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Minnesota history, arcade ragers, and chicken nugget dinners in this week’s Top 5 MN music videos

A clip from Brandon Pulphus's 'Gin & Tonic.'

A clip from Brandon Pulphus's 'Gin & Tonic.' YouTube

So much for those release shows.

Local musicians rely heavily on those shows to get the momentum for their new releases rolling, and with COVID-19 shutting down the clubs, they’re all missing out on that experience. Some, like New Primals last week, have resorted to streaming their shows, but nothing beats having a full room and entertaining the crowd so much they just have to go home with your music.

You can help replace some of the revenue that release shows would bring in online. Artists need an audience, though. If you can’t steal some time away to sign into their IGTV streams, give their new videos a watch. 

Chris Castino – “Chinese Whispers” (PREMIERE)

Chris Castino is no stranger to highways. The Big Wu frontman has seen all of Minnesota in his career, and now he’s immortalized those journeys in his first solo album, Brazil. Vast and sincere, the record is suffused with the experience of the road. The video for lead single “Chinese Whispers” is stitched together from memories, a tableau of home movies that functions as a microcosm of the record. Brazil was released on March 13, so you can play it with your eyes closed from inside your lockdown, imagining the big state unfolding in the windshield before you.

Brandon Pulphus – “Gin & Tonic”

Brandon Pulphus is ready to turn up, but before he gets too far, he needs his signature drink. Once he gets the gin and tonic in his system, Pulphus brings the party wherever he goes. Director Slate Mk. 2 follows the effusive Minneapolis rapper as he stirs up parties at Can Can Wonderland and First Ave, making his way through the Twin Cities, mixing up the two key ingredients that keep him going. 

OKnice – “John Wick”

Rap videos can be super clichéd, and OKnice isn’t afraid to spoof the genre’s rote conventions. “John Wick” opens with a phone call between the Minneapolis rapper and director Breaks x Lakes in which the two parties conspire for a slick mafia-themed visual. But then the budget becomes a factor, and they gotta work with what they can afford. Which means OKnice raps his gravelly verse while eating chicken nuggets off a silver platter. Still pretty tight.

Prairie Clamor – “62 Blue”

The hyperlocal “Old Town Road” cover “Ayd Mill Road” was just the beginning for Prairie Clamor. Arty pop auteur Will Bjorndal is back with a tribute to the frustration and ennui of driving down MN-62. “62 Blue” was shot and directed by Bjorndal’s bandmate and brother Peter, who captures the everyday banality of St. Paul life through his fisheye lens. But just when you think it’s too boring to stand, you see the brothers extreme ice skating or a plume of liquid color spills across the scene, perfectly timed with a guitar solo, and you keep digging in. Prairie Clamor’s new record, Spilling Light, is out on March 27.

The Prizefighters – “The Prizefighter Beat” (lyric video)

“The Prizefighter Beat” has a strange history. Since 2006, the Prizefighters’ refusal to play their signature song has become something of an inside joke amongst the ska band’s fans. But when one of those fans came down with ovarian cancer, they decided to honor the repeated requests to play it, and then some. They finished up the track, tightened the lyrics and song structure, and recruited Jordan Porter to make a lyric video. They also released the song as a downloadable single, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Sladjana M. Crosley Fund for GCT Research, which supports the eradication of ovarian cancer.

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