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The German Art Students, Howler, Gentle Brontosaurus (free)

  • Mickey's Tavern 1524 Williamson Street Madison, Wisconsin 53703 (map)

Two Madison bands pair infectious pop with off-kilter lyrics. Info

The German Art Students. Photo by DJ Hostettler.

The German Art Students. Photo by DJ Hostettler.

It's tough to imagine a more natural pairing in Madison music than Gentle Brontosaurus and The German Art Students. While the two bands hardly sound the same, both have a way of investing plenty of lyrical eccentricity into their music without ever losing sight of giddy hooks and charming vocal melodies. The punchier of the two bands, GAS has been going since 1997, and somewhere along the way dropped the playful affectation of pretending they might be actual german art students. These days they're comfortable, as they should be, as just four folks making new wave-tinged power-pop that riffs on highly specific topics, as captured on tracks like "Civil War Reenactor" and "Bjorn Borg." And you don't have to be in on any particular joke to enjoy the slap-happy catchiness of a song like "Pompeii," from the band's 2008 EP, 79 A.D.

Gentle Brontosaurus, meanwhile, deploys a softer touch on songs that delve into life's thorny questions, like "Tell me, is there more to life than leisure," as vocalist/keyboard player Huan-Hua Chye sings on "The Hedonist," or the identity of a mystery song, on "track1.mp3." Both of those are from the band's sophomore album, Bees Of The Invisible, which landed on Tone Madison's top 20 Madison records of 2018 list. Howler, the latest project from longtime Madison musician/filmmaker Wendy Schneider, anchors this bill in something more hard-bitten and earthy. —Scott Gordon