On May 17th,2011 Minneapolis based Farewell Milwaukee released their sophomore album, When It Sinks In. Formed in 2008, Farewell Milwaukee has charted a course down familiar paths blazed by artists like Jackson Browne, Ryan Adams and the Jayhawks; all focused on the power of honest, confessional songwriting with no pretense or ulterior motives.
Every winter Ben Lubeck (principal songwriter and lead singer) holes himself up in his lakeside home with the goal of writing as many songs as he can. The winter of 2009/2010 provided no reprieve from brutally cold ice and snow but Lubeck’s writing focused on warmth, hope and love. When Spring broke Farewell Milwaukee narrowed down Lubeck’s writings, creating When It Sinks In.
Recorded in Nashville with producer/engineer Brad Bivens (Kings of Leon, Cold War Kids, Norah Jones), the album finds Farewell Milwaukee transitioning from the heavier subject material of their first album Autumn Rest Easy to a joyful exploration of love in all its forms.
Sonically, When It Sinks In is full of rich acoustic work with slow burners, like the title track as well as rough-and-tumble rockers, such as “Ain’t No Rules”. The opener “The Wallpaper’s Gonna Swallow You Whole” is a rousing start fueled by keys and the group’s strong use of four vocalists. The heart of the album is reached on the closing track, “Lovable/Kind” providing the perfect synopsis of the unabashed hope you’ll find throughout When It Sinks In.
All five members of Farewell Milwaukee make no attempt to conceal their pride for their respective hometowns in the Midwest and the place they now call home, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. Farewell Milwaukee holds value in connecting with the people and the landscape that produces such diverse talents as Bob Dylan and Prince. This Midwestern identity makes When It Sinks In the perfect accompaniment on a trek west to the Black Hills or the ideal jukebox pick at the backroads bar you would find along the way.
Ben Lubeck - Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Aaaron Markson - Electric Guitar, Back-up Vocals
Adam Lamoureux - keys, Back-up Vocals, Nord
Kyle Magstadt - Bass, Back-up Vocals
Brad Fox - Drums, Back-up Vocals
Autumn Rest Easy - 2009
*Charted to #81 on CMJ Top 200
*Blog coverage along with strong MN support
When It Sinks In - 2011
*PopMatters review gave it an 8 out of 10
*Featured selection on various blogs including Liisten.com, Our Vinyl, Indie Music Reviewer & more
*Radio/TV coverage including live performances on KARE (MN NBC affiliate), Cities 97 (AAA Clear Channel in Minneapolis), MN Original (Twin Cities Public TV) & featured download on MPR's "The Current"
"Always Be Your Man" on Cities 97 Sampler
*Featured alongside Adele, Mumford & Sons, the Head & the Heart, Ray LaMontagne & more
*33,000 physical copies distributed & routinely sells out within hours
"You're the Cure" on MN Music 4 Kids
*Unreleased track donated to MN Music 4 Kids compilation CD. All proceeds go to Minnesota Children's Hospital.
*Featured alongside Mason Jennings, Rogue Vally & more.
PopMatters reviews When It SInks In
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"Lovely harmonies and gentle, exquisite melodies make When It Sinks In a pleasant listen" 8 out o..."Lovely harmonies and gentle, exquisite melodies make When It Sinks In a pleasant listen"
8 out of 10
Opening the jewel case and removing the When It Sinks In CD—tastefully painted to look like a vinyl record, grooves and all—on the under side of the case, one finds a picture of the band, Farewell Milwaukee, standing in snow in front of a tiny mobile home that looks as though it was dropped in the middle of nowhere. It’s a stark, desolate image that serves to reinforce the remoteness of the barren Midwest. The picture is similar to one the Jayhawks used on the cover of Hollywood Town Hall.
Fittingly, the music on When It Sinks In bears a very strong, almost uncanny resemblance to music made by that more renowned Twin Cities band. Farewell Milwaukee’s strong suit is the gorgeous, youthful two- and three-part vocal harmonies heard throughout the album. Lead vocalist/guitarist Ben Lubeck and guitarist/vocalist Aaron Markson both sing in the tenor vocal range and carry a lovely, Midwestern lilt. There’s lots of lulling acoustic guitar and touches of twangy electric guitar and weepy pedal steel, sultry piano and whirling organs and a steady rhythm section. Sound familiar, Jayhawks’ fans?
