For every Milwaukee project that has a well-publicized last show, knowingly puts out what’s to be its final album, or crafts a long and respectful farewell to those who have supported them throughout the years, many more local bands silently call it quits. With little-to-no public acknowledgement, zero fanfare, and no true goodbye concert to speak of, many projects end in ways that leave people uncertain if it’s done or if its merely on an indefinite hiatus.
Last month alone, Milwaukee said goodbye to NO/NO and Old Earth, both of which put out high-quality releases and played farewell shows before putting their projects to bed. With those acts coming to a close, we were inspired to send a few more bands off in style. We’ve done this before, but here are some 12 more micro eulogies for a total of 12 Milwaukee groups that are no more.
Back in the spring of 2017, Blonder broke two years of silence with its outstanding new full-length, Blender. The long-awaited return was one of the city’s best releases of the year. Sadly, it appears its the group’s latest and greatest album is also its last. Blonder quietly came to an end in 2018, giving way to a new venture with ties to the band called Large Print.
Since starting out in 2015, Doubletruck have foregone the traditional process laid out for young bands. Side stepping the demo tape stage, they burst out of the gate in 2015 with a self-titled, 14-song full-length cassette filled with doom-y riffs, precise rhythms, and rabid vocals. Following their debut, the band released the acoustic album Unleaded in 2017 and chased it with their vinyl debut, Honkhonktopia, that same year. In spite of their strong start, Doubletruck decided to call it quits this summer with a last show in June.
3. Iron Pizza
Since originally forming in late 2013 as the solo project of Jarred Nonnemacher, Iron Pizza gradually added new members and became a full-fledged synth-rock band, which we once said “occupies a warped, whacked-out wavelength where every broken thrift shop kiddie keyboard is an instrument to be treasured.” Once Rachael Thompson, Bryce Kedrowicz, and Jake Brahm joined the Iron Pizza ranks, the band became a regular and refreshing fixture on shows in Riverwest and Bay View, with a few festival spots—including a slot on last year’s PrideFest—sprinkled in for good measure. However, they all got busy with their own lives, meaning practices slowed considerably. Back in December of last, Iron Pizza decided to say farewell with two shows in Riverwest. Though it’s sad to see Iron Pizza go, we’re glad to see three of the members recently resurface in a new project called Tell Me.
4. The Midwest Beat
Following 14 years, close to 300 shows, three European tours, and a trio of albums, The Midwest Beat officially came to an end. The longstanding Milwaukee-Madison project said goodbye in February with the release of their fourth record, Incantations. Formed in 2005, the band put out a wealth of records, singles, and tapes on Milwaukee’s own Dusty Medical Records and on labels in Europe, Japan, and Sweden. They also made a ton of great music videos, such as this one.
The band ended on good terms. The decision to hang it up came last year, when Matt Joyce moved to Colorado. They played a sendoff show in 2018, which also doubled as a last show. Though Midwest Beat is formally finished, its members are staying busy in other endeavors. Christopher Capelle drums in Fox Face and Long Line Riders. Kyle Denton owns Tippecanoe Herbs with his wife Serena Marinelli (whom he met in Italy during a Midwest Beat tour). Tim Schweiger is planning to release a solo album this year.
The end of NO/NO is more than the end of a band, it’s the end of an era in Milwaukee music. Yes, the Milwaukee new wave-y synth-rock outfit has just released its new full-length record, Diagnostic, which also happens to be its last. It’s a thrilling, ambitious, and effortlessly cool album. It’s classic NO/NO. It’s a hell of a goodbye.
“This album is the perfect swan song for our band,” says songwriter/guitarist/singer Harrison Colby. “We’re happy to be saying our goodbyes on a good note and leaving with an album that represents the direction we would’ve kept moving in.”
You can learn more about NO/NO’s decision to bow out here.
6. Old Earth
Over the course of Old Earth‘s decade-long run, Todd Umhoefer’s personal project has managed to create some gorgeous and moving recordings in some rather unconventional locations. His 2012 effort, A Low Place At The Old Place, was written and captured in the basement of a generations-old Menomonee Falls home shrouded in recent loss. Not long after that, he gave Milwaukee a Scottish souvenir in the form of a series of field recordings be made on the streets of Edinburgh. Since then, he briefly relocated to northern California to write and release more music, before eventually winding up back in his native Wisconsin.
