Tag Archives: Soul Low

Wisconsin Sound #9

Brett Newski’s latest album arrives Stateside

When I was in my mid-20s I liked to think of myself as a nomad. After college I lived, worked and traveled in Europe for a year before moving to Canada for grad school. The next three years I lived in Montreal, traveled across Canada, and held a writing residency on a farm in Oregon between stints at my parents caring for elderly relatives and in Minneapolis working at my college videography job. My girlfriend recently suggested that I wasn’t a true nomad because I collected possessions, which I continue to store at my parents place.

Brett Newski
Brett Newski

Eau Claire-born/New Berlin-raised musician Brett Newski is the real deal. Since the late 2000s Newski has trekked the globe spreading the DIY rock gospel. With his friend, manager and website designer “The Danimal,” Newski has covered every continent save for Antarctica. As they collect beaucoup frequent flyer miles, Newski has played countless gigs, met a ton of strangers, slept on a variety of couches, and were unfortunately blackmailed in Germany.

Newski, 29, and “Danimal” chronicle their international escapades in the entertaining YouTube series “Crusty Adventures.” This summer Newski launched the One Man Garage Band Tour, literally playing fan garages around the Midwest. Newski also had the honor of opening for Milwaukee icons The Violent Femmes on the West Coast, at First Avenue in Minneapolis, and at Summerfest.

To keep the enterprise afloat Newski has written for various websites, hawked merch, crowdfunded, and exchanged his music wisdom and performances for food, lodging, and transportation. Recently, Newski did a time-honored music tradition; he released a full-length album, the aptly titled Land Air Sea Garage.

Album artwork
Album artwork

Naturally, the 11-track record was written abroad. “A good chunk” was penned two winters ago in South Africa. A few other songs were born while Newski was living in Vietnam, between 2012 and 2014.

“It was partially tracked in the middle of the Sri Lankan jungle, which was wacky,” Newski writes me. “There was a Komodo Dragon walking around camp a few days. Them dudes are dangerous so we had to be careful.”

Land Air Sea Garage sticks to the earnest power-folk that Newski has become known for, while the polished production is a bit of a departure from his DIY aesthetic. The album features some beautiful arrangements and endearing storytelling. Music may be the engine that keeps Newski running, but the journey is just as important. Land Air Sea Garage is a delightful glimpse into Newski’s odyssey. 

A couple weeks ago Newski and company celebrated the release of the record at Cactus Club in Milwaukee.

“There’s always more pressure at hometown shows, even though you have ‘home court advantage,’” writes Newski. “But the show went off smashingly and I couldn’t have hoped for a better night. I love Milwaukee.”

Record release show at Cactus Club.
Record release show at Cactus Club.

On stage: Brett Newski will play the Stone Cellar Brewpub in Appleton on November 22.

Electronica artist Luxi appears on WMSE’s ‘Local/Live’

Luxi
Luxi

When I lived in Canada two female led indie-electro projects topped my musical discoveries: Grimes (Montreal) and Austra (Toronto). Their ethereal, dance-friendly pop sounds continue to be in heavy rotation around my house. Earlier this year, my girlfriend hipped me to a local electronica composer by the name of Luxi (Alexandre Maxine Hill). Her experimental brand of chillwave is not as brazen as Grimes, and Hill doesn’t hit the operatic vocal heights of Austra’s Katie Stelmanis. Still, Luxi has a lot of potential and an impressive catalogue of music under her belt.

Not much has been written about Luxi, who started making music in 2006. Her first official release — [Infinistesma] — is from 2012. Last week she appeared on 91.7 WMSE’s ‘Local/Live’ program for an in-studio performance and interview. What follows are excerpts from her on-air conversation with hosts Erin Wolf and Cal Roach.

On her musical beginnings: “When I was in high school, and even before that, I would record just piano and vocals. Piano was my first instrument. Eventually it evolved when I started wanting to record myself into the computer. I probably started piano classes when I was 5. I was in dance before that. I’ve always been putting myself out there. I begged my parents for lessons and luckily they came through, so thanks mom and dad.”

Luxi at MKE Synth Fest 2016
Luxi at MKE Synth Fest 2016

On her inspiration: “It comes and goes in cycles. This past summer I had a two-month span where I was just writing songs over and over, and I’m not sure where it comes from. It just kind of streams through me. It’s always based on my emotions or whatever is going on. I look inward. I also love finding new artists.”

On her live performance: “I think I’ve definitely gotten more confident. I used to kind of freeze up when I got onstage and I didn’t know what to do with my hands. Now I go out there and have fun. I feel like if you’re having fun it’s always going to be something enjoyable to watch.”

On computers: “I’ve always had an interest in computers. I loved playing games when I was a kid. We had this old PC and you could only get to the games through DOS, so you had to type in the code to open the game. That snowballed into eventually wanting to learn how to design websites. Then I started getting into technical stuff more and that helped the recording.”

On her setup: “I like to sample stuff so it becomes a blend of analog and digital. I’ll sample stuff off of my Nord Electro, which I have at home. I used to have a Roland Gaia, which has unfortunately quit working, but I still have a lot of the sounds sampled off of that. So I try and blend organic and digital sounds together.”

luxiastralmemories
album artwork

On her videos: “I think video production in general is a lot more accessible than it used to be. The cost of all the equipment has gone down and you can get free editing software now. One of my emphases in college was video production. It’s helped meld everything together and I really like the way you can express yourself in that way with visuals.”

On video collaboration: “It’s been mostly me. Recently I did one for a single called “Wandering” with Angelus from LA. Shout out to him. He flew in for a weekend and was looking for a creative project to do and it was just offered to me and I said, “Yes,” which was kind of nerve-wracking because I didn’t have an idea yet. It was pretty awesome. So that one was pretty much the only collab. But it’s been mostly just solo DYI for the videos.”

Luxi at WMSE
Luxi at WMSE

In addition to her music, Luxi has also developed a 3D interactive exploration game on HitRecord.org, an open collaboration production company founded by the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Her latest project — astral memories (p a r a d i s e) — is one of the strongest Milwaukee records of the year. During her appearance on ‘Local/Live’ Luxi premiered the song “Next to You,” which will be on her new album, Geometric Universe. For this upcoming project she has begun to expand her sound and has collaborated with drummer Joshua Jenquin. The album is scheduled to be released in January 2017.

WMSE’s ‘Local/Live’ airs every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on 91.7 FM in Milwaukee and online across the globe at wmse.org.

Vote for the 9th Annual Radio Milwaukee Music Awards

rmmaWhile most of us are emotionally and psychologically exhausted from the 2016 election cycle, there is more voting to be done. That is, if you care to dictate who takes home the Radio Milwaukee Music Awards. I’ve attended the annual awards party the last two years and it’s always a good time. In fact, the 2014 edition was where my girlfriend and I first saw WebsterX perform with what would become New Age Narcissism. There are still three more performers to be announced for this year’s party, but so far the lineup includes Ian Ewing from Noh Life, D’Amato, and NO/NO.

Because 88Nine doesn’t trim the categories down to a manageable number, it can be overwhelming deciding who to crown. For those less familiar with the artists, albums, videos, and songs, perusing the categories is a great entry point into local music. Whether you click to discover new music or vote for your favorites, make sure to do so before November 25. Click here to vote.

Trapo mini-doc & debut album + the return of bliss&alice

Our friends over at Explain News released their first mini-doc this week. The subject is up-and-coming 18-year-old Madison rapper Trapo. Earlier this year Trapo released the 10-track EP She, which made my top 6 Wisconsin hip-hop releases so far this year. His debut 16-track album — The Shade Trees — was released this week. Listen to it by clicking here.

Speaking of up-and-coming rappers, Milwaukee’s enigmatic poet laureate bliss&alice is reemerging after an extended hiatus. The scribe behind 2014’s best Wisconsin hip-hop release — Poetry Volume One – The Shit Talker Tape — recently wiped his Instagram account and began posting peach colored tiles. Three of them have information, including the producer names for each track, the title of each of track, and the release date for what is presumably a new 8-track project. The date is tomorrow, so be on the lookout for what has quickly become one of the year’s most anticipated Wisconsin releases.

bliss

THIS WEEKEND — The Fatty Acids and Soul Low prep new albums

Two of Milwaukee’s most beloved “boy bands” perform this Saturday night November 19. Pysch pop rockers The Fatty Acids will headline Club Timbuktu in Riverwest while heavy pop rockers Soul Low will be across the street at High Dive.

Soul Low are coming off the release of their long-awaited and critically-acclaimed sophomore album Nosebleeds. In the intervening time between recording and releasing Nosebleeds the busybody quartet managed to write another record, which they will be recording in the near future. They’ve indicated that they will use the High Dive set this Saturday to run through some of the new material. Also playing this free show is BRENDA (Kentucky) and Soddy Daisy (Chicago). Click here for more info.

The Fatty Acids
The Fatty Acids

Over The Fatty Acids nearly decade-long career the band — founded by Josh Evert and Derek De Vinney — has gone through a few lineup changes. Since putting out 2013’s exquisite Boléro they’ve settled on a stately quartet that includes one of Wisconsin’s finest guitar slingers: Matt Pappas. Their new record — Dogs of Entertainment — is set to be released in early 2017. Having only played a handful of shows this year, Saturday night will be a rare chance to hear some of the new material. Supporting the Fatties last show of 2016 will be their “best friend band” Sat. Nite Duets, Ruby Yacht’s Antilia Raid, and a “SUPER SPECIAL SURPRISE SPECIAL GUEST.” Click here for more info.

