It seems like we’re just days removed from celebrating the best releases Milwaukee managed in 2016. 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 2017, 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 2017.
1. Abby Jeanne
It’s shaping up to be a big year for Abby Jeanne. The singer-songwriter-producer is days away from adapting the music of Devil Met Contention for our Local Coverage benefit this weekend, narrowly before she jets off to India to write and record material for an album. Along the way, Abby Jeanne will put out her long-awaited debut. Rebel Love was written and recorded at the multi-hyphenate musician’s home studio. Set for a February 17 digital release, Abby Jeanne’s debut features many of the vocally driven and altogether arresting songs that have commanded rooms and festival crowds in a live setting, along with a few new works.
2. Bad Grades
Late last summer, Milwaukee finally got the opportunity to meet Bad Grades. The recording project of Call Me Lightning drummer and Howl Street Recordings owner/operator Shane Hochstetler features vocals from Call Me Lightning singer Nathan Lilley, and gets live accompaniment from a talented group of musicians with ties to Northless, Population Control, and Volcanoes. An abbreviated first year found the punk supergroup playing a well-attended Cactus Club debut, Bay View Bash, Burnhearts’ Three Floyds Punk House Kegger, and setting the stage for Juiceboxxx and Direct Hit! on New Years Eve.
Though there’s been no promises of a 2017 release, a batch of Bad Grades songs have been recorded and are ready to go. Either there’s a record this year, or re-recording and writing new (and even better) material delays the record until 2018. Regardless of which path Bad Grades choose, listeners win.
Donny Jankowski (aka Dashcam) has spent much of 2016 hard at work on Dream Wave. The forthcoming EP—due out on Gloss Records this spring—is sure to be rife with ’80s-nodding and club-suited tunes, at least as indicated by the smoldering single that touts the pipes of GGOOLLDD’s Margaret Butler. The limited cassette release also features vocals by NO/NO’s Cat Ries, and will be mixed by Kiing’s Sean Foran. It’s part original EP and part remixes, clocking in at a cool 10 songs.
4. The Fatty Acids
A lot has changed since 2013. This website didn’t exist in 2013, for example. That year was the last time The Fatty Acids put out a record. Since the venerable synth-poppers released Boléro close to four calendar years ago, some members departed, others got married, a couple of them joined different bands, and a few started philanthropic music festivals or opened businesses. Though the project was set squarely on the back burner for a bit, the time has come for The Fatties to return with Dogs Of Entertainment. The band’s fourth LP—which will be released by Gloss Records at the end of February—is a more grown-up and down-tempo (not to mention a very, very good) version of the local music kingpins you’ve come to know and love through the years. You can hear the first single on Milwaukee Record tomorrow.
5. Field Report
Back in 2015, Field Report took a big swing with Marigolden. The sophomore release by the Christopher Porterfield-led folk-rock group earned heaps of acclaim from respected national outlets and found the band avidly touring the contiguous United States and parts of Canada. Once the tours ended, Porterfield and company scaled back on full-band shows and, instead, focused on echoing that delightful album with another release. Though specifics can’t be confirmed at the moment, Porterfield assures us there will be a new Field Report album in 2017.
6. Gallery Night
Milwaukee garage rock outfit Gallery Night picked its “un-Google-able” name with the intention of not being accessible. Only playing sporadic shows and having exactly zero recordings available to stream or purchase helps bore the band even deeper down the rabbit hole. The trio (with members of Centipedes, Football, Skull Time, and Baseball Furies in its ranks) is likely to be at least a little more accessible at some point this year with the release of its debut full-length. That said, the album still needs to be mastered and pressing plans aren’t yet confirmed. Enjoy the anonymity while it lasts, Gallery Night.
7. Heavy Hand
Milwaukee noise rock trio Heavy Hand burst out the gates with two releases and a flurry of music videos in its first two years as a band. Not long after 2014’s Northwoods Knives came out, the patently loud project went uncharacteristically quiet. It turns out Heavy Hand was working on a new record. Recorded at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, the 10-song, 20-minute Pre-Rapture Era is expected to come out around June. If such song titles as “Big Hot Sex Cop” and “Disappointed Punk Face” are any indication, we’re in for a hell of a ride.
8. Joseph Huber
Shortly after making waves in the national roots music circles with 2015’s The Hanging Road (which we foolishly left off our best albums list that year), .357 String Band expat Joseph Huber returned to his home studio to record the songs that will be on The Suffering Stage. Huber has been sitting on the songs for some time, citing pressing and label details, but he tells us he expects the eight-songs (“plus a couple bonus tracks”) to be available on CD and vinyl by April. In the meantime, re-watch his astounding rendition of “Oh Shenandoah.”
