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Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008

Under the Radar with Jail

Plus: Kramp’s shirts and a mysterious crunk single

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Some local bands announce themselves loudly, but pop-rockers Jail have opted for a different approach. The group plays just a smattering of Milwaukee shows every couple of months, then disappears for lengthy periods. “We’re not aggressively booking local shows—we’re more interested in touring,” explains drummer Austin Dutmer.

“That’s been our style, to be more reserved and just lay in the cut and let people make their own decisions.” Of course, there’s a trade-off to keeping such a low profile. “We’ll have people come up to us and say, ‘Oh yeah, I saw you guys at the Cactus Club in 2002, but I had no idea that you were still together,’” Dutmer says.

Dutmer recalls that when Jail debuted in 2002, Milwaukee’s independent rock scene was dominated by earnest emo and hardcore bands that weren’t particularly welcoming to lighter, poppier groups, but says the scene has since loosened up considerably.

“Back then, all the emo bands stuck together, and all the hardcore bands stuck together,” Dutmer says, “but now it isn’t far-fetched at all to have a show with The Mistreaters, Call Me Lightning and Def Harmonic on the bill. You even have guys like Juiceboxxx or bands like Holy Shit!, where they’re totally doing their own thing, but they still will fit in on any bill.”

This Thursday, Jan. 24, Jail plays a 9:30 p.m. show at the Cactus Club headlined by Decibully. Jail is planning to record another album this year, so their set promises plenty of new material. The latest songs posted on the band’s MySpace account bear a distinct post-punk influence, recalling the twitchy, benevolent pop of early ’80s bands like Josef K and The Clean.

Drink It Up: FM 102.1 morning DJ Brian Kramp adds another entry to his resume this week: T-shirt designer. He’s teamed up with the custom apparel shop Shag to release a line of shirts called “Drink It Up” (sample designs include Milwaukee-centric slogans such as “Rockin’ The Shaw” and “Jizz In The Park”). Kramp will introduce the line at a 9 p.m. launch party at the BBC on Saturday, Jan. 26, and he’s lined up a trio of propitious local rock bands for the event: The Cocksmiths, Freshwater Collins and The Response.

Ride to the Beat: Every so often, a littleknown Milwaukee underground rap act releases a great club single, and, more often than not, WMSE’s Saturday Afternoon Boogie Bang is the first to air these singles. Each broadcast features at least a couple of gems, but one track featured on this weekend’s program stood out in particular: The Certified Kings’ “Ride to the Beat,” a ridiculously catchy crunk chant with a cacophonous beat just begging for use on a future Lil Wayne mixtape. The song whet my appetite for more from the group, but my Internet searches so far have turned up nothing on them, not even a MySpace page. If anybody has any contact information for the Certified Kings, shoot me an e-mail at evan@shepex.com.