Last month, Old Earth’s extensive and impressive catalog grew when Umhoefer put out Beast Of Needs, a digital release and the potent parting shot for a project that’s been kicking since 2009. Though he’s putting the project to bed (citing nothing more to say with Old Earth), Umhoefer says he has a fire irons in the creative fire.
7. Rashita Joneses
It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from Milwaukee musicians Jeff Grabo and Phil Hoge. As part of the once-busy garage-rock outfit The Rashita Joneses, the duo played oodles of shows, released a handful of records, and organized a four-day festival (Tasty Fest) to celebrate their DIY Tasty Tapes label. The Joneses played their final show at that 2016 fest, and then…silence. Until now. Grabo and Hoge unveiled their latest musical project, Some Strange Kaleidoscope, last month.
8. Soul Low
Back in November 2018, one of Milwaukee’s best indie rock bands, Soul Low, called it quits. The writing had been on the wall for some time (band members had moved to different parts of the country the previous year), but it still sucked. What didn’t suck: the wealth of terrific music the group left behind, from 2013’s classic UNEASY to 2017’s triumphant Cheer Up.
And now we can add 2019’s Drinks Gasoline to that list. Wait. What? Yes, Soul Low, which in social media posts stresses it is not a band anymore, released a new album in August. Huh! “We’re dead but here’s a new record we recorded winter ’19 cuz why the fuck not, ope :)” Ope, indeed.
9. Static Eyes
The year 2017 was a productive one for Static Eyes. That year featured two releases (and EP and a 7-inch) that featured the band’s best work to date. Since that productive annual, Static Eyes has seen its productivity slow to a halt. With no shows in the past few years and nothing in the works according to members we’d asked, it’s safe to say Static Eyes is no more. We’re sad to see the band end just as it was truly hitting its stride, but we take some solace knowing much of the band is still in Fox Face and one member is still playing in Long Line Riders.
10. The Stink Lines
Composed of members from Ramma Lamma and the two guys in The Pukes who aren’t abusive shitbags, The Stink Lines quickly made a name for themselves with impressive opening slots with out-of-town acts, appearances at festivals like last year’s Bay View Bash, and with a small-but-potent catalog stocked with outstanding punk rock compositions. A couple years into the endeavor, though, the band decided to hang it up. The Stink Lines played its final show in March and confirmed the band was done in a Facebook post in April.
11. Twin Brother
The past two years have been full of ups and down for Twin Brother. In early 2017, singer and founding member Sean Raasch expanded his longtime trio into a full-fledged six-piece band and put out the excellent Alone In Austin EP. In December of that same year, Raasch announced the band was no more. The sudden end of Twin Brother didn’t last long, as the bandleader decided he wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the name and the project he’d put the better part of a decade into building.
Last February, Raasch formally released Rightfully So, the singer-songwriter’s solo take on Twin Brother. Following a select few shows he played in support of the stripped-down and self-recorded release, Raasch made the decision last year to take an indefinite hiatus from performing as Twin Brother. As it turns out, that break didn’t extend to songwriting because earlier this month, Raasch released A.I., a 10-song album that found the project venturing into exciting new sonic territory. Though the record showcased an encouraging evolution for the project, it turns out A.I. will be Twin Brother’s swan song. Raasch officially announced the end of Twin Brother on a video he posted on the project’s Facebook page.
“Twin Brother is over,” Raasch said in the since-removed video. “Something new is on the way, but I don’t know when. I don’t know what it’s called. I don’t know what it sounds like. I don’t know anything about it yet, but it is coming.”
During its heyday, Volunteer specialized in “unpretentious, mind-bendingly intense music.” Above all else, the band was heavy and it was loud. In late 2017, though, one of Milwaukee’s loudest bands suddenly went uncharacteristically silent. Since Volunteer played its final show in October of that year, member Martin Defatte shifted his focus to Guerrilla Ghost. His Volunteer bandmate Francisco Ramirez has kept busy in Whaler. Together, they still operate Triple Eye Industries, which we’re told still has some Volunteer records available for purchase.