More 11/19 WiG recommended events (click text for more info):

Art House Trap at Jazale’s Art Studio w/ Klassik

The Riverwest Sessions: Gauss & Ravi/Lola at Public House

Bum ileum, Chalk, Falling, Hi Suffer at Bremen

Cream City Chiefers w/ Mic Kellogg, Lucien Parker, Rahn Harper at Cactus Club

Sista Strings and [ ] at Company Brewing

The Birthday Party w/ DJ Fox, TMack & Elechronic at The Gig

Wisconsin Sound #8

DEAD HORSES ON THE ROAD

At the end of September the Oshkosh-born/Milwaukee-based acoustic folk band Dead Horses released their new album Cartoon Moon. The beautiful and thoughtful 10-track project was recorded at Cartoon Moon Studios in Nashville with former Wilco and Uncle Tupelo drummer Ken Coomer. Last month they hit the road on a 10-state, 14-date tour in support of Mandolin Orange. I spoke with lead singer Sarah Vos during the band’s day off in Charleston, South Carolina.

Dead Horses
Dead Horses

VOS
We are going to go to the beach and see the ocean today. I haven’t seen the Atlantic for quite some time so I’m pretty excited.

WiG
How has the road been?

VOS
It’s awesome because we’re playing all these new cities and they’re pretty nice rooms, and really, really receptive crowds. So it’s been a blast.

WiG
How was it returning to Nashville where the new album was recorded?

VOS
There was a cool coming around with that it being almost exactly a year later. It was really fun. Our producer Ken Coomer came out to the show with his wife and his son and we got to hang out with him backstage. It felt very special. I’m a big fan of Nashville. It’s going to be a main stop for us for touring in the future. We’ve started to make friends down there.

WiG
It was a good show?

VOS
It was a great show, one of our best in Nashville. We’ve done the Americana Music Festival in Nashville, so that was pretty cool. We got to play at The Station Inn,  which is kind of a historic bluegrass venue.  To do that as part of the festival was really neat. You have all these dreams and goals, as soon as you reach one goal you kind of got your eye on the next one and you never quite make it to the horizon. But I always try to remind the guys in the band that we should be celebrating because we are very blessed.

WiG
I read that Cartoon Moon is the record that you really want people to hear. What sets it apart and what makes it so special for you?

VOS
I think it’s a patient record. It shows how we have matured through the years. I feel that it’s crafted a lot more, it’s more deliberate than other things we’ve done. That’s something that I want to continue to do as we keep making records. Because you know in the industry they talk about how bands don’t make as much money from records anymore.

But when I look at the way music has affected me and the reasons that I even wanted to be a musician, it was growing up and listening to records. To this day I’m always searching for new things to listen to and I love that. Recording it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. I love having this very focused project that was collaboration between the members of the band and the producer and the sound engineer.  

WiG
Have you been writing new songs while you’ve been on tour or performing any new material?

Dead Horses live at Anodyne Coffee. [PHOTO - DeWook Photography]
Dead Horses live at Anodyne Coffee. [PHOTO – DeWook Photography]
VOS
Usually when I write it’s pretty private, at least when I start the songs. But at the Nashville show I was very inspired by all the things that we’ve seen touring and the people we’ve met. Traveling right now across the country during such a crazy time in politics and things that are happening in the country, I’ve been telling the audiences at every show that I think regardless of where you stand, a lot of people feel pretty disheartened by the state of things. But we’ve been meeting such compassionate and wonderful people everywhere. So I’ve been trying to remind people at all the shows that it’s going to be ok. Don’t lose hope because things are going to work out.

But yeah, I always write a lot, I journal a lot, and a lot of times I just write down little snippets of things. Or even just word combinations that strike my fancy. As far as actual songs I’m not sure exactly how the new record that we’re beginning to dream up is going to go, but I just feel very confident that everything that we need is already there. I can’t wait to make another one.

Click here to listen to Dead Horses on WUWM.

B-FREE’S NEW ALBUM & POWERFUL PERFORMANCES

In the fall of 2004 I saw Jill Scott in concert at the Chicago Theatre. That performance remains the most emotionally resonant live music experience of my life. The songstress regaled us with poignant stories in between beautiful songs performed with a full band and mini orchestra. My friend and I were brought to tears and compelled to call our loved ones immediately after the show.

'Ode 2 a Luv Affair' artwork
‘Ode 2 a Luv Affair’ artwork

Listening to the latest record by Milwaukee R&B singer B~Free (Britney Farr-Freeman) reminds me of that autumn night in Chicago. Ode 2 A Luv Affair is B-Free’s second studio album. It takes listeners on a journey through the trials and tribulations of love. The recording process was challenging for a couple of reasons. Freeman, who also works as an educator, contracted a throat illness from one of her students that required surgery.

“It was difficult for me to allow myself to be as comfortable in that space as I once was. There were a lot of moments of rawness and vulnerability that I wasn’t quite ready to deal with. For example, when I was recording ‘The Vow’ I was pretty much crying the whole time,” Freeman tells me.

I first saw B~Free at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn last year when she shared a bill with Klassik, who was being backed by Foreign Goods. Freeman is now a member of Foreign Goods, which she credits with allowing her to be more comfortable collaborating and playing in front of larger audiences. Last week she was joined by her bandmates at Turner Hall to see Esperanza Spalding, an experience as affecting for her as the Jill Scott concert was for me in 2004.

B-Free [PHOTO - Mahdi Gransberry]
B-Free [PHOTO – Mahdi Gransberry]
“It was absolutely phenomenal,” says Freeman. “I was so inspired and moved emotionally and musically. It made me sincerely question my own existence. It was so deep without even trying to be. She conveys such a strong message about finding your own path and putting everything that you’ve been taught or forced to believe to the wayside. That’s always something that I’ve been aiming towards in my own life and artistry. I want to be able to wield that same power with whatever I put out into the world.”

The response to Ode 2 A Luv Affair has been positive, albeit a few detailed critiques on the album’s iTunes page. She is in the early stages of developing her next record, but before that she will go into the studio with Foreign Goods to record their first album this winter.

“It’s our goal to have it be a project that highlights everyone’s talents. There will definitely be some rap on there, some jazz, some harmonies, vocals, R&B, just a mixture of everything that we do. So we’re excited and we’re gearing up for the process,” says Freeman.

Tonight you can see B~Free with Foreign Goods for free at Club Garibaldi for a live broadcast of 91.7 WMSE’s Local/Live. Erin Wolf and Cal Roach will talk to B~Free and take audience questions in between a live performance. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the segment runs from 6 to 7 p.m. If you can’t make the show you can tune in at 91.7FM or go online wmse.org.

THE JAZZ ESTATE REOPENS BETTER THAN EVER

Unbeknownst to many Wisconsin music fans, Milwaukee has a storied jazz history. The scene has gone through its ups and downs and is currently experiencing a resurgence. One of those reasons was the temporary closing of the Jazz Estate.

Jazz Estate exterior
Jazz Estate exterior

The historic East Side haunt became the focal point of the Milwaukee jazz scene in the 2000s. When it closed its doors last year a few venues began hosting live jazz. After much anticipation and a few delays, the Estate officially reopens tonight.

In November 2015 the Jazz Estate was sold to John Dye, owner and operator of Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge since 2008. I spoke with Dye at his acclaimed South Side lounge while they were hosting a Jazz Estate cocktail preview.

“It’s always been one of the places in Milwaukee that I’ve been interested in, but they approached me,” says Dye of his new business venture.

“We’re going to do some really nice versions of classic cocktails from the ‘70s and ‘80s, ones that nobody really touches. They’re good drinks, but they’re just a little uninspired,” says Dye. You might say he’s done the same thing with the Estate.

Opened in 1977, the building fell into disrepair over the years. The Estate’s reopening was originally slated for July, but more renovations were required than anticipated. Given his dedication to preserving history, Dye took his time to do it right. Last week I attended the club’s soft opening and I’m happy to report he’s done just that.

Jazz Estate interior
Jazz Estate interior

As soon as I walked into the Estate there was a “new club smell.” It’s as if Dye’s team polished every inch of the club and then added a few of their own flourishes, like the tin ceiling in the front room and the house drum kit. The vintage looking lights and register give the bar a Bryant’s vibe. The seating and sightlines in the back area are improved as well. And the acoustics are excellent.

The Jazz Estate will feature live music on Thursdays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., with cover ranging from $5 to $12 in the first month. There is no cover for the grand opening Thursday night. DJs and pre-recorded old school soul and jazz will play the other nights at the Estate, which is better than ever.Click here for more information and to view their calendar.

SOUL LOW COVERS FEMMES, NEW RIO TURBO & UPCOMING DANCE PARTY

Soul Low at Cactus Club
Soul Low at Cactus Club

In my second feature for WiG I wrote about the young Milwaukee pop rockers of Soul Low. The success of their debut record (Uneasy) and acclaim for their latest effort (Nosebleeds) has put them in an exclusive category of Wisconsin music, alongside only a few other bands. One of those is The Violent Femmes. With lead singer Jake Balistreri’s quivering falsetto so similar to the Femme’s Gordon Gano, it was just a matter of time before the Soul Low boys paid homage to their Milwaukee music ancestors by covering “Blister in the Sun,” the Femmes’ biggest hit. I had heard the song was in Soul Low’s repertoire, but hadn’t experienced it live until last Friday night at Cactus Club. It was Night One of Gloss Records’ Halloween Spooktacular. Soul Low — half of whom were dressed as Power Rangers — closed their set with the rollicking, fine-tuned cover.

161027_vddp_posterPerforming right before Soul Low at Cactus Club  was Rio Turbo, Milwaukee’s premier trash pop dance party. Joey Turbo  dressed in neon orange hunter regalia — and his Turbette dancers debuted three new songs to kick off their set. “No He Can’t” is an instant hit, with a driving beat that my feet couldn’t deny. “Ballad” is a trippy, airy track that made me think of The Flaming Lips, with Turbo sounding a bit like Wayne Coyne. Rio Turbo also debuted their sick new neon sign, which sat on the table in front of DJ SPACE BAR, the latest edition to the Turbo lineup.

