The boys in Local Sportsare doing a little stretching to get them ready to re-take the musical field. Though it’s been more than a year since they’ve put out new music, or even played a show in Rochester, they’ve just released a two-track sampler entitled "Actors."

"We were out of the game for a while and wanted to get something new out ASAP," says guitarist Stephan Phan.

It's a way to get back in after their 2017 at-bat produced the record "Catch," and their 2018 turn at the plate resulted in the home run "Basil Bouquet." Both are full of powerful, thrash-your-body punk music that makes your ears ache but your soul whole.

Their 2019 hiatus wasn’t by choice. "We had to cancel a lot of shows because of my health and were getting some snide messages about our responsibilities as a band, but I don’t think we owe anyone anything," says bassist and vocalist Josh Brundige. For him, the band’s two new songs are partially about the tension that comes along with creating in the public eye.

The sampler was recorded at Carpet Booth Studios in Rochester with Zach Zurn the week before Christmas. "It was really great," says ever-smiling drummer Cody VanSickle. "We tracked everything live in the same room. No metronome, no overdubs, except for vocals. It was the way it was meant to be."

"We were planning to release the week before our Thesis show," says guitarist Jimmy Seechan. The show, originally scheduled in early April to include Minneapolis-based alt-rockers Coyote Kid, was to be their first in Rochester in almost a year.

"We finally clawed our way back and had tons of new music and merch, and then this happens," says VanSickle, referencing the current pandemic. "We have had to cancel the shows we had planned, which was a bit devastating." Despite that disappointment, VanSickle is quick to point out that "the health of the community is much more important."

While they’ve been keeping their social distance by playing with their pups, insisting that Hamm’s beer is actually soup, and keeping their Switch consoles warm, the band’s also been busy working on new riffs.

"The thing we miss the most is band practice," says VanSickle. He feels like the band was on a roll writing new music before their forced sequestration set in. "We write everything together," he says.

Brundige says the "Actors" sampler is just something to tide people over until a full album comes out. "We have seven songs and twice as many riffs that we are work-shopping," he says. Despite the "sampler" title, Brundige insists, "The hype is real."

The sampler’s first track "Scarlett," starts out with a slow, heavy minor feel, which breaks out suddenly with an intensity that later shifts into an instrumental breakdown. Like some of its lyrics -- "I drift away to save myself" -- the song has a prolonged fading outro. Brundige says the song is about the break the band took in 2019.

"Francis" grows from a sizzle of cymbals to reach a crescendo of gut-punching drums and razor-sharp guitar riffs. Along the way, it includes lyrics that play "hide and seek" and end in an angry shout. Brundige says the song is about "trying to balance being healthy mentally with playing shows and being a forced extrovert in the music scene." The track feels both insistent and wistful.

If the two tracks on "Actor" are anything to go by, the full album should be worth the wait.

Want to hear their music for yourself? Pay what you choose to listen to Local Sports Sampler "Actors" at https://localsportsmn.bandcamp.com. And check out Local Sports on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/localsportsmn.