Top Ten Picks of December 2015

Before we get too far into 2016, let’s look back on the final month of last year with Riverwest Radio, Promise Ring, Bruce Springsteen, Midwives, Soul Low, Fatty Acids, Tigernite and more.


  1. The Bradley Center announces the return of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band to Milwaukee

Even in his mid-60s, Bruce Springsteen’s concerts are high-energy affairs with runtimes that usually last several hours. His latest stop through Milwaukee on March 3 will be particularly special, as The Boss celebrates the 35-year anniversary of the expansive 20-song double album The River. Tickets are still available here.

  1. GGOOLLDD puts out first vinyl release on Gloss Records

Local record label Gloss Records relied on the cheap yet tangible cassette format as a way to get off the ground last year, as they released a handful of solid efforts from the likes of Rio Turbo, NO/NO, Hello Death, (ORB), D’Amato and Marielle Allschwang. But in December, they ventured into the tenuous fabric of vinyl releases for the first time with an 11-song compilation from synth-pop GGOOLLDD.

  1. Tigernite dishes out Christmas-themed track in eight cheesy triangles

On “Rock N Roll Pizza Party,” glam rockers Tigernite supplant the oft-stuffy Christmas meal with some unpretentious slices of za—topped, in the words of singer Molly Roberts, “with all the shit that you like.” In the same vein, the song presents a fun, unapologetic take on the typically demure and somber Christmas fair.

  1. Fatty Acids singer finds the calming presence of the Nebraskan prairie during national park artist-in-residency

Josh Evert of The Fatty Acids and Jaill spent two weeks at Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Neb. for an artist-in-residence program for the National Park Service. His field recordings became the basis of Not Uninhabited, a seven-song EP completed during his time in the Nebraskan prairielands. It’s an idyllic work that craftily mines the soothing essence of the natural world.

  1. The Promise Ring reunite for warm-up gig

With a New Year’s Eve reunion performance in Chicago looming, The Promise Ring hastily announced a special preview at Cactus Club on Dec. 30. No advance tickets were available and the show sold out just minutes after doors were scheduled to open. Those that gained entrance were awarded an unforgettable night.

  1. Platinum Boys EP

Fresh off last March’s full-length debut Future Hits, which landed at No. 7 on our best albums of 2015, the Platinum Boys are back in town with a new six-song EP. Junior Varsity radiates with slick guitar licks, the band’s trademark scuzzy debauchery and a cover of CCR’s “Born on the Bayou.”

  1. Soul Low revive John the Savage tune

In the first BPR Session from Bobby Peru, indie-pop group Soul Low takes a shot at song by defunct Milwaukee music staple John the Savage, who called it quits in 2012. And Soul Low masterfully hits its target—“Sinking Ship” could easily pass for the band’s own, if Soul Low every goes through a gypsy phase.

  1. Midwives back in the saddle again on new EP

Working at a blistering pace, the new EP from hardcore punk band Midwives—and second release in 2015 after Februrary’s self-titled full-length—is, of course, brash and unrelenting, but Cowboy Songs is perhaps the band’s most accessible and confident release thus far.

  1. Riverwest Radio gets an FM signal

In December, Riverwest Radio, the small Internet radio station housed inside Riverwest Film and Video, was granted an FCC radio license. Starting Jan. 1, Milwaukee listeners can dial into 104.1 FM to listen to the station’s eclectic, DIY programming over the airwaves.

  1. The Year in Lists

With December came countless year-end lists that rounded up the best albums, songs and shows of the year. Midnight Reruns’ Force of Nurture topped my record of the year countdown, as well as Journal Sentinel writer Piet Levy’s. Milwaukee Record tabbed Seasons from Klassik as 2015’s best and Evan Rytlewski of The Shepherd Express perhaps wisely stayed out of the ranking game altogether with his list. The big winners nationally were milo’s so the flies don’t come (Spin’s Top 50 Rap Albums), IshDARR’s “Sugar” (Apple Music’s Best Rap Songs), Jon Mueller’s A Magnetic Center (Pitchfork’s 20 Best Experimental Records) and Tenement (No. 5 album in New York Times writer Ben Ratliff’s Top 10).



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.