With the summer coming to a close and the Yellow Phone Music Conference fast approaching, I couldn’t possibly think of a better time to reflect on and celebrate all the wonderful musical talent in Milwaukee. From 414 Music Live sessions here at 88Nine to packed local venues, our city's musicians bring the community together in a truly special way. The Yellow Phone Music Conference is a four day gathering of talented artists and music professionals, right here in Milwaukee. This year’s Yellow Phone Music Conference, Sept. 4-7, is hosting Butch Vig as the keynote speaker and boasts an artist lineup full of awesome local and nationally recognized musicians. From country to synth-pop, from folk to glam rock, and from alt-rock to blues, the featured MKE artists each have their own variety of local flavor. Here is an 8-song mini mixtape from Milwaukee bands and solo acts on this year’s Yellow Phone Music Conference lineup. Enjoy!
1. “Milwaukee Man” by Hugh Bob and the Hustle
What better way to kick off this playlist than a song with Milwaukee in the title? Calling on inspiration gathered from the beer-soaked taverns of downtown to the earthy vibes of the land our state calls “Up North,” Hugh Bob and the Hustle is Wisconsin through and through. Hugh Bob (Hugh Robert Matherson) grew up in the small town of Butternut, WI with a population of merely 300, before traveling to the city to make music. Hugh Bob and the Hustle is a band on the cutting edge of Americana with an authentic honky-tonk sound. Their song, “Milwaukee Man” is a rollicking ode to our city that is as infectious as it is endearing. See more about Hugh Bob and the Hustle and the other Yellow Phone Music Conference artists here!
2. “Seams” by Bright Kind
Bright Kind was formed in 2012 as the brainchild of longtime bandmates Jeanna Salzer, Harrison Dole, and Alex Bunke. Salzer, lead singer and Milwaukee native, has a voice that took the local music scene by storm. After a few years of dabbling in solo work, Bright Kind came together to become the perfect platform for Salzer’s beautiful vocals and creative talents. Their song “Seams” features an unexpected blend of electronic melodies from what the band indicates is a “thrift-store synthesizer,” a soft-rock drumbeat, and Salzer’s classic and sumptuous voice. In my mind, this mixture of sounds is the perfect concoction that demonstrates why Bright Kind is destined to stand out as a unique Milwaukee band. See more about Bright Kind and the other Yellow Phone Music Conference artists here!
3. “Best Days” by Greatest Lakes
The four-piece indie band Greatest Lakes has made its way onto 88Nine’s airwaves and into the hearts of local listeners. Featuring driving vocals, catchy guitar melodies, and lots of percussion, these Milwaukee folk-rockers give us the stomp-along summer anthem, “Best Days,” which is the first single from their album due for release in September. See more about Greatest Lakes and the other Yellow Phone Music Conference artists here!
4. “Tarantula” by Tigernite
Tigernite is bringing glam-punk (AKA ‘glunk’) to the streets of Milwaukee. This local band is fronted by Molly Roberts, whose powerful vocals perfectly match the intensity of the riff-saturated melodies in the song “Tarantula.” It’s a dance party and a rock show all in one. See more about Tigernite and the other Yellow Phone Music Conference artists here!
5. “We’re Not Alone” by The Midwestern Charm
The clear-eyed sound of The Midwestern Charm is just that: charming. Formed in Milwaukee in 2009 as a band heavy on folk sounds, The Midwestern Charm delivers that special down-home vibe that screams Wisconsin. Featuring sparkling hooks and on-point melodies, “We’re Not Alone” is just one of the outstanding ballads off their self-titled debut release. See more about The Midwestern Charm and the other Yellow Phone Music Conference artists here!
6. “Younger Days” by GGOOLLDD
GGOOLLDD’s shimmering guitars and bouncy bass lines embellish sleek electronic beats to create polished, precise, and unwaveringly powerful electro-pop designs. With a natural rock-goddess swagger and a sparkling gold microphone in hand, front woman and lead vocalist Margaret Butler carried the band through three goosebumps-inducing tracks off their album $TANDARD$ during their 414 Music Live performance here at 88Nine, including the beguiling track “Younger Days.” Butler’s raw energy while performing “Younger Days” was electrifying as she flitted around the stage with her flowy black skirt, reaching to the sky in celebration during the line of the chorus “these are our younger days.” See more about GGOOLLDD and the other Yellow Phone Music Conference artists here!
7. “High Horse” by Hayward Williams
A sensitive and stunning solo act, Hayward Williams was another one of our 414 Music Live performers this summer. As Williams began to play, one of the most striking aspects that I drew from his live performance was the bluesy, deep-hued undertone of his music. Calling on a warm sense of darkness, his confessional compositions begged to be cut in a room lit only by a fireplace at dusk. “High Horse,” a notable closing number from the session, features Williams’ blend of local flavor and heart-on-sleeve expression. Alongside gorgeous guitar swells, Williams masterfully allows space for each lyric to breathe and resonate with the listener, giving the song an almost anthemic quality. See more about Hayward Williams and the other Yellow Phone Music Conference artists here!
8. “Wet Pavement” by Brett Newski
Musician and jet-setter Brett Newski experienced a career much different than most emerging artists. It started in college, where Newski spent his Madison years working hard on his power-pop band the Nod. After releasing 3 albums, the band broke up when graduation day approached. Not soon after, Newski boarded a plane for Southeast Asia, Ho Chi Minh City to be exact, and he would go on to become a guitar teacher and active solo artist there. In a city of twelve million people, the Americans and Europeans kept a close-knit network and it was here that he met Matt Vend, a South African musician who took a liking to Newski and his music and invited him to tour South Africa. Still riding the exhilarating wave of his success overseas, Newski has established himself as a standout local artist. With a precise and power-packed sound with folk undertones, his work has been likened to Weezer, REM, and Bright Eyes. See more about Brett Newski and the other Yellow Phone Music Conference artists here!