It was a yet another good month in music, and we highlight the 10 (or so) best and most notable moments from January – and technically of 2014, too.
10. Myles Coyne does a Little Elephant session
Before he hit the road with Temple (one of his numerous other bands) earlier this month, Myles Coyne embarked on a November jaunt with Jordan Maye and Jack Tell for a partial-band Rusty Nickel tour. Along the way, the trio stopped in Little Elephant Room in Toledo, Ohio, to shoot some live, stripped down versions of Rusty Nickel cuts off last year’s celebrated Take Things As They Come. The videos were finally released the first week of 2014.
9. Ugly Brothers makes beautiful woodland noise
Can you remember way back to a time when you could leave the house? Last fall, Riverwest-based Ugly Brothers took to the woods to make a video for a song in a park. Though there are no amplifiers involved, horns, drums and seven-part harmonies do just fine. With a debut album on the way, forthcoming festival gigs and inevitable tours, Ugly Brothers are well out of the woods now and on the cusp of being a band the city falls in love with this year.
8. WC Tank directs a Hellfyre Club video
Two time zones away, in an entirely different forest and end of the musical spectrum, budding rap collective Hellfyre Club shot a video for its abbreviated Dorner Vs. Tookie title track, “DVT.” What does this have to do with Milwaukee? For one, local ex-pat Milo is a full-fledged Hellfyre Club member (though not part of this particular song/video). Additionally, Wes Tank – better known by his rap moniker WC Tank – flew to Los Angeles to shoot and direct this tremendous music video. It’s the third Tookie Vs. Dorner song he put to film, as he’s also responsible for Milo’s (also woodsy!) “Ecclesiastes” music video and "Apologies" by Open Mike Eagle.
Hellfyre Club drops by Mad Planet as part of its nationwide tour Tuesday, Feb. 25.
7. New releases (some from old sources)
A handful of Milwaukee acts are early entrants on our 14 Best Albums of 2014 list. Mathy synth-poppers Worrier released a long-overdue follow-up to it 2010 album with a cassette single (on thrift store-procured tapes). Long-tenured local rockers Disguised As Birds came out of its coma and borrowed Call Me Lightning drummer Shane Hochstetler to put out four-song EP We Buy Gold, its final release. And Yo Dot started the year in Milwaukee hip-hop off strong with his A Winters Ration EP.
However, Back On Track, the return EP The Benjamins – which broke up more than a decade ago after landing a spot on Drive-Thru Records – takes the cake. In accordance with the re-banded Benji’s Jan. 18 reunion at for the Pablove benefit concert, the five-song set of unreleased B-sides and new song “Corvette Summer” was released on Good Land Records (a label co-run by The Benjamins’ rhythm section).
6. Sat. Nite Duets bring us back to “Last Summer”
Sat. Nite Duets has a penchant for goofy videos, oftentimes with no shortage of Four Loko, ’90s Packers memorabilia, male nudity and dimension-jumping special effects incorporated. This time around, the band kept its clothes on and kept the budget to… I don’t know, what does a spilled can of Miller Lite cost? Though Sat. Nite drummer Joe Guszkowski left Wisconsin and Music Notes for grad school, he’s still very much part of Sat. Nite Duets, and is featured in this tame-yet-hilarious video for “Last Summer” – the standout song off 2013’s Electric Manland.
5. Kurt Raether is leaving The Fatty Acids
From one silly and beloved band to another, The Fatty Acids will soon be one member short. In early January, Fatties trumpeter and auxiliary instrumentalist Kurt Raether announced he’d made the difficult decision to leave the band to focus on his film production business Honeycomb Productions. Though not an original member, Raether (who joined the band after subletting a closet in the band’s house for $100/month) was a key contributor to the still-peaking scramble-pop outfit’s best work to date, Leftover Monsterface and last year’s Bolero. Almost as much as his musical accompaniment, we’ll miss the innovative and hilarious music videos he made for the band.
His last two appearances with the band are a Feb. 1 Mad Planet show and the band’s Feb. 8 headlining gig at Burnhearts’ Mitten Fest. Best of luck, Kurt.
4. Milwaukee is SXSW bound
Milwaukee Home (of local pride-monopolizing shirt fame) has partnered with Festival City, Flye Gang and Hotel Foster to bring Milwaukee to Austin, Tex. during the city’s famed South By Southwest (or “SXSW”) festival. More than 20 bands – including The Championship, Brett Newski, Boy Blue, Hugh Bob & The Hustle, Klassik, Midnight Reruns, Soul Low, Temple, Vic & Gab and WebsterX – will take the Milwaukee Home Stage no matter what. But you can help make these bands’ trip a little less expensive by supporting their IndieGoGo campaign. For backing this cool Austin invasion, you can also get gift certificates (some for the same value of your contribution!). This is a much better way to support Milwaukee than buying a two-word shirt.
3. Dr. Martin Jack Rosenblum dies
As first reported by Shepherd Express, Dr. Martin Jack Rosenblum passed away in January at the age of 67. The UW-Milwaukee music lecturer, historian and author had untold influence on local music that will live on for years to come.
2. Summerfest announces some headliners
Summer still seems painfully far away. Fortunately, the notoriously tight-lipped Big Gig has been kind enough to sprinkle some Marcus Amphitheater headliner announcements to help warm our hearts this winter. Bruno Mars will headline Summerfest’s opening night. Lady Gaga, Dave Matthews Band, and Zac Brown Band will also headline nights at the Marcus. Mötley Crüe will allegedly play “The Final Tour” with special guest/Summerfest regular Alice Cooper on Independence Day.
1. Eastside Music Tour returns to Brady Street
Last year’s inaugural Eastside Music Tour was an encouraging and semi-successful way to spread Milwaukee music to all corners of one of the city’s most iconic streets. It had its flaws (gaps in lineup, advertised drink specials not being observed everywhere, people without wristbands being admitted and making wristbands unnecessary), but it was a great way to say goodbye to winter and usher in the upcoming festival season. The NEWaukee crew is back on Brady March 1 with an even better cast of 70 local bands/rappers (Maritime, Altos, Juiceboxxx, Direct Hit and Old Earth among them) playing in 30 makeshift venues. The full lineup and tickets are available HERE.