MNMO's Guide to Great New Music

(Left to right: Chris Koza, Peter Sieve, Linna Mohn, Luke Anderson,
Paul Engels, Joey Kantor—typically plays keyboards)

Rogue Valley

New album: Rogue Valley: Seasons (November 24)

Chris Koza has a problem. Actually, it’s our problem: Koza can’t stop writing killer hooks and we’re, well, hooked. In 2010 and early 2011, he and his band recorded songs for each season: four albums—nearly 50 songs—of shimmering, melodic pop. Helpfully, Koza and his crew have narrowed the tunes to 10, and, in a nod to the new vinyl vanguard, are releasing them this month on a single LP. They’ll celebrate this “greatest hits” collection on November 24 at the Cedar Cultural Center, no doubt with some new songs thrown in.

(Nona Marie Invie)

Dark Dark Dark

New album: Who Needs Who (October 2)

These guys long ago blurred the line between life and art, rafting down the Mississippi and Hudson rivers as a kind of floating hootenanny. But the art-museum darlings took a hiatus to heal last year after singers Nona Marie Invie and Marshall LaCount ended their romantic relationship. When the quintet reunited in New Orleans, where LaCount now lives, the emotions poured into their third album, a reflective and refreshing dose of cutting-edge pop. Driven by bass and drums, grounded in folk music, it’s a darkly beautiful template for the genre-less future of intelligent pop.

(Left to right: Shawn Connelly, Charlie Van Stee,  Josh Kaplan, Lance Conrad)

Van Stee

New album: We Are (In early 2013)

They’re the most buzzed-about band in town and have yet to put out an album, a testament to their savvy, perfectionism, and unusual background (guitarist Lance Conrad is a high-profile producer; drummer Josh Kaplan performs improv at HUGE Theater). Their first single, a cool slice of progressive pop bristling with synthesized studio wizardry, got lots of play this summer on MPR’s 89.3 The Current. This month, they’ll release a new single, launch a Kickstarter campaign to help fund recording, and promote their psychedelic take on “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” for the latest compilation of local Beatles covers. That should tide you over.

Sound Check

8 highly anticipated releases (and what we know about them):

Bad Plus, Made Possible: September 25; Minnesota Beatle Project Vol. 4: December; Jeremy Messersmith: early 2013; Lucy Michelle (solo album): February 2013; Howler: March 2013; Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps: spring 2013; Pert Near Sandstone: recording this winter, new album in mid-2013; Haley Bonar: single out this fall, new album in spring