The new year quickly brings recordings from Dosmalés, Proud Parents, Bell Monks, and more.
We’ve barely recovered from rounding up 2015’s best Madison music, but apparently there is to be no respite. A bunch of Madison artists have new albums and EPs ready to launch—at least nine that I’ve been able to round up. Earlier this week we previewed Madison rapper Sincere Life’s new album, King Poetic Vol. 1, and his impending album-release show Saturday at The Frequency. Here’s a few more we’re looking forward to in the coming weeks.
Bongzilla guitarist Michael Makela and Panther and Pyroklast drummer Nick Stix began playing together as the duo Dosmalés in 2014, and this week they released their first EP, a self-titled effort available as a download and on cassette. These five songs are all lumbering rhythm and scraping low end, with both members belting out slurry yet spirited vocal melodies. It’s really not that much different from catching Dosmalés’ stripped-down effective live sets at The Wisco—there’s a bit more clarity and fullness in the recorded version, but pretty much the same amount of rumbling filth.
Madison musician Kyle Motor’s basement power-pop project Rocket Bureau landed on our top 20 Madison records of 2015 list for his Low Times, High Anxiety EP. But most of his project’s output has been one-off Bandcamp “singles” complete with A and B sides, and he’s collected those, plus a few new tracks, on the new compilation Phantoms Ringing 67-73. (Pretty sure Kyle was not alive in any of those years, but he does a good job.) The previously released tracks have been remastered, and the comp is also available on CD.
Proud Parents and Dumb Vision
The new tape label Rare Plant had a great 2014, launching with releases from Madison bands including The Minotaurs, Tarpaulin, Trophy Dad, and Wood Chickens. At the label’s January 8 showcase at the High Noon, label founders Claire Nelson-Lifson and Erick Fruehling will get to celebrate the debut studio releases from a couple of their own bands—Proud Parents and Dumb Vision, respectively. Proud Parents’ is a 10-song, charmingly scruffy album called Sharon Is Karen, and we’ll have a song debut from that next week. I haven’t gotten my hands on the Dumb Vision tracks yet, but the punk outfit features songwriting and vocal contributions from Joe Darcy (Paint), Chris Joutras (Coordinated Suicides and Dharma Dogs), and Fruehling (also of Fire Retarded), so I’m looking forward to seeing how that translates on tape.
Bell Monks and Brain Grimmer
The live room at downtown recording studio Audio for the Arts is a lovely place to see music, and we’ll have our first chance in a while at a January 9 dual release show from Bell Monks and Brain Grimmer. Bell Monks’ new EP, Big Bay, is the one local release this month that feels like a lonesome, grey January. Jeff Herriott sends his forlorn croon across the sparse yet elegant pop arrangements he crafts with Eric Sheffield, and both play multiple instruments. But over the years the core duo has embraced many collaborators, and my favorite track after my first few listens is “Open Song,” featuring a rich lead vocal from Heidi E. Johnson and a surprisingly affecting harmonica from Brian Lucas—elements that combine to make it one of the EP’s more comforting moments.
Brain Grimmer is the hip-hop production moniker of cellist/player of a bunch of crazy Chinese stringed instruments Brian Grimm (Lovely Socialite, Brennan Connors & Stray Passage, many other live and recorded collaborations). His new EP I, Nefarious is a contorted yet technically accomplished collision of samples and influences. Take the two tracks he’s shared so far: “Babooshka” warps the Kate Bush song of the same title into a choppy yet funky beat, and "Moses Jones Presents... look back & smile (get fresh)” is a bit more straightforward, but stretches its synth and bass parts out among multiple axes from tempo to EQ as the song progresses.
Another artist who landed on our 2015 local best-of list, singer-songwriter Luke Arvid, is following up last year’s album Day Of The Bu1lder with the companion Day Of The Build2r. He’s posted three mastered tracks on SoundCloud in anticipation of a January release. Especially on “San Antone,” the feeling is a lot more subdued and moody than his previous work.
I’ve been missing Little Legend for a while now, because no one else in town really does what this band did so well on its first two EPs—rugged, earnest, narrative-driven rock songs with a touch of dry self-deprecation. A January 9 show at Mickey’s will celebrate the band’s first full-length, Orphan League Champs, and I’ll be talking more about that release in a story here next week.
Like his fellow rapper-crooner Trapo, Ra’Shaun built up a following without many people in his own backyard catching on. He’s more bubbly and bright than Trapo, as he shows on “Deja Vu,” a new track he recently rolled out while teasing the January release of a new project called the Orange Wall EP.