August constituted a mammoth month for Milwaukee album releases. There seemed to be four or five record release shows every weekend. Read about a few of those records and other notable local happenings below in Music Notes’ top picks from August.
10. SIN BAD presents promising pop-punk future
I stumbled upon a really good (and really rough) demo while searching through the independent music streaming crapshoot Bandcamp earlier this month. It’s a snappy, 7-song release from former members of Modern Machines, who now go by SIN BAD (and recently played Cactus Club a couple weeks ago with No. 6 pick, Heavy Hand). This kind of discovery almost never happens; in fact about 95 percent of the music I randomly stream on the site is entirely unlistenable. The untitled demo is fun, up-tempo pop-punk music that’s short, infectious and carries some weight.
9. Miltown Beatdown announces beat battle line-up
The annual Miltown Beatdown showcases many of the city’s best DJs and squares them off head-to-head in a tournament until one beat-maker remains. Check out the full line-up and dates for the preliminary rounds, which start tomorrow at the Jackalope Lounge, here.
8. The hype surrounding the forthcoming Field Report album begins to swell
Last month, Field Report announced a new record (set for October 7 release) and unveiled a new track “Wings.” In August, the band dropped another track, the stirring “Home (Leave the Lights On) and announced an album release show at the Pabst Theater on October 22. Never thought I’d say this, but the fall can’t come soon enough.
7. Sugar Stems releases animated music video for “We Only Come Out At Night”
Bunnies, foxes, beavers, and all sorts of wild creatures get drunk in the woods on Sugar Stems’ animated music video for the title track from their third record, We Only Come Out At Night. Props for all the innovative beer chugging from these party animals.
6. Heavy Hand dispenses delightful wacky full-length
With song titles like “I Freed All Four Wizards,” “David Bowie Wants to Steal Your Baby,” and “Hot With Dads Tiger Beat Nation,” Heavy Hand’s new album Northwoods Knives is undeniably goofy, but each song packs a stiff punch. Listen below:
5. The Midwestern Charm sheds the twang and turns up the volume
On the band’s sophomore effort, Growing Pains, The Midwestern Charm toss that good ‘ole reliable country twang out the window. What’s left is a thunderously loud (and great) pop-punk record with some slick guitar licks that help underscore Connor La Mue’s angsty, journal-like lyrics. The album was recorded with (whom else?) Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street Recordings and just the sheer noise that comes through on the recording makes his touch abundantly clear.I talked to the band about recording with him, losing the acoustic guitars, being tagged as emo, and when lyrics get too personal in a revealing Q&A earlier this month.
4. Twin Brother builds tension on majestic folk album Swallow the Anchor
The new full-length from Twin Brother begins with the slow-burning “Shallow Mission,” a song that seemingly portends a heavy, straining record. But Swallow the Anchor remains relatively bright and lofty—a folk album that cranes its head towards the clouds.
3. Milwaukee Film announces stacked Sound Visions schedule during the film festival
Not only does Milwaukee Film have an exquisite eye for poignant movies, the organizers’ taste in local music is impeccable as well. Along with an impressive line-up of eight music-related films including Finding Fela, 20,000 Days on Earth and the Talking Heads’ remarkable concert film Stop Making Sense, the annual film festival, which runs September 25 through October 9, hosts nightly after parties featuring some of the city’s finest bands just across the street from the Oriental Theater at Hotel Foster. For a list of all eight films and a full line-up of after parties, go here.
2. Body Futures toes the line between chaos and pop on debut album
On Brand New Silhouettes, the debut record from math-rock four-piece Body Futures, the frantic percussion and dissonant guitars juxtapose the soaring pop presence from Dixie Jacobs behind the microphone. These songs stick in your head for weeks.
1. NPR streams the new Death Blues record a week before its release.
The heady, ambitious project from percussionist and composer Jon Mueller has started earning some national praise. NPR picked up his latest Death Blues record, Ensemble, to stream a week before its September 9 release. Listen to the lushly arranged album here.