Celebrating a selection of March’s standout tracks from Madison musicians

Another month, another strong slate of releases across several genres.
A still of Seasaw's "Dial Me Up" video in which the members are huddled together on a bed, smiling and holding up a landline telephone. Each has a pair of sunglasses superimposed onto their face by way of a lo-fi video effect.
A still of Seasaw’s “Dial Me Up” video in which the members are huddled together on a bed, smiling and holding up a landline telephone. Each has a pair of sunglasses superimposed onto their face by way of a lo-fi video effect.

Another month, another strong slate of releases across several genres.

Every month brings new tracks from the seemingly indefatigable artists of Madison, across the gamut of genre. While Madison certainly isn’t the size of some of the more bustling music cities around the world, it can still be difficult to keep up with what’s happening. These small roundups are, in part, a way of helping everyone (both our readers and ourselves) stop and listen amid the blur of activity. 

A lot of familiar names released tracks that caught our attention over the past month. Proud Parents’ Tyler Fassnacht didn’t just release a gorgeous video for his folk project TS Foss, he also managed to work in a new track from his increasingly hardcore-leaning project Baby Tyler. Jazz stalwarts KASE partnered with Tiffany Miller for a hypnotic improvisational track. Long-running indie-pop duo Seasaw returned with a fun, retro music video. And they weren’t the only acts with something new to offer.

With the next Bandcamp Friday—a monthly event where Bandcamp waives processing fees so artists take a greater cut of purchases— on April 7, it seemed like a good time to showcase some recent local releases that deserve attention and investment. As always, if there’s a new or upcoming release you think we should dig into, you can let me know at: [email protected]. I’ll be happy to listen.


Baby Tyler, “Wanna Change?”

For the first few releases of Baby Tyler’s discography, punk madman Tyler Fassnacht was in a sugary indie-punk mode that wasn’t too dissimilar from the work he’s done as a member of Proud Parents. Something changed in between the 2021 EP SweetTooth and 2022’s Vol. 3, with the latter pivoting into vicious hardcore. If “Wanna Change?” is any indication, Baby Tyler has no intention of going back on the change. Imposter, due out April 7, will feature 11 tracks. If the remaining 10 can live up to “Wanna Change?”—and odds are high that they will—then Fassnacht will be responsible for another tenacious knockout.

Drowt, “Perfume”

In late 2022, Chants‘ Jordan Cohen launched the Limited Resources label. Drowt’s LRL003 is the label’s third release and first of 2023. (Drowt is one moniker for the music of Brad Hawes, who, like Cohen, has made his mark as both a drummer and a producer.) “Perfume,” LRL003‘s opening track, delivers a thoughtful take on electronic music. A jittery cadence, insistent drum programming, and an abbreviated melody make “Perfume” tick. Some ornate flourishes and a memorable break at the halfway point make “Perfume” pop, keeping listeners engaged throughout a steady, deliberate progression. Past Drowt releases have leaned more avant-garde, marking “Perfume” (and LRL003) as the producer’s dancefloor debut, showcasing impressive range. Bright and mesmeric, “Perfume” is subtly intoxicating.

Friendly Spectres, “Best Life”

Following a run of solo releases as Bob Loblaw, Dear Mr. Watterson‘s Cam Scheller-Suitor started a new chapter in 2021 as Friendly Spectres. On March 10, Scheller-Suitor released the first Friendly Spectres full-length effort, Make Some Good Memories And Then Forget, teasing the album with the excellent lead-off single “Best Life.” A little post-punk, a little indie-punk, and a lot sardonic, “Best Life” features Scheller-Suitor talk-singing his way through a run of lived-in vignettes to illustrate a larger point about how life’s unwavering mundanity perpetually reinforces the idea that our lives can and should be more than they are. (Surprisingly, this is not the only song called “Best Life” to fit this exact description.) When the song explodes into a moment of pent-up frustration in its final quarter, the effect is shockingly cathartic, practically begging listeners to hit repeat.

KASE + Tiffany Miller, “Love (The Muse)”

KASE released a pair of excellent records in 2022 and, true to their nature, are already back with more. Joining KASE for their next record, Live At The Jazz Estate, is Milwaukee multihyphenate Tiffany Miller, who delivers spoken word segments with an abundance of grace. Described as “a love letter to jazz, hip-hop, and spoken word,” the record aims high. Judging by the record’s first single, “Love (The Muse),” that bar will be cleared with ease. “Love (The Muse)” opens with an immediately engaging drum pattern via slick beat maneuvering from veteran Milwaukee DJ/producer Jordan Lee, arresting stand-up bass work from Madison’s John Christensen, and a beautiful trumpet figure from the Racine-based Jamie Breiwick. From the jump, the track’s absorbing, with Miller setting up an academic approach to her delivery:

I’ma tell y’all a love story. And like four poems all in one. Yeah. It’s really 17 poems. But I’ma read like the first line of the first 16 and the last line of the 17th. And then y’all will all get poem one-eight and 17. It’s magical. The overture.

By the end of “Love (The Muse),” Miller’s proclamation of the song’s magical nature seems extraordinarily honest. This is a track to get lost in and hold onto, setting up Live At The Jazz Estate as something that could be genuinely special.

Mickey Sunshine, “Road” 

Over the start of Mickey Sunshine‘s career, the band has largely fixated on a narrative approach that aggressively—and righteously—interrogates the regressive constructs of sexism. “Road,” the quartet’s latest single (and centerpiece of forthcoming EP, Mickey Sellout Pt. I), slows the tempo and drives into something more explicitly introspective. Guitarist/vocalist Andrea Gonzales-Paul’s lyrics frame the difficulties of navigating “dream girl” projections with cutthroat honesty. It’s a newer look for Mickey Sunshine, and its potency carries an extra bit of impact as a result.

The central issues prevalent in the narratives Gonzales-Paul has focused on in the past still anchor the sentiments of “Road,” but the presentation offers a more widescreen view. And an achingly gorgeous guitar solo from Skylar Nahn around the song’s halfway point underlines the track’s hard-won weariness. Bleary-eyed, forceful in its convictions, and unapologetic in its construction, “Road” is as thrilling as anything Mickey Sunshine has released to date. With peaks like this, most anyone should want to be along for the ride.

Seasaw, “Dial Me Up”

Ever since releasing their self-titled album in 2011, Seasaw have been steadily making their mark on Madison’s music scene. Not a lot of bands can achieve that type of longevity, but the duo—made up of Meg Golz and Eve Wilczewski—have seemingly tapped into something that not only connects, but sustains. “Dial Me Up” is the band’s latest track and arrives ahead of their forthcoming album, Projecting. It’s the sixth song to be released from the album and the fourth—following “Pinky Promise,” “Laugh Along,” and “Like I Love You“—to receive a music video. Even among the company of its three predecessors, the “Dial Me Up” video stands out, wisely playing into a retro theme that works as a nice complement to the band’s brand of indie-pop. There’s a lot to like here, from the various pop-culture references littered throughout to the nostalgia-inducing special effects. All the while, “Dial Me Up” (one of Projecting‘s catchiest tracks) highlights not just the energy of the video, but the band themselves. It’s hard not to tap your foot and smile along.

An ode to the best and worst of Madison summers.

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