Also on Friday I announced the Beyonce + Jay Z vs. Rihanna + Drake dance party at Company Brewing on Saturday, November 26. I’m producing this event with my girlfriend and visual artist Kristina Rolander, which Rio Turbo will be making a special appearance at. The event also includes an all-star lineup of DJs (Bizzon, Annalog, Optimist, Turtle Sooup), host Lex Allen, cocktail specials and an original photo backdrop by Kristina.  Click here for more information and to RSVP.

NEW MUSIC FROM WEBSTERX, BO TRIPLEX & HIS BEAUTIFUL BAND, AUTOMATIC

Artwork by Janice Vogt
Artwork by Janice Vogt

Experimental hip-hop artist WebsterX has released his first song of the year, “Blue Streak.” Since putting out his debut project Desperate Youth in 2013, the most high profile member of the New Age Narcissism collective released some major “loosies” (singles not attached to a larger project) with 2014’s “doomsday (feat. siren),” 2015’s “Lately” and “Kinfolk (feat. Allan Kingdom).” Not to mention, last fall’s excellent 3-track, Radiohead-inspired collaboration with Q the Sun entitled KidX.

Thankfully for fans, the Four Giants produced “Blue Streak” does not continue the “loosie” trend. It is the first single from what will be WebsterX’s debut studio album. Upon the song’s release WebsterX also announced that he agreed to a distribution deal with Chicago-based label Closed Sessions. The outfit was responsible for helping the early career development of Chicago rappers like Vic Mensa and Chance the Rapper. WebsterX will maintain 100% ownership of his masters and will benefit from the label’s influence and reach. Click here to listen to “Blue Streak.”

"Hold Me Down" artwork by Jessica Yimenez
“Hold Me Down” artwork by Jessica Yimenez

Milwaukee bassist, New Age Narcissism member and music scene all-star Bo Triplex released a new single as part of the Nightmare on Center Street II playlist. “Hold Me Down” is from Bo Triplex and His Beautiful Band’s forthcoming EP deux, which has an early February release date. Bo says of the track, “‘Hold Me Down’ is a clash of worlds. Bo has been captured by those he came to defeat and though they taunt him so he refuses to give up. For he knows y’all are holding him down. Special thanks to Beathouse Music Inc. and Yessica Jimenez for the art.” Click here to listen to “Hold Me Down.”

“For the 3rd single from their upcoming full length, Marathon (11.11.16), smooth hip-hop group AUTOMatic brings the classic early 90’s R&B vibes with their certified slow jam, “You Don’t Love Me.” Emcee APRIME explores what it’s like to be caught in the trap of a love/hate relationship – something all of us have been in at least once in our life. Producer Trellmatic’s production is top notch and he adds updated drums to the retro groove. This one is for everybody that grew up with the Quiet Storm radio show playing in the background, late at night.” Click here to listen to “You Don’t Love Me.”

NEW VIDEOS FROM ISHDARR, HOT COFFIN, THE RECORD COMPANY, NO NO YEAH OKAY

Last WiG issue’s featured artist IshDARR released the first video (“Locals” directed by Damien Blue) from his latest project Broken Hearts & Bankrolls, which has received over 4 million streams in its first 3 weeks. Metal band Hot Coffin spent a late night making a freaky video in The Oriental Theatre for their song “Whistle, Hawk & Spit,” which was directed and edited by Jed Schlegelmilch. Burlington-native Chris Vos’ wildly successful LA-based blues rock band The Record Company released a lighthearted, hula hoop-centric video for their hit “Rita Mae Young.” Also, local chill wave rockers No No Yeah Okay put out an eerie Ryan Bilinski directed video for “Great Scott” from their debut EP Dual.

Wisconsin Sound #6

 

WHIPS, REYNA, AND GGOOLLDD A FEM-FALL STORM

At the beginning of 2015 two of the most buzzed about Milwaukee bands were fronted by females. GGOOLLDD’s feel good earworm single “Gold” quickly made its way on local airwaves, while Whips put out arguably the best Wisconsin record of 2014, Turn It On, which garnered heaps of critical acclaim.

Before Margaret Butler of GGOOLLDD (GG) and Ashley Smith of Whips came on the scene the leading ladies of Milwaukee music were the sister duo of Vic and Gab (Victoriah Banuelos and Hannah Gabriela Banuelos). Vic and Gab’s catchy indie pop landed them a showcase at South by Southwest (SXSW), as well as a gig opening for President Obama.

GG headed into 2016 hot on the heels of a successful EP and a string of summer festival appearances. They would become one of two local bands to sell out Turner Hall Ballroom in the last decade. Whips mostly went on hiatus, as members focused on other projects and businesses. Meanwhile, the Banuelos sisters reinvented themselves as synth pop trio Reyna, taking a few pages out of GG’s playbook.

Whips at AM/FM.
Whips at AM/FM.

All three bands in question were at the center of a storm of local music these past few weeks. On September 16 my girlfriend and I went to Madison to see UK/US rock band The Kills play Live on King Street, a free summer concert series outside the Majestic Theatre. The Kills combine the hard-driving guitar of Jamie Hince and the beautifully brash vocals of Alison Mosshart, who reminded me of Whips’ Smith during her badass performance.

Though Whips and The Kills are far more similar, GG was the first opener at Live on King Street. It’s a testament to GG’s consistency, whereas Whips has only played a handful of shows over the past year. To their credit, Whips have been working on a new record.

Scottish electro-pop trio CHVRCHES was scheduled to play The Riverside Theater on September 25 and an opener wasn’t announced until the week of the show. I figured GG was a shoe-in, but Reyna ended up taking the guest spot. Coincidentally, GG played a surprise show the night before at the old Hotel Foster space, sharing a bill with non other than Whips.

The AM/FM pop-up event at the old Hotel Foster space was a huge success. The crowd was well beyond capacity. Whips ran through a tight set that included new songs, which I’m happy to report are really good. Later in the night GG kept the party going. They played a song that I mistook for a cover of The Kills. Turns out it was their new single “Undercovers.”

Reyna at The Riverside (Courtesy of the Pabst Theater Group).
Reyna at The Riverside (Courtesy of the Pabst Theater Group).

The CHVRCHES show was my first time seeing any iteration of the Banuelos sisters live. When I first heard Reyna’s debut single “Spill Your Colors,” I mistook it for a new CHVRCHES song, so it was fitting that they opened. But their set left me unimpressed. Their cover of “Flesh Without Blood” by Grimes was a noble effort in an otherwise mediocre performance. They seem to be copying GG’s sound and style, as one of the sisters wore a glittery green jacket. What’s next? If Whips’ new album thrusts them to the forefront of local music, will the third Banuelos sister band be hard rocking?

Whips will headline the Beet Street Harvest Festival at Cactus Club in Milwaukee on October 15.

GGOOLLDD will headline Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee on December 2 and The Frequency in Madison on December 9.

VIDEO VILLAINS GO BIG

Speaking of the AM/FM pop-up event, one of the many cool aspects of that night was the Video Villains. The Milwaukee-based visual art projection duo of Michael Britton and Adam Kuhnen have made a name for themselves by creating dynamic backdrops for live music performances. Originally working as DJs and promoters, the duo switched over to video projection after attending an eye-opening party in Minneapolis.

Ad Rock Music Series (PHOTO - Bigshot Robot).
Ad Rock Music Series (PHOTO – Bigshot Robot).

When indie pop rockers Dream Attics made their live debut in May 2015 at Mad Planet Video Villains created a beautiful set with synchronized table lamps, smoke machines and back-projected visuals. That summer they brought their brand of sensory art to the open waters of Lake Michigan on the Noh Life Cruise.

This summer I noticed that I wasn’t seeing their name on local shows as much. That’s because the duo has expanded their vision, collaborating on larger scale events and some that aren’t music related. I emailed Britton to see what the guys have been up to over the past year.

“We still do local shows but have switched our focus to more well thought out events that can help facilitate our creative vision. We are doing Planned Parenthood’s 80th Anniversary party at Potawatomi Casino this Fall, along with the infamous Zombie Pub Crawl in Minneapolis.”

“Some of the highlights of our summer include teaming up with Beauty Bar and Red Bull for an awesome Lollapalooza after party with LCD Soundsystem. We also teamed up with Visit Milwaukee for national tourism week for a two-night projection mapped building installation downtown on the Marcus Performing Arts Center.”

On September 2 my girlfriend and I went to the newly-opened Adventure Rock indoor climbing center/condominiums on Milwaukee’s East Side for the first Ad Rock Music Series event. Having already been involved with the Brookfield location, the Villains created an installation for the Milwaukee site’s grand opening. After that, Adventure Rock was all ears for the prospect of a music series.

“The Ad Rock Music Series is something we have wanted to tackle for a while now. We are always looking for opportunities to host concerts in a non-traditional setting and the climbing gym was the perfect chance for us to transform a space into something Milwaukee has never seen before.”

And indeed it was something unique for not only Milwaukee but Wisconsin. During sets by Boom Boom Klap, Chris Siegel, Strehlow x Ian Ewing, and Win + Woo, the Villains projected custom visuals on an off-white, forty-foot climbing wall. With the padded floor below the climbing walls and the huge open space, it was an awesome environment to experience live music. The Villains are currently planning the second Ad Rock Music event and promise more surprises and bigger names.

MFF 2016 HIGHLIGHTS & LGBT FILM FESTIVAL

The bustling crowds at the 8th installment of the Milwaukee Film Festival put our cinephile tendencies on full display. Though the largest local film fest has wrapped, another beloved celebration of cinema is just around the corner. The 31st Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival officially kicks off October 12. Before previewing some of those films, let’s take a look at some highlights from the MFF.

On Friday September 23 local music and filmmaking luminaries gathered for the second Milwaukee Music Video Show. A few videos made their debut at the festival including Maritime’s cheeky “Roaming Empire,” Fox Face’s eerie “Teenage Wiccan,” and the touching “Doctor My Own Patience” by Serengeti. The entries were cinematic, silly, trippy, haunting, and overall impressive.

