Eye Dyed is the thruster that drives Smash It into orbit. Can he recreate the intergalactic marvels he put together for Symulation? If his recent Deadmau5 and Alexx Mack remixes are any indication, Smash It should have a new palette of even more eccentric dance floor anthems to experiment with in 2018.
For fans of: Angel Olsen, Hop Along
With their collaborative “folk-ish” band Wetter, Melissa Jones (Tony Peachka) and Jordan Bleu (Cheap Fantasy, formerly Frankie Teardrop) exist in a plane neither has previously dared to explore. Their 2016 debut, People You May Know, was candid if a little raw, flooded with reverb and showing the struggles of a young band grappling with its identity. But the single “Truth Song,” released in December of that year, was a pristine piece of post-teenage dysphoria. If this band was able to grow so much in one year, their planned sophomore release should be a stunner.
For fans of: Mac Demarco, Tame Impala
Gentry David and Pete Krausert painted a rich, poetic portrait of Minneapolis/St. Paul with Paperilo’s EP series, Vol. I, Vol. II, and Vol. III. The project traced the pair’s coming-of-age experiences at locations such as Bde Maka Ska, Third Street, and Como Avenue, replaying the cigarette-filled nights of their youth—the kind that will remind you of the wayward days you yourself spent trying to figure out your heart. Producer Dan Mariska can make Paperilo sound as glossy as Matt & Kim or as despondent and delicate as the Postal Service. Here’s hoping that these two have further basement memories to turn into a full-length.
For fans of: Walk the Moon, Young the Giant
Skyhaven match the double-bass-driven underpinnings of a metalcore band with effervescent retro-pop hooks and over-modulated EDM production. It shouldn’t make sense, but the young band studied under Texas progressive metal band Polyphia, and they’ve grown immensely from the tutelage. On the 2017 EP Liftoff (which features Polyphia’s Timothy Henson and Scott LePage), Skyhaven matured from tap-happy instrumentalists to a band fully in command of their own sound.
For fans of: J. Cole, Ab-Soul
Like many Twin Cities hip-hop artists of the last decade, Sieed Brown has drawn plenty of influence from Atmosphere’s rap storytelling. But in the past year Brown has come into his own, finding his singing voice and transforming himself into a poignant, soulful observer of life. Brown can rap like Logic and sing like Anthony Hamilton, and with a new project in the works, 2018 is the year he shows the local scene how dangerous it is to sleep on someone with that skill set.