Your Milwaukee Summer Playlist

These eight new and upcoming releases from local artists provide the perfect soundtrack to the season.

1. “Hot Red” 


Singer Parker Schultz softly strums a guitar and recites a contagious chorus while describing some high-
temperature adventures. “When I wrote this, I was really fantasizing about warmer weather and what it brings and thinking about how I could create something that would transport me to that,” he says.  

2. “What If I Told You” 


Playing a standup bass as well as acoustic and resonator guitars, Rose takes listeners on an exploration of her newfound feelings of satisfaction and independence that living alone on a mountain provided. “There’s a lot of freedom that comes with nice weather,” says Rose. “I never knew how important that was until recently.” 



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3. “Modern Baseball” 


Combining a catchy melody with a driving drumline, some light guitar strumming and an escalating horn section, this jam explores the feelings around an unexpected encounter with an ex-love. “It’s got the pains of reality that sometimes get stuck in your head during summer,” explains singer Jimmy Drenovsky. “It’s about how to move forward in life and in the sun.”

Motel Breakfast; Photo by Kelsie Herzog

4. “Superstar” 


Mixing mid-tempo drums with some synthesized keyboarding reminiscent of the early ’80s, this track is a funky, windows-down sing-along about the rush of rocking a karaoke stage. “It’s about embarrassment and adrenaline,” says singer Margaret Butler. “You know you’re nailing it, feeling like a GODDAMN SUPERSTAR! We want you to remember that feeling.”  

5. “Bleu Cheques” 


This pair of hard-hitting rappers will jump right out of your speakers as they trade lyrics about recent financial and romantic conquests. “It’s gritty, it’s ego-ish and it goes in a lot of different directions,” explains Renji. “It’s got that pre-COVID energy – it’s perfect for getting back outside.”  

6. “Weather Girl” 


Fast, heavy guitars and quick drums lay the foundation for this breakup song. “It’s like being hit by a tornado where someone flips on you and changes their mind and you’re caught off guard,” says Keller. “It’s like summer in Wisconsin – you can have plans, then all of a sudden, it’s pouring rain, there’s lightning, and everything is shut down.” 

Ethan Keller; Photo by Dan Tyksinski

7. “Better” 


Full of soulful, soft singing and lyrics yearning for life to improve, this track is a product of the more difficult days of the pandemic. “There’d be some good days – mostly bad days, but some good days – and I wanted it to figure out how to just keep feeling better,” says Desi. “It’s like a mantra. It’s an affirmation. It’s sad but hopeful, too.” 

Desi; Photo by Rodney Johnson

8. “High Above the Clouds” 


If electric instrumentals filled with unexpected grooves is your summer vibe, this one’s for you. Created by a collective of longtime Milwaukee musicians, this track “doesn’t tell you what to think about it; it fits into life where you’re at,” says producer The LMNtlyst. “We don’t write the music, it just happens in the moment, a lot like summer.”  


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s July Issue.

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Based in his hometown of Madison, Steve is a freelance reporter and regular contributor to Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus and many other publications. During his undergraduate studies at UW-Milwaukee, he wrote for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Shepherd Express. Now a graduate student at UW-Madison, he'll build on his 15 years of experience in print by focusing on multimedia reporting and data visualization.