Minnesota Music Now

Local musicians you need to see and hear in 2018

Thomas Abban performing at the Turf Club.
Thomas Abban performing at Turf Club Feb. 22, 2018

photo by Darin Kamnetz

The internet turned music into just more “content” to scroll through and sample. The sheer amount out there is crippling—even with the #Minnesota filter. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Music Now calls out local musicians who have recent or brand-new projects available now (or very soon). We chose the best stuff—sonically, aesthetically, and topically.

Each of these artists forged a unique path on their way to this moment. Inside, learn more about the latest work from Thomas Abban (above), Dessa, Astralblak, Annie Mack, Lydia Liza, and Now, Now. Plus, an all-MN Playlist highlights even more new local music.

A portrait of Thomas Abban.

Thomas Abban

A portrait of Dessa.


A portrait of Annie Mack.

Annie Mack

A portrait of Lydia Liza.

Lydia Liza

A portrait of Astralblak.


A portrait of Now, Now.

Now, Now

MN Playlist

Brand-new and recent albums from our local stars

Polica & Stargaze's Music for the Long Emergency album cover.Poliça & Stargaze

Music for the Long Emergency

Minneapolis-based indie synth-pop act Poliça recorded its fourth album with Berlin experimental string troupe stargaze. The results expand the two groups’ regular electronic-acoustic live collaborations—featured in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music series—to a recording. A true merging of classical and pop styles finds vocalist Channy Leaneagh’s voice reaching new heights, song lengths stretching, and both acts showing a newfound urgency interpreting the politics of current times.

TOP TRACK: “Agree”

Jeremy Messersmith's Late Stage Capitalism album cover.Jeremy Messersmith

Late Stage Capitalism

Released in March, Messersmith’s fifth album is dripping with feel-good, retro-pop melodies. Stabs of harpsichord, horn arrangements, and harmonies enhance the glistening, lounge-y production. A closer listen, however, reveals sly and dark commentary on consumer culture, televangelism, and imminent space alien invasion.

TOP TRACK: “Purple Hearts”

Trampled by Turtles album cover.Trampled by Turtles

Life is Good on the Open Road

The first album from Duluth’s acoustic crew in four years is equal parts rollicking and reflective. In the album’s saddest moments, vocalist Dave Simonett delivers some career-defining performances that’ll put a lump in your throat. Overall, the band leans away naturally from past bluegrass glories, and deeper into the alt-country territory of Simonett’s Dead Man Winter side project.

TOP TRACK: “The Middle”

Dizzy Fae album cover.Dizzy Fae

Free Form

On her debut mixtape, the St. Paul-based rising R&B star linked up with creative local beatmakers for a futuristic collection. It’s slow and soulful in some spots, and funky enough to get your head nodding in others, but this former Lizzo tourmate is always pushing boundaries.

TOP TRACK: “Johnny Bravo”

Caitlyn Smith album cover.Caitlyn Smith


Raised in Cannon Falls, but now based in Nashville, sure-voiced Smith has written songs for Garth Brooks, Lady Antebellum, and more. Her new album finds a stunning balance between modern country and acoustic folk.

TOP TRACK: “Starfire”

Also Worth a Listen


Dusty Heart  

Dusty Heart

Folk-Americana brimming with sweet harmonies

TOP TRACK“Timbre and Trail”

Hippo Campus

Warm Glow EP

Rising indie-rock crew’s catchiest statement yet

TOP TRACK: “Baseball”

Kitten Forever


Garage-rock gem from local underground scenesters

TOP TRACK: “Hell Hole”


Hot single from hip-hop R&B star, album is TBD

TOP TRACK: “Fitness”

John Maus


Experimental synth-pop from southern MN native

TOP TRACK: “Episode”

Charlie Parr


Acclaimed Duluth blues and folk storyteller


Roma di Luna

We Were Made to Forgive

Indie-folk act’s return includes Roy Orbison cover

TOP TRACK: “Crying”


Dangerous Jumps

Side project of Twin Cities hip-hop crew Doomtree

TOP TRACK: “Cult 45”