Taking a listen

by Heather MacIntyre

What Made Milwaukee FamousWhat Doesn’t Kill Us

A band’s first album contains the hit that makes them fans. A band’s second album is generally considered the “sophomore slump,” smart and a good mix of what you did right the first time, with room to improve and spend more time and money on what you want opposed to what the label wants. The third album always ends up being the one that bands are ready to start making money on — the “mature” album that usually shoos fans off like flies. But this effort by What Made Milwaukee Famous is the second for these Austinites, and I can only hope that they continue to use the same musical methods they did on this superb album. The first song starts out heavy and dark. After that, it’s (mostly) all uphill — or upbeat, at least. Though it was released on Barsuk Records ( in late March, this album in my opinion deserves the epic explosion of autumn (soon to come). The ballad-like lyrics possess some rich diction and words that most of us couldn’t spell on the spot if we tried. And it has one of the strongest melodic arrangements I’ve heard in a long time — the tunes are tight and accompany handclaps, horns, multiple guitars and a very important percussion progression throughout each track. Get stoked: They’ll be at Greene Street ( alongside one of my favorites, Wild Sweet Orange (, on Sept. 10, where you can pick up your own copy.

Rating: 4.0 records (out of 5) www.whatmademilwaukeefamous. com | whatmademilwaukeefamous

The Water Callers — Springboard

I hadn’t heard a thing about this acoustic Americana duo from Durham until this album dropped. The lyrics are pretty cheesy and lovey-dovey, like some of those awkward country songs you hear on the radio, but with a little less twang (though there are Southern accents aplenty) and a little more blues. What surprised me, were a few (inappropriately placed) lyrics about wanting to get into a lady’s pants. It did remind me of Flight of the Concords, but I’m not sure if that’s what they were going for. Ether way, a good dose of light humor in a self-released album is a great idea for catching attention, and boy did it work, earning them some film and television soundtrack work. Jason Fagg and Bart Matthews need to find some time to make it out to the Triad for a live show. I know we could all appreciate the rhythm and hollow acoustic sound of their set. “If idle hands are the tools of misery, I better get goin’ on my own two feet,” reflects one of the more serious ditties entitled “Magnolia,” a tune I enjoyed and could place in a number of films. Something a little different: They’re playing a show at a Whole Foods in Raleigh on Sept. 5… hmmm. Snag your own copy of the album at

Rating: 3.0 records (out of 5) | www. thewatercallers.