Erik Koskinen's America Theatre is a translucent eulogy to the genuine. Musically sprouted from the blend of American folk, country, rock-n-roll, and blues, Koskinen and his top-shelf band realize a sound that is distinctive and fresh while familiar and classic. From the tender opener, 'First Time in Years' to the defiant 'Six Pack of Beer' to 'Boomtown,' a track that flays the history of the west's settlement from bedrock to fracking with a locomotive's force of barbwire guitars, marching bass and cracking drums, Koskinen moves the listener through a landscape of personal and social struggles, as well as small triumphs, of our nation and its people. Ending on the quiet heartbreaker and breath taker, 'Slow Burn,' Koskinen's album is a lyrical and musical metaphor of American's theaters of war, of history, of relationships, and of the reflections in the mirror. Knowing but not didactic, Koskinen channels the ways of Whitman and reverently enters the anthology of uniquely crafted wry songs with the likes of Woody Guthrie and Ry Cooder while speaking as plainly as your neighbor. Koskinen joins the ranks of chief musicians and sharp wordsmiths. Since moving to Minneapolis eight years ago, Koskinen has amassed a following as a musician, songwriter, producer and engineer. With experience stemming from years of traveling north to south and coast to coast, Koskinen taps those adventures and encounters in his second album, the follow-up to the acclaimed Keep It to Yourself.

Sounds like: The Defibulators, Quiet Hollers, Sinners & Saints


A singer/songwriter whose songs offer an updated version of the country-folk archetypes that Bob Dylan and John Prine made famous, Joe Pug was born and raised in Maryland, and began playing guitar when he was in grade school. Pug formed his first band on a dare from his sixth-grade science teacher, who didn't believe Pug and his friends would be able to pull something together in time to appear at a school dance. The boys were able to deliver a presentable version of a tune from the first Foo Fighters album, and Pug was on his way; before long he began writing songs, convinced at an early age that a real band should play its own original material. After graduating from high school, he traveled south to North Carolina to attend college. Pug was studying writing plays, but in time his growing passion for songwriting overwhelmed his interest in drama. Pug dropped out of school and relocated to Chicago, where he supported himself as a carpenter while he wrote songs and began working his way into the city's club circuit. He released his debut EP, Nation of Heat, on his own label in 2008. [Billboard]

Sounds like: Dead Sara, Black Map, The Glorious Sons


Rock band Little Man, who's fronted by Chris Perricelli, continues to be a strong live act and an amazingly diverse recording artist of the Twin Cities. From the mind of Chris Perricelli comes this lofty spiritual journey as heard and told through the music of Little Man. Like a small statured mythological being of which the band takes it's name, these songs act as catalyst to ones own personal journey. 'Who am I really?' 'What is enlightenment?' Investigating human emotions and attachments with many Zen inspired elements, Original Face will take you to the outskirts of infinity and back, and just then, you might see your true original face. Hear the Bolan-esque boogie and horns on The Builder. […] Orbital Amusement is a six song EP that sonically delights with sputnik sounds, layered vocals and fuzzy pitch-bending guitars. While reminiscent of classics (Led Zeppelin I, Flash Gordon-era Queen), more modern sounds like that of The Black Keys, Wolfmother and Smashing Pumpkins abound on this heavy, lustful yet astral collection released in May of 2011. With Of Mind and Matter (Eclectone Records) Little Man has combined the big hooks of classic Brit-Pop with something uniquely fresh. Recorded in an old hunting lodge in Chicago with producer Ed Tinley (Liz Phair, Ike Reilly), 'Of Mind and Matter' takes the listener into a world of wonder. Traces of Led Zeppelin, T.Rex, the Kinks and David Bowie can be found in songs like 'Don't Pray to Fantasy,' 'Talisman,' 'Get It To Ground' and 'Not Quite so High.' Drummer Dave Cottini joins the band for the recording of this album. Little Man's third album Soulful Automatic generated a great buzz in the Twin Cities. […] The band's name is taken from a character who appears in classic folklore. The little man of mythology often joins the Hero on his journey towards self-awareness when he is most needed. He provides wisdom and talisman and steers the Hero towards the correct path. This small-statured creature is one of the band's primary inspirations.

Sounds like: Faux Jean, Vicious Vicious, Dan Israel

SATURDAY: GIRL GERMS Live Tribute To Women in Music

Girl Germs = Sally + Dana, two music-loving writer gals who met at a lobster bar. Back in 2013, Sally interviewed Dana for an article about Girls Got Rhythm Fest. They hit it off; a few months later Stevie Nicks came to each of them in a dream and prophesied their true calling: to honor the lady musicians who have shaped their lives and careers. So they created Girl Germs (a shout-out to the name of a Bratmobile song/continuation of Dana's old podcast, which she originally started as a show on Radio K in 2010) and a series of tribute nights in Minneapolis devoted to influential female artists. Sally Hedberg is a freelance music writer living in uptown Minneapolis. Her childhood hobby was to steal her mom's cassette tape of 'Solitude Standing' by Suzanne Vega, lock herself in her room and dance for hours. Not much has changed. Dana Raidt is an editor and freelance music writer. By toddlerhood she was obsessed with Tina Turner, her first concert (during which she almost died from sheer joy) was Babes in Toyland, and now she's lucky enough to interview many of the female musicians she admires and to book events that give deserving women their due cred.

Special musical guests include: Nona Marie, Mina Moore, Bad Bad Hats, Suzie, and Bruise Violet.

SUNDAY: URANIUM CLUB in the Clown Lounge

Sometime in late 2013, former members of bizarro punk and hardcore Iowa City outfits Solid Attitude and NERV teamed up with local drumming journeyman Matt Stagner to form Uranium Club. Shortly thereafter, the band performed a series of barnstorming shows that sent the local DIY punk community into a frenzy of admiration. Uranium Club then released their Human Exploration demo tape in a limited run in 2014, further raising their profile despite an extremely limited web presence. The tape presented something simultaneously exhilarating and disturbing. Uranium Club's stabbing guitar and deadpan bass rage with the relentless intensity of early Wipers, but with far darker lyrical content than even Greg Sage could conjure. This is a group that feels no qualms about writing from the perspective of murderers and sexual deviants. Songs like 'Sunbelt' rattle off Mark Mothersbaugh-esque stream-of-consciousness rants ranging from the banal to the ominous, leading one to wonder what exactly happened in St. George, Utah. There's some evidence of a few tours, including unconfirmed reports of the mysterious group wowing audiences in Boston, and shakily taped footage from Duluth circa Halloween 2014. St. Louis punk label Lumpy Records released an early 2015 re-press of Human Exploration, which sold out almost immediately. […] These are the facts that we know, but the facts just raise more questions. Where did the band disappear to? What exactly is their relationship with Sunbelt Chemicals and Plantscape (both real businesses, says Google)? Also, who exactly is funding all this shiny new vinyl and touring equipment? If we had the answers, we might be able to explain what makes Uranium Club such a potent and dangerous live animal. Until then, the truth is out there — we'll just have to pray we can reach it in time. [City Pages]

Sounds like: Wavves, Surfer Blood, Best Coast

Blog by Gina Reis