I’m a music history buff, or a music history nerd if you prefer. There’s an allure to learning about past musical events that make you wish you were there when they occurred. The experience of seeing The Ramones or Talking Heads play CBGBs, or experiencing the Belleville Three spin Techno in Detroit in the 80s, would be amazing to witness as both events shaped their respective genres. However, we view those events as important in hindsight. We now know that the Ramones proved that Rock doesn’t need fancy guitar licks and long tracks to have power. And we now know that the Belleville Three helped shape EDM into the powerhouse it is today.
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Few songs represent the early 2000s as well as “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World. "Hey, don't write yourself off yet," lead-singer Jim Adkins croons. "It's only in your head you feel left out, or looked down on.” Sounds familiar? This song and the album Bleed American helped introduce the burgeoning underground genre Emo to a wider, more mainstream audience. Given that Jimmy Eat World’s main fan demographic during this time was a nation of angsty 15-year-olds, it’s no surprise that Oct. 11, when Jimmy Eat World played the Barrymore Theatre here in Madison for the first time since 2004, their crowd was made up mostly of dudes in their 30s—the now-adults those aforementioned angsty teens grew into.
There’s always excitement when a local band you grew up loving starts to pick up steam on the national level. Sat. Nite Duets has been Milwaukee’s best kept secret since 2009. Their albums Summer of Punishment and Electric Manland were adored by the indie rock scene in the city. However, it was perplexing why they were never able to break out of the black hole that is Milwaukee. This year they were finally given a larger platform. Father/Daughter Records, home to larger acts like PWR BTTM and Diet Cig, scooped the band up and released their album Air Guitar Sept. 16. Made up by members Andrew Jambura, Ben Gucciardi, Stephen Strupp, Joe Guszkowski, Chris Frahm and Jon Anderson, Sat. Nite Duets are known for their catchy indie rock songs. They may be inspired by bands such as Guided By Voices or Pavement, but a large helping of eccentricity gives them a distinguishing image from the million other acts in the nebulous genre. They all share songwriting and vocal duties, which gives each song a distinct personality. While seemingly ragtag at first, they’ve been able to craft a cohesive sound for themselves. With their newest release, Air Guitar, they do not sway significantly away from their tried-and-true formula.
Parquet Courts burst onto the scene with their raucous 2013 release Light Up Gold. Their The Feelies and Television-inspired songs distilled the essence of punk and alternative through clever lyrics conveyed by a monotone slacker drawl over chaotic, messy and fierce power chords. Since that release, people have been waiting for the band to finally make its mainstream breakthrough. With their most recent album Human Performance on the legendary U.K. indie label Rough Trade, they are making their case for broad recognition, even though it seems that the band has lost something along the way.