Menomonee Falls-native Richard Riehle of Office Space fame appears in Trapper Schoepp’s video for “Settlin’ or Sleepin’ Around.” During the Q & A Schoepp told the crowd how he landed this Hollywood actorby following him into Comet Cafe one afternoon and asking him politely.

Canopies “Getting Older” utilizes infrared structured light imaging. During the Q & A we learned that this technique was achieved by hacking an Xbox Kinect camera and using open-source hardware and custom software. In Fabian James & Treyy G’s “See You” the dynamic moves of breakdancer Andrei Duka Antipov were captured by a homemade camera rig that spun around Antipov. Interestingly, director Quinn Hester randomly met the singer during a visit to an Apple Store.

The first time I saw Group of the Altos’ video for “Coplights” it was an emotional experience. The texture and imagery are both beautiful and bleak, perfectly matching the song. All dozen-plus members of the group appear in the video. Seeing “Coplights” on the big screen at the Oriental was ten times as emotional, considering the band is currently on hiatus. Whether GOTA returns or not, the video stands as a testament to one of the greatest ensembles in Wisconsin music history.

Throughout the Milwaukee Music Video Show two camps emerged as the premier local music video makers: Sane Crew and Cody LaPlant/Damien Klaven, each with three entries. While the Sane Crew video for WC Tank’s “27th & National” was a worthy contender for best video, LaPlant/Klaven took home the award for their work on WebsterX’s “Lately.”

The Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival will unspool at the UWM Union Cinema next week, save for the Opening Night film, which will be at the Oriental Theatre. Kiki (October 12, 7 p.m., Oriental) kicks off the festival by revisiting the NYC scene where LGBTQ youth-of-color found agency and inspiration in the Kiki balls profiled in the landmark 1990 documentary Paris is Burning.

Another loosely music-related film is Spa Night (October 15, 7 p.m.), about a first generation Korean-American young man struggling with homosexual desires, set principally in the nocturnal world of spas and karaoke bars in LA’s Koreatown. Actor Joe Seo won the Special Jury Award for breakthrough performance at Sundance.

The legacy of the oldest Black owned disco in America is featured in Jewel’s Catch One (October 17, 7 p.m.). The film is rich with music from the last forty years, plus exclusive interviews with the likes of Madonna, Sandra Bernhard and more, as it chronicles Jewel-Thais Williams’ four decades of music, fashion, celebrity and activism. Williams and director C. Fitz will be in attendance.

As part of the Closing Night program Who Wants Cake?: An Evening of Community Shorts (October 23, 7 p.m.) there will be a short about the first and only gay-themed country music album. Forty years after its release Patrick Heggerty’s Lavender Country (1973) is being heralded as “resonant and wonderful…a rare act of bravery and honesty.” The short documentary (These C*cksucking Tears) explores Heggerty’s unlikely personal journey.

FOX FACE IMPRESSES WITH WITCHY WAYS

In the last issue of WiG I wrote about the ladies of New Boyz Club, who celebrated their debut EP release on September 30 at Company Brewing. For that performance they put together a lineup of supporting acts featuring talented females, including Sista Strings, Hello Death and the power punk quartet of Fox Face, the only band on the bill I hadn’t yet seen.

Hot off the release of their first vinyl pressingthe Teenage Wiccan 7-inchand the debut of their video for “Teenage Wiccan” at the Milwaukee Music Video Show, Fox Face thoroughly impressed in a live setting.

Back in April during the Arte Para Todos festival I heard that Fox Face’s abrasive volume elicited noise complaints from a neighbor of Brenner Brewing Company, where the show was being held. Allegedly, the neighbor had a decibel level App on his iPhone that he used to prove how deafening the sound was.

Indeed, Fox Face plays loud and fast, but with plenty of skill and charisma to back up the big decibels. During their set Fox Face did an awesome cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” which they hadn’t performed since PrideFest. “We’ve got a wiccan set up by our merch table,” bassist Mary-Jo mentioned. “Stop by and we’ll have a séance.” Their witchy sounds and style have made Fox Face one of the best punk bands in Wisconsin.

NEW MUSIC FROM SIREN, El-SHAREEF, and GGOOLLDD

"Priestess" artwork by Janice Vogt.
“Priestess” artwork by Janice Vogt.

Since taking the city by storm last year with their rapturous live performances, the New Age Narcissism collective has put out some of the best music in Wisconsin. Q the Sun released two excellent projects with WebsterX (KidX) and Lorde Fredd33 (Dead Man’s View), while Lex Allen put out the Social Me Duh EP and the excellent single “Cream and Sugar (ft. WebsterX).” Though she often steals the live show with her magnetic voice and presence, Siren has only released a few songs, including “Queen Medusa.” There have long been talks of an EP, but so far nothing has stuck. That is, until now. “Priestess” (produced by Mic Kellogg) is the first single from Siren’s forthcoming project. Fingers crossed.

Siren will perform live in support of Gosh Pith on October 7 in the Back Room at Colectivo in Milwaukee. Also sharing the bill will be NO/NO and Liquid City Motors.

El-Shareef, the author of one my top six Wisconsin hip-hop projects of the year, is back with an uncharacteristically upbeat Derelle Rideout produced joint called “Uniform Souls.” It’s the first single off Reef’s forthcoming debut album that will be released on vinyl through Germany’s Radio Juicy. Give it a listen here.

img_7552Two weeks after they rocked a packed house at the old Hotel Foster space for the AM/FM event (mentioned above), synthpop heavyweights GGOOLLDD dropped a new song and announced they’ll be returning to headline Turner Hall Ballroom on December 2 with Har Mar Superstar and Flint Eastwood. The new track, “Undercovers,” marks a turning point in the writing process for the group, as all five members provided input. It was recorded with Ben H. Allen in his Atlanta recording studio in August. It is GG’s best use of guitar to date and another banger for their repertoire. Listen to it here.

NEW VIDEO FROM SOUL LOW

Though it’s a couple months later than I originally reported in my feature on heavy surf pop rockers Soul Low, their new video for “Be Like You” has finally been released. As they mentioned in our interview, it’s “like Pee Wee Herman suburban insanity,” and a nice example of the Soul boys tendency to perform in drag at house shows. Also, it’s somewhat of a preview for their Gloss Records presents: Halloween Spooktacular show at Cactus Club on October 28. Last year on Halloween they performed in full KISS costumes. What will the boys be this year?

Soul Low and the domestic beer challenge

The rock outfit from Milwaukee known as Soul Low includes Jake Balistreri (vocals, guitar), Sam Gehrke (vocals, bass), Charlie Celenza (drums) and Sean Hirthe (keyboard, saxophone). They are a restless bunch. You’d be hard pressed to find a local band who works harder than Soul Low.

In between their debut record, Uneasy (2013), and the official follow-up, Nosebleeds (last week), they released two EPs (Kind Spirit and Sweet Pea), a few demos, a couple b-sides, a single, and an Unplugged live recording. They just can’t help themselves.

Over the past month or so the boys played Appleton’s Mile of Music (twice), 88Nine Radio Milwaukee’s “414 Live,” a benefit for Planned Parenthood, Chill on the Hill, River Rhythms, Summer Soulstice, a boat cruise, and UW-Madison’s terrace. In between proper tours of the East Coast and Southwest the band started doing weekend runs around the Midwest.

One of the reasons Soul Low has been so restless over the past year is that their highly-anticipated sophomore release was delayed due to a vinyl pressing backlog, an unfortunate side effect of vinyl’s return to popularity. They recorded Nosebleeds in November 2015 over a weekend in Chicago. Nine months later the album has finally seen the light of day.

"Nosebleeds" album art.
“Nosebleeds” album art.

Nosebleeds is far more complex than the rambunctious, garage rock jams on their latest EP, but their dark pop sensibility is still there. Songs like “Frenemies” and “The Adulterer” unravel slowly, more deliberately. Album closer “Hard to Gage” is a sweet ballad about romantic uncertainty. The growth between Uneasy and Nosebleeds reflects their maturity as songwriters, performers, and young men, though they remain a goofy band of brothers.

You might not be surprised to learn that amid their heavy workload the boys occasionally blow off steam and sometimes that involves classic American beer. Knowing Soul Low’s penchant for Blatz beer–they wrote a song called “Blatz Beat” and made this awesome video for it–I figured it might be fun to put their palates to the test with a blind taste test of five domestic beers with century-old recipes while I conducted an interview with the band.

The night I visited Soul Low was Charlie’s 25th birthday. As their oldest member, lone Tool enthusiast and Chicago sports fan, he is sort of the black sheep of the band. Jake is the frontman. He combines boyish good looks with a quivering falsetto and painfully honest lyrics. Sam is the de facto manager of the band, running one of the tightest ships in town.

Sean was away at college for the bulk of their post-Uneasy period, but has been in the band since the beginning. It’s worth mentioning that when they made Uneasy, arguably the best debut record from a Milwaukee band in my lifetime, the boys were still in high school.

After moving back to Milwaukee Sean took up residence in the Riverwest neighborhood in a corner house on Humboldt Boulevard. The basement was previously a Sat. Nite Duets practice space, which is where I met with Soul Low.

When I arrive they are wrapping rehearsal. I go upstairs to the kitchen/living room area to set up the domestic beer challenge. I do not reveal the names of the beers, but they are Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), Old Milwaukee, Blatz, Miller High Life, and Schlitz. I would’ve included Hamm’s but Old Milwaukee six-packs were more readily available. I tell them that Hamm’s may or may not be in the lineup. The challenge requires you to guess the beer and give it a rating from zero to five.

I pass out the initial beer and Jake speaks first. He thinks it’s a High Life. Sam agrees. Jake gives it a three. What follows is a transcript of our conversation, with a few omissions for legal purposes.

Topics of discussion include their new album, building their fan base, a weird house show in Albuquerque, the best venue in Milwaukee, Souls of Mischief, their boat cruise, “Lejames Brown,” The Mosleys, scoring dresses at thrift stores, and the video for “Be Like You,” which comes out August 16.

