Local music: Ben Kyle gets romantic about Minneapolis

The Romantica frontman wrote odes for his adopted hometown and the Turf Club on his first-ever solo album.


Ben Kyle's eponymous album

Last year, it was former Milwaukeean Mark Mallman who wrote a song named after his adopted hometown. This year, it's transplanted Irishman Ben Kyle who is issuing a love-letter tune called "Minneapolis," and true to the stereotypes of his native land, this one's a real gusher of poetry and emotion.

A centerpiece of Kyle's eponymous solo record -- which he is issuing with a release party Tuesday at the Cedar Cultural Center -- "Minneapolis" finds the Romantica frontman singing in his lush hushed voice, "Oh Minneapolis, I saw you and St. Paul kiss / Beneath the moonlight in a Mississippi mist / Never saw anything as beautiful as this."

The song is actually just one of two tracks on Kyle's first-ever solo collection that could be adopted as a local anthem. The other, "The Turf Club," has been a staple of Romantica's live sets for years and was originally recorded for the band's follow-up to its beloved 2007 disc "America," which has more or less been shelved. Kyle has been careful to say Romantica is still an active band, but he found himself gravitating toward this quieter, more intimate collection. His regular bandmates helped record it, as did pedal-steel ace Eric Heywood, violinist Jessy Greene and Texas alt-country starlet Carrie Rodriguez, with whom Kyle issued a successful duets EP last year. Rodriguez returns to town to open and sing with Kyle at Tuesday's party (7:30 p.m., $15, all ages).

Random mix

Mint Condition is striking the iron while it's hot -- again. Following up on their two Grammy nominations and opening dates with Prince, Jill Scott and Anthony Hamilton last year, the St. Paul R&B vets are dropping a new album Tuesday, "Music @ the Speed of Life." The first single, "Believe in Us," is climbing the playlists at R&B stations. Mint's members will climb the stage at First Ave for a release party Sept. 28. ... Prince, by the way, followed up the spoiled rumors of a St. Paul gig by announcing a "Welcome 2 Chicago" residency, which kicks off Sept. 24 at United Center. ...

Six years and three albums since playing First Ave's Best New Bands showcase, the refreshingly classic pop/rock quintet White Light Riot is calling its Sept. 15 gig at 7th Street Entry a farewell show. ... Just as they did with Sevendust in July, local hard-rockers 3 Pill Morning perform Tuesday at First Ave on a national tour, this time opening for Louisiana favorites 12 Stone. 3PM's new album, "Black Tie Love Affair," recently cracked Billboard's Next Big Sound chart. ... A second, all-ages show on Brother Ali's "Mourning in America" tour was added to the First Ave calendar for Oct. 5 ($15). The tour starts this weekend in California. Ali earned a gamut of strong reactions last week to the bloody, provocative video for the song of the same name. ...

While there's ongoing talk of their first album in five years coming down the pipeline, Happy Apple probably won't be playing any gigs anytime soon besides their two Saturday and Sunday at the Icehouse (11 p.m., $10). Modern Drummer cover boy Dave King is touring with the Bad Plus all fall, and saxophonist Michael Lewis continues to perform with Bon Iver and Andrew Bird. ... On Sunday the Icehouse will be taken over -- outside and indoors -- by the third annual Totally Gross National Product party, featuring Marijuana Deathsquads, Slapping Purses, Tender Meat, Plain Ole Bill, Votel and many more (5 p.m.-close, $10). The Deathsquads are releasing a new mixtape at the bash, "Tamper, Disable, Destroy." ...

Mark Mallman isn't the only one pulling a record-breaking stunt on tour this month: Seattle legends the Melvins are shooting for the Guinness World Records book by performing in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., in exactly 51 days. Their Minnesota stop -- obviously near the middle of the trek -- lands Sept. 19 at their old pal Tom Hazelmyer's place, Grumpy's Bar in downtown Minneapolis. I'm most impressed that they actually found a bar in Wyoming that would take them.

chrisr@startribune.com • 612-673-4658 • Twitter: @ChrisRstrib

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