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Grayscale landscapes, dive bar glamour, and hip-hop blood feuds in this week’s Top 5 MN music videos

ATR the Sage, recreating his favorite 'Electric Company' sketch.

ATR the Sage, recreating his favorite 'Electric Company' sketch. YouTube

Sometimes you have to stop and ask yourself: Is it worth it?

February's frigid doldrums are upon us, and the temperature is low enough to make even the most resolute Minnesota lifer question whether or not they’ve made a terrible mistake. But these are necessary moments in the human experience. If you don’t ever find yourself at a precipice, peering over the edge and wondering the distance down, then you’re probably not doing anything worthwhile.

When music is your chosen career, you probably arrive at this moment more than once a year. You’re challenged by your bank account, parents, and society to change direction, get a 9 to 5, and (metaphorically) move to Florida. The reward in staying the course can be meager, but with every re-commitment, you drag yourself closer to your dream. Here are some dreamers from this week who’ve survived enough Februaries to make the list.

ATR the Sage—“Pray No More” (PREMIERE)

Minneapolis multi-talent ATR the Sage mostly works behind the scenes as a sound engineer and producer, but when handed the mic, ATR is one of the most distinctive MCs on the local scene. With an untamed flow, his raps feel dangerous and unpredictable, and his latest single, “Pray No More,” is a stream of solipsism and madness. Director Jake Handegard of Morningside Films fills the frame with anxious lights and skies of fire, bringing ATR’s gritty bars to life with frightening edits.

Zach Spirov—“Harbor”

Gentle, coo-at-the-fire country is all the rage right now, but no one in Minneapolis is doing it more intoxicatingly than Zach Spirov. The young singer released his debut EP, Bird Island, last year, but he’s still dropping singles to remind folks that they might’ve missed the resplendent charm they were looking for. On “Harbor,” video director Ben Kohler captures Spirov in his element, singing as he walks a dock at sundown. It’s almost like he’s delivering a second chance for you to get to know one of the Cities’ emergent talents.

Kiss the Tiger—“Starting to See You”

2017 Are You Local finalists Kiss the Tiger impressed the judges with their fluid harmonies and solid songwriting, and now the rock ’n’ roll five-piece is back to prove it wasn’t a flash in the pan. They dropped their sophomore EP, Elliot Park, back in November, and the progression of the band from their self-titled EP is made evident in new single “Starting to See You.” An instantly singalong popper with country and blues undertones, “Starting to See You” would fit in perfectly with the flannel rock crowd over at 89.3 the Current. DJs should take notice February 20 when the band opens the Entry for Terra Lightfoot.

Straya—“Leach”

It takes guts to put out an 11-minute lead single, but Minneapolis post-metal band Straya dared to announce their new LP, Sobereyed, with the towering, labyrinthine “Leach.” The song flows from intensity into insanity and all the way back to tranquility, tracing a manic journey to its ultimate peaceful end. Videographer Andrew Martin shot the video for “Leach” in Super 8, scanning it to digital. The effect is that Martin’s quaint shots of camping life take on a disquieting feel, like there’s an explosion of angst lurking in the normalcy. See Straya live on Friday at Mortimer’s for the release of Sobereyed.

SickDaPunchLiner—“Gummo (Remix)”

Brooklyn SoundCloud rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine has been disowned by much of the rap community since news of his 2015 guilty plea to “use of a child in a sexual performance” in 2015 were surfaced last year. Despite the heat, Tekashi was booked for a performance at Prive Nightclub during the Super Bowl lead-up, but a disagreement with the promoter saw the scummy upstart back out of his deal. A widely publicized dustup occurred, with a bunch of angry locals attacking Tekashi to let him know none of his bullshit is welcome in Minnesota.

Antagonistic St. Paul rapper SickDaPunchliner poured some gasoline on the embers of the confrontation this week when he dropped a remix of Tekashi’s hit song “Gummo” dissing the rainbow-haired rapper and claiming responsibility for the attack. It’s a graphic, old-school diss song, as Sick draws a line around the border of the Twin Cities and dares Tekashi to ever cross it again.

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