You may have heard that it’s Record Store Day tomorrow, WMSE has been pumping it so I’m all for it. You may have also heard that vinyl is pretty cliche now, even though hip-hoppers have been going to the crates for decades. Since you are back in your place recognizing who-did-what-when-first, I can go on, it’s ok if hipster was the new hip-hop.
Getting back to vinyl LPs, 7″ and 45s, the main reason you should check out RSD is that theses gals and guys keep these dusty plastic relics around so classic, rare and new music live for decades. Although Record Store Day exists more to honor those diehard proprietors that value those that value the experience of bricks and mortar music shopping, the day will also provide great opportunity to kindle an appreciation for Milwaukee’s vinyl record stores. I can’t buy all the LPs in Milwaukee so I’ll my favorite crate digging spots.
Bullseye Records – Eastside, Irving and Farwell
Sitting just-off one of the hippest corners of the City, Bullseye Records has new and used picks suited for finicky Rock fans of all gradients. It also has a decent stack of soundtracks and an underrated jazz section of all eras. They get a little pricey, they also know a LP fiend when they see one. You can listen to used records first, a move that is always appreciated.
Rushmor Records – Bay View, Kinnickinnick and Potter Ave
Ask yourself if you are deep [add rock genre left of prog]. If you have an answer, head directly to Rushmor Records. They have a storied history of producing and supporting hand-picked local bands, so yeah, no posing allowed.
The Exclusive Company – Eastside, Farwell and Brady, Southridge, Steinmart Plaza, 5026 S. 74th
To Milwaukeeans ancient and younger Exclusive has always been the place to go for new music. Post Napster and iPod launches, none of the big boy record stores survived, not even Sam Goody. The Exclusive Company, a Wisconsin staple, is the kind of place you can go in need of a guitar pick, even in Oshkosh and someone will magically have one behind the counter. Vinyl has become a bigger part of the mix on recent years and they’ve done well sorting and categorizing their bins. The South store gets noteriety for a ripping metal and 7″ punk section. They keep the local kids stocked too. You can get that adoptahighway release a fault off the shelf there. Today on the Mother’s Day of record stores, Exclusive will have live music at the Eastside location and will be giving stuff away with Dave Grohl on it (he’s RSD’s official Ambassador).
Off the Beaten Path – Eastside, 1938 N Farwell
It was way dustier and more disorderly before the original owner died, the quality is still there. Off The Beaten Path has kept up the tradition, and is a real oasis for the LP enthusiast. Its got a lower half level that sends you 30 feet to the back of the store where its easy to lose track of time. Off The Beaten Path offers a balanced set of genres and wrapped rare releases and reissues.
Musical Memories – Juneau Town, Kilbourn and Marshall
It’s a premier shop. When James Brown died I stopped in there and bought 5 classic James Brown albums in pristine condition, and there about 16 more. The Big Payback still hits my table regularly. Musical Memories has one of the most carefully curated selections I’ve seen in the City and all the records are in excellent condition.
Record Head – West Allis, 70th and Green Field
Radio Shack wishes it could be Record Head. This shop has a nice selection of used instruments and audio gear. They carry vast selection of used and new mainstream media like movies, cds and games. The vinyl here stays secluded to mostly 70s and 80s funk, classic, psychedelic and 80’s rock and jazz, good digging overall. They have some good dollar bins as well.
Bay View Books and Music – Bay View, 2653 N Kinnickinnick
Those tried and true Eastsiders should remember this shop from that skeezy little retail outlet that used to be on Prospect Ave. Bay View Book and Music has a the best dollar bins around. The main selection has several dozen choice classic rock, metal and soul plays.
Love Unlimited – Bay View, 2649 N Kinnickinnick
When you see that hunk of plastic mannequin donning mega retro vintage clothing you think resale shop. Love Unlimited despite its rep a clothing store has well groomed cabinets of vinyl LP with local oddities like Eric Blowtorch somehow embedded in there. A listening station sits in the back giving some piece of mind if you see album with the rocking album cover you’d rather not take a chance on.
They’re a couple other super top secret spots I’m not going to mention because well, you got to keep some things sacred. My quick honorable mention spots are the South and especially the Northside Half Priced Books. The old Downtown Books was probably on of the best all around experiences Milwaukee before it splintered, they had vinyl… mostly folk and palor music, which store has the selection now? That’s your scavenger hunt of the day… Go!!! Lastly, although I haven’t been yet, Glass and Groves on 3rd and Wells Street downtown can probably get you going too.
