Check out these five essential albums from the eclectic Milwaukee record label before this weekend's 15-band showcase
For the past two years, no Milwaukee record label has been hitting a better batting average than Gloss Records. Even better, the local music purveyor has been putting out releases equally eclectic as they are solid, ranging from indie rockers (Piles, The Fatty Acids) and rappers (Lorde Fredd33, D’Amato) to dreamy electro-pop bands (GGOOLLDD, NO/NO, Rio Turbo, Dashcam) and jazz fusion ensembles (Foreign Goods).
This weekend the label celebrates its second anniversary in style, with a two-night music showcase at Cactus Club (Friday night), The Jazz Gallery (Saturday afternoon) and The Riverwest Public House (Saturday night). You can see the full schedule here. In advance of the festivities, we’ve rounded up the five best releases from the genre-spanning label:
Hush – The Delphines
The album title ends up feeling quite prescient, as Hush became the closing statement from post-punk outfit The Delphines. It’s disappointing that singer Jami Eaton left right around the release because the band was never able to play the songs with the full line-up. Imbued with dark, muscular and callous tones, the lo-fi record was never able to truly live where it most belonged: in the city’s rundown DIY spaces and basements (this is meant as a compliment). However, Hush wouldn’t be the last word from the other band members, as they regrouped with new singer Cat Ries to form the synth-pop group NO/NO. This album would also become the first release in the discography of Gloss Records, founded by guitarist Harrison Colby and Joe Peterson (of Rio Turbo and Platinum Boys).
Dead Not Done – Marielle Allschwang
The slow, methodical delivery of Marielle Allschwang makes Dead Not Done as haunting as it is delicate, as if you’re blindfolded on a cliff edge and where one wrong step could leave you plummeting to your demise. It’s a beautiful and stunning folk album but also unsophisticated and grounded – a balance not easily achieved, yet done so with calm here. There’s no other voice like Allschwang’s in Milwaukee – which carries so much weight somehow effortlessly – and perhaps anywhere else.
Marielle Allschwang performs on Friday, May 19 at the Cactus Club
Sound and Light – NO/NO
While the former members of The Delphines transitioned from guitars and drums to synthesizers and drum pads when reforming as NO/NO, the new group’s first two EPs still conjured the dark gloom of its predecessor. But the band’s debut full-length, Sound and Light, eschewed all the malaise for bubbly, accessible and neon-hued rhythms that gushed with a devil-may-care optimism. It’s a feel-good-record that sounds as good on the dance floor as it does on some headphones.
NO/NO performs on Saturday, May 20 at the Riverwest Public House
Dead Man’s View – Lorde Fredd33
The New Age Narcissism rapper quizzically ponders over mesmerizing Q The Sun beats on Dead Man’s View. The album is the most intoxicating release in the expansive NAN collection.
Lorde Fredd33 performs on Saturday, May 20 at the Jazz Gallery
Expeller – Piles
Noisy, loud and breathless, Piles leaves you gasping for air at the end of the band’s third album, Expeller. The infectious ’90s indie-rock guitar hooks and catchy melodies will summon you back for many return listens.
Piles performs on Saturday, May 20 at the Jazz Gallery