Tag: Milwaukee WI

New Audio: Casual War Shares a Cathartic New Single

Currently split between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., emerging indie duo Casual War — Maria Law (vocals) and Erik Mattingly (guitar) — have been playing together since 2018. The duo initially made a name for themselves playing clubs in Milwaukee and D.C., before gradually evolving their sound towards a dreamier, desert rock-inspired sound — with the duo continuing work on the project remotely.

Casual War’s latest single “No Help” is is a cathartic and incredibly anthemic song built around a classic, grunge rock song structure — dreamy, contemplative verses with shimmering guitar lines and stormy choruses with buzzing and distortion pedaled power chords. And at the heart of the song is Law’s plaintive, power house vocals singing lyrics about a reckless, terrifying and dangerous love — the sort of love that burns out quickly and leaves you a devastated and heartbroken shell.

Live Footage: Joe Wong Performs “Nite Creatures” in a Backyard

Last year, I spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Milwaukee-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and JOVM mainstay Joe Wong. As a musician, Wong has had a lengthy career as a drummer with stints in NYC-based noise rock act Parts & Labor — and he’s toured with Mary Timony and Marnie Stern. But over the past handful of years, he has made a name for himself as a prolific composer for TV and film, crafting scores for Master of NoneRussian DollUgly DeliciousAwkafina is Nora from Queens, The Midnight Gospel, To All The Boys and a lengthy list of others. Wong is also the host of the popular The Trap Set podcast.

Written in in the years between his father suffering a stroke in 2010 and his death in 2019, Wong’s Mary Timony-produced, full-length debut Nite Creatures featured 10 ruminative and baroque, psych pop songs that thematically explored the intersection of melancholy and joyful surrender. In the lead-up to the album’s release, I wrote about five of the album’s singles — including the slow-burning album title track “Nite Creatures,” a swooning and rapturous bit of psychedelia that thematically explored existential dread and sounded a bit like Scott 3 era Scott Walker.

Wong recently shared some intimate and gorgeous live footage of “Nite Creatures” filmed last year in Pasadena, CA backyard that features Wong backed by strings and keyboard. Originally premiered as part of Flood Magazine‘s Neighborhood Sessions, the live footage serves as a bit of a taste of what to expect of Wong’s forthcoming tour with his backing band Nite Creatures, which will feature Wong (vocals, guitar); Ex Hex and Helium‘s Mary Timony (guitar); Atoms for Peace‘s, Roger Waters‘ and Beck‘s Joey Waronker (drums); Faraquet’s and Medications‘ Chad Molter (bass); Lo Moon‘s Crisanta Baker (keys); Kid Congo’s and The Makeup’s Mark Cisneros (flute); John Zorn‘s, Bjork‘s and Anthony Braxton‘s Shelly Burrgon, along with a string octet and horn quartet.

Two of the newly announced dates will feature Joe Wong and Nite Creatures opening for The ZombiesColin Blunstone — and then backing Blunstone as he plays his solo debut album One Year for the first time ever, in conjunction with the release of the expanded 50th anniversary reissue through Sundazed Music. Tickets go on sale Friday at 9am Pacific/noon Eastern. You can purchase tickets here: https://www.nitecreatures.com

Tour dates, which include a November 8, 2021 stop at The Gramercy Theatre are below.


October 2 Dana Point, CA – Ohana Encore @ Doheny State Beach **with Pearl Jam

November 2 Los Angeles, CA – The Regent Theater **with Colin Blunstone

November 8 New York, NY – The Gramercy Theatre **with Colin Blunstone

Live Footage: Donivan Berubue at “Hear Here Presents”

Donivan Berube is an Arizona-based luthier, singer/songwriter, musician, touring cyclist and Contributing Music Editor at American Trails Magazine. Berube has led a rather fascinating life: a mother after his 17th birthday, Berube left his family and disassociated himself from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, saying goodbye to his family and friends — forever.

