the m|h guide to forward music fest

September 19th and 20th marks Madison, Wisconsin’s Forward Music Fest. Boasting an impressive line-up, especially for a first-time outing, FMF offers a range of acts that cover a broad spectrum of genres and represents both regional and national acts.

Comprising seven venues and 72 bands, picking and choosing where to go and what to see can be a little overwhelming. Let your friends at M|H help you.


Orpheum Theater, 9 PM
The crown jewel of the Forward Music Fest lineup, Ms. Case offers up throaty, brassy vocals both as a solo artist and as a the female front of the New Pornographers. Aptly handling both alt-country and power-pop/indie-rock, M|H is quite excited to see what this lovely lady can do live.

Majestic Theater, 11 PM
The Israeli trio may be better known for their live antics than their music, but considering just how far they take things that may be alright. Setting themselves & their equipment on fire and crowd-surfing with drum kit in tow are just a couple examples of routine behavior for these gents.

Cafe Montmarte, 8 PM
Madison’s own CYSN put an Eastern European spin on American indie rock, laying violin, accordion, keys, and clarinet over the traditional rock set-up. Though not every song follows this format, CYSN is at its best when they do. Read our review of Crane Your Swan Neck’s live show.

Cafe Montmarte, 1 AM
A romantic, dreamy quality pervades Decibully’s brand of indie goodness, manifesting itself in big, multi-instrumental tunes that read more like sonic pictures than stories set to music. The small venue will provide an intimate setting for the band to wrap you in its sonic warmth.

Project Lodge, 9 PM
If you’re in the mood for an adorably quirky singer-songwriter, Kazutaka Nomura is your man. See what we had to say about his tunes.


Majestic Theater, 8 PM
This guitar-strumming troubadour has a slightly stilted vocal style, but it only serves to make him stand out against the sea of folky boys and girls singing heartfelt tunes. Sweet and relaxed, Jennings is the perfect panacea fall’s return to routine.

Stage Door, 11:30 PM
PYG’s anachronistic feel and string-augmented compositions have made them a refreshingly cool breeze on the indie scene. Don’t forget to wear your bustles and bowler hats. Figuratively of course…though we’ll totally give you high fives if you take that literally.

Majestic Theater, 11:30 PM
We midwesterners love our dance parties, and this is the perfect show to cap off the weekend with. OCD Automatic has been making a name for himself in Madison with his appearances at the ever-popular iQ Discotech, while Flosstradamus have gained national notoriety with their mash-up skills.


Tickets for Forward Music Festival are available now. General admission wristbands for the weekend are $40 for both days or $25 for one. Shows are first come, first-served and subject to capacity restrictions. Guaranteed admission for specific shows can be purchased in addition to the GA wristband for $10 each. A portion of the proceeds goes to benefit organizations that directly give back to Midwestern music.

the bears at the zoo, they love you too – it wasn’t just me

Why Is Bear Billowing?Later this summer, Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez will release his first solo  effort, Why Is Bear Billowing?.

Opener “A Magic” is a thesis statement for the album – the acoustic guitar is relaxed and breezy and Alvarez serves up quirky and unexpected lyrics with his satiny voice. Though the album is fairly consistent (and consistently good), there are a few standouts and breakaways.

“All With Golden Locks” features fable-like lyrics, while the next track goes out a little farther on the limb with lines like “boy are you a sight for my pinecone eyes.” Said track (“Pinecone Eyes”) also has some lovely and slightly off-kilter picking at the end that is the musical equivalent of throwing your arms out and spinning til you fall in a sun-drenched field.

“Love for Longer” gets a little deeper in sound, but the timbre of “The Letter B” transports listeners to a bongo-filled beat coffeehouse. Another destination on Alvarez’s musical trip is the Spanish-tinged guitar and punchy claps of “Mostly A Friend”.

A magical romp, Why Is Bear Billowing? manages to be fantastic without becoming precious or silly. For fans of Mason Jennings or Fionn Regan, this is the perfect soundtrack for soaking up the summer sun.

Why Is Bear Billowing? drops 08/19/08.
Click to download “Mostly A Friend”.
Check out Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez’s MySpace page here.