20 Milwaukee Bands You Need to Hear Right Now

From heavy metal to country, hip hop to punk to electronic music, Milwaukee’s eclectic music scene has it all. Check out some of these local bands at area venues.

Brett and the Dandys

Three-piece group Brett and the Dandys, formed by members of local bands Conniption, Husher and the Cherry Pops, cover 1950s and 1960s rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly, from Buddy Holly to the Everly Brothers, in their lively and energetic stage shows.

Cashfire Sunset

Composed of veteran Milwaukee and Madison-area musicians Jason Todd, Ray Chi, Raj’r Taim and Sam Lozoff, pop group Cashfire Sunset blends psych rock with New Wave. 

Chicken Wire Empire

This modern bluegrass band combines musical chops with skillful songwriting. Formed in 2014 by bassist Jordan Kroeger and mandolin player Ryan Ogburn, the group has since expanded to include Ernest Brusabardis IV on fiddle, Jon Peik on banjo and Greg Brundage on guitar. Chicken Wire Empire’s latest album, What Moves Mountains, was released in January.


Echoing early Metallica, Iron Maiden and Queensryche, heavy-metal rockers Conniption (Michael Craig Brigham, Bill House, Cody Dziuk and Andy Martin) bring plenty of melodic guitar solos and powerful vocals to the table on songs like “State of Sin” and “Let the Wolf Out.”

The Cut-Outs

With their post-punk indie sound, The Cut-Outs (Rob Weber, Joel Van Gorder, Tim Kowalski and Eric Abshagen) have been jamming together for nearly 20 years. Recently, the band released an EP, Noise in Melody, which includes the percussion-heavy rocker “Comatose.”

The Cut-Outs

De La Buena

De La Buena, a group with a staggering 13 members, including two drummers, two trumpeters, vocals, flute, keys and plenty of percussion, has kept audiences grooving for more than a decade with its infectious Afro-Cuban and Latin jazzy sound.

Devils Teeth

Four-piece band Devils Teeth — (Jon Hanusa, vocals, guitar; Chuck Engel, drums; Eric Arsnow, vocals, bass; and Caleb Westphal, saxophone) — meld trippy spaghetti-western sounds with garage and surf rock. The band’s latest album, Suki Yaki Hot, is now available on vinyl and CD.

Dramatic Lovers

Pop/indie rockers Dramatic Lovers, composed of members of former Brew City bands The Promise Ring, Maritime, Temper Temper and Decibully, took its name from a Milwaukee anarchist group in the early 20th century. The band has played a number of local and national venues and events, among them the Austin, Texas, music festival South by Southwest and Milwaukee’s Pablove Benefit Concert.

Fox Face

One part Goth, one part riot-grrll rock, punk rockers Fox Face, inspired by current events and ‘90s horror movie The Craft, produce feminist songs full of attitude, like “Teen Wiccan” and “Clever Girl.” The band released full-length album Spoil and Destroy in November 2017.

Fox Face; photo by Cole Juntilla


With the ethereal vocals and stunning vintage fashions of lead vocalist Margaret Butler, electropop group GGOOLLDD’s hits, among them “Dance Through the Winter,” “City Lights” and the group’s latest single, “Success,” contain all the glitz and glamour of a packed 1980s nightclub.

Nickel & Rose

Folk-rock/Americana duo Nickel & Rose (Johanna Rose and Carl Nichols) draw from a number of blues, country and folk influences, including Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Cash, and Ernest Tubb in engaging, rootsy songs, including “Dog River,” “Life Goes On” and “Red Rocking Chair.”

The Quilz


NO/NO (Cat Ries, Harrison Colby, Jeremy Ault and Ryan Reeve) bridges catchy 1980s New Wave with sleek 21st-century synth-pop on singles like “Twentysomethings,” “S.M.S.” and “The Fear of Missing Out.”

The Quilz

Sage Schwarm and Becky Heck, co-proprietors of Bay View vintage clothing store Luv Unlimited, formed synth/dream-pop duo The Quilz in 2015, creating dance-friendly songs with futuristic themes like “Robot Love” and “Delete Delete,” a single off the Quilz soon-to-be released album “Fishing for Ketchup.”

Ruth B8r Ginsburg

With thoughtful lyrics, complex vocal harmonies, strings, piano and guitar, neo-soul/folk group Ruth B8R Ginsburg (Danielle Renee, Treccy MT, Katie Lyne, Steph Lippert, Johanna Rose, Quinn Cory and Ousia Lydian) explore a variety of women’s and societal issues in songs like “All of Everyone At Once.”

Ruth B8r Ginsburg performing live

Saebra & Carlyle

Inspired by 1960s psychedelic/garage-rock and the “apocalyptic Western” sounds of Ennio Morricone, Saebra Laken and Carlyle Nowak have performed since the fall of 2017 at an impressive number of Milwaukee venues, including The Cactus Club and Turner Hall. Saebra & Carlyle recently added a drummer, bringing raw energy to songs like “Rabbit Hole” and “Burt Cocaine.”

Saebra & Carlyle performing live


Sisters Monique and Chauntee Ross meld the jazz of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday with the soul of newer artists like Erykah Badu with their lovely, haunting vocals and well-crafted string arrangements of songs like “Goodbye” and “Ave Maria.”


Self-described as “cinematic indie music,” SleeperSound (David D’Antonio, Kenny Buesing, Mike Campise and Dan Niedziejko) showcases atmospheric progressive rock on its latest release, in medias res, mixed and engineered by drummer Niedziejko.

The Stink Lines

Testa Rosa at Milwaukee’s Jones Island; photo by Kat Schleicher

No strangers to the Milwaukee music community, married couple Wendy Norton and Ryan King have played in a plethora of Milwaukee bands, including the Flips, Plexi 3, the Kill-A-Watts and current glam-rock band Ramma Lamma. Joined by Sam Sharkey (guitar, vocals), The Stink Lines, with Norton’s drumming and vocals and King’s bass, deliver infectious punk rock on songs like “Worst of Both Worlds.”

Testa Rosa

Testa Rosa (married couple Damien Strigens and Betty Blexrud-Strigens, plus Bill Backes, Paul Hancock and Nick Berg) create dreamy pop songs with lush vocals and swelling guitar riffs. Songs like “Lost Loon” and “Golden Boat” recall hazy summer days relaxing by the lake.

Yum Yum Cult

Band members Palmer Shah, Myles Coyne, Sean Anderson and Charlie Celenza bring an eclectic mix of jazz, glam-rock and trip-hop influences (Herb Alpert, T. Rex and Portishead, to name a few) to their first single, “Up in the Tenement.”