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Local Frames: This week's 5 must-see Minnesota music videos

Mark Mallman getting silly with the trophy emoji.

Mark Mallman getting silly with the trophy emoji.

The idea of the music festival is tempting. Sunshine. Unfettered access to beer and music. Food trucks. Porta-potties. It's all very intoxicating.

Of course Minnesota has bought into the phenomenon wholesale. Starting with Soundset — consistently the North Star State's best fest — later this month and running straight through August, the parade of outdoor, multi-stage concerts won't end until the fall comes. But the problem is the music festival is built on a false promise.

Not to turn this intro into a Drew Ailes column, but music festivals are awful. Without fail, they're messy, lo-fi breeding grounds for exhaustion and dysentery. The worst way to enjoy music bar none. The best way? Packaged into a nice little video and brought to your browser to be viewed at your convenience.

Why bother with the mosquitos and puke piles? The sunburns and flash floods? Stay inside this summer and bask in the pall of your monitor. 

Mark Mallman — "It's Good to Be Alive"


Leave it to Mark Mallman — grandiose uber-rocker and bleeding edge technophile — to turn Snapchat's animated emoji filter into the fuel for his creative drive. For his video for "It's Good to Be Alive," the second single off his jaw-dropping, confessional The End Is Not the End, Mallman takes the pink-shirted lady emoji out for a pizza-filled good time, with plenty of Japanimated drinks and cigarettes to be had.

Mallman has made a trademark of incorporating new tech into his work, most recently hacking a brainwave monitor to make music while he sleeps and beaming his voice through a robot to give a remote performance. This time around, he's leveraged Snapchat's new features into a budget love story that's perfectly in line with the theatrical musician's musical history.

Plus, Mallman gets to play a keyboard solo in his freezer, something that he admits has always been a dream for him. See him perform a solo not in a freezer at the Turf Club on May 28.

Ahem — "Umbrella" (Live on Music and Friends)

Remember when we posited that the fellas from Frankie Teardrop would be back soon with new musical output? Well, it looks like that's come to fruition sooner than we'd thought. Ahem is a duo consisting of guitarist Erik Anderson and and drummer Alyse Emanuel. They've been working with Teardrop alumnus Jordan Bleu on a new recording, which the duo showcased on the running series Music and Friends.

Their song "Umbrella" is a bouncy punk groove that's right in line with Frankie Teardrop's legacy, though Emanuel's mellifluous shriek conjures immediate comparisons to Kitten Forever — an enjoyable, albeit unexpected, juxtaposition. Catch ahem at Reverie Cafe on June 3 opening for Monica Laplante. 

Gaines FM — "Negative Energy"

It seems like I have a new video from the self-titled "Worst Rapper in MPLS" Gaines FM in my inbox every week. The Crystal, Minnesota-based emcee made his Local Frames debut back in February, and I've been steadily resisting the urge to put his new stuff in every edition. This week, as he presents his visual for "Negative Energy," I have to relent. Gaines FM's chopped-up, hook-driven posi rap has to be heard.

I'd assume the whole "worst rapper" gimmick is a callout to the shade and backhandedness of the hip-hop community, and "Negative Energy" is more a track of perseverance than it is Gaines's submission to the petty shit. Gaines doesn't have any gigs in the hopper right now, but he pops up on bills featuring local big shots like DJ TIIIIIIIIIIP, Finding Novyon, and Why Khaliq. 


Rich Mattson & the Northstars — "Old Gene"

The animation for "Old Gene" by Rich Mattson & the Northstars might seem a little literal, but that's because the collaboration between the Duluth country-folk band and artist Brian Barber was placed together randomly without much time to pre-plan.

As part of the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival, the two were placed together at random. What resulted was a kooky, narrative-driven video that shows the titular Old Gene galumphing through his life of detachment and, ultimately, regret.

The song comes from Rich Mattson & Co.'s "timeless" self-titled release, which came out nearly a year ago and still calls back for a repeat listen. The twangy quintet will be playing Grumpy's NE for Art-A-Whirl on May 21.

Rich Mattson & The Northstars - "Old Gene" from Brian Barber on Vimeo.

Second Story — "When This Is Done"

Rochester, Minnesota's grunge-punk trio Second Story feels a bit like a nostalgia act. No condescension intended; it's actually really refreshing to see a band dredge up the greasy, industrial twitch of the MTV age without seeming like a pandering sideshow.

Their new video "When This Is Done" (directed by Erik Henrikson at Fast Eddie's Rock and Roll Salvage Yard) is literally filmed in a garage, with yellow, unflinching lights showing the band at their raw, gap-grinned zenith.

The song comes from Second Story's three-song burner EP, which was just released on March 16. At almost 3 and a half minutes of lo-fi punk wherewithal, packaged in a fittingly bygone aesthetic. The power trio currently have no shows announced on their site, but look for them lighting up stages in the Rochester area. 

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