(The first beer is PBR.)

CHARLIE: “I’m thinking that’s PBR.”

SAM: “No f****** way.”

JAKE: “What?”

CHARLIE: “Honestly, I think it’s PBR.”

SAM: “I’m trying to envision myself being blacked out having that last beer of the day…”

SEAN: “Well, it’s kind of bitter.”

SAM: “…reaching for that tall boy.”

SEAN: “Just for the sake of mixing it up I’m going to go with Hamm’s.”

SAM: “You think it’s Hamm’s? No f****** way.”

JAKE: “No way.”

SEAN: “I would say two.”

JAKE: “This could be Miller Lite. Are there light beers?”

WiG: “No light beers.”

JAKE: “Right. I’m going to give it a six.”

SAM: “Out of five?”

JAKE: “Oh my bad. Same answer. Write down a six please.”

CHARLIE: “I’ll go with three. I think it’s PBR. Actually, wait, wait…no it’s not.”

JAKE: “PBR doesn’t have any taste.”

CHARLIE: “You’re right. I revoke that. I’m sipping and I’m thinking about it. This might actually be Hamm’s. I’m going to side with Sean on this one.”

SEAN: “Who’s picking sides here? I was just trying to be the odd man out. I didn’t really think that was it. I was kind of joking.”

WiG: “First question, what was the difference between the recording process for this record versus the last one?”

CHARLIE: “It was very, very different.”

SEAN: “They were both in basements.”

SAM: “Well, technically. Uneasy was done in more of a studio setting at Bobby Peru.”

SEAN: “That’s the only similarity I can think of.”

JAKE:Uneasy was done with high end equipment, state-of-the-art stuff.”

CHARLIE: “The pressure was on because it was by the hour.”

SAM: “It was a little more expensive.”

WiG: “Where was Uneasy recorded?”

SAM: “Shane (Olivio) was at the time in a basement by Wilson Park on Howell. It was his dad’s house, but it was still set up really well. It was pretty isolated.”

CHARLIE: “The recording process for the new record was very laid back. We recorded it at this guy Chris Lee’s house. We got it done in a weekend.”

JAKE: “And like bare minimum equipment.”

CHARLIE: “We basically lived in his house for those days.”

JAKE: “Yeah it was done like the epitome of DIY, not much equipment, actually lofi. There were no condenser mics at all, no isolation, no headphones. It was all done on live 57, 58 mics, the post-production was minimal.

SAM:  “The reason for the change in aesthetic and style is that after Uneasy we wanted to make a record that sounded more like our live show. Something more raw or visceral. We did some tracking with Shane at Bobby Peru. But we wanted to take that route of something that was a little more gritty, so he reached out to Chris in Chicago.”

(I pass out the second beer, which is Old Milwaukee.)

CHARLIE: “This is harder than I thought. I thought for sure I would recognize the beers right away.”

JAKE: “I’m certain it’s not High Life. I think this one might be PBR.”

SEAN: “Yep, that’s PBR.”

SAM: “I don’t know. It might be a Blatz.”

SEAN: “What?”

CHARLIE: “This is PBR. I’m pretty sure.”

SEAN: “This isn’t that fizzy.”

CHARLIE: “It’s been sitting in that cup for a few minutes.”

SEAN: “I feel like I can’t just say what everyone else says.”

SAM:  “I think it’s a Blatz or PBR.”

JAKE: “I think it’s a PBR.”

SAM: “I’ll say Pabst.”

JAKE: “PBR and two.”

SAM: “It’s flat enough where it feels like a Pabst.”

SEAN: “Alright, if we’re wrong, we’re wrong together. PBR.”

CHARLIE: “I mean, that’s easily the most recognizable. I drink this s*** so much.”

WiG: “I know there’s no light beer, but this one almost seems light to me.”

SAM: “It seems super light, which is why I think it’s a Pabst. I’m going to have to agree with you on that.”

WiG: “And how would you rate it?”

SAM: “Two.”

CHARLIE: “Five! Give it a five!”

SEAN: “Did you just say five? I’ll say two again.”

SAM: “Sean is harsh on the domestics.”

CHARLIE: “You’re judging domestics. You shouldn’t compare it to f****** Riverwest Stein.”

WiG: “Alright, next question. You guys tour more than probably any other Milwaukee band.”

SAM: “Yeah we do, number one.”

WiG: “How do you keep it fresh? How do you keep it lively on tour?”

SAM: “That’s a good question.”

CHARLIE: “Tour is just a whole different mindset. You got to get into that headspace on tour. You’re living in a car, going to a city you may have never been to, meeting people that you may have never met.”

Soul Low at Locust Street Festival 2015
Soul Low at Locust Street Festival 2015. (Photo by Wendy Jean)

SEAN: “The thing we did this fall that we haven’t done in the past is the weekend runs. Like every other weekend pretty much we were out on the road, hitting a couple of cities in the Midwest. It’s good because it keeps you always in tour mode. Even when you’re still in the Midwest, if it’s a city you’ve only played a couple times you’re still trying to build on it. That way you never really get settled.”

SAM: “I think when you tour more often you get the mindset that you have to bring the same intensity if you’re playing to a crowd the size of Summer Soulstice or some small bar in a new city. You get into that routine and you stop thinking, “S*** well, nobody’s really here, I guess I’ll just get through it and go home.””

JAKE: “Yeah when we first started doing the weekend runs we had a nice little following in most Wisconsin cities, plus Minneapolis and Chicago. But then we started going to Ohio and Indiana, and that kicked our asses. Holy s***. F*** Indiana. I’ll still say that.”

CHARLIE: “F*** that whole state.”

SAM: “We have two shows coming up there guys.”

SEAN: “Columbus and Cleveland have been pretty good to us though.”

SAM: “But that’s the thing. I think it’s because we played with the same energy that we like to play our music in those cities when we are playing a basement with ten people. That was enough to sway people to our camp. So the next time we come around they tell their friends and the crowds get bigger.”

CHARLIE: “I will say that when you do show up to a new city  and we killed the show, all these strangers love us, the high that you get from that is amazing.”

JAKE: “Yeah that’s the best. It means a lot more to impress strangers than to impress anyone you know.”

CHARLIE: “It’s so rewarding.”

SAM: “Yeah.”

CHARLIE: “Not only playing to a new audience, but also trying new songs and seeing how people react to them.”

WiG: “That kind of answers my follow-up question: do you feel pressure to go back to the same cities to build the audience, or is it more exciting to try a new town?”

SAM: “We’ve been touring for three years now and we’ve done extensive tours of the Southwest and the East Coast. We played places like Albuquerque, New Mexico and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. These places we’ve never thought to play. We’ve also done a lot of return shows. It’s a different excitement. It’s exciting to be in a new place and to take it in as almost like a tourist. But then when you’re playing cities that you’re familiar with it has its own excitement in that you can see the growth of the fan base.”

Soul Low at Quenchers Saloon in Chicago. (Photo by Jim Vondruska)

JAKE: “The fans that really stick are the ones in the return cities. Those are the ones that have seen you, they had a great time and they bring their friends. That’s how you get real fans. Whereas the people who come to shows in those initial stops or one-offs can be a bit more fleeting. Maybe they had a great time but they didn’t connect with you on the Internet.”

SAM: “Yeah if you don’t return then you risk losing them.”

SEAN: “That’s why we’re going back to the East Coast for the new album tour. We’re going to hit most of the cities that we played before. We’ve been talking about this album for so long that hopefully we will be able to sell it to a lot of those people.”

WiG: “You were saying, “F*** Indiana.” I was just driving through there yesterday.”

SAM: “It’s a hard state to drive through.”

JAKE: “I’m not going to pretend that that state is okay.”

SEAN: “Beautiful windmills though.”

CHARLIE: “It is not okay, even with those windmills.”

WiG: “I’m not a big fan of Indiana. What is the weirdest place you’ve been to?”

JAKE: “What was that place in Ohio?”

CHARLIE: “Columbus?”JAKE: “No.”

SAM: “Cincinnati.”

JAKE: “No.”

SAM: “Cleveland.”

JAKE: “No. What are the other towns in Ohio?”

SAM: “Dayton?”

JAKE: “Dayton! I thought Dayton was pretty strange.”

SAM: “Dayton was kind of weird. The bartender kept giving us shots and Back to the Future was on.”

CHARLIE: “Oh yeah!”

SAM: “It was almost like a biker bar. Felt kind of tough rock. I mean we could see people digging our set and it was cool, but it was weird because the downtown felt old timey.”

SEAN: “And the strangest thing was that we asked the bartender, “Do we get drinks or anything?” And he was like, “Nah, just half off food. But I’ll buy you a drink.” After he bought me one drink I was like, “Okay, maybe do we get drinks?” Then it was anything we wanted.”

SAM: “Whenever my beer was empty or my shot glass was empty he came to the rescue.”

CHARLIE: “For all of us, that was a great night.”

SEAN: “And Back to the Future was on.”

CHARLIE: “We weren’t even on tour.”

SAM: “That was just a one-off.  I would say the weirdest for me was Albuquerque.”

SEAN: “Yeah that was strange.”

JAKE: “I f****** loved Albuquerque.”

CHARLIE: “It was weird but awesome.”

SAM: “It was a weird day because we got up at like 5 a.m. in Austin to drive. I took the first shift and we’re on the open road in Texas and all this s*** happened. Sean’s sleeping bag fell off, we were super low on gas and it was like 60 miles to the next station, we hit black ice in New Mexico.”

SEAN: “Cars were flipped over everywhere.”

SAM: “But it ended up being like the best show of that to tour.”

JAKE: “One of the best.”

SAM: “Yeah it was a house show. It wasn’t crazy packed but we ended up running into one of the guys from Filter Free Radio, one of the guys who does Tasty Tapes here in Milwaukee. We also ran into someone’s relative…”

JAKE: “Charlie’s.”

