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Underground Update: Keep for Cheap is back on the scene

As they finish up work on their album and gear up to start performing live again, St. Paul five-piece Keep for Cheap expands on their prairie-folk sound.
Local band Keep for Cheap writes and performs indie folk and prairie rock in the Twin Cities. Photos courtesy of Bethunni Schreiner.

Whether you’re headed out for a road trip, going for your daily frolic in the local field, sneaking out at night for some moonlit cow tipping or anything in between, it’s time to consider adding Keep for Cheap to your rotation.

St. Paul-based prairie-rock band Keep for Cheap has spent the past several years stealing hearts and weaving gold with their one-of-a-kind sound. Charming and touching, proficient and powerful, the group’s soaring instrumentals and gorgeous harmonies combine to create songs that are honey for the ears. From their debut 2019 EP, to their latest single released just last week, the KFC discography will keep you coming back demanding more.

Their latest single “Losing,” released June 17 is the B-side followup to the bands formative track “Forgive Me,” released way back in November of 2020. Bassist, vocalist and occasional guitarist Kate Malanaphy shared the band’s love for the two singles, as it reminds them of the pre-pandemic era in the band, when they were performing in person and garnering attention from the Twin Cities music community.

“I feel like they’re both very sentimental just because we started to perform them just a few months before COVID-19 hit,” Malanaphy said. “They kind of represent this era in the band where things were really ramping up and we had a lot of fun. An era of our sound where we really started to lean into rock, country, and a little bit of pop influence.”

On top of this new single, the group is also putting the finishing touches on their debut album which is currently in the mixing phase. Though there is no title or official release date at this time, the project is intended for the fall of 2021 with one or two singles off of the album expected to drop this summer.

While the new album will continue to feature much of the flowery and country-inspired Keep for Cheap sound that we’ve become familiar with, the group claims to be shifting toward a slightly more pop-influenced style. Guitarist, vocalist and bassist Autumn Vagle discussed the new sonic directions the group has been steering toward lately.

“Our roots are still very much in the same type of influences,” Vagle said. “We still have that prairie rock sound and it’s still folky, but I’d say the production is where it’s definitely like a step up. I feel like we’ve just overall grown so much and like these songs are kind of like a production of that.”

On top of their recorded music, the group is looking forward to returning to the live performance scene.

The five will be celebrating their first show back post-pandemic on June 27 as part of the Pride Bloq Party hosted by “Grrrl Scout Entertainment.” Keep for Cheap can also be caught at several other big shows this summer, including two sets at 7th St. Entry, opening for the Bad Bad Hats on July 30 and 26 Bats on August 6.

Videographer Abby Thompson worked with Keep for Cheap on the video for their single “Forgive Me,” which was released in November of 2020. They expressed their adoration for not only the band’s music, but how it has grown since their inception.

“It’s been really cool to see Keep for Cheap evolve,” Thompson said. “I’ve been following them since [their start] and it’s super cool to be a small part of their journey. They are so down-to-earth, super open to creative ideas and easy to work with. Both the band and myself have lots of ideas for video stuff down the road, so folks can keep their eyes peeled for what’s next.”

Malanaphy, Vagle and the other members of the Keep for Cheap family are all looking to the future with anticipation. With their album on the way and shows on the schedule, there’s a lot of reasons to be excited about this bunch.

“I’m very grateful for it. It feels surreal,” Malanaphy said of the band’s devoted listeners. “It’s hard to really fathom that so many people are listening to our songs.”

“It makes me just even more excited, even more like I want to just go and do it,” Vagle added. “It definitely gives me more energy just knowing that more people are appreciating and enjoying our music. It feels like we haven’t even gotten started yet.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Abby Thompson’s pronouns. Thompson has they/them pronouns.

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