Counting down the best and biggest happenings in the Milwaukee music scene from the month of February, complete with streams and videos galore.
The temperature reached 60 degrees this past Sunday and now it’s snowing blankets two days later. In an environment that doesn’t seem to make sense, find some stability by reliving the better times of last month with the Top Picks of February:
10. Borg Ward ends outstanding run
Milwaukee has no shortage of venues to see live music, but many of the smaller clubs are all just bars with stages, which leave those under the legal drinking limit out in the street. For the past eight years, the all-ages DIY music venue/art gallery Borg Ward, 823 W. National Ave., played host to some great bands (Ceremony and Screaming Females, to name a couple), but it also proved vital to the local scene, serving as a musical sanctuary to underage fans or people simply looking to avoid bars. Last month in a Facebook post, Borg Ward announced that it was closing. It will certainly be missed.
9. WMSE announces anniversary show
To celebrate turning 35 years old, local radio station WMSE 91.7 FM is holding an anniversary party at Turner Hall Ballroom on March 26. The punk show entitled “Never Mind the Reunions, it’s WMSE” champions the city’s past with performances by The Benjamins, Skiptracer, Feck, The Mighty Deerlick, Moloko Shivers and The Crosses (playing the first Die Kruezen album front-to-back). You can buy tickets here.
8. Flight of the Conchords plan return trip
The New Zealand duo Flight of the Conchords successfully turned their comedy songs into a critically-acclaimed HBO show in 2007, but the creative burden of coming up with new ideas for satirical songs proved too difficult within a yearly timeframe. Rather than underwhelming fans with mediocre music, the pair decided to call it quits after two seasons and take to the road, including a 2009 stop at the Riverside Theater. Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement announced their return last month with a June 18 return to the Riverside.
7. The Bang Bang soar on new EP
Whether it’s the breezy, sunny tones of the self-titled track, the venomous attitude of “Duel,” or the infectious blues rock of “Sugar,” the three-song EP Funny Love from The Bang Bang has a way of digging its claws deep, and in no time at all.
6. Feel unsettled by WC Tank’s grave new video
Rapper and filmmaker WC Tank pairs the spongy, ominous dirge of “27th and National” from August’s Vanishing Points with some creepy (yet cinematically pristine) visuals at a graveyard. Save this one for Halloween.
5. GGOOLLDD drummer glistens on new project
The latest single from burgeoning bedroom electro-pop record label Close Up of the Serene comes from GGOOLLDD drummer Mark Stewart. “Spring Construction,” Stewart’s first track under the moniker Pharo, is effortless and breezy afternoon porch music.
4. Watch the new Trapper Schoepp video
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Trapper Schoepp released his latest video in advance of his new album Rangers and Valentine due out April 1 on Xtra Mile Recordings. Shot mostly in his East Side duplex, “Talking Girlfriend Blues” makes good use of those mannequins that were hanging out in his bedroom.
3. Space Raft take off with new 7-inch
No need to wait until April for new music from the ‘60s power-pop throwbacks Space Raft. That’s when the band releases, Rubicon, its follow-up to 2014’s self-titled debut. But in February, the band returned a few months early with a 7 inch featuring two new songs, “Paper Airplanes” and “Iron Eagle.”
2. UNINTIMIDATED: Wisconsin Musicians Against Scott Walker rolls out protest videos
In response to Scott Walker’s presidential run, a collective of musicians set out to protest the governor’s policies. Sixteen bands each took a two-hour block at Howl Street Recordings to vent their frustrations. While the final products will be available in a forthcoming CD/DVD/zine release, last month the group premiered the first three music videos, FowlMouth’s “Too Tired To Riot,” Haunted Head’s “285 Feet Tall” and Holy Shit’s “How About ‘No,’ Scott?”
1. Listen to these two essential winter albums right now
Most local bands are still in the midst of winter hibernation, which means there haven’t been too many album releases so far this year. But don’t sleep on the new full-lengths from sleazy glam rockers Indonesian Junk (Indonesian Junk) and post punk three-piece WORK (Doing the Lords).