Let’s take a moment to honor those bands that refuse to play the kind of music that typically gets streamed on NPR. Let’s take a moment to pay tribute to bands that stick to their noisy, straight-up rock-and-roll guns in the face of a never-ending sea of folk, electro-pop, and electro-folk-pop. Let’s take a moment to remember that not all bands play music in hopes of “making it” or getting “discovered.” Let’s take a moment to listen to the debut album from Milwaukee’s Body Futures, Brand New Silhouettes, an album created by a band that makes music for the sake of making music, and an album that dares to be willfully, gleefully, and thoroughly original. Let’s also not forget that this is a band that counts an effects-drenched autoharp among its musical arsenal.
Irresistible leadoff track “Hooks & Eyes” sets the tone for an album stuffed with alternately sweet and sour female-male vocals (courtesy of Dixie Jacobs and D.J. Hostettler), arrangements that continually refuse to play by the rules, and pop-minded hooks polished to a high, deadly shine. Then there’s the subject matter: “When You Had A Jaw” takes a devastating personal tragedy (the death of Hostettler’s father) and turns it into a charging, angry, and darkly funny rocker. (“When you had a jaw / You drank and smoked too much.”) The hyperactive “Sha Na Na: Clone Project Alpha” falls down a delightfully geeky Wikipedia rabbit hole with a tribute to a real-life escaped convict who posed as a dead member of—you guessed it—Sha Na Na. “Save The Clock Tower,” meanwhile, uses a Back To The Future reference as a launching point for a marching meditation on the passage of time, culminating in one of the catchiest choruses of the year. (See also: “That’s So Church.”)
Body Futures may have formed two years ago, but the band’s combined experience spans at least a decade. Jacobs’ alternately chirping and full-bodied vocals will be familiar to fans of her old group, White, Wrench, Conservatory, while Hostettler’s hurricane-heavy drumming and shouted vocals are straight out of his former long-running outfit, IfIHadAHiFi. Toss in bassist Michael Wojtasiak (Five Mod Four) and guitarist Christopher Maury (Everybody At Midnight), and you have a band of Milwaukee scene lifers, bashing out the kind of music that makes them happy, simply because they can.
Still, Body Futures’ music is anything but comfort food for old, bitter rock bastards; instead, it’s remarkably fresh and unpredictable. Recorded by the ever-reliable Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street Recordings (during the 2014 Polar Vortex, no less), Brand New Silhouettes is the sound of an alternate future where hooks trump gimmicks, ideas trounce trends, and full-barreled rock—in all its messy, unhinged glory—triumphs over all. Listen to it now, only at Milwaukee Record.
Body Futures celebrate the digital release of Brand New Silhouettes Friday, August 8 at the Cactus Club. The Rutabaga and Like Like The The The Death open the show. The album sees its official release Tuesday, August 12 on Latest Flame Records.