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What Does Young Milwaukee Sound Like?
The scoop on a record compilation of local bands and why you need to hear it now.

Music Notes caught up with John Van Lieshout, founder of Top Five Records, who is putting out a new local compilation record, The Sound of Young Milwaukee, this weekend that includes unreleased tracks from an assortment of local musicians including Soul Low, Myles Coyne & The Rusty Nickel Band, Jaill, The Fatty Acids, Surgeons in Heat, Animals in Human Attire, among others. The compilation is available to stream for free over at Milwaukee Record.

Here are a few brief notes on all you need to know about Van Lieshout’s label, the new awesome compilation and this weekend’s release parties.

Top Five Records: Van Lieshout started the label after Surgeons in Heat reached out for help to release its debut self-titled record—a combination of its two EPs—on vinyl two years ago. “I’ve got the money and I want to be involved in the music scene,” Van Lieshout recalls about his motivation in releasing the Surgeons in Heat album. Since then, Top Five Records has kept it pretty low-key, putting out a Boca Prospero single and Myles Coyne & the Rusty Nickel Band’s Take Things As They Come.

Compilation: The idea for the project popped into Van Lieshout’s head a couple years ago when Domino Records released the compilation record, Smugglers Way, which included impressively detailed packaging. The initial concept to release the record on flexi-disc and publish an accompanying zine slowly scaled back as realities crept in—mainly those pesky monetary ones. But Van Lieshout received reinforcement from local bands interested in his project and he forged on, this time with much lower overhead.

Previously unreleased songs: Instead of merely re-releasing singles as an easy and time-efficient way to attempt to converge different audiences into one, The Sound of Young Milwaukee features (almost entirely) unreleased tracks. “That was initially a very stringent requirement,” Van Lieshout says. However, a couple bands were able to sway him away from his major requisite. “There are two songs that have been out before that had just been released online, but they’ve been remastered for the compilation.”

The Sound of Young Milwaukee: Titling a compilation The Sound of Young Milwaukee presents an overtly presumptuous proclamation: here lies the best new music the entire city has to offer. Van Lieshout contends that the title isn’t meant as a blanket statement and rather basically pays reverence to Motown’s classic slogan “The Sound of Young America,” as well as a nod to the Postcard Records own Motown-homage tagline, “The Sound of Scotland.” “Also, I think it sounds cool,” he says. “It’s a very bold title. But at the same time, it’s referencing those things.”

Three-night showcase: To celebrate the compilation release, Top Five Records is hosting three shows this weekend. Wolfgang Schaefer, Myles Coyne & the Rusty Nickel Band and Castle Thunder with Wax Addicts DJ (set) at Boone & Crocket. On Saturday, Soul Low, Surgeons in Heat, The Fatty Acids and Rio Turbo (DJ set) continue the festivities at The Hotel Foster. Calliope, Animals in Human Attire, GGOOLLDD and Fauxny (DJ set) wrap things up on Sunday at The Hotel Foster. All shows begin at 9 p.m. and run $5 at the door. A CD copy of the compilation will be on sale for $5. “No super huge special surprises,” Van Lieshout says about the showcases, “although Saturday, there’s going to be something a little more different going on. I can’t elaborate fully on that one.”

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