Berube took off to travel the hemisphere, living primarily out of a tent and working a variety of jobs — including an English teacher in Huaycán, Peru; a librarian in Big Sur, CA; a luthier in Arizona; a tour cyclist, who has taken solo, long-distance bicycle tours across the States and Iceland. During that same time, Berube wrote, recorded and released material through small labels like Blessed Feathers and others, which has received praise from NPR’s Morning Edition, Paste Magazine and Vinyl Me, Please. And he has had his writing appear in American Trails and 100 Albums You Need On Vinyl and Why.

Berube’s soon-to-be released album Truth In Constant Change For Now was written and recorded during pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions, amidst increasing sociopolitical and economic instability, racial injustice, growing inequality and other massive problems — while focusing over the fear of obscurity, persistence and strength, intimacy and isolation. Thematically, the album’s material has a central refrain: this is a mere moment in time, in which we are mere moments in time. This has always been reality but we’ve never quite seen it that way.

Recently, Bernube and his backing band performed three songs off his soon-to-be released album — “Wyoming/Dakota,” “Love Is a Dog From Hell,” and “Huaycán Song # 2” — at Milwaukee-based, live music video series Hear Here Presents.

“Wyoming/Dakota,” the first song of the session is one part anthemic 120 Minutes-era indie rock, infectious jangle pop and contemplative shoegaze, centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a propulsive rhythm section and Benube’s plaintive vocals. Lyrically. the song sounds — and feels — as though it comes from lived-in personal experience, with the song evoking driving under seemingly endless skies, feeling awe and confusion over the direction of your life.
“Love is a Dog From Hell,” the session’s second song is an enormous song centered around shimmering guitars, Benube’s plaintive vocals — and while starting with a slow-burning introduction, the song builds up in intensity, simultaneously capturing the passion, confusion, and ambivalence of love that sonically reminds me a bit of Pearl Jam.
“Huaycán Song #2” is a gentle reverie, centered featuring a narrator,’s nostalgia-fueled dreams of a former lover and of a simpler time; none of which he can ever get back because time is an endless river.

All of the material is gorgeous and just deeply thoughtful, and recorded in an intimate setting. Of course, it reminds me of how much I miss live music.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Joe Wong Teams Up With Fred Armisen on a Lyrical and Trippy Visual for “Nite Creatures”

Throughout the course of this past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the rising Milwaukee-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer, Joe Wong. Wong has had a lengthy career as a drummer — but he has made a name for himself for his scores for a number of acclaimed TV series, including Master of None, Russian Doll, Ugly Delicious, Awkafina is Nora from Queens, and others — and for being the host of The Trap Set podcast.

Earlier this year Wong released his Mary Lattimore-produced full-length debut, Nite Creatures, and so far I’ve written about four of the album’s previously released singles — including: the Man Who Sold The World-era David Bowie-like “Dreams Wash Away,” the Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles-like “Nuclear Rainbow,” the Scott Walker-like “Minor,” and “Day After Day,” a sobering exploration of free will versus fate that doesn’t have easy answers. Continuing an incredible run of stunningly lush yet brooding material, the album’s latest single, album title track “Nite Creatures” is a slow-burning and deliberately crafted track focuses on existential dread with a rapturous and swooning psychedelia. If Wong wasn’t a contemporary artist, you might mistakenly think that “Nite Creatures” was released sometime between 1966-1970.

Directed by Fred Armisen, the recently released video follows a brooding Wong as he enters a vaguely Eastern-styled house. As he wanders through the house, we see some deeply kaleidoscopic and psychedelic effects happen to him and to his surroundings, suggesting that Wong was going through a deeply spiritual awakening of some sort. Much like the song itself, it’s a slow-burning and gorgeously shot fever dream — but with something dark and murky on the fringes.

Interestingly, the collaboration between the duo can trace some of its origins back to the 1990s: Armisen was the dummer for Trenchmouth and Wong was a high-school kid in a math rock band named after an extremely obscure Dune reference. Wong wound up reconnecting with Armisen in 2013: Wong was drumming for Marine Stern. A few years later, Armisen asked Wong to help produce his first comedy special Standup For Drummers.

