Over the course of a few Decembers of Milwaukee Record‘s existence, we’ve rounded up a mess of amazingly tolerable local songs that are helping to improve the largely unsatisfying holiday music genre. (You can check out our lists from 2014, 2016, and two 2017 installments now.) This year was no different, as even more local musicians have treated listeners to the thoughtful gift of seasonal songs and music videos. From Christmas covers to awesome originals—and even a few merry hymns about burgers and sausage thrown in—you have reason to be excited to open these presents links. Happy holidays, Milwaukee!
B~Free — “The Christmas Song”
Earlier this month, we told you about Virtual Serenades, a Milwaukee-based service that allows people to commission videos of performances from a wide range of area musicians. Intrigued by the unique gift option, we decided to test it out for ourselves by booking Milwaukee singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist, local treasure, and Virtual Serenades artist B~Free to send us a video of her performing her favorite holiday song. Her outstanding rendition of Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” did not disappoint! Check out the video, and consider using Virtual Serenades for those hard-to-shop-for people on your holiday list.
Dinner Set Gang — “Awful Things”
This morning, Josh Evert and Derek De Vinney (both of The Fatty Acids fame) officially unveiled a new project called Dinner Set Gang by debuting an “Xmas horror video” for the band’s first single. “Awful Things”—a song from Dinner Set Gang’s forthcoming album, Are You Someplace Else?—is rooted in the unsavory holiday characteristic of consumerism. Over the course of the quite impressive video (which the members note was shot entirely pre-pandemic with help from videographers Wes Tank and Ryan Reeve), a protagonist wrestles with the moral dilemma of buying the perfect gift for his daughter, and feeding an increasingly ghastly David Lynch- and Hayao Miyazaki-inspired monster in the process. Admittedly, it might not get you in the holiday spirit, but it’s a great song and a next-level music video from a project we’re really excited to hear from more in 2021.
Group Of The Altos — “River”
Even though Group Of The Altos‘ members still play together in Marielle Allschwang & The Visitations, Hello Death, and Collections Of Colonies Of Bees, the celebrated Milwaukee outfit hasn’t played a show in over four years. And it’s been more than five years since the band last released any music…that is, until now. Today, the Altos gave the unexpected surprise of covering the “holiday-infused” Joni Mitchell song, “River.” Proceeds from purchases of the remotely-recorded song will benefit National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI Greater Milwaukee). Why are you still reading this? THERE’S A NEW ALTOS SONG!
L’Resorts — “Trying To Christmas”
We didn’t do one of these round-ups last year, so we missed this full-fledged holiday album from L’Resorts. Trying To Christmas features 10 tracks that showcase the “tropical pop” outfit’s distinct sound and gets listeners firmly in the holiday spirit. And since it’s a season of giving, L’Resorts will donate all proceeds from the album’s sales to The Black String Triage Ensemble.
Mike Schneider — “Christmas Kielbasa”
The titular leader of the Mike Schneider Band has been a local polka fixture since the 1990s, winning a slew of awards and just generally being a swell fellow. His YouTube channel is loaded with delightful performances of polka songs both standard and original. And now, just in time for the holidays, there’s the utterly charming, utterly wholesome “Christmas Kielbasa.” All of Schnieder’s trademarks are on display here: a goofy sense of humor, some wicked accordion playing, and a family-friendly vibe (the video stars his family, after all). Also, Schnieder eats too much of the Polish sausage, gets sick, dies, and leaves his family penniless! Twenty-twenty, right?.
Telethon — “Christmas Burger”
Name a more iconic duo than Christmas and burgers. We’ll wait. They come together in Telethon‘s awesome new “Christmas Burger” holiday anthem.
Tyler Chicorel — “Christmas At Home”
Last week, Tyler Chicorel (who you might know from his work in Call Me Lightning, Space Raft, and Whips) gave listeners the unexpected-but-outstanding gift of a brand new holiday song. With all due respect to other acts on this list, “Christmas At Home” might be the new apex of Milwaukee-made holiday music. By the end of this lively and socially responsible song, you’ll be happy to be spending this Christmas at home.
Wes Tank — “Gift Rappin'” and “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas”
Back in March, Milwaukee musician, producer, actor, and videographer Wes Tank earned international attention by rapping Dr. Seuss books over beats made by Dr. Dre. Then in August, Tank announced his new StoryRaps series on Kidoodle.TV, in which the affable emcee turns time-tested children’s stories into bonafide rap bangers. Now that the holidays are here, Tank decided to spit some seasonal bars in two StoryRaps installments. The first one, “Gift Wrappin'” is a kid-friendly song about wrapping presents.
Last week, Tank followed up “Gift Wrappin'” with an avian take on “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” that both kids and adults can get behind.