9. 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 (and most cohesive) material in the creative collective’s catalog thus far, and that body of work will grow exponentially in 2017. By year’s end, Fredd33 will release 18 (!) more songs, which will be split into six-packs that will populate a trilogy of EPs: 33: The Demonstration, 33: The Execution, and 33: Oblivion.
10. Midnight Reruns
Though it hasn’t been released, anyone who has seen Midnight Reruns within the last 12 months has heard the band’s latest album. Between tours last year, the Reruns went up to Rhinelander to track their forthcoming third LP with Mystery Room Mastering’s Justin Perkins. While no release date or label has been announced, we assure you this batch of 10 songs is the best work yet from what could easily be considered the best band in Milwaukee right now.
On January 1, Midwives wished Milwaukee a happy No-year. The local hardcore standouts put out the title track from their forthcoming record, which was recorded last year at Howl Street. No concrete release date is set, but No and all nine of its songs are sure to find their way to wax and Bandcamp by year’s end.
After putting out the best Milwaukee album of 2016, NO/NO earned a breather. Apparently, nobody told them that. Hoping to strike while the iron is hot, the band will be releasing a four-song “concept cassette” on guitarist Harrison Colby’s Gloss Records tape imprint at some point around the end of winter or the beginning of spring.
Rounding out Gloss’ 2017 catalog is arguably its most exciting release. In 2015, Piles came into local consciousness with its wonderful sophomore release, Planet Skin. In 2016, the trio played out consistently and slipped into the studio to record Expeller. Gloss co-owner Colby tells us the album (that’s due out on the label this spring) totes less of a shoegaze influence than its predecessor, but is as noisy and punk-tinged as ever.
14. Shoot Down The Moon
On the cusp of the fifth anniversary of Shoot Down The Moon‘s last album, Meetings And Greetings, the band will finally release its loooooong overdue follow-up, Forever Sedated, on Saturday. You can stream songs from the psyched-out indie rock release here on Thursday.
15. SIN BAD
Couldn’t you swear SIN BAD released a record at some point? Believe it or not, the ’90s-influenced pop-punk trio has exactly zero formal releases to its credit. It’s the Milwaukee music version of that stupid “Sin Bad starring in a non-existent movie called Shazam” thing. Okay, maybe not, since the similarly named band has a demo and a tour tape out. According to drummer Joe Kirschling, SIN BAD will release its debut (non-demo) full-length “very soon.” The album—called It’s Fine—will have re-recorded versions of favorites from the demo, along with some new material. Its existence will not be disputed.
16. Static Eyes
Static Eyes spent much of 2016 breaking in a new bassist, writing new material, and playing a pretty steady stream of shows. Along the way, the garage rock vets drove up to Crutch Of Memory Studios (Tenement’s Amos Pitsch’s home studio) in Appleton to lay down songs for a forthcoming seven-inch. The Thaw clocks in around 10 minutes, but if you ask us, the brief release boasts three of the finest Static Eyes songs to date. You can be the judge of that when it comes out in March.
Whips kind of came out of nowhere in 2013 with its short-but-sweet Year One EP, before quickly capturing Milwaukee’s attention at the end of 2014 with the timeless Turn It On. With members focused on other bands and the rigors that come with starting a business, Whips’ production has slowed markedly. Thankfully, 2017 promises an uptick in shows and, yes, another release. The nine-song The Ride is due out by the end of April. Based on live shows, the new material is a continuation of the rock outfit’s energetic and anthemic sound, with a couple radio-ready songs thrown in for good measure.
In last year’s rundown of forthcoming records (which our server ate, evidently), we referenced our excitement for Yo-Dot‘s highly-anticipated Burleigh Bodega. Offstage circumstances temporarily derailed Yo-Dot’s progress and delayed the album’s release, but he’s back on track to let the effort see the light of day in 2017. With the rhythmic backing of award-winning producer Michael “CAMEone” Cerda, Burleigh Bodega will likely be in business come late spring or early summer. If the rest of it is anything like the first single, it’ll be worth the wait.
19. Zed Kenzo
Since returning to Milwaukee two 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 puts the certainty of a 2017 record in question, we’re sure to hear much more from Zed this year. In fact, she’s planning to release a new single this week. What are we to expect?
“The EP will be a roller coaster of turn-up and emotions. I think people will really get to know me as a performer and producer,” Kenzo told us last September. “I want my EP to be fun and intense, so while you’re turning up, you’re also listening to lyrics about me destroying men.”