On April 7th Milwaukee's former A.V. Club Editor Matt Wild and long time A.V. Club colleague Tyler Maas launched Milwaukee Record, a comprehensive, opinionated and well-groomed love child that's poised to influence the way we consume the arts in Milwaukee. Last week I sat down with the duo to discuss the site, their ambitions and of course Milwaukee
When the A.V. Club “unceremoniously perished” Maas was restlessly concerned by the void left in it's place and the potential of Wild, a long time guiding voice in the community, migrating to another corner of the country. But as Wild quite definitively told me; “When the A.V. Club ended people asked me if I was going to move out of Milwaukee and honestly that thought never crossed my mind.” In the ensuing days after the demise of Milwaukee's A.V. Club Wild and Maas had already begun sculpting the site we see today; the quick construction due to their profound love of Milwaukee.
But an abundance of love is not what will separate the two from the rest of the city's journalists, rather it's the way they choose to show that love. As Maas puts it; “We both love the city enough that we feel comfortable telling it when it can do better.” And unlike many who feel satisfied merely spouting recommendations, they are taking it upon themselves to make the change they promote. Specifically citing the excessive coddling of local artists, Wild says; “What we offer is a critical opinion of the things that are going on in the arts in the city. And I don't mean critical in a bad way. I mean critical in the best sense of the word, we're trying to elevate the discourse, instead of everyone just celebrating everything that is local.” A valid point that Maas philosophically summarizes; “If everything is amazing then nothing means anything.”
Less than 2 weeks in and Milwaukee Record is already well on it's way to raising the bar. Last week they unveiled the 50 Best Milwaukee Albums of The 2010s (So Far), a list that surprisingly had yet to exist and even more surprisingly objectively critiqued some of Milwaukee's best musicians. And with their newfound freedom Milwaukee can look forward to things like their upcoming music video series in which they give Milwaukee bands $100 to spend on props at the American Science & Surplus store and wholly original content, like Maas' spotlight on the local comedy scene (something that in the past has been almost entirely ignored by media outlets).
When I asked what they thought the local art scene needed to do to improve and evolve Maas offered a solution so obvious that I felt embarrassed to have been asking myself and others it for so long; “It may seem cliché but what Milwaukee needs to do is to just keep going.” Lucky for us Maas and Wild weren't gone for long and look like they're going to keep going for quite a while.