You’ve listened to and voted for your favorites out of the 126 entrants in Vita.mn's sixth annual Are You Local? best-new-band search. Now four finalists will compete for the crown at First Avenue & 7th Street Entry on March 6, joining Brother Ali, the Blind Shake and Tiny Deaths at our Are You Local? showcase. We’re sending the winning band to Austin, Texas to play the Vita.mn/First Avenue showcase during SXSW. Reacquaint yourselves with our four finalists; we'll get to know them a little better next week.
 

Baby Shel

Coming at you with guns blazing from Red Lake Reservation is Sheldon Cook Jr., northern Minnesota’s hottest new rapper. His “Killing Time” EP features his fiery verses dropped over some seriously cold beats. Offering two mixtapes that are rife with bones thrown to artists across the board – from DMX to Die Antwoord – this high-energy spitfire MC is entertaining and aggressive.

Sam Cassidy

A genuine, everyday guy with a unique brand of blue-collar rock that is irresistibly likable. He’s endearing and introspective and his debut full length, “Debt,” is littered with golden melodies that hit the spot. The buzzy rocker is slightly twangy, mostly Americana, and certainly charming. His pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps everyman’s music is supported by a “sprawling” live band and also earned him a slot as one of First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2014.

Moon & Pollution

This dreamy duo, consisting of drummer/producer Graham O’Brien and singer/songwriter Molly Dean, released their debut full-length “The Box Borealis” earlier this year. A departure of style for both involved, the record is 50 percent dream-pop and 50 percent shoegaze-y electro-pop. O’Brien’s drum rhythms and trip-hop beats roll out like fog, unfolding into a celestial bed of sound which Dean’s ethereal vocals sink nicely into. Their expansive record lyrically and sonically crafts a sleepy fantasy realm aesthetic that makes for quite a palatable package.

The Stress Of Her Regard

After indie-rock band Idle Hands crumbled, Irish brothers Ciaran and Criostoir and their drummer Eric Wilson emerged from the rubble, having shed their thriller-movie-informed moniker in favor of a new name, this time inspired by a poem and shared with a 1980s horror novel. Backed by a barrage of celebrated local producers, these resilient rockers return with a clean slate, offering a fresh EP of fuzzy rock music, polished and buffed to excellence. The trio’s debut full length is expected later this year.