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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

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In the 88Nine studio with PHOX

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It originally started out as friends and roommates making folk tunes in their shared Madison house, and eventually turned into the next big thing in the indie-pop scene. Now known as PHOX, the young Wisconsin band has been riding the wave of their successful debut release and headlining tour. We here at 88Nine were lucky enough to have PHOX grace the Radio Milwaukee stage for a special session before their sold-out Turner Hall show on Wednesday.

Sugared cereal, Feist, and Monty Python are three descriptors used by PHOX to label their sound. While somewhat joking, there is truth to that statement: The group boasts half-saccharine, half-peppery mid-tempo compositions that are altogether smart and affecting. Their charmingly magnetic sound is invested in subtle textural detail and shifting dynamics anchored in the singing and songwriting talents of front woman Monica Martin. “I never liked singing in front of people…I’m still trying to not be so nervous before shows,” admitted the bashfully smiling Martin. “It all started when we played Guitar Hero and she could sing and play the whole guitar solo to ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’ at the same time…I knew she was hiding something special,” added guitarist Matt Holmen. However, it was hard to tell that Martin’s disarmingly ornate singing style came from such humble beginnings. Her astonishing vocal runs were versatile enough to embellish the swell and crash of clap-along hit “Slow Motion” and just as successfully carry the more delicate “Kingfisher,” both of which were flawless live numbers.

It’s simply impossible not to love this group of brilliant Wisconsinites. From their stories about almost breaking up after an especially upsetting Packers loss to the lighthearted nature of their music, I couldn’t be happier PHOX is quickly on the rise into mainstream success for not only their talent, but for their outlook. Watch Phox perform their song "Slow Motion" here.