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Christmas cheer, mermaid songs, and nightclub ennui in this week’s Top 5 MN music videos

Ka Lia Universe

Ka Lia Universe YouTube

Historically speaking, I’m not much for Christmas.

But there’s something about music that shakes loose your cynicism and puts you totally, hopelessly in the spirit. Corny as it may be, we’re all susceptible to the charms of a well-timed and well-delivered Christmas tune. We’re only human, damn it.

There’s only one more edition of Local Frames left in 2019, and that’s next week, Christmas Eve. Let’s light up that lineup with celebrations of all winter festivities—not just Christmas carols but Hanukkah bops, Kwanzaa jams, pagan sea shanties, whatever. Let’s send this column out on a jubilant note. I’ll start the festivities… now.

Luke Spehar – “O Holy Night” (PREMIERE)

Here Luke Spehar comes a-caroling. The Chisago City singer-songwriter is getting into the Christmas spirit a week early with the debut of his heartfelt video for “O Holy Night.” Spehar makes his booth at the Library Recording Studio in Minneapolis feel like a nativity scene in the video, singing with a deep holiday reverence. It’s enough to melt the heart of even the iciest Scrooge. If this teaser isn’t enough, join Spehar tonight in Columbia Heights, tomorrow in Cedar Lake, or Thursday in Brainerd his fifth annual string of Christmas shows.

Ka Lia Universe – “By the Shore” (PREMIERE)

Last month in Local Frames, we introduced you to Ka Lia Universe, and the Hmong-American R&B singer has been hustling ever since. She’s dropping new songs constantly, including this banger with battle rapper Chin Chilla, but “By the Shore” shows a totally new style for Ka Lia. It’s more mermaid than mercenary, replete with romantic harmonies and classical piano. Houa Vang’s beautiful shoreline cinematography paints her right into the landscape, and the song feels as though it’s divined directly from nature.

The Trappistines – “Concrete Shoes”

Electro-pop group the Trappistines released their first EP in October. Titled Test Patterns, the collection opens with a burst of danceable ennui in form of “Concrete Shows,” and the band chose that song as their debut music video, enlisting Jules Ameel and Tony Libera to bring it to life. If you’ve ever felt all alone in the middle of a party or dance club, the song and video will immediately resonate with you, as singer Corey Lawson tries to will himself into a dance.

Malik Augustus – “Help Yourself”

With this new video, rapper Malik Augustus celebrates the success of 2019 and hints towards big things in 2020. “Help Yourself” is the final single from October EP Turbulent, putting a positive stamp on that release’s promotional cycle. Director Henry Klaverkamp takes Augustus up to the Guthrie Theater and frames him overlooking the city like a determined hip-hop sentinel. Look out for singles from Augustus’ next LP as soon as 2020 kicks off. 

The Von Tramps – “New Year’s Day”

If you thought Luke Spehar was jumping the gun on the holidays, the Von Tramps finish out this edition of Local Frames with “New Year’s Day,” their anxious anthem for 2020. Shot at Palmer’s Bar and directed by Taylor Olson, the video is an all-too-familiar scene for anyone who’s been alone when the ball drops. Without anyone to smooch as the clock strikes midnight, singer Jenna Enemy builds up the courage to finally say what she should’ve said in the year that just passed. Perhaps they’re so excited for the New Year because they’re playing the Turf Club with Mark Mallman on February 28?

Dream of seeing your video appear in Local Frames? Email writer Jerard Fagerberg at [email protected]