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#40 The Milwaukees: American Anthems Vol. 1

By Gary Wien

For years, The Milwaukees’ band name mystified me.  Who names a band from New Jersey after a city in Wisconsin? But with the release of American Anthems Vol. 1, it suddenly all made sense.  The band, which has had a series of personnel changes through the years, was the true personification of American rock and roll.  And what city in America represents the average blue-collar American more than Milwaukee?

Based out of Jersey City, The Milwaukees originated way back in the early ‘90s when lead singer and songwriter Dylan St. Clark was still in high school.  Rumor has it the band was once called Love Pond, a name that makes even less sense than The Milwaukees!

The true core of the band came into play around the beginning of the decade when guitarist Jeff Nordstedt joined just before the release of their first real album.  Together, Dylan and Jeff have kept the idea of the band going strong in the midst of several changes to the rhythm section.  With Patrick Fusco on drums and Donovain Cain on bass, the band finally put a steady lineup in place.  And with the release of this album, the evolution of their sound was complete. 

Every facet of this album is tremendous from the production to the songwriting to the instrumentation.  It’s got a classic rock sound like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with a little Jersey grit to it.  Songs like “Highway To The Sun” and “Save Me” are on the list of great tracks that radio DJs should have played from coast to coast but sadly missed.

The album had such broad appeal that Marvel Comics interviewed the band on Marvel.com after its release; they talked about Captain America and even offered up their ultimate iTunes playlist of songs in tribute of the superhero.

Highlights include “Highway To The Sun,” “American Girl,” “Crown Royal,” “Save Me”, “Marigold,” and “Oak Ridge.”

From the book Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists by Gary Wien

Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at gary@newjerseystage.com.

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originally published: 01/26/2012



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