Album Preview: “Phox” by Phox


Release date
Wednesday, June 24th

Partisan Records

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Phox is perhaps one of Friendship PhoxWisconsin’s most popular musical acts right now. Mainly from Baraboo, the six-piece band brings a solid indie pop sound that can easily be enjoyed by just about anyone.

Blitzen TrapperTheir big breakthrough was in 2013 during the release of their album Friendship, when they had a string of successful gigs and positive reviews by national press. They toured with Blitzen Trapper, and opened for The Lumineers in London. They also scored spots playing at some of the nation’s most popular music festivals, SXSW and Lollapalooza.

Bon IverThe new album, self-titled Phox, is up on NPR’s First Listen to stream. It was recorded at Bon Iver-frontman Justin Vernon’s home studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The album shows off a sound that only an eclectic six-piece band can pull off: Layered soundscapes, songs that build, interesting instruments like the clarinet and trumpet, lots of “oooh”s and “aaah”s, whistles, hand clapping, and lead singer Monica’s breathy, airy voice.

Murfie Preview
Kayla: Phox has a lot going for them! They’re a band of talented people who work well as a cohesive unit, while letting every person shine. They’ve got a layered, interesting indie pop sound with never a dull moment. Monica’s voice compliments the music so well—it beautifully blends with it, and is not overpowering like some vocals are. I think that’s important for a band who wants you to hear the depth of their sound, the overlapping musical textures that are like landscapes. The notes she sings really travel—single syllables in a word can move up and down like butterfly wings. Their music can be mellow at times, but not depressing like some mellow music can be. Mixed with the mellow moments on the new self-titled album Phox, you’ll hear more catchy songs like “Slow Motion”, “1936”, and “Evil”. Phox is from Baraboo, Wisconsin, and they are in Madison often. I’ve met a few members and they are really nice. They have two shows celebrating their album release at High Noon Saloon in Madison, and both are sold out! Darn!! :-)

Some teasers from Phox

Phox – Slow Motion / Blue and White on Audiotree Live

Phox – 1936 on Audiotree Live

Pre-order your copy of Phox today on our pre-order page! Each CD comes with unlimited streaming and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC. 

Sounds Like Wisconsin: Hometown Acts Both Big and Small

Volcano Choir

We’ve already shown our love for Wisconsin native Justin Vernon for his work on Bon Iver, but Repave shows an entirely different side of him: this album makes him look like he’s just a guy having fun. Collaborating with members of another local favorite band, Collections of Colonies of Bees, Vernon and company have created a record with a fresh rock sound, killer lyrics, and most importantly of all, the ability to stick in your head.

Repave is in many ways all about power. The album sounds absolutely fantastic, and powerfully so—truly unique guitar lines effortlessly combine with a deep and incredibly clear sound. Even amidst all that power, Vernon never allows his voice to be outshone. He sings with all the guts of a power ballad while maintaining his trademark dark mood. Unlike Vernon’s work with Bon Iver, however, this album has potential for real stadium sound.

Don’t miss tracks: “Alaskans”, “Comrade”

Violent Femmes
Permanent Record: The Very Best of the Violent Femmes

Some of Wisconsin’s most famous musical natives released this essential collection of their all-time greatest tracks in 2005. This album is really mood music, but not in the way you’d usually picture that phrase. The mood here is teenage angst and ecstasy, bouncing off the walls and sometimes falling to the ground. It’s also just really, really wanting to party. This album captures that scream-it-at-the-top-of-your-lungs vibe that was so essential to the band’s success.

This album makes a good call in focusing largely on tracks from self-titled debut album Violent Femmes, an incredibly fun collection of songs that was nearly impossible to follow. These songs are instantly and insanely catchy, but not without the music clout to back it up. There’s a fantastic minimalism going on here—acoustics, a single drum—but it’s far from boring. These Milwaukee natives know how to keep a party going, wherever that party may be.

Don’t miss tracks: “Blister in the Sun”, “Kiss Off”


Don’t be intimidated by the impossibly long tracklist here. Those 19 tracks look deceptively long. About half the songs, however, are in the 20-second range, creating an album that actually comes to feel like the perfect length.

Part of that perfect length feeling comes from the fact that this is just a really nice listen. Friendship has an eclectic, indie-pop sound that blends seamlessly from track to track. The seven-piece PHOX, originally Baraboo natives, have created a unique combination of longer songs and shorter, transitional musical arrangements that tie together into a tight album that’s fun all the way through.

Instrumentally, the album focuses on crystal-clear vocals and awesome instrumentation, featuring horns, banjos, synths and the whole nine yards. This band is certainly up-and-coming—time to get on the bandwagon!

Don’t miss tracks: “Clubs and Spades”, “Shrinking Violets”

Home State Loyalty: A Review of Bon Iver

Murfie has an admitted love for all things Wisconsin, given our location and the fact that Madison really is an absolutely wonderful place. That being said, I certainly didn’t need any bias to appreciate Bon Iver’s 2011 album Bon Iver, created by the Eau Claire-based Justin Vernon. Although my hometown loyalty was what prompted me to listen to this album the first time, it certainly isn’t the reason for listens 2, 3, and 100.

This may mean that my attention span is stunted, but it’s rare for me to find an album that I consistently listen to all the way through. Bon Iver creates the perfect combination of hushed and complex, relaxing but not the least bit boring. It would be easy to dismiss the first few mellow notes as background music, but Vernon’s tracks feel more like escapism. He made the album alone in the woods, and it shows. His songs are deeply intimate, but yet not remotely limited by his low-key recording style.  Vernon may have retreated to his cabin in the woods to hash out his feelings, but he did so in a way that built a whole new, intricately layered sound.

Vernon’s voice alone could carry this album, with his incredibly earthy sound and beautiful upper registers. The biggest improvement from previous album For Emma, Forever Ago, however, is Vernon’s newfound emphasis on his band; he has taken Bon Iver from essentially a one-man project to the work of a group. The addition of instrumentation like strings, horns and electronic sounds makes this album that much more ambitious, and that much more of an accomplishment.

Even Vernon’s track listing is perfect, creating an experience that seamlessly unfolds. Opening with the quiet “Perth” and building to standout tracks like “Holocene” (Track 3) and “Michicant” (Track 5) before closing with the vintage-inspired “Beth/Rest”,  Vernon has supplied a record that has a strong sense of how it flows. That flow is what makes this album so fantastic—it transitions beautifully from one song to arrangement to story without so much as a stumble.