September 18, 2006
What Made Milwaukee Famous "Trying to Never Catch Up"
We reviewed this record way back in 2004, when this little album blew us away. It's since been reissued by Barsuk. I can't really add anything to what I've said before, so I'll just repeat it again:
Hmm, let's see: "What Made Milwaukee Famous." Another band from Austin, Texas. Another band with a bulky name. Another band that's mixing up elements of all different genres and creating their own sonic smoothie. Another band who's releasing their own music and giving the concept of independence a good name. Title taken from a Rod Stewart song. Could it be any good? Could it possibly exceed my expectations? Could it be a radically wonderful record that comes directly out of leftfield and then goes right back?
Yes. Yes. Yes!
This little band from Austin, Texas, has surprised the hell out of me. The first few seconds of "Idecide" had me thinking 'electroclash.' By the time we get to song two, "Mercy Me," I'm thinking they're doing the DC/Dischord/ postpunk thing, but then lead singer Michael Kingcaid opens his mouth, and he's got a slurry vocal swagger that sounds a bit like Morrissey and no one else. "Almost Always Never" then turns around and sounds like a sweet Jeff Buckley outtake. "Next To Him" then sounds like the Shins! Now, repeat this over the rest of the record, and you'll still not completely have them described.
Do you get what I'm getting at, folks? What Made Milwaukee Famous never ever ever sits still. You're never ever gonna pin Trying To Never Catch Up, so don't even bother. They go from loud to soft to sensitive to detatched quite quickly-and, it must be said, quite effortlessly. Such stylisitc variety might be the death of some bands, but like their local neighbors Single Frame, What Made Milwaukee Famous can pull off such a feat without ever once seeming like a bunch of indie-rock dilettantes. Perhaps they've learned the secret: if you slam your listeners with the best of all possible things, it's to your benefit, and you'll prove yourself to be the smartest kid in the class for it.
Try as I might, I've found it's impossible to pin down what What Made Milwaukee Famous sounds like. It's melodic, it's smart, it's intelligent, and it sounds like everything you probably like and nothing you've probably heard. Is this review a sign of lazy journalism on my part? I don't think so. Do I hope this review is the start of a beautiful relationship with this record? Heck yes!