The 16 semifinalists in the 2017 Are You Local? contest is arguably the strongest batch in the best-new-band search’s eight-year history.
They’re not all “bands”; there are also solo rappers and singers. Collectively, these 16 artists represent the promising future of Minnesota music — the one thing they all have in common is obvious talent.
Now it’s time for the public to vote. Now through Jan. 26, you — yes, you! — have the opportunity to help determine the finalists who will perform at the Are You Local? showcase on Feb. 6 at the Turf Club. In addtion to winning $2,000, the top band that night will play our First Avenue concert on Feb. 17 with the Suburbs, Gramma’s Boyfriend and DJ Shannon Blowtorch.
Head here to rate each song on a scale of 1 to 10, as often as once per day.
Below, get to know more about each act and their song submission.
Released just two weeks ago, this is a huge-sounding pop-rocker. American Housewife is the duo of Maureen Rudd and Stephanie Paquin, but an additional pair of musicians helped make this song happen, with Faith Boblett contributing backing vocals and JT Bates on drums.
One of the more unique semifinalists, Ayvah is not easily categorized; they have elements of jazz, funk, soul and more. “Lay Down” is proof that whatever it is, it works.
The Pledge Empire Records rapper’s deep voice is an immediate attention-grabber, and in addition to his lyrics being on point, the beat is a thing of pure beauty.
This rootsy rocker from the Minneapolis five-piece is a standout from their 2016 album, “Wasted Youth.”
While many of Finding Novyon’s best-known songs are memorable for their choruses, this one’s a little more balanced and intricate. It features nerd rapper Asher Roth, who, despite his best efforts, will always be known as the guy who made “I Love College.”
A standout from the synth-pop band’s “Cellar Door” LP, “Nightcrawler” is gorgeously layered and reminiscent of the dreamier music of the great band Chromatics.
This song’s expansive production makes it easy to classify as “alt-R&B,” but Jordan’s singing here is fantastic, straight up.
This one’s a rocker that’s fiery and catchy in equal measure, with strong vocal hooks and guitar. Kiss the Tiger may not have the biggest following yet, but “Be Tonight” is a clear indicator that a breakthrough is imminent.
A tidy encapsulation of the band’s penchant for atmospheric psych-rock. It’s from their debut EP, “Grigio.”
MMYYKK (“Mike”) might be best known for his membership in Zuluu Zuluu, the ascendant Minneapolis-based band whose “What’s the Price?” LP placed no. 1 in last year’s Twin Cities Critics Tally. This year should find him growing as a solo artist, and as displayed by the shimmering and futuristic “Love (In Legato),” he deserves the praise.
From the classic rock-influenced Minneapolis band’s live album “Young Moon Rising: Live,” this stomper has some Led Zeppelin in its DNA. Porno Wolves were also AYL? semifinalists in 2106 — the only band ever to place in consecutive years.
The most thrashing (and yoga-dissing) of these 16 songs. There’s some Ramones-style punchiness here, too.
The best thing about Seaberg’s “I Don’t Know” is probably Taylor Seaberg’s inventive and expressive singing. Her band’s overall chemistry is palpable in the instrumentation.
A gorgeous dose of indie-rock comparable to bands like Brooklyn’s Woods and Chicago’s Whitney. Recently named one of First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2016.
From the debut album by these rockers led by ex-Plastic Constellations’ Jeff Allen, “From the Mouths of Major Babes” (hilarious title) is highlighted by Allen’s lyrical specificity, and the production is fantastic.
Featuring Madison, Wis., rapper Ra’Shaun, “Makeda” is a rap song that feels refreshingly and genuinely complimentary of women in general.