CHARLIE: “That was super weird. Some like cousin of mine. I don’t even want to explain that. Some friend of the family I didn’t even know lived at Albuquerque who I’d never even met before showed up like, “Hey Charlie!” He got the address from my mom who didn’t even tell me he was going to show up, it was a whole weird thing.”

SEAN: “People were dancing hard it was cool.”

(I pass out the third beer, which is Blatz.)

ALL: “Third beer, cheers to Albuquerque.”

JAKE: “Blatz?”

CHARLIE: “Oh, that’s Blatz.”

SAM: “That’s a Blatz.”

SEAN: “Thaaat’s a Blatz. I was waiting for it.”

WiG: “I think I forgot the order now.”

JAKE: “Well, we’ll tell you, it’s a Blatz. God damn that’s a Blatz.”

SAM: “It’s got that sweetness.”

SEAN: “I’ve been drinking it pretty much every week for the past year or so.”

CHARLIE: “It’s such a sugary beer, just so sweet.”

SEAN: “Five out of five.”

JAKE: “It’s got that heaviness, but not the bite.”

CHARLIE: “Five all across the board.”

SAM: “I’ll say four.”

CHARLIE: “Oh damn you Sam.”

SAM: “I’m a hard son of a b****.”

JAKE: “Five.”

SEAN: “We wrote a song about it and you can’t even stand with us Sam?”

SAM: “The video got me black out. I won’t condone that.”

CHARLIE: “Ah, I take it back. I’ll give it a one.”

SEAN: “What?”

CHARLIE: “Because I actually f****** hate Blatz.”

SAM: “You’re killing our personal brand.”

JAKE: “Turn the recording off for that one, that’s off the record.”

(Sam picks up the voice recorder.)

SAM: “This is off the record.”

CHARLIE: “These guys do genuinely drink Blatz. I don’t. I don’t buy the seven dollar 15-pack.”

JAKE: “Five out of five. It sustains me.”

SAM: “Keeps me living.”

WiG: “Favorite place to play in Milwaukee?”

JAKE: “For me it’d be Cactus.”

CHARLIE: “Cactus Club is always awesome.”

SEAN: “Best sound.”

JAKE: “Best sound in the city.”

CHARLIE: “I love that they have the stage separated from the bar.”

SAM: “Yeah that separation is beautiful.”

CHARLIE: “Best move ever.”

SAM: “Because you can really see who came out to actually see you. And if you just want to get a drink there you can isolate yourself for a little bit.”

SEAN: “I love that they added those patio seats.”

SAM: “Yeah that’s awesome.”

SEAN: “And a food truck is sometimes there too.”

CHARLIE: “If you drag your friend to the show and he doesn’t want to see the band you can pay for your ticket and he can hang at the bar. Just nice having that option.”

JAKE: “And the sound is so good. It’s amazing.”

CHARLIE: “What’s that guy’s name?”

SAM: “Alex.”

CHARLIE: “Alex what though?”

SAM: “Alex Pekka Hall.”

CHARLIE: “Best sound guy in Milwaukee, hands down.”

WiG: “He’s got an interesting backstory. He’s from New York City, grew up in Greenwich Village. His dad worked on the Internet before it was the Internet, essentially. The New York Times tried out sending articles through cable lines to people’s TVs, and you could hook up your keyboard to the TV and write a comment on the article.”

ALL: “Whoa!”

SAM: “I’ve heard some weird stories. We opened for Sun Club in May and he was talking about as a teenager he used to do flyering in New York City. Random people would pay you $100 cash, give you posters and you had to put them up otherwise they would find you and f*** you up. If the cops showed up while you were putting up flyers you’d have to cover your ass.”

(At this point Charlie goes over to one of Sean’s roommates who is enjoying a frozen pizza and an episode of Rick and Morty, an animated TV show from Milwaukee-native Dan Harmon, in the living room.)

CHARLIE: “I hate to drop this bomb on you but it’s my birthday.”

SAM: “Look at this entitled motherf*****.”

WiG: “Is it really his birthday?”

JAKE: “Yeah.”

(Charlie is granted a slice of pizza.)

CHARLIE: “Thank you man. I consider it the greatest birthday gift I’ve ever got.”

WiG: “Favorite place to play anywhere?”

SAM: “We’ve had good shows in Columbus, Ohio.“

JAKE: “Minneapolis.”

SEAN: “Yeah Minneapolis.”

JAKE: “We’ve had like two shows in Columbus.”

SAM: “Yeah but they were good shows.”

SEAN: “Every time we played Minneapolis it’s been crazy. Except for the one recently, but that was at a new venue.”

JAKE: “I would say both of our best shows were in Minneapolis.”

SAM: “Alright, I’ll second that.”

JAKE: “They were both house shows. One was at Green Greens, which is no longer a venue. And the other was at the Party Garage, which is also no longer a venue. But Minneapolis as a whole. That place is so respectful to bands. They care about music so much.”

The Birthday Boy and His Pizza.
The Birthday Boy and His Pizza.

SAM: “And they like to party with the bands.”

WiG: “Yeah I love the Twin Cities. By the way, happy birthday Charlie. How old are you now?”

CHARLIE: “I’m 25,” he says with a mouthful of pizza.

WiG: “You’re the elder statesman?”

JAKE: “Yeah he is.”

CHARLIE: “I’m like a year older than all of them.”

SAM & SEAN: “Two years older.”

JAKE: “We’re all 23.”

CHARLIE: “Okay, well I’m like a year-and-a-half older.”

JAKE: “I turn 24 in a few months.”

CHARLIE: “Okay, so I guess I’m two years older than Sam and Sean.”

SAM: “Ninety-three. That’s how we chill from ‘93 til.”

CHARLIE: “Love that song.”

WiG: “Did you guys see the documentary about Souls of Mischief that was at the Milwaukee Film Festival a couple years ago?”

SAM: “No. Was it good?”

CHARLIE: “Oh man, all the rappers in that group, their solo careers are awesome. That whole crew.”

WiG: “The guy who made it was meant to produce that film. I got to interview him. He was just one of the homies from the neighborhood who wanted to be a filmmaker and eventually went into TV. He recorded them since they were in high school and followed their careers. It was his first film, which he did as a side project while working in the TV industry in the Bay Area.”

CHARLIE: “That’s one of my favorite hip-hop albums, 93 ‘til Infinity by Souls of Mischief.”

(Jake takes a sip of the fourth beer, which is High Life.)

JAKE:  “I think it’s Schlitz, just saying.”

(The rest of us pick up our beers.)

SAM: “Cheers to Minneapolis.”

SEAN: “Yeah, Schlitz, I think so too. Has like kind of a sour thing.”

JAKE: “Could be Hamm’s though.”

SAM: “I feel like Hamm’s is more bitter than sour.”

SEAN: “That’s why I thought Hamm’s was the first one.”

SAM: “I thought the first one was pretty easy. I swear it was High Life.”

SEAN: “I think the aftertaste gives it away.”

SAM: “Schlitz and Hamm’s are super close to me.”

JAKE: “I’m going to go Hamm’s.”

SEAN: “I’m gonna go Schlitz.”

SAM: “How many more do we have to go?”

WiG: “One more after this.”

JAKE: “I’m gonna go Hamm’s. Schlitz always jumps out at me because I don’t have it much.”

CHARLIE: “It’s hard to tell because it’s pretty flat now. But I think this one is Schlitz.”

SAM: “I’ll go Schlitz. I don’t think it’s as bitter as Hamm’s. I’m going to give it a light 2.7.”

SEAN: “Solid three.”

CHARLIE: “2.786. Just kidding. Solid five. Schlitz is my favorite domestic.  I don’t always pay the extra two bucks for the 12 pack, but sometimes.”

JAKE: “I’m going to say Hamm’s and 2.5. And I mean that .5.”

WiG: “Do you have any tour rituals?”

SEAN: “Grocery shopping should be more of a ritual.”

JAKE: “Eating fast food.”

SAM: “Yeah eating fast food is an unfortunate one.”

JAKE: “MacDons.”

SAM: “We’re a pretty straight ahead band. “

CHARLIE: “We’re just a couple of dudes.”

(Everybody laughs.)

SAM: “We kind of just do our work and get drunk.”

SEAN: “Disposable cameras.”

JAKE: “It’s not a ritual.”

SEAN: “I mean we always get them for tours.”

CHARLIE: “That counts.”

DisposableCam

JAKE: “Doing great PR, if that’s a ritual.”

SAM: “Promoting the personal brand.”

SEAN: “Yeah we do a lot of Instagram stuff, like fun things.”

CHARLIE: “We often argue about music choices, music politics are a thing.”

JAKE: “Oftentimes after a show we bring people back to what we call “Car Bar.” It’s kind of like if we had a cool trailer to bring people back to, but it’s just our van.”

(The final beer is handed out, which is Schlitz. We cheers to “Car Bar.”)

SAM: “I take it back. The last one was something else, this is Schlitz.”

CHARLIE: “F*** you, you’re right.”

SEAN: “This is even more sour than the other one.”

SAM: “I was waiting for this one.”

CHARLIE: “Then what was that last one?”

JAKE: “Hamm’s.”

CHARLIE: “No the first one was Hamm’s.”

JAKE: “First one was High Life. Because the first one was good and High Life is good.”

SAM: “High Life is just so straight ahead. I’m going to say this one is Schlitz and the last one was Hamm’s and I’ll give this a one. I don’t like this so much.”

SEAN: “I know I’m wrong, but I gotta play the game. I’ll say this one is Hamm’s and I’ll give it a two.”

CHARLIE: “You are so full of s*** Sean.”

SEAN: “No I’m trying to play the game. If we all have the same answer then who’s going to win?”

CHARLIE: “Okay, wait, wait, wait. Blatz, Hamm’s, Schlitz, PBR, and High Life.”

SEAN: “Are we missing one?”

WiG: “There may be a wild card.”

SEAN: “Old Milwaukee maybe.”

CHARLIE: “A Busch?”

