There certainly hasn’t been a shortage of releases this summer in Milwaukee. From the beginning of June to the end of September, the city has seen quality releases from a variety of talent. Take a peek at this roundup of local musicians and their contributions to Wisconsin’s music scene.
- Sat. Nite Duets – Air Guitar
A year ago, Sat. Nite Duets announced they had a song on the soundtrack of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit. While the film was less than successful, the fact that a Milwaukee band had sonically made an appearance was still impressive. Air Guitar, their first release since then, is now available on Father/Daughter Records. Tracks like “Manny D” and “Sober June” are reminiscent of the Weakerthans and the Flaming Lips, while others like “Country Worm” are just plain weird.
- Negative Positive – Lumanescent
The ladies of Negative Positive met in 2013 at Girls Rock, a summer camp with locations nationwide that place girls ages 8-16 in a band where they have one week to write a song. They have garnered the attention of local radio stations and have performed street festivals, and now they’ve recording a 6-track album–all before entering high school. The songs aren’t just “good for a group of kids;” they’re legitimately well-crafted tunes.
- Ugly Brothers – 16 Tiny Mountains
The long-awaited full length from Riverwest “clusterfolk” group Ugly Brothers finally came to fruition this summer. Younger “ugly brother” Alex Shah takes lead on most of the tracks, with other brother Palmer spearheading “Decimal,” winter-loathing anthem “Rabbit,” and the title track “16 Tiny Mountains.” The group’s ability to seamlessly harmonize vocally takes the forefront in “Jay” and “Stray.” This is possibly the most impressive release lyrically from Milwaukee in a while.
- Soul Low – Nosebleeds
Soul Low has been steadily releasing new music for the past several years, including this summer’s Nosebleeds. Bassist Sam Gehrke and drummer Charlie Celenza display an obvious musical compatibility with a tight rhythm section in infectious poppy hit after infectious poppy hit. The indie pop-rock group is on the roster of the budding local label Gloss Records, whose promotion has led the band’s Sweet Pea EP to its third pressing. They tour fairly regularly, so folks outside of the 414 should be on the look out.
- New Boyz Club – G l O r Y g L o R y
This is the first official release from New Boyz Club, who have maintained a steady presence around the city for the past couple years. G l O r Y g L o R y is the first “trilogy of trilogies,” all of which will be released within the next year and a half. Starting with “The Police State Will Fall,” the band assembled a 24-person choir to add to the 8-piece’s already-full sound. “What If I” poppy, catchy earworm that will leave you dancing around your house, and leads into the final track, “Taxes,” which carries a more dissonant vibe.
- Lorn & Dolor – Drugs 5 & 6
While Dolor is a Chicago resident, I deemed that half of the duo behind the final segments of Drugs was enough for me to categorize this as a Milwaukee release. Part 5, GRID // TACKS, is a more mellow collection, while part 6, VOLUME UNIT // CASES, is more heavy-hitting. Lorn and Dolor typically trade off tracks with an occasional collaboration, and it can function as a great introduction to experimental electronic music for listeners who aren’t quite familiar.
- Fox Face – Teen Wiccan
This single release by Fox Face lives up to its name. Three angsty and witchy tracks are included on the band’s first 45, which happens to also be the initial release from Chop Haus Records. The title track is the spookiest, including repeated chanting of “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” which leads into the punchy pop-punk “Boogie Man,” and ends with the slow, heavy “Tar.”
- Direct Hit! – Wasted Mind
This year, local pop-punk mainstays Direct Hit! got signed to Fat Wreck Chords and subsequently released Wasted Mind. Frontman Nick Woods and crew have been at this since 2007; it’s no surprise that the album is one fast-paced, ass-kicking track after another. “Paid in Brains” and “Do the Sick” get a little heavy, while “Was It the Acid?” and “Infinite Pills, Infinite Alcohol” give a poppy look into reckless behavior.
- Caley Conway & the Lucy Cukes – Silk for Life
Caley Conway’s sweet, soothing voice soars over the light, folksy instrumentation, which catches you off guard when she drops her more abrasively honest lyrics (“I can be vague for the sake of being vague like a motherfucker,” “Robitussin isn’t for your brain”). The lyrical content tells a story, and it’s astounding how much of a picture each track is able to paint. Unfortunately for listeners, this is the first and only full length the band will put out; they disbanded following the release.
- The Pukes – The Revenge of the Pukes
I have never felt like an album was as tailored to my particular musical interests as Revenge of the Pukes. I grew up on a steady diet of doo wop and surf oldies–I didn’t believe my Phish-obsessed friend when he told me he know of a local band that I needed to check out. Frontman Jules Frank is weird and obnoxious and everything that a band weird enough to name themselves the Pukes needs. The lo-fi recording reinforces the retro vibes. The world needs more spooky surf rock, and you can download Revenge on bandcamp for $6.66.