A.V. Club Milwaukee – Yellow Phone Music Conference 2013


Yellow Phone Music Conference returns with new crop of local artists


Each year the organizers of the Yellow Phone Music Conference strive to create an engaging and resourceful environment for bands, those in the music industry, and music fans. It features a wide mix of bands—some established and some newer—that are looking to receive or offer help with some aspect of the music biz. Some highlights this year include a performance from U.K. band Familiar Looking Strangers and a keynote speech by Jeff Castelaz, president of Elektra Records and founder of Dangerbird Records. In advance of the conference and free showcases that run Thursday through Sunday, here’s a rundown of the Wisconsin artists playing. (For more information on this year’s events, visit the Yellow Phone website.)

The Championship
After reforming last year with a new lineup, The Championship has settled back into its familiar Milwaukee surroundings with authority. Inspired in its rebirth in sound and vision, the band has wasted little momentum since releasing last year’s High Feather, playing frequent gigs around the area including headlining the Cascio stage at this year’s Summerfest. With the always emotive vocals of singer Joe Crockett and the growing bond between musicians, The Championship is in its victory lap—and that’s a very welcomed thing.

The Delta Routine
On the strength of last year’s Cigarettes & Caffeine Nightmares, The Delta Routine has kept a steady and relentless tour schedule around the country. With the help of producer (and Semi-Twang member) Mike Hoffmann, the band was able to quickly find a clear direction for the aforementioned album. Sources tell us that Hoffman will also join the band on guitar at its local shows this week.

The Guilty Wanted
The Guilty Wanted might be from Oshkosh, but they’re sure to be at home in the Americana-friendly confines of Milwaukee. Self-described as “modern Americana,” the band released its self-titled EP at the end of last year. The collection draws on the group’s growth in the past two years, and from the members’ variety of influences including pop, country, and bluegrass. The Guilty Wanted slide from old to new music elements with ease with the contemplative and commanding vocals of singer Rebecca Hoffman leading the way.

I’m Not A Pilot
For the past few years, I’m Not a Pilot has proven that a cello can be a fine replacement for a guitar. The band’s sound is a swirling mix of pop, rock, and orchestral elements, and is led by singer/keyboardist Mark Glatzel, who is joined by brother Matthew on bass. Drummer Steve Vorass Jr. and Peter Thomas round out the lineup; the latter spends most of his time outside the band as a cellist in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Ivy Spokes
Who says there aren’t new genres left to be created? The members of Milwaukee band Ivy Spokes prefer to think of themselves as pioneers of “bio-digital,” a unique mix of indie-pop and rock. The band formed in 2011 and quickly released its debut EP Chaos To Cosmos. That EP featured WAMI Song Of The Year-nominated song “In Dreams.” Besides playing shows, Ivy Spokes are hoping to release new material soon.

Last year was a big one for Jayk Burczyk. With the release of his debut EP Everything Ever, he finally had something official out—and more importantly, something that he felt definitively captured who he is as an artist. The making of the album was a labor of love as Burczyk struggled to find the best songs, but thanks to the connections he made, he was able to find the confidence to push forward.

On the surface, remixing elements of two of Wisconsin’s most popular bands into one song might seem like a messy affair. But Kiings did just that with success earlier this year on Warehouses Possessed By The City: A Wisconsin Remix EP. Kiings took Field Report’s Route 18 and mixed in vocals by Phox’s Monica Martin, creating a unique meeting of worlds. Other songs feature remixes of Boy Blue, Altos, and Gina Barrington.

The Midwestern Charm
If you ask the members of Milwaukee band The Midwestern Charm to list their influences, they’d likely include bands like The Lemonheads, the Old 97’s, and Ryan Adams. With a little bit of rock, country, and pop, the band has been slowly but surely winning over new fans with each show, including a headlining gig at this year’s Summerfest.

Vic And Gab
With the release of Love Of Mine earlier this summer, Milwaukee songwriter duo Vic And Gab—a.k.a Victoriah and Gabriela Banuelos—further showcase their dynamic ability to create catchy and danceable pop songs. The band has amassed plenty of press in the past few years, including a song on MTV series Skins as well as coverage in Spin. Love Of Mine doesn’t stay in one type of mode; rather, each song displays both of the sisters’ strengths.

Vinyl Theatre
Milwaukee’s Vinyl Theater certainly lives up to its name. Mixing theater-fitted rock ’n’ roll with dance hall music, the band has quickly attracted a following here and around the world. The group has opened for bands like Twenty One Pilots, and some of its music has it made it onto California radio, as well as the U.K. and Europe. Vinyl Theatre has released two EPs, and is currently working on a full-length.