When It Sinks In’s 13 songs here are about love, the pure unadulterated heartfelt kind that arrives with the essence of youth. But it’s done without cheeky clichés or sappy sentimentalism. Opener “The Wallpaper’s Gonna Swallow You Whole” has an upbeat rock melody with shimmering electric guitar chime and breezy piano, and creatively pleads for a wallflower to open up to love’s promise. And on “Ain’t No Rules” the songwriter instigates that lovers must break the rules in order to know each other, assimilating the story of Phillippe Petit, the Frenchman famous for his daring and illegal high wire walk between the World Trade Center Towers in the ‘70s:
“When your fate’s tied to a balance beam
And your feet could cost you everything
You gotta break all the rules to know
That there ain’t any rules anymore.”
Lovers struggle through personal turmoil in the gorgeous title cut, a ballad with twangy guitar harmony, but endure on the strength of their love for each other. Neither “Always Be Your Man” or “Waiting on You” hide lovers’ emotions; the former is laced with sweet acoustic guitar and dense, swirling Wurlitzer, while the latter is more upbeat and filled out with harmonic pedal steel guitar.
“Find Some Grace For Me” is an aching heartbreaker about a rock and roller with wanderlust in his eyes and a lover aiming to keep him safe in her arms at home. The delicate, lovely three-part vocal harmonies on the chorus evoke a youthful, angelic choir. On the other hand, the boisterous bar band sing-a-long “Living On Your Looks” scorns a past-her-prime starlet for not making more of her self later in life. Here, those same vocal harmonies are vigorous and forceful, yet not loud or over powerful. These are two prime examples of the exquisite vocal harmonies amongst the band members.
The album’s best cut is the spiraling, churning rocker, “You Are the Only One”. It’s got a mid ‘70s Laurel Canyon vibe—a sound the Jayhawks certainly strived to emulate—thanks to dual wailing electric and slide guitars and more three-part vocal harmonies, this time including female accompaniment.
The disc closes with the bluegrass ditty “Loveable/Kind”, a sincere ode to love at first site, replete with more eloquent harmonies and sensual violin and banjo and tambourine. It’s the heart of the album and the perfect synopsis to the unabashed love that runs throughout When It Sinks In.
Back of the Rack - Featured Artist
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Farewell Milwaukee embraces and embodies the Americana style with powerful lyrics and understated mu...Farewell Milwaukee embraces and embodies the Americana style with powerful lyrics and understated musicianship.
*Song Feature on "Always Be Your Man"
When It Sinks In Review - Indie Music Reviewer
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The beauty of an acoustic guitar. The easy flow of the harmonies. The steady groove of the back line...The beauty of an acoustic guitar. The easy flow of the harmonies. The steady groove of the back line. The heartache yearning squeal of the electric guitar. This is Americana at its finest. This is Farewell Milwaukee.
Five guys based out of Minneapolis have come together to continue what bands like The Band started; honest music that explores raw emotion and captures daily life. The band’s second album provides 13 tracks of positive vibes through soft ballads you can sink into and bar room sing-alongs.
Farewell Milwaukee consists of Ben Lubeck (vocal, guitar), Aaron Markson (guitar, vocal), Adam Lamoureux (keyboard, vocal), Kyle Magstadt (bass, vocal) & Brad Fox (drums, percussion). They traveled to Nashville to record with producer/engineer Brad Bivens (Kings of Leon, Cold War Kids, Norah Jones) and the result was a resounding success.
It starts with the opener, and one of the strongest tracks on the album. “The Wallpaper’s Gonna Swallow You Whole” starts off with Lamoureux’s keys that pay homage to Richard Manuel of The Band. They use four-part harmonies throughout and have created a song that just hits on every level.
The album’s first single, “Always Be Your Man,” is another strong upbeat track with Lubeck professing his love and Markson delivering a smooth riff. Men, take note. The next time your lady makes a comment about you never saying those heartfelt things you never know how to communicate, play her this song.
The band can play a good old time country rocker as well. “Waiting On You” recalls a time when the slapping of the snare and the banjo-like guitar were staples. Again Lubeck is calling out to his love and the band carries it away with the up-tempo.
Then you have a song like “Living On Your Looks” that is bound to get at least one man in trouble if played after midnight at the local bar. Another uptempo rocker, it’s a sing-a-long with some solid piano play. “You Are The Only One” channels Jackson Browne at his finest.
The album offers a handful of ballads and mellow tunes, including the title track to round out the album. The acoustic guitar based “Come Back Home” is a powerful song with an amazing version filmed during recording on Youtube.
When It Sinks In provides everything you want in a good Americana album. There are no weak songs on this album. The harmonies are tight, the music strong, the lyrics meaningful and the feel…pure Midwest.
