Top Ten Picks for July

Summerfest finished its 11-day run this month, which means the first half of summer has already passed us by. Enjoy the weather while you still can, but for now, catch up on the best offerings from July.

10. Fall concert announcements start piling up

The fall concert schedule is beginning to look mighty strong. This year’s Pitchfork Music Festival headliner, Chance the Rapper, plans a October 16th stop at the Rave while over in Bay View, Club Garibaldi hosts a couple music heavyweights—a Tommy Stinson (of the Replacements and Guns N’ Roses) on September 11, and Craig Finn (of the Hold Steady) on October 23. If those seem like to far in advance to get excited about, local record label Dusty Medical Records is throwing a 10th anniversary showcase featuring 17 bands on August 27-30. Weekend-long passes and single tickets are available here.

9. All-ages music venue Cocoon Room folds

A major knock on Milwaukee’s local music scene is the dearth of all-ages options. That cause lost a big player last month, as Riverwest’s former-clothing-boutique-turned-DIY-music-venue Cocoon Room had its lease terminated, which is a shame because it had become the neighborhood’s premiere all-ages venue. While unfortunately the lifecycle of these spaces are usually short, it shouldn’t be too long until another one pops up in its place.

8. Radio Milwaukee promotes new program director in-house

Last month non-commercial FM station 88Nine Radio Milwaukee announced its new program director as Jordan Lee, who replaced Sean Demery. Lee has been assistant program director since 2009 and currently hosts the morning-time drive timeslot.

7. Bleach Athletixx conjures Teenage Fanclub on noise pop track

Max Holiday debuted his first single as Bleach Athletix in March with the fevered synth-pop tune “California Future.” He returned in July with the nicely-timed summer song, “Squatter’s Rights” that resembles the noisy churn of 90’s indie-rockers Teenage Fanclub.

6. Smash Mouth, astonishingly, not bad at Summerfest

Hey now, I was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining the decades-old, commercial pop sensation Smash Mouth were at Summerfest this year. While many younger fans complained before the show started that the set would include major gaps between recognizable songs, they failed to realize how large a trove of singles and covers the band mined from.

5. Awkward Terrible return with frenetic two-song EP and music video

It’s been three years since we’ve heard new songs from the video-game-music-inspired Awkward Terrible. The 8-bit band resurfaced in July with Badlands EP and a music video for the fittingly-titled “Return.”

4. Rocket into space with Maritime’s new single “Satellite Love”

Maritime released a music video this month for the first single off forthcoming record Magnetic Bodies/Maps of Bones due out October 16 on Dangerbird Records. “Satellite Love” offers a peak into their recording process.

3. Slate reporter writes an entire book about Juiceboxxx

In one of the month’s more unexpected offerings, Leon Neyfakh, a Slate staff writer, released a new book about local rapper Juiceboxxx called The Next Next Level, which serves as part-biography, part-art-criticism-essay on how the world sees Juice and how we process music. Neyfakh catches his subject at a particularly interesting time, in which the oft-nomadic Juiceboxxx starts working a part-time job in New York City. It’s a worthy read and a refreshing take from someone outside Milwaukee’s music scene that’s sure to change some minds about the in-your-face rapper.

2. Kendrick Lamar delivers fierce performance at Summerfest

There was slight backlash against Kendrick Lamar’s Summerfest performance last month because the Compton rapper barely played any new songs off the jazzy, left-turn To Pimp a Butterfly and instead focused on 2012’s major label debut good kid, m.A.A.d city. But you can’t really blame him for staying with the bangers. Lamar’s somewhat short set felt like a nonstop freight train of hits, interspersing deeper cuts from To Pimp a Butterfly only would have slowed things down. Read my whole review here.

1. Klassik’s big year comes to fruition

Rapper/producer spent the first half of 2015 hyping a new full-length with four three-song EPs loosely based on a different season. This July, he revealed the final product, Seasons, an album that rarely stays in one place long. One minute he’s singing luscious, shape-shifting R&B melodies, the next he’s slinging fuzzed out verses over free-form production. Even though he embodies a chameleon throughout the silky smooth record, Seasons comes across as his most assured effort to date. Read more about Klassik in the August issue of Milwaukee Magazine.



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.