“It was inspiring to witness how he’d evolved from the drummer I met over twenty years ago to the singular talent he is today,” Wong says. “When I decided to make a video for ‘Nite Creatures,’ I thought Fred would be the ideal person to direct. Because of his sense of narrative rhythm (we’re both drummers, after all), surrealist aesthetic, and ability to make creative decisions on the fly, he proved himself the perfect director, indeed.”

“I love Joe’s album,” Armisen adds, “so when he asked me to work on the video, I was like, ‘YES!’ The song is so sonically rich, I think it makes dreamy videos in everyone’s mind. I just wanted to try to match that feeling.”

New Audio: Joe Wong Releases a Lush Meditation on Free Will

Joe Wong is a Milwaukee-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer, who has created the scores for acclaimed TV series like Master of None, Russian Doll, Ugly Delicious, Awkafina is Nora from Queens, and others — and is the host of The Trap Set podcast.

Over the past few months Wong has released material off his Mary Lattimore-produced full-length debut, Nite Creatures, including the album’s three previously released singles: the Man Who Sold The World-era David Bowie-like “Dreams Wash Away,” the Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles-like “Nuclear Rainbow,” and the Scott Walker-like “Minor.” Continuing to build buzz for his full-length debut’s September 18, 2020 release through Decca Records, Nite Creatures’ fourth and latest single “Day After Day” further cements the Milwaukee-born, Los Angeles-based artist’s 60s psych-inspired sound — lush string and horn arrangements paired with shimmering guitars, enormous hooks and Wong’s mellifluous baritone. And while there’s a deliberate attention to craft that gives the material an anachronistic feel, the material is bolstered by earnest lyricism. In this case, “Day After Day,” is a sobering exploration of free will. 

“The lyric came to me after I read an article arguing that traumatic memories can be encoded in DNA and passed down from generation to generation,” Wong says. “Whether or not that’s true, I wanted to explore the notion that many of our personality traits and life choices that we attribute to free will may, in fact, be beyond our control. This track features an English Horn solo by Claire Brazeau (LA Chamber Orchestra), partly as homage to my ‘labelmate’ and hero Marianne Faithfull, who famously used oboe on her hit ‘As Tears Go By.’”

New Audio: Joe Wong Returns with a Lush and Orchestral New Single

Joe Wong is a Milwaukee-born, Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, who has created the scores for acclaimed TV series like Master of None, Russian Doll, Ugly Delicious, Awkafina is Nora from Queens, and others — and for being host of The Trap Set podcast.

Over the past few months Wong has released material off his Mary Lattimore-produced full-length debut, Nite Creatures, which is slated for a September 18, 2020 release, including two singles I’ve written about so far: the Man Who Sold The World-era David Bowie-like “Dreams Wash Away” and the a Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles-like “Nuclear Rainbow.” “Minor,” Nite Creatures’ third and latest single continues a run of incredibly lush material, but it’s arguably the most orchestral of the album’s singles, and as a result it reminds me a bit of the late, great Scott Walker’s work — brooding, achingly lonely and breathtakingly gorgeous. 

New Audio: Joe Wong Returns with a Psychedelic Ode to Existential Dread

Joe Wong is a Milwaukee-born, Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, who has created the scores for acclaimed TV series like Master of None, Russian Doll, Ugly Delicious, Awkafina is Nora from Queens, and others — and for being host of The Trap Set podcast.

Wong’s full-length debut Nite Creatures is slated for release later this year, and as you may recall, I wrote about the album’s lush and ambitious first single, the Man Who Sold The World-era David Bowie-like “Dreams Wash Away.” Wong’s second and latest single “Nuclear Rainbow” is a Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles-like track, centered around a lush and ambitious arrangement featuring soaring strings, regal horns, strummed guitar, hi-hat driven drumming and fluttering flutes — and while sounding as though it came out of the psychedelic late 60s, the track is centered around a deep existential dread that should feel familiar to all of us. 