Expecting the same old dusky jams you can count on at the Jazz Estate, I stepped to that night more for the dim ambiance than the music. Though the music is always a big plus. I get the per usuals and the main act is preparing to go on. Then this trumpet leans on the silence.
It blows the cob webs off of everyone with a slow tenor drawl. Hi hat taps in the snare, and rim shot. A melodic line is sung-spoken by Maggie Vagle, keys trickling notes around her words,’I have seen the break of day, rising glistening, Im transfixing…’ It’s an exquisite lead in for Rico Sisney to begin his reminiscent verse about a person he knew.
Sidewalk Chalk, Vibrate
Sidewalk Chalk marked a high-point late in 2014 for sneakily good shows, a feat pulled easily by a such an obviously good band of musicians. Based in Chicago, Sidewalk Chalk touts a vintage brass section featuring a Trumpet (Sam Trump) and Trombone (David Ben-Porat), that build on the foundations set by urban R&B electric Bass (Garrett McGinn) and drums (Tyler Berg), and a hip deck of Keys (Charlie Coffeen). Sidewalk chalk has all the parts needed to steer an a all-terrain course through music’s soulful parts.
Their second album, Leaves, prepares to bud late in February and they treated the crowd a Jazz Estate to an early sampler. Sidewalk Chalk has a ton of moxie to go with their stage presence, striking the right balance of justified confidence needed in the urban fusion genre. Most of all they are a lot fun.
Sidewalk Chalk, Them Us
Sidewalk Chalk weaves in and out of dreamy and contemplative pieces, and go quickly from sentimentality to good times. When they get introspective you have a musical pal to accompany you on your daily laments and social tithing. At their upbeat best, they will give you perfect soundtrack to do something uplifting. Sidewak Chalk’s sophomore album leaves drops February 25.
Quickly becoming a transcendent figure in the Milwaukee music scene, Jaems Murphy’s latest project, Etherium Ensemble, claws at a certain sonic purity that will draw him notoriety that is likely unsought. Adhering thoughtful progressive rock to ambient jazz, soul and neo-soul sub genres, Etherium Ensemble took the floor for an November performance at Circle A Cafe in Riverwest.
Bestowing an uplifting and reflective set of compositions, Etherium Ensemble is a sextet containing guitar (Murphy), bass (Bob Schabb) trumpet (Brett Westfahl), drums (Demetrus Ford), vocalist (Keshena Armon), and vibraphone (Michael Neumeyer), all possessing extensive expressive proclivities.
The word that most comes to mind if I were to describe Etherium Ensemble is authentic; authentic in their intent, authentic in their commitment, and authentic in their desire to pay tribute to the all voices that contribute to Milwaukee’s creative spirit.
About that vibraphone, until Etherium Ensemble, this element is one that I have yet to see incorporated in a Milwaukee act. Mike Neumeyer does Roy Ayers proud (one of the definitive American Jazz Vibes composers), working his way end-to-end on the chimed instrument clutching two felted mallets. In the sound-scape of Etherium Ensemble, the vibes venerably takes the place of keyboard, and expands that role to offer warmer tones to the range of notes that section usually imparts.
Jaems Murphy also headlines Vedic Eden, a amorphous project leaning on alternative rock foundations. Vedic Eden was recently included in a blog post from The Examiner announcing “11 acts you may not be paying attention to…”. Go ahead and throw Etherium Ensemble on that list, and to give Jaems Murphy two spots in 2015.
Suns out at least for a day, so lets pretend it will be tomorrow as well. While one hundred thousand people will be down at Henry Meier Festival Grounds, the rest of Milwaukee will carry on the per usuals. BBC has Antony and the Tramps to simmer the musical stew tomorrow night. They got ambient American Gypsy down on the floor laying a woven mat of thread bare roots.
Grappling forces that oppose the good and bad times, Anotony and The Tramps sing their memories through their instruments. Unfolding their hands, they reach for what you have buried within your mental diary. The outfit carriers dimensions that overlap quadrants of taste.
Upright bass stands prominent in their soundscape, with an assortment of percussion, keys, brass, and woodwinds for ample sides, suiting their proclaimed gypsydom. Antony and The Tramps has roots, folk and Americana stained in their sheet music. Mother’s Nature Tree (The Warrior pt 1) typifies their ability to animate unvisited places scrapped off lonely paved country highways. Gradually, keys seep through thick layers of reverbed guitar scales, kept in their place by a mellow racket of drum snares.
Antony and The Tramps, Mother’s Nature Tree (The Warrior pt 1)
A harmonic chant brings you to The Warrior, a benediction to their self titled album, music heart bred.
