Catch up on the best releases from the local music scene this past month with the Top Picks of June. Featuring Direct Hit!, Mike Regal, Vincent VanGREAT, El Shareef, Devil Met Contention, Trapper Schoepp, IshDARR, Sat. Nite Duets and more.

10. Cruise down a kaleidoscopic highway with new Calliope offshoot, Moon Rats

There’s no shortage of psych-rock in Milwaukee, but perhaps none work with such aplomb as local musician Al Kraemer. The singer/organist plies his trade in the rollicking, polychromatic outfit Calliope—whose 2014 six-song EP ORBIS showcased a spectrum of unique styles. Now, Kraemer is back with a new solo project, Moon Rats, which presents a new, foreboding direction on the act’s first single, “Highway Lord.”

9. Producer Chris Siegel keeps the electro-pop hits coming with new single 

Last month Chris Siegel, one half of the producing duo Kiings, released the catchy, summer jam, “This Is How.” He took little time to follow-up with another track that’s fitting for backyard dance parties. This new song, “All I Think About,” features two singers from the earlier effort (Lex Allen and Siren) but sounds more direct and effortless.

8. Trapper Schoepp creates homage to upstairs neighbor on new music video

The titular valentine from Trapper Schoepp’s latest album, Rangers and Valentines, comes from Schoepp’s deceased duplex-mate and friend, George Valentine. The two would share records and PBRs. Office Space’s Richard Riehle plays the elderly neighbor on the music video for “Settlin’ or Sleepin’ Around,” who’s at first a timid shut-in before transforming into a party animal.

7. Platinum Boys show some more sleaze

Before embarking on a two-week tour, Platinum Boys released a digital-only three-song effort that enforces the band’s predilection for classic rock hooks and recreational drugs. It also features a straight-faced cover of the Eagles’ 1974 hit “Already Gone.” You can catch Platinum Boys open for The Black Lips at Turner Hall on Wednesday, July 13.

6. A radio-ready blues rock scorcher from The Living Statues

Very few Milwaukee releases display the same glean as a Living Statues track. But don’t get me wrong, the band isn’t all studio magic polish. As evidenced by new single “I Never Asked,” the group can write hooks that sound like they should fill arenas.

5. Sat. Nite Duets prep new album

This month Sat. Nite Duets released odes to both the Patron Saint of Young Professionals and Mozart rival Antonio Salieri. It goes without saying that the band’s forthcoming album Air Guitar (due out September 16 on Father/Daughter Records) won’t be a pedestrian listen.

4. IshDARR balances classical and modern production on new track

IshDARR’s new single “Four the Fuck of It” is another example why the young rapper should be considered Milwaukee’s best export.

3. Devil Met Contention gallops through the muck

“Life’s some unreliable maze with no foreseeable end,” Ehson Rad sings on Fuel the Lights closer “Holy Ranger.” The southwestern-imbued folk album from Devil Met Contention inhabits some pretty dark space but that line feels particularly hopeless. It’s a testament to the band’s performance that the mood remains somewhat spiritedly despite the heavy thematic elements.

2. Direct Hit! delivers cautionary tale on Fat Wreck Chords debut

Direct Hit‘s opening statement on Wasted Mind is clear: “If you’re over the age of 40, I’m not sure you should listen to this record.” The band’s Fat Wreck Chords debut is filled with a youthful urgency that’s prevalent in pop punk, but it’s also a warning shot–a caution to a younger generation that alcohol and drugs aren’t all just fun and games.



  1. A big month for Milwaukee hip hop

Last year was seen as a landmark year for the city’s hip hop scene, and 2016 seems to be continuing the upward trend. This month saw releases from three Milwaukee rappers—Vincent VanGREAT‘s UnGREATful, Mike Regal‘s Premonitions and El Shareef‘s Ninety-Three Expedition.