Over the past few years, Madison has seen more than a few changes to its local music scene.
The Orpheum is now under control of multi-national corporation Live Nation. The Majestic and Frank Production’s merger is more than underway and their new 2000-seat venue, The Sylvee, looms. New, smaller venues like Robinia Courtyard and Art In are gaining prominence, and a paradigm shift in Madison’s relationship with its hip-hop finally seems underway with the establishment of a city task force.
Artists that were pillars of UW’s music scene such as Rich Robbins, crashPREZ and Aarushi Agni of Tin Can Diamonds have also skipped town. Many others may leave in the future as well. There are shoes to fill and new avenues through which artists can extend. These next few years will be exciting and pivotal for the growth of Madison’s scene, and below are some of the artists The Badger Herald think will make the biggest moves.
The First Wave alum, band member of ME eN YOU and constant collaborator of many artists around town is finally truly venturing out on his own.
Son!, f.k.a. Lord of the Fly and whose real name is Daniel Kaplan, is a rapper, singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist whose music could never fit in any box. His songs, as adventurous as they are comforting, offer haunting vignettes of emotions and experiences.
The North Carolinian-born artist strikes the proper balance between personality and universality on each of his tracks, moving deftly between different points on that spectrum. Songs like “Nothing Lasts” offer stream-of-consciousness rememberings of difficult experiences with difficult people, or one difficult person in particular.
The chaotic percussion mixes well with the Kaplan’s own frenetic vocals. “Take It,” on the other hand, drips with nostalgia — a sweet love song for disassociated cynics who are idealists at heart. Son!’s greatest strength is that no matter what he does, it’s always sincere even if it isn’t clean or tidy in the process.
One thing that’s remarkable about Greenhaus‘s tracks is their collective unselfishness as a band. On each of their tracks so far, each member of the band — talented in their own right — takes up as little space on each track as possible. This doesn’t make their songs austere, though, they’re simply minimalist—maximally efficient in the emotional impacts they evoke versus the sonic stuff they put in.
They also allow for Halle Luksich’ s often sad but always beautiful vocals to take center stage. Her strained croonings and almost-epistollary lyrics create strange soundscapes in of themselves, with the accompanying instruments fleshing out all the colors and details. “And if it’s not me, then I’d like to think/that it’s no one in this town,” Lukisch sings on “Friends” off their soft and warm EP.
Doesn’t that just make you want to cut your hair, and ball up in the clippings?
Since he released his debut EP, Beneath the Willow Tree, about a year ago, the Cleveland-born Madison transplant’s output has been limited. What he has released, however, has been pure quality. His most recent two tracks, especially have marked a shift in style and tone for the 21-year-old artist. Both “LEGENDS” and “WAVES” are produced by local producer Tax Purposes, and this collaboration has seemed to unlock new potential avenues for each.
Gone are the melancholic guitar or synth-addled beats overlaid with trap drums and Kenny’s melodic murmurings. On these newer tracks, the heavy snare beats are replaced with simple handclaps and/or tambourines, giving Kenny’s vocals and Tax’s vibrant guitar stylings way to chemically react, forming something luminescent and powerful. On “Waves,” in particular, Hoopla rides out Taxpurposes’ guitar riffs well, belting out pained melodies and delivering powerful lyrics “they could never write my story/you could never drown my worry.”
The University of Wisconsin graduate released a quick album in June, into his career but he already has honed a fully formed sound. Blue Lagoon hosts a style of lo-fi music which Prall has referred to as Hawaii-Fi. This punny title points to Kainalu’s, real name Trent Prall, own Hawaiian heritage which comes out in the album’s tropically-inflected mood. The whirring of the different components—the synth, occasional sax, “808’sy” percussion and Prall’s own ethereal vocals — creates a vibe that’s almost primordial. Tracks like “Love Nebula” almost beckon to a primordial and peaceful place, untouched by the evils of humanity. Prall does reveal some of himself in the lyrics of the album, but they often hide just below the surface of the album’s instrumentals. On “Girls” probably the most personal song on the album, Prall describes a romantic situation where the output simply does not match the input, though it’s never just that simple, is it?