Lady Midnight and Afrokeys will perform their new EP, “Parables of Neptune,” at Icehouse on Thursday, July 6 at 10 p.m. Submitted photo

Lady Midnight and Afrokeys will perform their new EP, “Parables of Neptune,” at Icehouse on Thursday, July 6 at 10 p.m. Submitted photo

Best Picks: June 29–July 12

Updated: June 28, 2017 - 3:46 pm

What to do downtown after work

Burning the midnight oil

Local hip-hop fans have likely heard the voice of Lady Midnight on songs by P.O.S. or Brother Ali, but now she’s preparing to walk into the limelight as a soloist with her own music.

Lady Midnight, the stage name of singer Adriana Rimpel, has been singing in the Twin Cities for the past seven years in groups like Afro-Cuban band Malamanya and, for a short, yet pivotal time, an electro-pop trio named VANDAAM.

Rimpel only spent one summer singing with VANDAAM, which back in 2013 had quickly made a name for itself locally thanks to its dancey production and experimental, cosmic vibes.

“I don’t think there was another group that sounded like us,” she said. “I think [VANDAAM] excited a lot of the hip-hop heads here in the Twin Cities.”

The otherworldly project ended as quickly as it started. What Rimpel took away from it, however, was the identity Lady Midnight, a “guide into the dark unknown,” she said. She found a direction in the name. As Rimpel sings on the group’s song “Adri’s Theme,” VANDAAM are your “cosmic relatives.”

“If VANDAAM were cosmic relatives, Lady Midnight is the cosmic healer,” she said. “A lot of the subject matter that I talk about, even though it can be danceable and you can sing along to it … the words that I’m singing come from places of past traumas and life lessons learned.”

She had also drawn interest from several key collaborators, from I Self Devine to Brother Ali. Over the past few years, Rimpel has appeared on “Faded” from P.O.S. and several songs on Brother Ali’s album “All the Beauty in this Whole Life,” among other songs.

“It’s been a journey. I’ve definitely had a journey in music here,” she said.

"Parables of Neptune" collaborators Lady Midnight and Afrokeys. Submitted photo
“Parables of Neptune” collaborators Lady Midnight and Afrokeys. Submitted photo

Now Rimpel has released a one-off EP with Erick Anderson, a musician and producer who goes by Afrokeys. The R&B-laced EP, dubbed “Parables of Neptune,” is easygoing, with six tracks led by Rimpel’s indulgent crooning that gently meander through topics like dysfunctional love and introspection.

On “Better,” a sort of breakup song, Rimpel channels smoother operators Sade and Erykah Badu in convincing herself and a lover to call it quits (“Just because I call you lover / doesn’t make you loving”). “Crazy,” a collaboration with rapper and singer Ibe, takes her back to hip-hop with a bouncy, keyboard-driven song about two people working through the natural dysfunction of relationships. “Smoke-A-Lot” sounds just like its characters — a little tipsy and high — with the natural weightlessness of Rimpel’s voice.

Turn on “Parables of Neptune” toward the end of a dinner party when your guests are feeling a tad sleepy from sipping wine or if you need some time for your own introspection, preferably in a bubble bath.

For readers, Rimpel recommends checking out “Ctrl,” the debut album from R&B singer-songwriter SZA (pronounced “sizzah”), who you may have heard on Rihanna’s latest album, “Anti.” She said not to miss Kadhja Bonet, a similarly young and up-and-coming psychedelic soul artist who released her debut album “The Visitor” last fall.

Lady Midnight and Afrokeys will take to Icehouse on Thursday, July 6 for an EP release show with Proper-T and DJ Keezy.

And be sure to follow Lady Midnight as she releases her own solo work, possibly later this year or early next year.

Let it roll

IMG_9356.JPGIf you’ve never stopped by Masu Sushi & Robata, perhaps now is the time. The sushi restaurant launched seven years ago with support from Tim McKee — one of the biggest stars in the local restaurant scene — and it has only evolved from there. You know those meals where you snack until you get full? Well, Masu’s happy hour is the best place for it. Start with the robata plates named for the Japanese-style charcoal grill such as the pork belly, charred broccoli and — my favorite — the bacon-wrapped quail eggs. Other great starters are the sesame green beans ($6), which beat most French fries any day, and the steamed buns ($2.5 each), which come packed with shrimp tempura or flavorful pork belly. Round out the snacking fest with a roll or two, like a basic salmon roll ($4.5) to taste Masu’s sustainably sourced fish, or something more adventurous, like the spicy dynamite roll ($8) with two kinds of tuna and chili sauce.

BIG MAN JAPAN webFor a drink, you can’t beat the $3 house sake, the popular Sho Chiku Bai, served cold. Masu also offers quite a few house cocktails, including three $6 gummi sours, which combine exotic fruit flavors like cherry blossom green tea with Japanese shochu. If you want the true Masu experience, ask for a Big Man Japan ($9). The restaurant’s drink menu staple is one gigantic can of Sapporo beer and a shot of ginger whiskey. If you’re lucky, “Big Man Japan” will be playing on the TVs above the bar.

Submitted photo
Submitted photo

A pit stop for beer

Before or after you check out the Twin Cities River Rats this summer, be sure to venture over to the city’s latest taproom from Pryes Brewing Co. The name might be familiar to IPA drinkers who have likely seen the brewery’s Miraculum IPA in local restaurants, but if that’s not your thing Pryes is finally branching out with new brews. You can find the 13,000-square-foot brewery in a nondescript building just north of the Plymouth Avenue Bridge on the river’s west bank. Inside, Pryes offers several new beers, including a bright, approachable blonde IPA and a fruity session IPA. If you’re looking to wash something down with that beer, Pryes has opted for a full kitchen instead of food trucks and has invited Red Wagon Pizza to be the first of its food partners. Much like Lakes & Legends Brewery’s indoor lawn game setup, Pryes has feather bowling, a Belgian game that is possible to play with a beer in your hand. With its unique food and taproom setup, it’s a win for both Northeasters and North Loop neighbors.