Madtown’s music scene is popping, end of discussion.
This semester and past summer, some of Madtown’s own across all genres blessed us with some stellar projects. Now it’s time to celebrate them before we look toward what’s to come in the new year.
Trapo — Shade Trees
Out of all the talent among Madison’s pool of artists, few, if any, feel like more of a safe bet for stardom than Trapo.
While many emcees have adjusted their flows to incorporate melody into their deliveries, for Trapo, it’s natural. On Shade Trees, thanks to his warm, leathery vocals, he’s able to seamlessly blend singing and rapping to create potent tracks that are both deeply personal and profoundly relatable.
Engelwood — Pastel Beach
Listening to local beat maker Engelwood’s Pastel Beach EP surges memories of summer back to the forefront. On Pastel Beach, Engelwood, a.k.a University of Wisconsin student Matt Engels, finesses his sun-soaked instrumental hip-hop just right, evoking memories of summer’s highlights while avoiding saccharinity.
The Paywalls — It’s Nice Out
It’s hard not to make comparisons between The Paywalls and Kurt Vile. Both have guitar-driven tracks, bassy story-telling vocals and straightforward percussion. Both write songs that meander around, rather than rushing to any sort of end, but never overstay their welcome either.
The Paywalls do stand out, though, over the course of the project’s 13 tracks. Their contrast of clean lead guitars and distorted rhythmic ones on “Love is Gone Again,” is one particularly striking moment. Their groovy synth that’s back-to-back on “Horizontal Plane” and “Our Summer House” is perfectly out of place within their sound.
Kenny Hoopla — Beneath the Willow Trees
On each of these initial tracks, Hoopla’s vocals are at times numb and others are downright depressed. His lyrics create abstract, yet striking imagery that focuses on the ins and outs of cyclical depression. It’s music that doesn’t stick out because it sounds good, though it does, but more so because of the emotional qualities Hoopla and his producers are able to capture in sonic form.
3rd Dimension — L I M I T S
To make an album where there are no groovy, poppy beats to hide behind is a bold move for 3rd Dimension, and it’s one that paid off. Even “Sip Slow,” perhaps the track with the most mainstream appeal, relies heavily on each member and Supa Bwe’s ability to sing-rap melodically.
With Limits, 3rd Dimension bet the house on their lyricism, and they pretty much hit the jackpot. It’ll be interesting to see whether they continue to define themselves in this manner on future projects or if they branch out in a different direction.
Regardless, Limits is a major benchmark in the growth of the local artists. We can only hope it will end up being a platform from which they launch off from.
Bien Bien — She Grooves Me
Coming in at just four tracks, the members of Bien Bien make up for the project’s brevity with the musical density of each track. There’s a whole smorgasbord to consume on each track, from the honey-whiskey vocals, to the savory, meaty drums all the way to sweet-citrusy guitars.
Each song is guaranteed to satisfy your musical appetite, only to have you running for seconds, then thirds and then fourths at the start of each successive track.