Today is 4/14 AKA Milwaukee Day! Whether you’re a Cream City resident or not, celebrate by listening to some of the city’s greatest talent. In no particular order:
1. New Boyz Club: Perhaps the newest band on this list, Riverwest music “all-star” Johanna Rose fronts this eclectic group. Ranging from gospel to punk in the three-minute span of a track, it’s safe to say New Boyz Club are influenced by just about any genre. They’ve been picking up steam lately due to their frequent performance schedule and live appearance on 88.9 RadioMilwaukee.
2. Klassik: Klassik is one of the leading names in hip hop in the 414. He recently released SUMMER, the third EP in his seasonal series, which successfully evokes the carefree aura of the only Wisconsin season without snow. He has also found a spot in the lineup of Group of the Altos who recently completed their SXSW trek. Oh yeah, and Rob Gronkowski listens to him.
3. Platinum Boys: Need some no-frills, good ole rock ‘n’ roll that Marc Maron tweeted about once? Check out Platinum Boys, who list “miller lite” as one of their tags on bandcamp, which is actually a good descriptor for the sound. While the vinyl version of their latest release, Future Hits, has sold out, you can download it for $5 online. Seriously, grab a beer and enjoy.
4. Stubby Chubbz Brass Band: This octet plays music that your whole family can enjoy, despite the allusions the name draws to mind; my dad, who hates everything, likes them. Don’t think this means it’ll be a tame performance–I always gotta make sure I have my dancing pants on when I see them. It takes a skilled group of musicians to pull of the Nola-style brass band vibe, and these folks do it well.
5. Ramma Lamma: Unlike Stubby Chubbz, Ramma Lamma might not be a band you listen to at a family gathering. I mean, they have a song on their latest release, Ice Cream, called “Sit On My Face.” Wendy Norton’s sass and spunk elevates this group to a whole ‘nother level for me. Loud, fast, and unapologetic? I can dig it.
6. Lorde Fredd33: I hear about this guy all over town. He’s been putting in some seriously hard work with his art and his promotions, and it shows. Lorde Fredd33’s most recent release, 33: The Education, is evidence that hip hop in Milwaukee is growing into something special. Produced by Q the Sun, everything about 33 vibes beautifully and I can’t help but listen to it on repeat. Honestly, I’ll have “Nacho Girl” stuck in my head for the rest of the day.
7. Ugly Brothers: If you know me, you know of my undying love for this band. Brothers Palmer and Alex Shah co-front this Riverwest gem of goodness. While Alex describes his songwriting style as “sad-sap,” Palmer tackles some bigger issues like the Westboro Baptist Church and gun control. As you might expect from a band labeled as “chamber folk,” their instrumentation and harmonies flow effortlessly.
8. The Vitrolum Republic: So, I’m DEFINITELY late to the game on these guys. After seeing them last month at the latest Sofar: Milwaukee show, I jumped on the bandwagon. Self described as “gypsy noir,” they’ve created a graceful, inviting ambiance full of superb musicianship. The old-timey aesthetic adds to their unique presence, unmatched by any in the area.
9. Airo Kwil: Airo Kwil has a nice live performance hip hop thing goin’ on. Typically taking to the stage with a floor tom and some sticks, accompanied by previously mentioned Johanna Rose on upright bass and Palmer Shah on electric guitar, Airo has a great DIY feel to his music. This is fitting, as he recorded his newest release by himself. In fact, it’s being released on Thursday at Mad Planet (deets here).
10. MIGO: Speaking of the Airo Kwil release show, MIGO will playing too. Loud and chaotic, MIGO will probably/most definitely blow your mind with the unpredictable time signature changes (perfectly executed by their outstanding drummer, Jake Marin). Spawned out of a missing dog flyer, this band has deemed themselves, “lost dog fan fiction,” which is something I promise you’ve never heard before. Did I mention they’ll throw candy at you during their shows?
11. King Courteen: Singer/songwriter/carpenter Michael Gerlach performs his solo music under the moniker King Courteen. Reminiscent of The Shins, it’s only a matter of time before his dreamy, laid back tunes blow up. He’s been keeping himself busy lately, collaborating with local favorites such as Kiings and WebsterX, and he’ll continue to gain notoriety.
12. Space Raft: For me, there’s a fine line between “I could fall asleep to this” and “I need to stop everything I’m doing to listen to exactly what each musician is doing” when it comes to jammy, weirdo rock bands, and Space Raft is on the preferred side of that line. I was kind of worried before I had heard them the first time in fear that everyone had hyped them up too much for me to enjoy. I was very, very wrong. Believe what you hear.
13. Midwest Death Rattle: If Space Raft had a heavier alt-rock cousin, it would be Midwest Death Rattle. Still a little weird, still requires attention to detail, but hits a little harder. If Space Raft is watching some sci-fi flick, MDR is watching the latest Rob Zombie film. The first time I saw these guys live, I was astounded by their high-energy performance.
14. Soul Low: Known around the Milwaukee scene for their affinity for Blatz and their goofy demeanor, these soul dads play music unmatched by any in the area. They ooze creativity in the indie pop/rock feel as well as their bizarre music videos. Follow them on any social media, sit back, and watch hilarity ensue.