SAM: “Oh, that could be an Old Milwaukee.”

WiG: “No Anheuser-Busch products.”

JAKE: “Oh s***, Old Mil.”

SEAN: “I’m gonna say Old Milwaukee for this one.”

CHARLIE: “That first one was Old Milwaukee! F***!”

JAKE: “No way Old Milwaukee is more bitter than that and it’s not that smooth.”

WiG: “It’s totally cool to change your guesses.”

SEAN: “I’m going to say that this one is Old Milwaukee.”

SAM: “The last one was Old Milwaukee. This is still Schlitz cuz it wasn’t bitter enough to be a Hamm’s, but it still has some bitterness to it.”

SEAN: “I’m so confused.”

JAKE: “I don’t know anymore. I’m going to say this is Old Mil and see what happens.”

CHARLIE: “Okay so my final verdict is the first one was Old Milwaukee. High Life is in there somewhere, it has to be.”

JAKE: “Unless MGD is in there.”

WiG: “No, no.”

JAKE: “Oh yeah. It’s not old enough. It came out in the ‘70s I think.”

CHARLIE: “I didn’t guess High Life for any of them, did I?

WiG: “No you didn’t.”

CHARLIE: “It has to be there somewhere, f***.”

SEAN: “There could be a freaky omission.”

(They all zone out on a scene in Rick and Morty. Charlie is pumped for the third season.)

CHARLIE: “I’m definitely going to say that this one is Schlitz. The question is what do I switch the last one to? Schlitz, five. Give Old Milwaukee a five too.”

SEAN: “You know they say not to change your answers on multiple choice tests.”

WiG: “One thing we’ve learned so far is that you guys definitely know Blatz.”

SEAN: “Yeah, I’ll take that.”

SAM: “I was sipping one before you got here.”

CHARLIE: “Leinenkugel’s could be in there too, f***!”

WiG: “No Leinie’s. Alright, I’ll reveal the beers now. Not in this order, but we had Schlitz, Blatz, High Life, PBR and Old Milwaukee. So we don’t have a clear winner. But if Charlie had went with his gut, he would’ve won. The first one was…PBR.”

(The guys gasp and shout. Charlie makes a strange guttural sound.)

CHARLIE: “I knew, I knew, I knew right away from my first sip!”

JAKE: “I am shocked.”

SAM: “That is shocking.”

CHARLIE: “F***! I knew it was PBR!”

SEAN: “That’s sweet, sweet justice.”

CHARLIE: “PBR. Man, you come back. Every time you think you hate PBR, you come crawling back to PBR. Every time dude. They cornered the f****** market on domestics.”

SAM: “What was that second one?”

WiG: “The second was Old Milwaukee.”

CHARLIE: “Oh God!”

WiG: “Third one was Blatz, obviously. Fourth was High Life. And the fifth was Schlitz.”

SAM: “Okay, I got two right. I feel good about that.”

JAKE: “I don’t think I got any right.”

WiG: “So I think Sam and Charlie tied, both got two.”

JAKE: “I might fall into a deep depression.”

CHARLIE: “That was fun.”

SEAN: “We definitely know our Blatz, whether we like it or not.”

WiG: “So I was just on a road trip for ten days and we missed a lot of shows that happened here in Milwaukee. The bulk of Summerfest. But I’d say one of the shows me and Kristina were most sad about missing was the second annual Soul Surf.”

SoulSurfPoster
Soul Surf 2016 Poster.

JAKE: “Oh man that went stupid well.”

CHARLIE: “We topped last year, which was awesome.”

SAM: “More people this year and the covers were on point. We had “Dancing Queen.” We did some Weezer.”

SEAN: ““Twist and Shout.””

CHARLIE: “We did “Here Comes Your Man,” by the Pixies.”

SEAN: “Did we end up playing the Violent Femmes?”

CHARLIE: “No we didn’t do any Femmes.”

SAM: “That was a great show.”

CHARLIE: “We covered this old classic called “Sleepwalk.””

SAM: “Surf tune.”

CHARLIE: “I wouldn’t call it a surf tune.”

SEAN: “It’s like a ballad. It’s very jazzy.”

CHARLIE: “Johnny and Santo were the two brothers who wrote that one back in the day. You’d recognize it if you heard it.”

WiG: “There’s nothing like the concert cruise. Last year we saw Group of the Altos on there.”

CHARLIE: “How was that?”

WiG: “It was amazing. They took up about half of the performance space. The lineup for the Vista King this year isn’t that great. You guys and Canopies were the only two shows I wanted to see and both were when I was out of town. It’s a lot of old guy bands, no offense.”

SEAN: “The Revomatics are good.”

JAKE: “It makes sense because those old guy bands bring in a lot of people willing to pay the $20 ticket.”

CHARLIE: “A great old guy band is The Mosleys.”

JAKE: “They played before us at Locust and they destroyed. Their guitar player is stupid.”

SAM: “Their bass player and their guitar player played on SNL.”

CHARLIE: “One of the craziest moments from their Locust set was that they asked for requests and some girl was like, “Play a Beatles song.””

JAKE: “And they played every Beatles song at once. It was stupid!”

CHARLIE: “They absolutely nailed the harmonies. It was perfect.”

WiG: “Is this going to be your first Chill on the Hill?”

SAM: “The first one as Soul Low. Me and Sean’s middle school/high school band Informal Blues played Chill on the Hill but I was out of town. Justin Gawkorski filled in. That was probably in 2006 or 2007.”

(Charlie is quoting Rick and Morty.)

WiG: “Couple last questions, this was submitted by Kristina. Who is your favorite member of New Age Narcissism (NAN)?”

JAKE: “Lorde Fredd33.”

SAM: “Going to have to say Lorde Fredd33. (His album) Dead Man’s View is the most impressive thing to come out of that group so far.”

CHARLIE: “Lorde Fredd33 is on fire right now.”

SAM: “He killed it and Kiran (Q the Sun) killed it with the production. Each song just flows very well.”

JakeNAN
Jake in NAN?

JAKE: “I think that’s the best record to come out of NAN for sure. But I think Lex Allen as a performer is f****** on point. And he’s got great energy. He’s got the whole attitude and alternate personality down.”

WiG: “What happened to getting Jake in NAN?”

SAM: “Dude they wouldn’t let Jake in.”

JAKE: “I’m still trying. I just don’t think they like my flow and what I have to offer. So far it’s just been a bad Photoshop job.”

WiG: “My girlfriend’s 11-year-old son Julien wants to know what upcoming album you guys are looking forward to the most this year.”

CHARLIE: “Got to say Midwest Death Rattle.”

SAM: “Frank Ocean.”

CHARLIE: “Oh, not Milwaukee music?”

WiG: “Whatever.”

JAKE: “I’m not really aware of what’s about to come out. I just kind of listen to them whenever they are out.”

SAM: “The one album I really was looking forward to coming out is by a band called Weaves out of Toronto. I’ve been obsessed with them for the past couple of months, but the album came out a month ago. Now it’s definitely Frank.”

CHARLIE: “I am going to get some s*** for this but I am very, very excited for the new Tool record. Tool has not put out a record in over ten years.”

JAKE: “Absolutely not.”

SAM: “That will not represent the Soul Low brand.”

CHARLIE: “Tool is awesome and Dan Carey is a phenomenal drummer. I really like that band. This has been entirely anticipated. They keep putting it off and putting it off. It might not even come out this year. Also the new Radiohead record is phenomenal. There’s been a ton that have already come out. David Bowie’s new record.”

SEAN: “Oh yeah. But I don’t know about what is supposed to come out.”

WiG: “Julien had a couple more questions. What’s the best thing you’ve found at a thrift store?”

JAKE: “We’ve thrifted some good stuff, a strobe light for one.”

SEAN: “We’ve found some amazing dresses.”

SAM: “Tons of dresses.”

CHARLIE: “We like to do this thing at house shows sometimes where we’ll wear dresses.”

SEAN: “We go to Goodwill like right before the show and find a bunch of dresses that like match a certain color scheme.”

CHARLIE: “Only dirty basement shows.”

JAKE: “We found all of the suits for the “OMG STD” video in a thrift store. Those four matching powder blue suits. The Value Village on North Avenue. I was looking for something like that for a while and then two days before the video I went in and found those babies.”

WiG: “Yeah I found this Movado watch at that Value Village for six bucks and multiple people have told me it’s worth over $500.”

SAM: “Can’t say the same about my Timex.”

WiG: “Joey Turbo is responsible for me finding this watch. I was waiting for Kiran outside their house and he was running late and Joey was on the patio chilling with his girl. I was telling them how I recently lost a beloved watch and he encouraged me to hit up the Value Village while I wait.”

SAM: “Nice. Love Joey.”

WiG: “I have to commend you guys on the lineup for the release show at Miramar, getting milo and The Pukes.”

JAKE: “It’s really good.”

SAM:  “I don’t mean to take full credit for that.”

SEAN: “We’ve been talking about that show for a long time. It’s been in the works for a while.”

SAM: “I’ve been a big fan of milo for like three years. Just like obsessively listening to his music. And I saw The Pukes at High Dive in the spring and was just blown away.”

JAKE: “Gotta sell out the Miramar. That’s the goal. We have not played there.”

SEAN: “What’s the capacity?”

SAM: “450.”

JAKE: “Such a weird place.”

CHARLIE: “I am very, very familiar with the Miramar. I’ve played the Miramar a jillion times. I know everyone who works there and everything and yes, when they had that little fire and a portion of it burned down and they remodeled it, it got better. Stage Right is like a sidebar.  They brought the middle bar out better and they got an incredible sound guy. It isn’t swelteringly hot anymore.  It’s gotten a lot better now compared to my freshman year of college.”

WiG: “Who did you play with when you play there?”

CHARLIE:  “I play with another band called Conundrum. It’s like a psychedelic rock band and we play there all the time.”