Antony and The Tramps, The Warrior
Their out of that scary place 90 minutes south of here, coarsely ground good times leave the threats behind. They’re glad to take you deep enough to remember. Antony and The Tramps embark at BBC’s tomorrow nite Friday June 27.
With so many artists having musical aspirations blooming everywhere at every moment, there just isn’t enough time to give everyone their due. North Coast kid Madden Miles, just keeps lining up raw and unsung projects. He does what needs to be done, in this era of mega pop like me simpleton tunes, the projects just are. Madden Miles was cool enough to give me a few moments to talk music and his latest project #HeroMusic.
Tried and Tried by Madden Miles ft. Amber Ruthe
Local Trolley: #HeroMusic makes the third Madden Miles proper beat tape drop. The Candace Bailey (2012) and Kate Upton (2013) tapes actually played like instrumentals of EP albums to me, more so than beat tapes. #HeroMusic actually features vocal performances, what was behind that decision? You realize #HeroMusic is an actually a pretty damn good EP. You basically just produced half a legit album, f- a beat tape.
Madden Miles: #HeroMusic was a mix of a few things I had going on behind the scenes. I had a couple MCs and a vocalist that I really just wanted to branch out with. I’ve prided myself on being ‘conceptual’ and staying the course with my projects. I also wanted to make something that was sonically huge. I’ve been wanting to take a step away from sampling to see what I could brain storm and I’ve always felt like I could make something special with the right mix of people.
I have absolutely no qualms that we’ve achieved that and even more beyond what I thought could be measured. #HeroMusic has taught me a lot as far as engineering, mixing, and just keeping the straight path on remaining positive. It took a lot longer then I expected, but I’m extremely pleased and grateful to everyone who contributed, listened, and complimented on the quality of work. I genuinely appreciate it with all sincerity.
I also appreciate the subtle compliment of #HeroMusic. It was never meant to be a beat tape. I just always felt like 10 tracks is a great balance of work. I could’ve had 17-18 tracks on here but I felt it would imbalance the 10 solid tracks that were done. I didn’t want to risk polluting it.
LT: I caught a little thread on the twitter, I wont name names but something about a hip-hop bracket. Heads were picking match ups between Drake and Wayne, Lupe was in there… Everybody knows hip-hop is about competition, you care to speak on the state of hip-hop from a competition stand point, where do you see things being at right now?
MM: The way I see it, if you’re in it to get money, then.. Get Money. I like everyone to an extent, but I also have my preferences. I will say I myself, am waiting for the next ‘it’ guy for all ‘hip-hop’ fans. I realize there’s commercial success to be had, and someone has to get that, I understand that absolutely. Instead of being bias as a hip-hop fan, all I’ll say is, if and when you get called on as a producer, make the most of the opportunity. You may not like who it is, or stand for what they rap about, but truthfully, 2013 made me realize, you can’t be picky unless you’re in a position to be picky. So stay humble, grounded, sincere, and work your ass off to get to that position to where you can be picky and choosy. I realize [that’s] more of a savvy answer…
LT: I like that, it’s well suited. Seems to me among artists the competition factors is decreasing. Every now and then dudes will go at each other but most of now-a-days artists is playing by so many different rules, really the only comp is among fans. Speaking of competition, you went in the past 3 years at a long running producer battle hosted in Milwaukee and didn’t advance, take me from your first battle to now, how have you had to adjust your game?
MM: Battle one, that was an absolute wake up call, but it was awesome. I met a lot of awesome people that I still connect with to this day. I’ve never been what you’d title as a ‘battle producer’. I literally thought it was just go, play some beats, get some recognition and face time, and go. Then I was on stage, and I didn’t know WHAT the hell was going on. I looked at a couple of my friends in the crowd like, what the hell am I into here!? It was so hilarious.
The battle scene has been great just to meet new people, stay connected, build, and get better sonically. There’s so many good producers that it’s criminal. I have much respect for all of the competitors and everyone involved in organizing it. It’s influenced me to just all around get better. All in all when it’s said and done, I’ve enjoyed every year doing it as much as the next.
I pushed the bar about 2 years ago by having Alida do some live strings for me while I performed live. That was awesome. I have something that I think is pretty dope lined up for this year if I’m in it. Never been done before. I can’t seem to get people from my city to go to Milwaukee to support, and that’s fine. I’m more excited about the challenge to gain a new audience… That’s the ultimate thrill I’m going for this year.
LT: Yeah the battle format does lend itself to being a popularity contest. The Mil can be hyper local too, same with most of these woods. I’m going to just get this out of the way and give you a well earned Milwaukee pass. Any funny stories about pulling #HeroMusic together?