JUICEBOXXX s a Milwaukee, WI-based emcee, who has developed a reputation within underground circles for a sound that draws from rock, punk rock, hip-hop and a disparate array of other influences that frequently finds him attempting to walk a difficult tightrope between appealing to the avant garde-leaning artist fringe and a pop sensibility.

Unsurprisingly, the Cleveland, OH-based punk band The Pagans were a major influence on the Milwaukee-based rapper’s work. “I rarely do covers, but The Pagans classic ‘Dead End America’ always seemed like a great fit, and a good b-side for my coming ‘Freaked Out American Loser’ single,” JUICEBOXXX explains in press notes. “It was recorded last summer in LA with my backing band (The Thunder Zone Band — Rocker Mike and Willy D) and Aaron Espinoza. I had a blast going crazy in the studio and trying to remember why I do this shit in the first place. ”

“I was saddened to hear about the passing of Pagans singer Mike Hudson,” JUICEBOXXX says in press notes “Coming from the Midwest, I can’t help but think of this thread of punk rock as heartland music, born in rustbelt basements and dive bars out of desperation and boredom. Freaking out to stay alive.” And although it’s a fairly straightforward and loving JUICEBOXXX’s cover manages to evoke the same sort of furious and desperate urgency of the original — while suggesting that throughout the years kids everywhere are practically the same.


As I’ve mentioned on this site a number of times, the Internet really has proven to be a wonderful place to discover both new music and extremely rare, lost music — and with an increasing ease. Just think about it, the technology that brings this site into your home has contributed to a wild proliferation of independent labels across the world, equally competing against the major conglomerates for your ears, attention and money. And interestingly enough, smaller, independent artists have been much more willing (and able) to take the sort of risks that their larger, monied rivals wouldn’t and couldn’t — i.e., attempting to re-introduce artists, whose work was so wildly ahead its time that audiences at the the time just couldn’t accept it — and yet fill in a musical gap, or seem so current that it was impossible to figure how it was missed; attempting to reintroduce regionally favored artists from a time when hit songs in Milwaukee were often different than hit songs in Atlanta, Baltimore, Des Moines, Minneapolis or New York.

Of course, before the Internet, bulletin boards and social media, much of this material was only known to cultish and dedicated insiders, who would spend their time seeking and collecting long-lost and long-forgotten albums, often hoarding them in private collections or selling them at collector’s shows. The Internet and blogosphere have democratized the process, allowing the average listener and fan a chance to listen and to love some of these long-forgotten wonders. Unsurprisingly, there’s money that can be made from discovering long lost material, and it often results in labels and bloggers mining beloved and influential genres to exhaustion through endless compilations of certain genres — in particular psych rock, AM rock, doo wop, singer/songwriter folk, funk, soul and a few others come to mind.

Now, strangely enough up until last year, there hadn’t been many proto-metal, pre-stoner rock compilations when the Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA-based distributor Permanent Records released a compilation of incredibly rare singles from the 60s and 70s on Brown Acid: The First Trip. With the help of Daniel Hall of RidingEasy Records, Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi spent time not just collecting and compiling the singles on the compilation, they also spent a great deal of time tracking down the songs creators, often bands who haven’t been together in over 30 or 40 years, and encouraging them to take part in the entire process.  As Barresi explained in press notes for the first compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been huge given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.“ And by having the artists participate it can give the songs and the artists a real second chance at success, if not some kind of attention.

Barresi and Hall have complied a second volume of rare proto-metal and pre-stoner rock from the 60s and 70s, Brown Acid: The  Second Trip, which is slated (fittingly enough) for release on April 20. The Second Trip‘s first single, Ash’s “Midnight Witch” manages to sound as though it drew from Mountain‘s “Mississippi Queen,” Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” and early Black Sabbath as layers of huge, sludgy and bluesy power chords are paired with a driving rhythm and soulful vocals. And while being forceful, the song manages to possess a trippy feel — and in some way the song nods at material that has been released by a number of contemporary bands including Ecstatic Vision and others.