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August brought out the best of several Madison musicians

A small collection of strong new releases from local artists.
A 3x2 collage of the latest release art from (clockwise) Caryatids, Clocks In Motion, Air Cabin, Jane Hobson, Disq, and Little Red Wolf.
A 3×2 collage of the latest release art from (clockwise) Caryatids, Clocks In Motion, Air Cabin, Jane Hobson, Disq, and Little Red Wolf.

A small collection of strong new releases from local artists.

Over the month of August, a handful of notable Madison artists have released new material. With their releases comes a reminder of Madison’s musical vibrancy, something that’s frequently overlooked both locally and abroad. From solo folk artists producing stop-motion animation videos to indie-punk bands making splashy returns to avant-garde experimentation, there are a lot of styles on offer, and the below selections still barely scratch the surface of Madison’s musical range. As always, if a local release has caught your ear and you think it deserves Tone Madison‘s attention, don’t hesitate to send it our way.

Air Cabin, “Steady Going Strong”

Bands who refuse the temptation to stagnate once they latch onto a formula that works are worth celebrating. “Steady Going Strong” positions Air Cabin firmly in those ranks. A punishing, mid-tempo lo-fi rock song that’s nothing but pummeling insistence is a new look for the Bryan Myrold-led project, offering a startling counter to the band’s penchant for expansiveness. “Steady Going Strong” is the most direct Air Cabin song to date, incorporating a slew of repetitions on both the musical and lyrical fronts, but it’s also clearly one of their best.

Clocks In Motion, Oneira

Clocks In Motion’s Oneira arrives after a production process that took four years to complete. Composer Jennifer Bellor began composing Oneira in 2018, operating from a conceptual framework that explored the relationship between tangible visuality and dream constructs. Oneira is the first release to come from Clocks In Motion’s Clock Shop project, which necessitates an extended collaborative process between the longstanding percussion ensemble and a chosen composer. From opener “Of Maker And Movement: I. Pendulum Surround” on throughout the rest of the record, the time invested here is apparent. Every movement is meticulous and deliberate, cultivating a trance-like atmosphere via bells, chimes, and mallets, that feels like a dream. 

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Disq, “If Only”

After making a dent in the national consciousness with 2020’s superlative Collector, expectations for Disq were high. “If Only” finds the indie rock act making a triumphant return by paying tribute to classic influences with a track that’s especially evocative of The Replacements’ best work. A meditation on cyclical defeatism, both self-inflicted and as a result of external circumstance, “If Only” boasts some of the sharpest lyrics across the band’s discography, courtesy of guitarist/vocalist Isaac deBroux-Slone. “If you could only see my light / You’d come back home tomorrow night / And hold me / But I know that just can’t be right / You build me up on Sunday / I’m down again by Monday / If Only” is one of the more stunning closers listeners are likely to hear all year.

“If Only” is one of three singles Disq has released in advance of their forthcoming album Desperately Imagining Someplace Quiet, joined by the similarly excellent “Cujo Kiddies” and “(With Respect To) Loyal Serfs.” 

Jane Hobson, “If You Ask” 

“If You Ask,” the new single from acoustic singer-songwriter Jane Hobson, features one of the more devastatingly pretty choruses to come out of Madison in recent years. Keying in on hopelessly unconditional love, Hobson ramps up the innate feeling at the heart of “If You Ask” with a lovely music video that incorporates stop-motion animation and basic visual effects that acutely reflect the track’s sense of unavoidable warmth. Supremely bittersweet but enormously tender, “If You Ask” is grounded by its own humility. Both the track and the video are immersive and incredibly welcoming, evidencing Hobson’s creative realization. 

Caryatids, “Hard To Lose” 

Caryatids made their recorded debut this past March with the promising single “It Never Changes,” a frenetic collision of punk subgenres that showcased the members’ respective talents. “Hard To Lose,” the second single to preview the trio’s forthcoming album The End Of The Sun, is even more exemplary of the band’s impressive collective pedigree and the wealth of their influences (not every band can bring to mind both Swirlies and David Bazan). Caryatids’ lienup includes Terrance Barrett (Terran, Cult of Lip, In Triplicate, Carbon Bangle) on bass, Mike Pellino (Miyha, Tippy) on drums, and occasional Tone Madison contributor Mike Noto (Coordinated Suicides, Healer Man, Human Services Department) on guitars and vocals. All three of the band’s members have made their impact on Madison’s musical landscape in a myriad of ways. “Hard To Lose” goes a long way in proving their work on that front is far from over. 

Little Red Wolf, The Tops Of The Trees

Following an eight-year absence, folk-pop quartet Little Red Wolf marked their return with a new album, The Tops Of The Trees. “Broken,” the lead-off track, doubles as an artistic thesis statement; subtlety, precision, and a willingness to push forward anchor the music, the narrative, and Little Red Wolf’s overall worldview. Little Red Wolf is comprised of Meghan Rose (keyboard, guitars, vocals), Kelly Maxwell (keyboard, guitars, vocals), Laura Detert (viola, keyboard, bass), and another occasional Tone Madison contributor in Emily Mills (drums). [Editor’s note: when your publication’s stable of writers is teeming with highly active local musicians, instances of cross-pollination become unavoidable. Believe us, we’ve tried!] All four musicians lean in on over a decade’s worth of established chemistry to create a wholly naturalistic work. The Tops Of The Trees is as lovely as its idyllic title, absorbing and engaging in equal measure across its nine tracks.

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