SAM: “I was going to shoot for Turner but I like the intimacy of Miramar. I played with Kellen (Klassik) there opening up for Sidewalk Chalk and I thought, “Oh s***, this place is actually pretty good.””

WiG: “I’ve been to some Turner shows with national headliners and there are only 80 people.”

SEAN: “That’s the thing. It’s so hard to make it feel comfortable.”

SAM: “I feel like you have to make it more of a performance and an experience because it’s so big of a space.”

SEAN: “And you’re so removed from the audience being that high up.”

WiG: “To bring it all together with Julien and Kristina, one of the first times Julien saw you was that Turner show when you opened up for Lady Lamb.”

CHARLIE: “That was a great show.”

SEAN: “Yeah that was our first time at Turner.”

CHARLIE: “She is really good.”

SEAN: “Super nice too.”

WiG: “Last question courtesy of Julien. He’s really into basketball right now. Who’s your favorite NBA player and if you don’t follow the NBA, who is your favorite athlete?”

SAM: “Lejames Brown.”

CHARLIE: “Dennis Rodman.”

JAKE: “I am going to answer for everyone and say Kevin Garnett.”

SEAN: “Didn’t Durant go somewhere?”

WiG: “Yeah, he went to the Warriors.”

SAM: “I don’t follow sports.”

SEAN: “Wasn’t there talk of him going to the Bucks at some point?”

JAKE: “Steph Curry!”

WiG: “What sport do you follow the most?”

JAKE: “I don’t really follow it, but I like football.”

SEAN: “It’s hard not to be a Packers fan.”

SAM: “I played hockey for like five years and I’d be lying if I said I followed it, but I do like to watch it.”

CHARLIE: “I have a sports confession to make. Both of my parents were born and raised in Chicago, so I am totally a Bears fan.”

JAKE: “Ah God. He’s going off about Tool and the Bears. It’s his birthday so he’s expressing himself. He’s 25.”

SAM: “Quarter life crisis.”

CHARLIE: “I’m also into baseball. My mom is a huge White Sox fan. When the White Sox won the World Series that was crazy.”

SAM: “No one gives a s***.”

JAKE: “Where are the White Sox again?”

SEAN: “They’re in Chicago.”

JAKE: “Oh.”

CHARLIE: “It’s Northside and Southside. Northside is the Cubs and Southside is the Sox.”

WiG: “Did you see Chance the Rapper is an ambassador for the White Sox now.

SAM: “Yeah, I knew he repped the White Sox.”

JAKE: “Ambassador, what does that mean?”

WiG: “Like Drake is the ambassador for the Toronto Raptors. Basically helping to sell the Raptors brand.”

CHARLIE: “I would really, really like to see the Cubs win the World Series. I really want to see that happen.”

WiG: “You should watch Back to the Future 2 again.”

CHARLIE: “Yeah, yeah! And they came close last year too. They’ll do it eventually.”

SEAN: “Who’s Julien’s guy?”

WiG: “I think Steph Curry. All the kids love Steph Curry.”

SEAN: “He’s a tiny guy but he swooshes in those threes non-stop. I’ve heard that from my co-workers.”

WiG: “Anything else you’d like to add?”

SAM:Nosebleeds is a good record. We’ve been working on it for like three years.”

"Be Like You" video shoot.
“Be Like You” video shoot.

SEAN: “When is the new video coming out?”

SAM: “Sometime in August.”

CHARLIE: “A new really, really funny awesome video for “Be Like You.”” 

SEAN: “It’s pretty weird. We’re just hoping it’s not too weird. Because it’s like Pee Wee Herman suburban insanity.”

CHARLIE: “It was a blast to shoot. It was ridiculous and I’m very excited to see it.”

WiG: “Very cool. Cheers guys.”

Nosebleeds Tour 2016

Nosebleeds is out now. You can stream it and buy a digital version here, vinyl/vinyl + cassette bundle here, and CD here.

Soul Low will play The Sky Bar at The Edgewater in Madison on Thursday August 11, and the Veggiehouse in Stevens Point on Friday August 12. On Saturday August 13, they play a record release show at the Miramar Theatre in Milwaukee. The “Nosebleeds Tour 2016” includes another stop in Madison (September 1 at The Frequency) and Green Bay (September 3 at Gasoline). Click here for more tour and ticket information.

The music video for “Be Like You” will debut August 16.

 

Wisconsin Sound 1

Salutations, WiG readers, and welcome to Wisconsin Sound, a new column that will explore the state’s thriving music scene. My name is Joey Grihalva, and I’ll serve as your intrepid guide, focusing on recent and upcoming events and releases from local musicians.

It’s been my pleasure to cover local music for various media outlets over the past few years, and I’m honored to continue my journey at Wisconsin Gazette.

Milwaukee raised me. After high school, I traveled for most of my 20s before returning home in late 2013. I came back to discover a more vibrant city than ever and a local music scene that’s driving a cultural renaissance.

We live in a world where 1,500 streams are equivalent to an album sale on the Billboard charts, and music videos can be seen by millions without ever being broadcast on TV. The internet has allowed musicians to reach an international audience without living in a major market or depending on a corporate network.

Touring is now the primary source of revenue for most musicians, elevating the importance of great live performances. Wisconsin has begun to carve out a place within this ever-evolving, globalized music industry.

This debut column will recap some of the major moments in Milwaukee music that I’ve experienced since returning home:

• The first time I heard “Gold” by GGOOLLDD on the radio.

I immediately Shazamed this dreamy, infectious single, but didn’t learn the group was from Milwaukee until months later. GGOOLLDD’s synth-pop sound and stylish, theatrical look is more than ready for late night TV. The sold-out audience who attended its January performance at Turner Hall Ballroom would agree. The group is one of just two local bands to headline and sell out Turner since 2000. (The other being Kings Go Forth.)

NAN performs at Siummerfest 2016
NAN performs at Siummerfest 2016 —PHOTO: Mahdi Gransberry

• Klassik releases “YRP” at Fire on Water on Dec. 13, 2013. Klassik was the golden child of Milwaukee hip-hop at the time, hot off the success of his funky single “Boogie.” He went on to redefine himself as both a powerful soloist and a member of two of the city’s finest supergroups — Group of the Altos and Foreign Goods.

But the primary significance of Dec. 13, 2013 was the birth of New Age Narcissism. That night, WebsterX met Q the Sun and together, along with Lex Allen, Lorde Fredd33, Siren, Christopher Gilbert, and a gang of affiliates, they ultimately created NAN — the vanguard of Milwaukee music. The collective’s intimate, all-ages debut on Jan. 30, 2015, at the Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts is a recent highlight of Wisconsin music history.

• Arte Para Todos 2015 and 2016. This benefit festival, founded by The Fatty Acids frontman Josh Evert and Made in Milwaukee’s Chuck Watson, took the city by surprise in the winter of 2015. The weekend long event, spread out over three neighborhoods, showcased a uniquely collaborative spirit throughout the local music scene. It also raised awareness and resources for struggling arts and music programs in Milwaukee schools.

Milo (aka Scallops Hotel)

APT 2015 was also my introduction to critically acclaimed rapper Milo (aka Scallops Hotel). It was his first show since relocating to Milwaukee from Los Angeles. APT 2016 expanded into an additional neighborhood and brought more musicians into schools for private, interactive performances just for students.

• Rio Turbo’s self-titled release show at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn on March 27, 2015. Linneman’s was definitely at capacity that night. The delirious, throbbing crowd was led by Joey Peterson (aka Joey Turbo). The beloved singer, bassist, label owner, bartender and party boy is a staple of the Milwaukee scene. Gloss Records, his label with Harrison Colby, is a leader in defining and supporting Milwaukee’s emerging sound, including NO/NO’s fantastic new record “Sound and Light.”

Jan. 22, 2015, was for me another significant night at Linneman’s — my introduction to Gloss artist Soul Low and Whips, two of the best rock bands in town. It also happened to be the day WebsterX’s game-changing video for “doomsday (feat. siren)” debuted.

• Jam sessions at Jay Anderson’s house. Saxophonist Jay Anderson was on his way to a rehearsal for Alverno Presents: Jones Uncovered when we first met. That production brought together multiple generations of Milwaukee musicians and since then Anderson has hosted informal jams at his Riverwest home on Humboldt Boulevard.

The warm, plant-lined space, packed with friends and musicians, brings to mind the St. Albans house jams that spawned the era of the Soulquarians (J Dilla, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Common, Mos Def, and others) in late 1990s/early 2000s Philadelphia, as described by Questlove (of The Roots) in his memoir Mo’ Meta Blues.

• Inaugural Eaux Claires Festival, July 17–18, 2015. Grammy-winning indie rock outfit Bon Iver, fronted by Eau Claire native Justin Vernon, is internationally adored and the most recent group to put Wisconsin on the music map. Vernon’s inaugural hometown festival, co-curated with The National’s Aaron Dessner, attracted fans from all over the world.

Wisconsin’s Eaux Claires Festival

The lineup relied heavily on Vernon’s circle, which is more Minnesota-heavy than Wisconsin, given Eau Claire is closer to the Twin Cities than our state’s urban areas. Milwaukee’s Field Report and Jon Mueller took part in EC 2015 and Appleton’s Tenement will play EC 2016. Like Arte Para Todos, a collaborative spirit characterized this Chippewa River-adjacent camping festival. In two weeks I will “Return to the River” and bring you a festival recap.

• Group of the Altos on a boat, Sept. 16, 2015. At one point GOTA had as many as 16 members. Even with their recent restructuring, they remain the most interesting band in Milwaukee. GOTA creates beautifully epic indie rock that builds and explodes. What better way to hear GOTA than on Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee River?

The combination of our scenic waterways and music scene makes for magical evenings aboard the Vista King and Voyageur. It is one of the things that make Milwaukee a special place. With concert cruises, cheap rent, local labels, a pair of supportive non-commercial radio stations, and an abundance of festivals, the Milwaukee music scene is ripe. This column will keep you connected to music and bands from all over Wisconsin.