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The Scouting Report

10 new songs from Minnesota musicians you need to hear now

MMYYKK performs with astralblak in The Current's studio in 2016. Photo by Nate Ryan | MPR.
MMYYKK performs with astralblak in The Current's studio in 2016. Photo by Nate Ryan | MPR.

by Staff

October 05, 2021

Welcome to The Scouting Report, a monthly list of 10 Minnesota artists with exciting new projects, as curated by our local music team. If you like these picks, check out The Local Show on Sundays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., hosted by Diane. For more music discovery from The Current, watch for Jeffrey Bissoy's The Come-Up, highlighting new local hip-hop and more. Also, each Thursday, The Current's music director Jade picks great new tracks from around the world.


The Current listeners know MMYYKK as a member of the local Afrofuturist group astralblak, but the Minneapolis musician (offstage name: Mychal Fisher) has also been releasing atmospheric solo music for several years. His new EP, Science, is on the respected London label Rhythm Section International — a fact that probably helped attract the attention of the Guardian, which calls MMYYKK the “new high priest” of neo-soul, comparing the sound to “D’Angelo being strapped to a spaceship.” - Jay Gabler

PaviElle French

“I’ve gotta be free, and I’m not waiting on none of y’all,” PaviElle French sings in “Code Switch.” This clear mission statement drives Sovereign, the brilliant new album from the Rondo-raised “pride of St. Paul.” Like many others, French saw her life turn upside down in 2020. On “Hard Truths,” she sings about a break-up, moving over a foreboding beat and skittery hi-hats. Elsewhere, she decries white supremacy and claims her freedom. “The things I’m saying on Sovereign are what I would have said if I was in politics,” French, who studied political science, said in a recent interview. “But this way I can say it, and it’s got a beautiful song behind it and it’s a little easier for people to hear and to understand that we need to move forward.” - Cecilia Johnson

DJ Abilities

DJ Abilities is a legendary name in hip-hop: he was part of the crew that put Minneapolis’s highly influential indie scene on the map in the early 2000s, when he collaborated with the late Micheal “Eyedea” Larsen as Eyedea & Abilities. Now, just over a decade after Eyedea’s 2010 death, DJ Abilities is releasing his debut solo album. Phonograph Phoenix, out Oct. 29 on Rhymesayers, is a true solo record, with no guest artists or samples: Abilities created the entire soundscape himself, he explained in a press release, “as a way to challenge myself as well as make it more 'me.'” - Jay Gabler

Muun Bato

Voted one of First Avenue’s “Best New Bands of 2019,” Muun Bato have literally and metaphorically journeyed upward. The band’s groovy new record, Paraphonic Vapors, seems to exist in outer space. Compositions include warbly synth, wah-wah guitar rhythms, and falsetto vocals at just the right tempo for an out-this-world trip. Listeners, if you don’t own a spaceship, just turn on a lava lamp or something. - Diane

Fanaka Nation

Fanaka Nation describes his sound as “culture rap,” and a look at any of his music videos will show the proof of concept. Blending together the sounds and instrumentation of various cultures with his vibrant, confident raps, Fanaka Nation has a truly global sound that is influenced by his African and Asian heritage. His music video for “Thamathang,” shot in Laos, shows him in markets, temples, and jungles all while rapping along to the bilingual lyrics. Other videos, like “Baba,” show him participating in traditional dances in Kenya. It’s hard not to feel happy when listening to Fanaka Nation’s music and feel inspired by his love of cultures from around the world. - Julian

Becky Kapell

America’s devout love for classic country lives on. There’s a certain romance and comfort in the way artists such as Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton write and sing about relationships and human nature. Local artist Becky Kapell certainly hits the right notes and essence with her song “Is Your Love Gone.” She’s been a performer for years, but it wasn’t till the age of 42 that she learned to play guitar. Kapell proves it’s never too late to start anything, as long as your heart is in the right place. - Diane

Carolyne Naomi

Carolyne Naomi is the Lagos-born Minnesotan behind Afropop/R&B jams “Japa” and “Bamijo (Dance With Me).” Her high, buttery voice leads us through tales of love lost and found, with R&B rhythms and bilingual lyrics. She is working on an EP called Guitar, Voice, and Soul. - Cecilia Johnson


If you don’t spend your time cramped in sweaty basements at house shows near the University of Minnesota campus, you’ve probably never heard of Killusonline. The band mixes subdued vocals with a range of disorienting instrumental beds. “end of the world,” their most recent single, sounds like it was recorded at a haunted factory, with a theremin-like synth hanging in the background of the track. “Any Means” hits your ears like a tornado. Killusonline demands that you experience them on their terms, with only three singles on Spotify at the moment and an artist bio that reads, “The most lit live show you’ve ever been to.” It’s just a matter of time before a bruise from a Killusonline mosh pit becomes a badge of honor in Minneapolis. - Julian

Landon Conrath

This one’s for my 19-year-old sister. Like her, this young drummer/guitarist attends Bethel University. Unlike her, he’ll headline the 7th St Entry on Oct. 15 with DNM and Alina Maira. His music is lightly catchy and looped, right for fans of Yam Haus, and his 2020 single “Acetone” caught fire on official Spotify playlists, sitting at nearly four million spins. - Cecilia Johnson

ill peach

Pat Morrissey and Jess Corazza started making music together in college, eventually writing pop songs for Weezer, SZA, and Pharrell Williams. Now making music under the moniker ill peach, they released a single with ties to Minnesota (where Morrissey is from and made music for a while). As the band tell it, "'GUM' is about two kids in a diner who go there to dream big. It was inspired by a real place in Minneapolis that we used to go to after all-ages shows called Hard Times Cafe ... We eventually talked about how life is like a piece of gum. Once it loses its flavor, you spit it out and hide it somewhere and pop in a new piece. The song reflects that. It's all about keeping perspective and remembering the two kids in the diner. Not letting the worn-out piece of gum define it all." - Jade

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.