Farewell Milwaukee @ the Fine Line, Minneapolis 3.20.09
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I like to begin reviews with a clever anecdote to draw in my readers. It’s fun for everyone, but es...I like to begin reviews with a clever anecdote to draw in my readers. It’s fun for everyone, but especially fun for me because I consistently amuse myself. When Farewell Milwaukee played the Fine Line, I knew singer Ben Lubeck looked really familiar; not in the sense that I had stalked him on Facebook or met him IRL (In Real Life) or even that I’d seen the band perform before (I had). The reason why he looked familiar is because he is Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. I kid you not, readers; Ben Lubeck is tall, lanky, shaggy-haired Shags. The resemblance is uncanny, although I sincerely hope that he doesn’t take offense by this comment (I don’t know why he would since Shaggy drove an amazing green van AND solved mind-boggling mysteries).
Farewell Milwaukee may not frequent haunted houses searching for ne’er-do-wells and secret treasure maps or whatever, but they do make sprawling roots rock, which is basically the same. The band was born “Montreal” about five years ago, released one album, briefly split to dwell and deliberate, reappearing in 2008 with a new name and a new direction. “Farewell Milwaukee” is homage to the boys’ Midwest loyalty (interestingly, I like to call Milwaukee the “Montreal of Wisconsin,” for its diversity of things to do and the fact that there are things to do). The band is comfortably settled in, going so far as to state that “while most bands are fleeing their homes for the coastal cities of New York and Los Angeles, [they embrace] the role that their Midwestern towns have played in shaping them artistically.” As artists, their music has a slight twang that could probably be attributed to that indefinable Midwestern panache. A friend of mine, who lives on the East Coast, is always quick to point out that Minnesota’s music scene is comprised of bands with a distinct, unifying sound; regardless of whether a musician labels himself as “indie rock” versus “Americana” there’s something, some common connector, that appeals to everyone.
Farewell Milwaukee has this something in spades. I’d say that their crowd-draw feature is beautiful, flawless harmonization. Seriously, these fellas know how to drop a jaw. There was a moment during the show when all five musicians took the mic, a capella style, and a sort of a collective hush grabbed the audience, as if everyone was unconsciously holding their breath (I’m 99% certain there was at least one person doing the eyes-closed-in-the-groove sway). This mass stimulation speaks highly of the band’s chemistry, not only on stage, but as technical artists. At the risk of sounding like an after school special “moral of the week,” I want to point out that even the casual music fan can tell when a band has a positive relationship—they’re either in sync or off balance; no amount of practice can mask ambivalence (obvious, right?).
It pleases me to emphasize that Shags and the gang sound every bit the handsome gentlemen that they are, even when lying to ladies (“Liar”). Dressed like average dudes, their tunes are accessible, with a comfortable, familiar base appeal (music like this is timeless; perhaps it’s called “Americana” because there will always be a place for rustic, dirty-pretty rock in American culture, East Coast naysayers be damned). I think that the climactic quality of “Liar” sticks the most, but “Make ‘Em Smile” is an equally strong track, from its stark opening to Lubeck’s wistful vocals. Lyrically, the songs don’t deviate much from love, heartbreak and life woes (the holy triptych of songwriting), but sincerity lends itself to unanimity—we can all relate to these themes—and the live presentation is what’s going to solidify the band’s talents.
Farewell Milwaukee is Ben Lubeck (vocals, guitar), Adam Lamoureux (vocals, Hammond, Wurlitzer, piano, Rhodes, mandolin), Aaron Markson (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Brad Fox (drums, percussion), and Kyle Magstadt (bass). The band has local shows this month, playing April 16 at the Hexagon Bar in Minneapolis. For more information on shows, or to stay updated on the release of their first full-length album, “Autumn Rest Easy,” visit their website at www.farewellmilwaukee.com, or Myspace and Facebook.
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"Farewell Milwaukee is a Midwest-fall road tripper’s dream, combining sparkling clean guitar tones a..."Farewell Milwaukee is a Midwest-fall road tripper’s dream, combining sparkling clean guitar tones and vocal harmonies on tracks perfect for passing hours eastbound on I-94...The result is music that feels sincere, especially when paired with the, often vulnerable sounding, vocals of Ben Lubeck."
Farewell Milwaukee usually plays a set of 75 to 90 minutes when headlining & 30 to 45 minutes as an opening act. Material is a mixture of material from "When It Sinks In", "Autumn Rest Easy" & other currently unreleased material.
The group's preference is to perform electric but if venue needs dictate it, the group can perform a stripped down acoustic set.
1. Ain't No Rules
2. When It Sinks In
3. Always Be Your Man
4. Way Out
5. It's alright, It's ok...
6. I Call It Pain
7. Living On Your Looks
8. The Wallpaper's Gonna Swallow You Whole
9. Tear's Won't Fall
10. Get Scared
There are no upcoming dates at this time.