Another year is coming to an end, but I’m not yet ready to say goodbye to 2021 – in terms of Milwaukee music, that is.
There was so much good stuff towards the end of last year that I couldn’t fit it all into my latest monthly roundup of Milwaukee’s best music. So enjoy these awesome local albums and songs from last year as you kick off your 2022.
The sibling duo released my favorite Milwaukee album of 2021, “Tiempo,” which also won Best Album at the Radio Milwaukee Music Awards. But that was not the extent of the excellent music they released in 2021, with this unique single once again exemplifying the elegant and irresistible sweetness of their reggaeton sound. They also promised more music in 2022.
Drummer Schoepke previously illustrated his streak of adventures with the avant-garde jazz trio Stomata. But on his own he’s just as daring and unpredictable, but there is a raw rock side to his drums that is easy to groove despite Schoepke’s penchant for difficult conventions.
I’m going to be completely transparent: by the time I had time to release Sean Anderson’s second album as Supertentacles, I had already submitted my list of the best Milwaukee music of 2021. If I had been more sure the balloon and listened to earlier, this would have been a very good candidate for the best albums list. I might even “cheat” for the first time to include it in my 2022 roster. I’ll have to see what local musicians come up with this year, but Anderson’s dream folk-pop album – sometimes almost a beauty from another world – will stay with me for a year and beyond.
Rockers Joey Zak and TomE LaBrosse have garnered the most attention for their music via high profile videos featuring familiar faces, like Stormy Daniels and the late Dustin Diamond. There’s no visual treatment yet for “Sandman” – but it’s perhaps the duo’s finest track that makes them fully embrace the electronic elements they leaned towards on previous singles, with winning results.
“Skeleton Wedding, Wedding Music”, Camden
It was really hard to find silver liners to this terrible pandemic, but here’s one: it resulted in Camden’s first album in 21 years. During its brief existence, the Milwaukee rock band toured with Death Cab for Cutie and the Promise Ring behind what appeared to be the band’s only album, “Reel Time Canvas”. But the band’s comrades (who would go on to perform in Ring, Decibully and other bands) began to bond during the lockdown, which led to songwriting, which led to a beautiful album dealing with the isolation and gravity of our time. Hoping that Camden will continue to make music after this pandemic is officially over (hopefully).
‘The Devolver Album’, Beatallica
When mash-ups became a thing at first, Milwaukee’s Beatallica was born, mixing the Beatles with Metallica and gaining the support of Metallica themselves. Now on their fourth album, the band’s shtick hasn’t lost its vigor, giving fans of both bands a fun opportunity to choose specific songs and hear them, through their mixed incarnation, like never before.
“We are all doomed”, Avenues
Avenues wastes no time getting excited about “We’re All Doomed”, immersing listeners in racing guitar melodies for the opening of the album “Blood on the Moon”. And the punk band doesn’t lose a note on their tight and thrilling 11-track, 23-minute album; it’s an adrenaline rush until the very last second of the last track.
“Why isn’t my arm a lilac?” », Identifiers
Peter J. Woods is perhaps the best of Milwaukee’s avant-garde musicians. One of his last outings was the ambient noise from the workouts he had performed in a Planet Fitness. So seeing Woods in full party mode with math-rock credentials is a welcome and surprising proposition. True to form, “Lilac Tree” isn’t “accessible” by traditional definitions, but it does rock, with gnarled shellac-inspired guitar jams and the sometimes haunting magnetic vocals of Sevan Arabajian- Lawson, formerly of NO / NO (which they referred to as Cat Ries).
“Must-Hear Milwaukee Music” takes place on or about the first of each month in the Sentinel Journal and on jsonline.com. If you have a new album, EP or song coming up, contact Piet Levy at [email protected] for review. Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook on facebook.com/PietLevyMJS.