Beat the Odds by Madden Miles ft. Born Infinite
MM: Not terribly funny stories… Just more, compelling things in my opinion. On a more comedic side, I can’t tell you how many times I scolded Keno to get me the vocals for Gwen Stacy Sh*t. He came through clutch though. Honestly, the best story that I have or give is literally that I just sent them all the beats in the most basic format. They all performed what they did taking their own direction. I took that and stayed true to what the concept was, and catered to what they put down and their overall sound.
For instance, a good example would be Wanted:Heroes, I built that from the ground up. I had the beat, just bare piano, drums, breaks, and I went and recorded Amber. I was the only one that had the mix. All I did was tell everyone involved that was assigned a track what the concept was. They literally just gave me the pieces to the puzzle and I thrived on the challenge in placing it all as it came together.
I took about 3 to 4 months off from the project in it’s entirety because I was getting way too hands on and obsessive about everything. It needed to breathe and get a natural progression. By the time those months elapsed, I played what I was feeling. I was down and out at the time. I felt like I couldn’t finish it, wouldn’t finish it, and basically, not amount to anything as a producer, or life in that matter. It was an unbelievably hard time. But it rose me back from the dead, and as stereotypical as it sounds, it motivated me. I carried that motivation, and we cranked that shit out until it was done. I actually just listened to it on a drive and I am unbelievably happy and still so proud of everyone and happy that we could all do this. I absolutely love it.
LT: I’m not surprised to hear that artists just gravitated to your sounds without much direction. What I like most about your work is that it’s not very loop reliant. You got a hell of mixture of track themes, and the lyricist and vocalist are turned up.
MM: I appreciate the knowledge and understanding that I’m not entirely just predicated off of loops. Obviously, a loop drives the general feel of the track, but I’ve also had some awesome people guiding me, believing in me, driving me, and developing me to get away from that.
At times it’s beyond frustrating because you wonder if you’re ever going to meet the expectations that are made for you, but in retrospect, it’s all part of the growth. Like any producer, I definitely just started with a loop and just let it ride. It’s also hard because I have a lot of beats that may not even see the light of day because their victim of being too musical maybe. Too much going on, when maybe I needed to tone or scale back some of the intensity. I’m still learning but I feel like I’m getting there more sooner than later.
LT: You have unparallelled humbleness bro, #HeroMusic and everyone on it is quality, skull candy crush. I mean you got thoughtful tracks, philosophic, swaggin, grimy and that Born Infinite piece is just throw back hard. What do you think sets you apart most from other producers?
MM: I don’t know what sets me apart to be honest. Like I said, there’s just so many damn good producers. I’d say work ethic but I don’t want to because I know there’s others that work just as hard. I try to be out of the box with my concepts as much as possible. I try to do every kind of beat there is based on [the current] industry standards. My heart stays in the boom bap, grimy sample, dirty drums, heavy sound. However, in order to stand out, I look at artists like Just Blaze, Kanye, Pharrell, Timbaland, they wear so many hats and can make something different and unique and you still ‘know’ who’s behind that beat. That’s the crowd that someday, I reach to be mentioned in the same breath as…
LT: Pharrel killed the hat game over the winter. That was a vintage bored reaction. The Smokey the Bear joint? For real though… For real, for real you brought up a interesting point though earlier about Racine not necessarily branching out to the Mil a ton, I’m going to extend that to places like Madison, Kenosha… The Mil don’t really branch out that much either, but now with the Mil going big at SxSW… Your thoughts on how that might change the game for whats possible for small markets if not through collaboration or through just getting out there dolo…
MM: I wasn’t able to attend, but I seen enough people that I know that were there and I felt like it gave me a good perspective. They’re hungry man, and again, that’s a testament to them. Go be heard. Don’t wait for it to come to you. I love seeing what people like Klassik, Unifi, Blax, Yodot, and Proph are doing to grow. I hope nothing for the best for those guys and look forward to hopefully working with all of them soon.
LT: Parting Shots?
MM: I hope any and everyone is able to at least give #HeroMusic the 34 minutes it earned… I wanted to make a piece of art, not an album. It’s not a record to me as much as it is a soundtrack. I can’t thank the people involved enough and can’t wait to do the second part of the series. #VillainMusic. If you digging it definitely connect with Madden Miles on facebook and twitter @MaddenMiles. I appreciate the reach out and hope all is well with you and yours.
LT: #VillianMusic without a doubt… you got rare ear for sound and song structure so glad someone is pushing that envelope…
Wanted Heroes by Madden Miles ft. Keno, Alida Lacosse & Amber Ruthe