Brian Jacobson

Milwaukee music pros list their Top 5 Desert-Island Picks

By - Dec 29th, 2009 08:34 am
The Championship, as seen at the Cream City Music Festival in the Third Ward back in August 2009.

The Championship, as seen at the Cream City Music Festival in the Third Ward back in August 2009.

There are a lot of lists that come out this time of year. Lists will be published by media outlets touting the Top 10 Pop Culture Moments of 2009, the Top 50 movies of the past decade, words that have been included in the national lexicon, and so on.

We thought that we’d take a more local angle, accentuating what has been a fantastic year for music in Milwaukee. Not only are local acts, like Kings Go Forth, enjoying greater national recognition, but in general it has been more fun to hit up music shows and discover new bands at neighborhood festivals.

To get a better picture of this, we rounded up a few of our music expert friends to talk about what they enjoyed most about the Milwaukee Sound this year. We let them list their favorite albums, tracks or bands but limited them to picking their “Top 5 Desert-Island Picks” — kind of in honor of the list-making ideals that first popped up in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelty.

mullinsScott Mullins, music director/program director/afternoon drive host at 88Nine RadioMilwaukee. In addition to his on-air interviews and public promotion of Milwaukee music, Mullins regularly weighs in on music with shows like The Weekly Top 5 (with Marcus Doucette) and is currently plugging a user-generated Top 100 Songs of 2009 poll until Jan. 15. Scott says:

What? Only FIVE? What a daunting task after such a strong year for Milwaukee music. Who do I leave out? If this was a Top 10 list it would also include Prophetic, The Jeanna Salzer Trio, Wooldridge Brothers, The Volcano Choir and The Vega Star. Man, this is tough but here goes.

subcontinentalsalbum1. The Subcontinentals — “The Continental Drift”
2. Frankie Flowers — “Koolness”
3. The Championship — “The Sword”
4. Will Phalen & The Stereo Addicts — “I Can’t Run”
5. The Reckless Hearts — “Yer A Blur”


muzzleRyan Matteson, public relations guru for the Pabst Theater/Turner Hall/Riverside Theater, is also editor and a writer for the popular music blog Muzzle of Bees. Ryan says:

These are exciting times if you’re a music fan in Milwaukee. The city is overflowing with a plethora of talented bands and musicians to a degree that I can’t recall even coming close. Not only are these bands putting out great records and playing great shows, but their community is actually supporting them and cheering them on. People are buzzing about the local talent here, and there’s that hint of excitement in the air that our city has to be one of the premier locations in the U.S. for homegrown musical talent.


Juniper Tar, photo courtesy Ed Oliver.

1. Juniper Tar — My pick for the best live band in Milwaukee. Just wait ’til you hear their upcoming EP.
2. Decibully — Anytime I travel and mention Milwaukee to music fans, Decibully is the first band that crosses their lips. They have a gorgeous new album, World Travels Fast, that I hope everyone buys.
3. Conrad Plymouth — “I Will Remember Who My Friends Are.” This is one of my favorite songs of the year, and 2009 was the year of drawing an outline for the band. Next year they’ll fill it out in a big, big way.
4. The Championship — a new EP, Moving At The Speed Of Darkness. One of the best local releases of the year.

5. Paul Cebar — Such a treasure that needs to be lifted up to where he belongs in Milwaukee and beyond. Seeing him live will always make me smile and wish I was a better dancer._

doriDori Zori, underwriting director and DJ at WMSE, also the Brewcity Bruisers’ 2009-10 bout mixmaster. Dori says:

I’ve met some of the best people in the city because I am lucky enough to be a WMSE DJ. Being in this position (both at the station and around town), I’m more used to individual songs and not albums. This isn’t to say I don’t love the albums, but I am constantly looking for that one track that’ll fill a dance floor or keep people dancing in their office chair while they’re streaming us online.


Pezzettino, from her vinyl release in December. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

1. Codebreaker — “Follow Me.” I’m a sucker for pretty much anything these boys put out. It helps that everything they put out is an instant dance party. Period.

2. Pezzettino — “Movin’ On.” She became one of my instant favorites this year, especially live. Her songs are so incredibly honest and emotional. And though some of the songs might sound incredibly angry, it’s a contrast to how much of a sweetheart she is in person.

3. Kid Millions — “Victim to the Beat.” Uh, was anyone listening to anything else this past summer?

4. .357 String Band — “Down on a Bender.” Not the usual dance-floor stuff I play. But they’re one of the best bands around. And this track fires me up more than a thousand cups of coffee.

5. Anything from Call Me Lightning or The Barrettes — I know; this is cheating, putting two entire bands where I should have just put one song, which is probably why I’m a DJ and not a professional list maker. But I’d say both of these bands get played almost every single show. They probably always will, too.


The Barrettes on the Summerfest Cascio stage, summer 2009. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

0 thoughts on “Milwaukee music pros list their Top 5 Desert-Island Picks”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I attempted to contact you about a question I had relating to this post, but for some reason I can’t really find out how to find you. If you can see my e-mail, can you shoot me a message? Thank you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Surprising to think of somehting like that

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