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MKE Music Premiere: JV Harris rattles eardrums, ethics on new single

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.

Let’s say you’ve got a friend you haven’t seen in a while. The last time you hung out, he was a corporate attorney representing Fortune 500 companies, but now he works in the public defender’s office — same job, very different applications.

This is the music career of JV Harris, a Milwaukee-based artist who started in hip-hop before making the seamless transition to indie-alternative-punk rock. It’s not the most usual of genre-hopping, but Harris shows he’s got the chops for it on “Can’t Shut You Out,” the new single getting its premiere today.

There is no messing around on this song. The staccato, amp-rattling guitars make that obvious from the jump before Harris kicks down the door with an insistent singing style that goes right up to the “shouting” line and then takes a half-step back:

My heart is locked up in a briefcase
Buried in the bottom of the ocean
No I can’t worry ’bout what he say or she say
I’m tryna stay focused

I’m guarding my heart so much it’s getting hard
And no I can’t go far with it locked behind bars
And where should I start knocking down these walls
Cause I can’t see at all, and I’m not tryna fall

As Harris described in the song notes, this is a sonic version of the battle between the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. It’s a case of knowing “exactly what needs to be done. But, despite the brain’s logic, sometimes the heart wants what it wants.”

You can listen to this powerful, passionate single (with a wicked bass line, incidentally) on demand using the player at the top of this page. It’ll also spin on 88Nine today at 7:30 and 11:30 a.m.; and 3:30, 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. If you want to hear it live, Harris will take the stage as part of Cactus Club’s “Solstice Noir” lineup that gets rolling at 10:30 p.m. this Friday, June 21.