It seems like we’re just days removed from celebrating the best albums and EPs Milwaukee managed in 2017. With all the promise a new year brings also comes the promise of new music. In the same way many of us resolve to grow and improve in 2018, local musicians are just as poised to see the volume and the caliber of their catalogs increase by year’s end. Though the full scope of what we’re to listen to this year is unknown, there’s already a wealth of forthcoming follow-ups, highly anticipated debuts, and other interesting albums we know are on the way over the course of the next 12 months. Here are just a few of the Milwaukee releases we’re excited to hear in 2018.
1. Antler House
Back in November, we showed you a video of a band that definitely isn’t Antler House in the video for Antler House’s new single, “Thunderbird Country.” The folk band’s vaguely electronic departure is apparently a signal of what’s to come from the trio that cracked our Best Albums list in 2014 and 2016. Singer Sean Anderson says the third Antler House album, Divider, is expected to be released “in the next couple months.” Anderson recorded the eight-song release in his house last winter. If “Thunderbird Country” is any indication, Divider will be unlike anything you’ve ever heard from Antler House, but with the same level of quality and execution you’ve come to expect from them.
2. Body Futures
Just days into 2018, Body Futures blessed our inbox with a link to stream Maybe It’s Just The Weather, the band’s first full-length since 2014’s Brand New Silhouettes. Though you can listen to all 12 songs in their digital majesty right now, Body Futures won’t officially put the record into the world until their February 2 release show at Cactus Club.
3. Buffalo Gospel
Buffalo Gospel has kept a fairly low profile since releasing its outstanding full-length, We Can Be Horses in 2013. In the four-plus years following that well-received record, bandleader Ryan Necci has cycled in a new cast of collaborators, some of whom contributed to the two-song Waiting For The Lights To Go Out EP in 2015 and played on the Milwaukee country outfit’s forthcoming 2018 album. Last month, Necci and company whet listener appetites with the animated video for a B-side called “Hard Labor Side Of Gettin’ On.” Come May 4, Buffalo Gospel will release its long-awaited follow-up, On The First Bell.
4. Dead Horses
Despite being on tour for the vast majority of 2017, Dead Horses somehow found time to write and record a new album. Last week, the motivated Milwaukee folk force announced they’re planning to put out a record in 2018. The album’s name and release date aren’t known, but regardless of when it comes out and what it’s to be called, we’re already confident it’ll sound marvelous.
5. Devil Met Contention
Since putting out Fuel The Lights two summers ago, Devil Met Contention won a WAMI, performed at Local Coverage, worked in a few out of town gigs, and set its collective sights on making some changes to its sound. While another full-length is still a ways off, Devil Met Contention plans to show Milwaukee what they’ve been up to lately with the release of two singles in 2018. Those songs—”Take A Chance” and “Everyone You Pass”—allegedly finds DMC venturing into more rocking territory than past material. Singer Ehson Rad says the band plans to release the first of the pair in April or May.
6. Direct Hit!
After touring extensively in support of the band’s critically acclaimed Fat Wreck Chords debut last year, Direct Hit! earned a break in 2017. It appears nobody told Direct Hit! that. Last year, the motivated pop-punkers released a Record Store Day seven-inch with WMSE and re-issued 2011’s great Domesplitter on Fat Wreck that same month. Later in the year, they put out six new songs on a split with Louisiana-based labelmates and tour fruit experts PEARS. So now they’re taking a breather, right? Wrong! Singer Nick Woods says the band has been demoing and refining songs for yet another full-length, which he hopes will be out by fall. It’s quite possible the release will get pushed back to early 2019, but it’s still nice (and amazing, frankly) to know there’s something new in the works already.
7. Lorde Fredd33
New Age Narcissism is putting out some of the most interesting and most exciting music in the city these days, and Lorde Fredd33 stands strong at its center. The rapper has amassed the most material in the creative collective’s catalog thus far, and that body of work will grow in 2018. Fredd33’s Norf: The Legend Of Hotboy Ronald is currently available for pre-order and is due to be released on February 3. You can listen to three songs off it right now. Spoiler alert: They’re good!
8. The Midwest Beat
If it seems like you haven’t heard much from The Midwest Beat in the last year or so, there’s a good reason for that. The band quietly went on hiatus in late 2016. Thankfully, the veteran Milwaukee-Madison band recorded an album’s worth of new material before that break. The hiatus is over now, and The Midwest Beat will soon have a record out as a split-label release on Milwaukee’s own Dusty Medical Records and Italy’s Wild Honey Records. Midwest Beat member Kyle Denton says they hope to have the album out in April or May.
9. Midwest Death Rattle
Milwaukee’s other “Midwest” band, Midwest Death Rattle, has big plans for 2018 as well. The innovative indie rock quintet will chase 2016’s excellent Post-Apocalypso with Square Wave, a five-song digital release that will come out January 27. That EP will eventually be followed by five more songs that, when combined, will compose a full-length the band will release on vinyl. That’s probably something to look forward to in 2019, but Square Wave will be more than enough to hold you over. Expect a music video for a new single next week.
10. Paper Holland
Paper Holland broke more than three years of silence in 2016 with the release of its Fast Food EP. Like a value menu treat, Fast Food was enjoyable, but was lacking in portion size. Fortunately, Paper Holland has cooked up a full-length this time around that will be ready to serve in June. Galapagos was tracked at Bobby Peru and Silver City Studios last year. It’s the first Paper Holland release with a six-piece band, as Glenn McCormick (trumpet/organ) and Sean Hirthe (sax) officially joined the party this time around.
11. Space Raft
After bursting onto the scene with its tremendous self-titled debut in 2014 (which we called the Best Milwaukee Album that year) and chasing it with the wonderful Rubicon in 2016, Space Raft kept pretty quiet in 2017—save for a couple Christmas songs last month. As it turns out, they were preparing for what’s sure to be a huge 2018. The rock outfit plans to put out another full-length this year, which they recorded with Graham Hunt at Silver City Studios. They’re currently having Justin Perkins at Mystery Room master it. The yet-untitled release will have 10 songs and is tentatively projected to be out by the end of the summer. Singer-guitarist Jordan Davis thinks this will be the “most cohesive” Space Raft release yet. “We streamlined the writing and arranging process by picking short, punchy songs from the batch I had written and dressed them up accordingly,” Davis says.
12. Twin Brother
Last month, Twin Brother announced it was no more. The sudden end of the band didn’t last long, though, as singer/primary songwriter/only remaining original member Sean Raasch decided he wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the name and the project he’d put the better part of a decade into. On February 7, Twin Brother will officially return as a solo project when Raasch releases Rightfully So, a batch of seven deconstructed-but-emotionally heavy songs the one man band wrote and self-recorded in December.
13. Zed Kenzo
Since returning to Milwaukee three years ago, Zed Kenzo has quietly been putting together material for a true-blue full-length project, but only allowing listeners to peek behind the creative curtain in a live show setting (save for occasional singles). While the taxing process of producing all her own beats and her ongoing quest to confirm some featured musicians saw 2017 come and go without a debut album, it was still Zed’s biggest year to date. She intends to put something out at some point in 2018, so be ready for something to drop at any moment.