Best New Minnesota Songs from January 2023

Each month, we’re rounding up the latest local music that’s been on repeat. Follow our Spotify playlist to keep up with new music releases from Minnesota. 

“People” by Libianca

Libianca’s Afrobeat gem “People” has been blowing up on streaming services and TikTok, going so far as the top five of the U.S. Billboard Afrobeats chart (and reportedly becoming the first Cameroonian artist to do so). It’s no surprise it’s resonated with people, it’s an exercise in the clear-eyes that come with sobriety, punctuated throughout by the former Voice contestant’s plea for change in the chorus, suitable for this #DryJanuary: “I’ve been drinking more alcohol in the past five days, did you check on me?”

“Leap Year” by Landon Conrath 

Landon Conrath writes music that makes you want to get up and dance or roll down your car windows on a late summer night and sing along at the top of your lungs. “Leap Year” is the anchor song off his latest album Nothing Matters Anyways and showcases Conrath’s talent for writing hooks as catchy as anything Justin Bieber can pen. The track has a way of weedling its way into your ear, via your heart, and making a home there. 

“BIKE NO MORE” by Brotherkenzie

Dense and feral, “BIKE NO MORE” finds Nathan Stocker of Hippo Campus repeating the words Wait, maybe you shouldn’t leave / I’ve been listening to you scream at me / I just want you to stay / Don’t you think I know you best / When you’re fast asleep on my chest? / I’ve still got so much to say over and over above a melody that evokes the clammy panic of a turbulent night’s sleep. Brotherkenzie is Stocker’s cynical response to being stuck in the music industry, and the album is full of gently aggressive music that will poke you in the eye and ruffle your hair. It narrates a kind of happy hopelessness, with an underlying sense of soothing anxiety.

“So Beautiful and Difficult” by Justin Pierre

Something must be in the water with lead singers taking a creative break to release solo work that speaks to them creatively in different aspects. Instead of releasing a traditional album, Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack released four EPs that have him narrating the story to a young daughter of how he met and fell in love with her mother. The albums are part true story and part reverie, and Pierre has a way of weaving them all together in a spectacular fashion. “So Beautiful and Difficult” is so simple and delicate that you listen to it with bated breath to make sure the ending turns out okay. He also reminds us to find the beauty along the way as we rush through our stories. 

“Four Werewolves Forever Ago” by Heiruspecs

Pretty Random But What Happened to Heiruspecs? is not just the name of Heiruspecs latest album, it also raises the question we’ve been asking the last eight years since the band released new music. According to their latest single “Four Werewolves Forever Ago,” it’s been worth the wait. It opens with a fabulously air-punching beat, and leads into a brilliant melody covering the aspects of living a full life, leading you to find that the group is without pretense but are also full of humor and sincerity. 

“RUNNITUP” by Zora

Fierce and intense, Zora’s songs are without hype, faux-emotional depth, or forced cool. It’s like that person holding court at a house party; they aren’t worried about being part of the cool crowd, they are the cool crowd. Zora’s tracks are simple, good, and pure fun. The tracks stem from someone who knows their way around a song and how to craft them effortlessly. They have also been gaining a lot of national traction, so catch them before they become the next Lizzo and find themself too big to be contained to Minnesota.

“Frances Earnestine” by Taylor James Donskey

Taylor James Donskey, the local bassist turned frontman, came out with “Frances Earnestine” at the tail-end of 2022, premiering the song at the 331 Club. The song is an energetic, soulful and semi-humorous approach to beatnik culture. Donskey’s first album Paper Over It came out in 2020 and gives Bon Iver energy plus banjo. His newest release is a little more upbeat and sets a promising tone for whatever Donskey puts out in 2023.

“Lock & Key” by Ehn Jey

Over a throbbing house beat, the R&B artist Ehn Jey throws a warning shot at his lover with his trademark silky vocals: “Don’t go losing my love.” It helps set the tone for his latest album Needs & Non-Negotiables, which finds empowerment in declaring what you need to prioritize in a relationship.

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