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MKE Music Premiere: The ‘Unreal’ is easy but misleading for Brett J.B.

Kelly Bolter, Jon Anthony Syverson

Every week, Milwaukee Music Premiere connects the city’s artists with our listening audience. If you’re an artist with a track you’d like us to debut exclusively on Radio Milwaukee, head over to our Music Submission page to learn how.

“The real thing is just too much to deal with.”

Milwaukee singer-songwriter Brett J.B. pleadingly belts out that line on new single “Unreal,” and he is not wrong. The version of something we have in our head or watch unfold on a screen in front of us can seem pretty darn great compared with the out-of-control-ness of actual life. Shying away from the latter — more specifically in a romantic context — is what the track is all about.

“As a young adult, sometimes I would imagine myself in relationships from TV shows or movies,” Brett shared with us. “Other times, I would create an entire persona from a glimpse of a beautiful stranger in a car next to me. All the while, I would shy away from dating in the real world. Dreaming of a perfect relationship was actually my way of avoiding a real relationship.”

It’s fitting that the song itself tilts toward the dreamy-sounding side of things, with a plucky guitar opening that gives way to a smoothed-out chorus with sprinkles of synth. There’s a very Fountains of Wayne feel to the total package, right down to the vivid descriptions of everyday situations:

On my drive along the lakefront
I got stuck at a traffic light
When I saw an angel with vintage glasses
In the car to my right

I pictured us in Paris
In a light-filled hotel suite
I envisioned a ring, but the light turned green
And she turned down the other street

The whole thing leaves you hoping that the central character can escape the romcom-colored world for something a little more grounded. The good news is that Brett had plenty of real-life connections helping him out with the song, which was produced by Milwaukee-based artist collective Meltwater Pulse. He wanted to give a well-deserved shout to the group’s “revolving cast of contributors,” including Dr. Bassie, Murphy Kaye, Ku Mays and Shane Olivo.

You can hear the sum total of their work by tapping the “Listen” button at the top of the page or tuning in to 88Nine as we play the song throughout the day (6:30 and 10:30 a.m.; 2:30, 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.).