July’s Top 10

It’s the end of July, which means two things: the weather’s nice and it’s time for a countdown of the month’s best music picks. 10. Summerfest ends, the city exhales Withstanding unseasonable weather and underwhelming side-stage offerings for six of the first seven days soured my already not-that-ecstatic mood on the Big Gig, but I’ve recently come to terms with Summerfest. It helps select local bands gain some exposure—and sometimes, compensation—brings in heaps of money downtown, and, hey, offers the opportunity to scream to the choruses of Third Eye Blind songs. According to a press release, attendance rose slightly this…

It’s the end of July, which means two things: the weather’s nice and it’s time for a countdown of the month’s best music picks.

10. Summerfest ends, the city exhales

Withstanding unseasonable weather and underwhelming side-stage offerings for six of the first seven days soured my already not-that-ecstatic mood on the Big Gig, but I’ve recently come to terms with Summerfest. It helps select local bands gain some exposure—and sometimes, compensation—brings in heaps of money downtown, and, hey, offers the opportunity to scream to the choruses of Third Eye Blind songs. According to a press release, attendance rose slightly this year—hitting 851,879 turnstile revolutions, up 1.4% from last year. Considering the poor weather, that number seems like quite the accomplishment and perhaps a sign of even better days ahead. But, please, do not think about extending the World’s Largest Music Festival any longer.

9. The Die Kreuzen oral history gets a Facebook page

Local music scribe Sahan Jayasuriya is in the process of writing (err, compiling) an oral history on well-deserving ‘80s punk legends Die Kreuzen. It’s tentatively slated for a 2015 release according to the recently created Facebook page, which has been posting quite regularly lately and will provide an accessible forum to bug Jayasuriya to stop updating Facebook and finish the goddamn book already.

8. Wooldridge Brothers successfully funds two projects, instantly share a reward

Loaning friends money always makes things awkward. You’re better off thinking of the loan as a donation because, in most situations, you’re not getting that money back. Many Kickstarter campaigns feel the same way—that your investment won’t see a return for some time but you contribute anyway to simply support the cause. Americana group The Wooldridge Brothers successfully funded a two-projects-in-one Kickstarter campaign early this month (for the band’s next album and Scott Wooldridge’s solo effort) and are already sharing some bonus material as a reward. Check out other Milwaukee musicians (Testa Rosa, Chris Porterfield, Liv Mueller, Chris DeMay and more) who cover the Wooldridge Brothers oeuvre.

7. Hey, look, it’s the new Sugar Stems album

Most nights, power-pop sounds flood almost every club in city with aggressive power chords, an up-tempo pace and soaring melodies. None, however, enliven the genre as well as Sugar Stems, who this month released a new record, Only Come Out At Night. Listen to it below.

6. Mark Borchardt captures Tapebenders’ experiencing the world’s worst band meltdown in the music video for “Semantics”

Telling a coherent and entertaining narrative throughout a music video can be challenging. Oftentimes there just aren’t enough frames to capture the complete story. That’s not the case with the music video for “Semantics” from the Tapebenders (formerly Ellusive Parallelograms). I’d rather not give away the video’s hilarious and shocking narrative. Just watch below:

5. The New Red Moons eclipses debut with new full-length Mesmérisme

Honing its sound and dynamics since 2011’s eponymous debut, The New Red Moons returned this month tighter than ever on follow-up Mesmérisme, an enchanting, bucolic journey through the subconscious of lead singer Joe McIlheran. For more, read my post on them from a few weeks ago. You can listen to the album below.

4. Bright Kind shimmers on self-titled “debut”

Rising from the ashes of the celebrated piano rock act Jeanna Salzer Band, the renamed, reinvented Bright Kind added synthesizers and an ethereal vibe to its sonic palette a couple years ago, but this month finally got around to releasing its first material under the moniker. The new direction suits them perfectly. Read my profile on the band from the magazine’s July issue, or listen for yourself.

3. Field Report unleashes first track from forthcoming album

Chris Porterfield’s songs under the Field Report moniker always seem to flutter with a palpable weightlessness. That feeling reaches even higher in the sky on “Wings,” the first track released from his upcoming sophomore record Marigolden.

2. Sat. Nite Duets resembles a disc jockey on latest EP

Last year’s Electric Manland dissipated any complaints that Sat. Nite Duets simply reconditioned Pavement tunes. That record cultivated a distinct scrappy sound that dissolved its influences. This month the band returned with another stable of songs that seems to switch directions following each track—the EP’s title, Los DJs, more than hints at the constantly changing styles. The slapdashery suits Sat. Nite Duets well, and hopefully the band continues down this diverse path. Or as the closing song goes, “Viva los DJs.”

1. GGOOLLDD releases buoyant synth-pop debut EP $tandard$

The gaucheness to use an all-caps moniker with double letters makes a band susceptible to bad first impressions. It’s inherent in most music circles to immediately dismiss bands with cumbersome names. Fortunately, GGOOLLDD wields impressively catchy material to defend against being easily rejected.  One listen to the infectious synth pop on $tandard$ and you realize the band is all about excess. And it all makes sense.

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Kevin is a freelance writer residing in Milwaukee. He’s contributed to The Shepherd Express, Third Coast Daily, Pop Matters and the sadly now-defunct A.V. Club Milwaukee. He looks forward to forging a deeper connection with the city’s impressive music scene during his gig as a Music Notes blogger. His talents include music criticism, riding a bicycle, drinking tasty beers and a crafty croquet swing. His weaknesses comprise Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, professional wrestling and his ever-growing record collection. He’s in desperate need to find more physical (and hard drive) space for the exceptional albums Milwaukee musicians keep churning out.