This year went out with a bang, not a whimper. December happened to be one of the strongest months for local music in recent memory. For proof, read the top picks from this past month below. 10. A huge year for Milwaukee bands, recounted in list form It was a remarkably fruitful and prestigious year […]

This year went out with a bang, not a whimper. December happened to be one of the strongest months for local music in recent memory. For proof, read the top picks from this past month below.

10. A huge year for Milwaukee bands, recounted in list form

It was a remarkably fruitful and prestigious year for local musicians. It wasn’t easy narrowing down the best albums to 10. And you shouldn’t start 2015 without listening to the best of what the past year has to offer. Don’t just take my word for it; check out the year-end lists for Milwaukee Record, Express Milwaukee and Journal Sentinel, as well. They’re all great reads.

9. Hugh Bob hustles down to Nashville

In bittersweet fashion, Hugh Masterson, frontman for Hugh Bob and the Hustle, announced this month that he planned to move to Nashville. A relocation to the Music City should, obviously, offer more opportunities for the county singer, but Masterson still assures us that The Hustle remains his first priority. Godspeed, good fellow.

8. Catacombz plays final show

After 10 years together, psych-rockers Catacombz called it quits after a final performance at the Riverwest Public House. The farewell show doubled as a release party for its final release, EP II.

7. Altos announces sophomore record

Group of the Altos’ 2012 self-titled album played out like epic poem, as the three-song, 29-minute post-rock record seemed to resemble a harrowing and visceral journey through the woods. The band, which simply goes by Altos now, was also a sight to see live, utilizing a stage-cramping 12 members to reproduce its layered sound. This month Altos unveiled plans for a February release of a new full-length, entitled R U Person Or Not, which promises more vocal accompaniment. Listen to the album’s first single, “News From Wino,” below:

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6. Jeff Mangum will return with Neutral Milk Hotel, perhaps for the last time

The ever-elusive singer-songwriter Jeff Magnum, frontman for the recently reunited Neutral Milk Hotel, comes back to Milwaukee for a performance at the Riverside Theater with his full band in tow this time. Those who went to his solo show at the Pabst Theater two years ago will remember his brief, stripped down 14-song set would have been better off with some extra accompaniment. In a press release, Mangum said this will “our last tour for the foreseeable future.” Don’t miss this one, folks.  

5. WebsterX gets apocalyptic with new single

If anyone in the local scene seems poised for a breakout year, it’s the multifarious rapper WebsterX. He’s prepping a new album for the spring (its first single “Renaissance” was one of my favorite songs of 2014) and he has been gaining some widespread attention. This month he released the second single, “Doomsday,” from the forthcoming record. Listen to the glitchy, catchy track below:

  

4. NO/NO works at Delphines-like pace

The Delphines may have broken up, but their breakneck working pace lives on with the dreamy post-punk outfit NO/NO. After singer Jami Eaton left The Delphines this summer, the three remaining members formed the new four-piece and quickly unleashed new material. December marked the release of the band’s second four-song EP. Listen to X.O. below:


3. Whips unchains debut album

A fiery, devilish rock ‘n roll record that feels like a swift punch in the mouth—the brash, 9-song full-length debut Turn It On landed at No. 7 on Music Notes’ Best Albums of 2014.


2. Volcano Choir closes out Repave tour with surprise guest Sylvan Esso

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This one felt special. A tour-ending performance from Volcano Choir and a (well-kept) secret opener in Sylvan Esso. It doesn’t get much better than this. Read my full review here.

1. Canopies maximizes its studio time

The synth-pop five-piece Canopies released its long-awaited debut album, Maximize Your Faith, this month with a neon-lighted performance at the Polish Falcon. The record delicately expands on the dreamy psychedelia that was merely hinted at on 2011’s self-titled EP. The band took its sweet time in the studio to painstakingly fuss every layer of this meticulously layered record. Maximize Your Faith ended up on our Best Albums of 2014 list at No. 3.

   

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