Minneapolis-based singer Claire de Lune will take to First Avenue's 7th Street Entry on Saturday, July 29 with tiny deaths, her band with New York-based musician Grant Cutler. Submitted photo

Minneapolis-based singer Claire de Lune will take to First Avenue's 7th Street Entry on Saturday, July 29 with tiny deaths, her band with New York-based musician Grant Cutler. Submitted photo

Best Picks: July 13–26

What to do downtown after work

A dance with tiny deaths

Before her band tiny deaths, Claire de Lune didn’t so much navigate the Minneapolis music scene as she did fall into a series of happy accidents.

The singer, a native New Yorker and Southwest Minneapolis resident, put out a solo record years ago and made headlines with short-lived hip-hop group The Chalice (Lizzo, Sophia Eris). Performing R&B hooks was a costume she did for a job. It was fun, she said, but not her.

“It’s never where I saw myself making music. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” she said.

Then she met Grant Cutler, a Brooklyn-based musician and composer, and suddenly she had an opportunity to do something that felt more like her — something intentional, de Lune said — for the first time. The duo, dubbed tiny deaths after “petites morts,” a French expression for an orgasm, found quick success, releasing an EP, “Night Flowers,” last year and a debut album, “Elegies,” earlier this year.

“It’s as me as the food in my fridge and the clothes in my closet. It’s me and my life.

When you hear those songs, I’m letting you into the deepest, truest part of my soul, which nothing I’ve done is anything like that,” she said.

The difference with the vocalist’s earlier work is stark. Instead of rap beats, the band intertwines instrumentals, production and de Lune’s voice into an atmospheric dream pop and slow indie rock.

The lyrics are just as different. While you might expect an album called “Elegies” from a band named tiny deaths to be a little morbid, you’d be wrong. The release, de Lune said, is actually a breakup record, but not the one you’ve heard from Adele. As de Lune said, the eight songs on “Elegies” are “celebrating relationships in all of their flawed glory.”

“As a society, we’re really obsessed with forever and things lasting forever,” she said. “I wish we were less obsessed with how long things last and more obsessed with the quality of what was going on while it happened.”

41AoQHAQeXL._SS500The tracks explore the end of relationships with sincerity and understanding — even revelry. On “The Gardener,” de Lune flips the script, exploring the viewpoint of someone who’s broken a heart, complete with a catchy chorus (“Let me know if you change your mind / Let me know if you lose your mind”). On “Ever,” the duo celebrates a short-lived relationship doomed to fail, even as the lovers see their future laid before them (“We got in / a car as if to drive / but we let / it take us for a ride”). “Away” sees one lover giving everything they have to someone, losing themselves in another person.

While some may hear Purity Ring or Phantogram in this music, I might hear Sylvan Esso, School of Seven Bells or local singer Aby Wolf. Regardless of what you hear, tiny deaths and their debut album have unique, well-composed music that deserves a listen.

The band will play First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry on Saturday, July 29 with Teenage Moods, DJ Andrew Broder and Gay Henry, who, while not a musician per se, collages music, themes and characters into a live performance.

“I’ve been waiting opportunity to have a show where it made sense to bring him on to do his thing,” she said.

For tiny deaths fans, the duo has already recorded a second album that should be out sometime next year.

For readers, de Lune recommends checking out Invisible Boy, a project from Chris Bierden, a member of Poliça and touring member or recording artist with Har Mar Superstar, Bones and Beaker, and Vampire Hands.

Then there’s Web of Sunsets, a local acid-folk band comprised of Sara Bischoff, Chris Rose and Sarah Nienaber, which make music, de Lune said, that’s a “perfect soundtrack to listen to in the desert.” The trio put out their fourth album, the dreamy and melancholy “Chaos Waltz,” earlier this year.

Photo by Eric Best
Photo by Eric Best

In the grove

Nearly two years ago, when I heard that La Belle Vie was going to close, I snatched up a reservation to get in before it shuttered its doors. I had never been a regular at the lounge, but I made sure to stop in there too.

The reputation of La Belle Vie is hard to get by, so that’s why I’m glad to see Don Saunders going in a different direction with his newly opened 510 Lounge & Private Dining.

IMG_9498.JPGFirst of all, the décor is a step in the right direction. The lounge keeps so much of the restaurant’s elegance, but opens it up and adds color. There are monochromatic blue-gray walls, large windows and fresh art.

Secondly, the menu, while clearly not for those looking for a multi-course tasting menu, has interesting items at a variety of price points. Yes, if you want to spend $100 on caviar, there are options for you, but you could just as easily get a burger and a beer and leave for less than $30. Being a lounge, 510’s menu is decidedly bar snacks and small plates with categories like cheese and charcuterie. On the “alternative fare” menu are black rice croquettes ($9), which came out like simple fried dough ball, but quickly revealed earthy, creamy black rice.

IMG_9517 webThe lounge is Saunders’ first opportunity to play with a full bar, and he’s opted to master the classics with 510. For $12, diners can get a French 75 or Manhattan, or they can go for one of the rotating house cocktails. One of these unique creations, the refreshing Parasoll, balances rose-hued Peychaud’s Bitters on top of aquavit and grapefruit.

The Loring Park bar is a quick post-work trip from a downtown office or, if you’re checking out the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, just a short walk from the Walker Art Center.

Bring the glam

The women at Glam Dolls Donuts are throwing their own variety show at First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry and inviting a lineup of bands to the stage just as unique as their donuts. The July 23 show, the first ever show of its kind from everybody’s favorite donut shop, will see performances from garage punk and alternative rock band Pierre (Alex Dunn, Lucas Margulies, Kevan Larson), neo-emo band Gully Boys and Smooth, among others. If you’re a Glam Doll regular, you don’t have to go far to buy a ticket. Both the Eat Street and Northeast Minneapolis locations have them available.