10 Twin Cities music acts who deserve to be famous
Photo by Tony Nelson
In a digital age driven by social media, an artist can make a song and a name for themselves over the course of a single afternoon. With the assistance of some prominent shares and retweets, things can move quickly. With Picked to Click, Gimme Noise's ultimate aim is to give some well-earned attention to the local acts who seem to be on the verge of breaking out. But frequently -- as with any award given out for artistic pursuits -- plenty of musicians who deserve recognition don't quite crack our coveted top 10.
Here is a list of 10 bands and artists around the Twin Cities worth your attention who could make a big name for themselves in the local music scene and beyond.
Photo By Anthony Gilbert
10. K. Raydio & Psymun
After both of these local artists made waves separately, their recent work shows they are ready to take things to the next level as a collaborative duo. The vibrant combination of Psymun's fresh production and K. Raydio's smooth, resonant vocals forms a natural, potent mix. Their forthcoming full-length, LucidDreamingSkylines, is one of the most anticipated locally based on the stirring singles "Sirens" and "Jupiter," which are already receiving plenty of airplay in the Twin Cities. Some national love has already arrived too, including on the Questlove-affiliated high profile blog Okayplayer. If their LP delivers on the promise suggested by these evocative songs, 2014 is bound to be a breakout year for K. Raydio and Psymun.
9. Sun Gods to Gamma Rays
The atmospheric dream-pop act Sun Gods to Gamma Rays just released their exquisite debut EP, The Water, the Wave, earlier this month. (Prior to that, the sound evolved fluidly from the solo project of frontwoman Brianna Kocka, Caetani, into a pulsating quintet.) The collection has a stirring elegance to it, with plenty of space for the listener to be immersed and taken on Kocka's captivating lyrical journey. The EP's simmering, expansive title track perfectly captures the adventurous musical spirit and boundless talents of the band.
8. Hollow Boys
Hollow Boys are a moody garage-rock trio out of Minneapolis who released their terrific debut full-length, It's True, earlier this year, and they don't show any signs of slowing down. Ali Jaafar and company continue to write new material whenever inspiration strikes, while honing a stirring live show that continues to captivate local audiences. The bleak and brooding album was recorded in Jaafar's attic studio, where he regularly records and produces other local acts as well. And with songs as strong and vital as "Hater," "Blinding Light," and "Untrue," Hollow Boys have set a mercurial creative standard.
7. Dem Atlas
Dem Atlas has been building momentum and keeping heads nodding in the Twin Cities hip-hop scene for a while now. After releasing his dynamic, high-energy EP, Charlie Brwn, Dem Atlas recently partnered up with Guante and Rube for the blistering SIFU HOTMAN release. Dem Atlas's rapid-fire flow and expressive lyrical delivery capture the listener's rapt attention and keeps it held steady, and with his big move to heavyweight local rap label Rhymesayers, Dem Atlas appears ready to break out from coast to coast.
Gloss have been on a steady upswing for a while now, and for good reason. Since making their live debut last November, the quintet attracted plenty of well-deserved attention from all corners of the local music scene based on a small batch of breezy, irresistible garage-pop songs. The young group are finally set to release their debut EP on Forged Artifacts, Between Themselves, at the Triple Rock on November 23. Gloss's new material sounds as inspired and effervescent as their earlier singles, "Front Porch" and "Ian's Dream," and local lovers of jangly rock are in for a real treat.
5. Tickle Torture
Elliott Kozel's wild, uninhibited live shows often draw as much attention as his music. But make no mistake, Tickle Torture's songs are worthy of all the hype and attention that Kozel's bare-all performances frequently generate. Tickle Torture is the lewd and funky solo project of Kozel, who shifted his creative focus from Sleeping in the Aviary to a more untamed R&B sound, and the results are typically absorbing and enthralling. Tickle Torture has released a string of Prince-indebted ribald romps that have proven to get audiences gyrating nearly as hard as Kozel does on stage, and he's on the verge of capturing the fancy of a much larger audience.
Photo By Rachel Collier
4. Frankie Teardrop
The emphatic surf-punk of Frankie Teardrop is bristling with urgency and charm. On his self-released debut, Tough Guy, the riffs don't relent and his vocals add rough, chaotic heart. With bassist Jackson Woolsey and drummer Gunnar Kauth, Frankie Teardrop is an untamed mix of early Strokes, Wavves, and GBV. These hard-charging numbers -- from catchy sing-along "Greasy Motherfucker" to slacker jam "Pizza Lyfestyle" -- have darker elements as well, signified by Frankie drawing the band's name from a tragic Suicide song.
3. Some Pulp
The fuzzed-out garage-rock duo Some Pulp have gradually burst onto the scene with a self-titled cassette-only collection that -- as good as it is -- only hints at how great they are live. In fact, their other substantial release, in addition to two rousing singles, was a scorching live set recorded at Kitty Cat Klub a few months after their cassette was released. But one thing is made quite clear when you listen to Some Pulp and see them live. Graham Barton and Dane Hoppe are on to something that has both a modern and timeless appeal. They've hit on a special sound that effortlessly sweeps you away.
Photo By Erik Hess
2. Allan Kingdom
On a night that was essentially a spirited coming-out party for both GRRRL PRTY and Four Fists, the young MC Allan Kingdom damn near stole the show. Breaking out a slew of tracks from his vibrant recent release Talk to Strangers, Kingdom and his crew even overcame a laptop crashing in the middle of the performance and delivered a memorable set. Allan's buoyant stage presence and boundless lyrical talents can win over any crowd. His rhymes are imaginative as well as enlightened. The Twin Cities music scene has warmly embraced a series of local hip-hop stars who have gone on to break it big on a national and worldwide stage, and all signs point to Allan Kingdom being the next one.
Back at Heliotrope 9 in 2012, several bands caught my attention, but one group's sound stuck with me long after. The electro-clash trio CLAPS' pulsating, saturnine set left me spellbound. On the just-released EP Lies/White Lies, the group's four moody, synth-driven songs contain hints of the future while being firmly rooted in the past. The disconsolate isolation within CLAPS' music gives it an icy edge that sets their sound apart, and they've churned out terrific releases for the past three years. It's time to give CLAPS the recognition that their inventive material deserves.
50 cool facts about the Minnesota music scene
The 14 Twin Cities college bands you need to hear
Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: The complete list
Top 10 must-see Minnesota music videos this week
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.