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Top 10 Picks For December
New music, funny band names, awards and a departure

Every month, we count down the top 10 most exciting, surprising and just plain great moments in Milwaukee music. Here are 10 standout picks from December.

10. Avenues gives the gift of “PUNK ROCK CHRISTMAS”

If your senses aren’t inundated with holiday cheer yet, local pop-punkers Avenues wrapped up its own take on the yuletide standards with “PUNK ROCK CHRISTMAS” – an admittedly repetitive, but fun Christmas carol.

9. WC Tank releases “In A Blaze Of Light” on SoundCloud

Wesley Tank put a bow on a year – which came complete with an album release, an opening slot of Canadian cult rap legend Buck 65 and great music videos (of both the starring in and directing variety) – with the quiet release of “In A Blaze Of Light” on SoundCloud. The latest from the artsy emcee channels ’80s era movie montages melded with his unmistakable lyrically slathered, off-kilter style. WC Tank will release a new record in mid-2014, and is putting wraps on a video he directed for Hellfyre Club and Busdriver in Los Angeles. This short-but-sweet song is the saltine palate cleanser between an impressive 2013 output and the great things that await the motivated rapper within the next 365 or so days.

8. Calliope makes music video for “Miller City Blues”

One part Roseanne-esque theme song, another part iTunes commercial with a dash of gritty blues rock for flavor. Those ingredients coalesce to make Calliope’s “Miller City Blues” music video.

7. Introducing… Platinum Boys

Speaking of new projects composed of noted Riverwest musicians, Platinum Boys – a brand new punk band that features members of noted local acts as Rio Turbo, The Fatty Acids and Catacombz – played its inaugural show on Dec. 13. Less than a week later, Platinum Boys clued those who missed the performance what they sound like with the release of “CRUISIN USA” on Bandcamp. Check it out. It’s free!

6. Fable & The World Flat gets the WMSE treatment

In addition to its wide range of music (some even too crazy for us to fully appreciate) and championing local music, art and film, WMSE is great. The station’s series of in-studio performances call some of Milwaukee’s best acts into the booth. Synth-poppers Fable & The World Flat – close to completing a two-release year – stopped by to play an abbreviated set heavy with songs from its latest, Dark Flow.

5. Kiings and Christopher Porterfield collaborate on “Garden”

Under the name Kiings, the Milwaukee-based duo of Chris Siegel and Sean Foran gussy up songs from such lofty in-state acts as Phox; Vic and Gab; Field Report; and (Brooklyn by way of Superior, Wis. singer) Christine Hoberg. Kiings is at it again, this time with an electronic adaptation of Chris Porterfield’s “Garden.” Oddly, the melding of styles works much better than expected. But who are we to doubt Kiings?

4. Klassik drops YRP

Following a WAMI- and 88Nine Award-winning 2012 on the weight of his debut LP In The Making, the star of locally sired rapper Klassik continued its rise in 2013 with a Summerfest opening gig for Talib Kweli and the mid-December release of his follow-up album YRP (or Young Rising Phenoms). The title proves accurate, as the solid 10-song effort is sure to have a residual effect on the accessible rapper’s ongoing ascent next year and beyond.

3. What's in a name? National attention.

Sadly, this month marked the end of The Onion being printed, as well as the last local A.V. Club site, A.V. Club Milwaukee. Aside from being one of my employers (will write for food, by the way!), the abrupt conclusion of the site will leave the city with one fewer publication that championed local arts and entertainment, and took critical stands against questionable local goings-on. 

However, the shortsighted decision to end A.V. Club Milwaukee doesn’t spell the end of coverage for Milwaukee bands on the outlet’s national level – so long as those Milwaukee bands have funny names. Local acts Animals In Human Attire and Like Like The The The Death join the likes of Vomitchapel, Futurecop! and Lazercake in the ONLINE ONLY publication’s annual “The Year In Band Names” listing. Congrats, guys.

2. 88Nine recognizes some of 2013's best

On Dec. 5, 88Nine “Radio Milwaukee” held the 6th annual awards ceremony at its spanking new Walker’s Point property. Listeners voted on the finalists, while 88Nine employees selected the winners from that pool. Tangentially-Milwaukee-based Volcano Choir took home two of the 11 awards – including Album Of The Year and Band Of The Year honors – and Vic and Gab, Greg Koch Band, The Fatty Acids, Boy Blue, Kiings, Paper Holland, Jayk, Kane Place Record Club and Made In Milwaukee also took home hardware.

It’s great that local musicians are recognized, but the “Bandcamp Release Of The Year” category should be replaced (perhaps with local show of the year). Almost every local band has albums available on Bandcamp. With no assertions to the bands not being deserving of their honors, it’s also a tad fishy that two acts that agreed to play the event prior to the selections also took home awards. Still, the great intentions of this localized award show overshadow its blemishes.

Here’s the full list of winners.

1. Joe Guszkowski is moving to Missouri

It’s a bittersweet end to a great year in Milwaukee music, as my Music Notes counterpart Joe Guszkowski is leaving the website (and Milwaukee) to attend grad school in Missouri. Not only will Joe’s departure shake up this site (and Bonnie No How’s Top 5 Crushes of 2013 list), it will also spell fewer shows for his band Sat. Nite Duets. Fret not, though, the band will NOT break up. On the contrary, there are already tracks laid down for an EP next year.

Joe’s contributions will be sorely missed. He left Music Notes much better than he found it. Best of luck, Joe.

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