7 upcoming albums from Milwaukee bands that will be playing soon on a stereo near you
1. Def Harmonic, Figs
Release date: Oct. 12 on Listening Party
Why you’ll want to hear it: Def Harmonic is among the brightest lights in Milwaukee’s hip-hop galaxy, with an adventurous space-funk sound that MC/producer J. Todd has elaborated on in rock-oriented projects such as Leo Minor and Wizard Of Cause. Figs is the first Def Harmonic album in five years.
What you can expect: “I'd say it’s a lot darker and less dance floor than our previous stuff,” Todd’s group mate Lunversol 9 says. “It was an emotionally difficult year during the recording of it, and it seemed to come out in the album.” That said, the record “isn’t totally morose,” she adds, pointing to “a few bangers that are fun and light-hearted as well.” Find out for yourself when Def Harmonic plays a release show Oct. 9 at Bay View Brew Haus.
2. Jonathan Burks, Red Pulpy Mess
Release date: Oct. 26
Why you’ll want to hear it: Jonathan Burks has already put out one of our favorite Milwaukee records of 2010, Loudmouth Soup, and we’re down for another collection of tear-in-your-beer honky-tonk ballads and ballsy barroom rockers.
What you can expect: Burks says “there’s still quite a bit of twang this time around, though it’s probably a bit less country than our other two releases.” Instead, “there’s some Rolling Stonesy-type rockers and a pinch of funk,” as well as the usual “love and/or anti-love songs.” We feel drunk already.
3. Elusive Parallelograms, TBD
Release date: December
Why you’ll want to hear it: Elusive Parallelograms’ debut And Everything Changes was one of our favorite local records of 2008—in fact, we said it was “living and breathing with a racing, desperate spirit of unhinged rock ’n’ roll, and turning out hooks more solid than a brick shithouse.”
What you can expect: The EPs’ forthcoming sophomore release doesn’t have a title or artwork, as the band has been too invested in finishing the record to think about that stuff yet. “This new batch of tracks is far more lush, and there’s more warmth and clarity compared to the previous record,” says singer-guitarist Jonathan Hense.
4. Collections Of Colonies Of Bees, Giving
Release date: January or February on Hometapes
Why you’ll want to hear it: Collections Of Colonies Of Bees’ 2008 album Birds is one of the most heralded local releases of recent years, and the instrumental post-rock band’s profile was raised even higher last year after it collaborated with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver on Volcano Choir’s Unmap.
What you can expect: “The overall instrumentation is similar to Birds, but we have added a bass player, Matt Skemp, a total genius and sweetheart, who really moves the low end on this record around more than we ever have before,” says guitarist Chris Rosenau. “Some songs take ideas we started on Birds and really push them to their maximum degree, further than Birds ever goes.”
5. Northless, Clandestine Abuse
Release date: January on Halo Of Flies and Gilead Media
Why you’ll want to hear it: Northless’ Earth-scorching metal has been gathering local buzz thanks to a powerful live show that appeals equally to headbangers and hardcore kids. Coming off the cassette-only EP Leaving The Wolves, which boasted self-explanatory slabs of doom like “Walls” and “Cadaver Junkie,” Northless is flexing its muscles on this two-record set.
What you can expect: “Without sounding like a completely pretentious douche, this record is without a doubt the best thing Northless has ever done,” guitarist Erik Stenglein says. “I feel it’s definitely a step forward in songwriting. It’s heavier. I think it’s a little darker than our older material as well, and with less of an overt post-metal sound, which was intentional.”
6. IfIHadAHiFi, Nada Surf
Release date: March on Latest Flame
Why you’ll want to hear it: Milwaukee’s noisiest pop band named its new EP after the long-running indie-rock outfit as a nod to that group’s 2010 covers album, If I Had A Hi-Fi. The similarities to Nada Surf stop there on this five-song follow-up to 2008’s Fame By Proxy, which drummer D.J. Hostettler describes as “sonically maybe the weirdest, creepiest thing we’ve done thus far.”
What you can expect: If you’ve seen HiFi perform live lately, chances are you’ll recognize the songs on Nada Surf, Hostettler says. “It includes a lot of the new material we’ve been playing out in 2010,” he said. “I almost liken it to our version of Brainiac’s Electro-Shock For President, although that EP was more of a radical departure for them than this one will be for us.”
7. Brief Candles, Pastel Black
Release date: To be determined
Why you’ll want to hear it: We’re on record as passionate lovers of Brief Candles’ 2006 record They Live We Sleep, which is one of our favorite albums to come out of Milwaukee in the ’00s. These shoegazing dream-poppers haven’t released anything since, so we’re definitely champing at the bit for more.
What you can expect: Pastel Black sounds like a natural extension of They Live We Sleep, with beefed-up guitars and a chilly, emotion-choked vibe. The album is recorded and mastered, but Brief Candles are currently without a label, guitarist-singer Kevin Dixon says. “Right now our plan is to send out the album and see if we can get any interest with a PR company and then go from there,” he says. Somebody get on that pronto!