Typically, when one was to think about music and the city of Milwaukee, Alternative Rock would not come to mind. Instead, Milwaukee is usually associated with Hip Hop(specifically Drill music). Milwaukee has had a bustling underground Alternative Rock scene for a long time, though, with a couple of acts from the city having made it big on a national scale. The most well-known Alternative artist from Milwaukee is the Violent Femmes, who originally popped off in the mid-1980s and has developed a huge cult following in the 40+ years since. An Alternative artist from Milwaukee who experienced a good amount of success in the 2000s and 2010s is Juiceboxxx(who now goes by Rustbelt). Apart from these two(and the 1980s one-hit wonder The Bodeans if you count them), there has not been a lot of Alternative Rock music by artists from Milwaukee that has become popular. Fortunately, this has finally been starting to change over the last few years. The Milwaukee underground Alternative Rock scene has started to bustle and break out, with quite a few bands from the area starting to gain traction online and bring a national spotlight to the city. One of the leaders of this burgeoning underground Alternative Rock scene in Milwaukee is The Keystones. Although they do not have a large catalog of music yet and have not been around for a long time, this group is already doing big things. The Keystones are a band that takes elements from of kinds of Alternative Rock music from the late 1990s and early 2000s and fuses them in a way that feels fresh. It is easy to see why this band is becoming so big so quickly, as their music has a nostalgic quality to it while still feeling very current.

It is super cool to see how big The Keystones are already getting considering they have not dropped a ton of original music to this point. This honestly makes the amount of success they have already experienced even more impressive. The Keystones first started releasing music in 2018, when they released their first single ‘Different.’ From 2019-2022, they dropped a bunch of singles, with multiple songs doing well online and garnering a good amount of streams. Songs like 2019’s ‘Miss Connection’ and 2010 and 2020’s ‘Blackheart’ put a lot of eyes on the band and made them one of the more exciting Alternative Rock bands on the come up. In the summer of 2022, they dropped a short EP that contained five of their previous singles, including a stripped-back version of ‘Miss Connection.’ Since then, the band has dropped two new singles(both of which I will briefly talk about below), one in late 2022 and one in May of 2023. The Keystones have been on an incredible run over the last few years, and I believe they will continue to soar to new heights because they are just so special.

As I stated, The Keystones have released two singles since putting out their debut EP last summer. The first of these singles is called ‘Chameleon’ and came out in October of 2022. This is a song that takes me back to some of my favorite music from my youth. When I first heard this track, I immediately thought of some of the top Garage and Post-Punk Rock that was big in the early 2000s. If you were a big fan of bands like the Arctic Monkeys. Franz Ferdinand, or The Strokes, ‘Chameleon’ is a song I know you will like. The song is driven by a bright, fast guitar riff that makes me think of a sunny summer day and a quick, reckless drum beat gives me so much energy when I hear it. The mix of this song gives a little distortion, which gives the song a brash feeling. I love the range the lead singer sings with on this track. The way he switches back and forth from a husky tone to a falsetto gives the song so much emotion. ‘Chameleon’ is a retro-sounding song that will give happiness and nostalgia to anyone who grew up listening to Garage Rock in the early 2000s. The Keystones’ latest single, ‘Newport,’ came out on May 11, 2023. The first thing I will say about this song is that it is a lot harder sounding than ‘Chameleon.’ There are elements(specifically in the melody) of the song that are similar to the Garage of the early 2000s like ‘Chameleon,’ but overall this song is way more sinister, dark, and tough. The instrumental has a style that reminds me of the Alt-Metal or Hard Punk Rock from the 1980s and 1990s. When I hear this song, I think of bands like Bad Brains or Suicidal Tendencies. As I said, the melody does have a tone that is similar to those aforementioned Garage Rock bands, but the instruments are played in a way more brash and rough manner than they were played on ‘Chameleon’ and the mix has way more distortion. The vocal performance on ‘Newport’ matches the instrumental so well. On this track, the lead singer is a low, gruff tone that contains a lot of vocal fry, and it adds to the ominous tone of the instrumental. ‘Newport’ is an eerie, harsh Post-Punk and Alt-Metal track that is so fresh and cool. This is honestly one of my favorite songs I have heard in a while and it is a track I know I will be coming back to frequently in the near future.

Even though The Keystones have not been around for a long time and do not have a huge music catalog yet, they are already one of the most popular and exciting Alternative Rock groups to come out of Milwaukee. They are one of the leaders of a new, exciting Alternative music scene in Milwaukee; bands like The Keystones are proving that Milwaukee is a city that can produce more kinds of good music than just Hip Hop. The Keystones takes components from some of the best Alternative Rock music from the 1990s and 2000s and makes them sound modernizes them. Their music has qualities that sound so old-fashion and fresh at the same time. The Keystones are an exciting group that is destined for stardom, and I can not wait to hear what they do next. 


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