Finding the local band that's right for you is a lot like finding a romantic partner. You want one that's talented, looks good and doesn't sound too abrasive. And since everyone seems to be finding romance on the Internet these days, why not venture online to discover your musical soulmate?
Matches are waiting to meet you at the Isthmus Band to Band Combat website. Go there, and you'll see handsome photos of artists seeking fans. You can read about the qualities that define their musical personality. Best of all, you can listen to their music, one song per band.
Then you can vote for the bands that steal your heart. Each week, based on the voting, the field is narrowed until four remain. That's when things go offline. The finalists play a live gig at the Frequency on Thursday, Dec. 15.
The name may sound menacing, but Band to Band Combat is a showcase aimed at introducing Madisonians to the artists who rock this town. No matter how long you've been around the local music scene, there are always bands to meet. I, too, discovered new faces when I logged in.
Like Nellie Wilson and the Hellbound Honeys. Madison has never been a hotspot for traditional country music, but we've long been trying to put our imprint on the genre. Nellie Wilson wastes no time departing from Nashville norms. Her tracks are alternative in ways that are sometimes raunchy and most unladylike.
Think the Dixie Chicks are outspoken? Wilson makes those gals look demure. After all, Wilson named her debut album Taking The 'O' out of Country. Her featured track on the Band to Band Combat site is "Parking My Car." It features harmonica, honky-tonk beats and meandering guitar licks.
Once you've been introduced to the acts, you can get to know them even better at their own websites. Wilson has built a profile at reverbnation.com, where her R-rated tunes reveal themselves in all their skanky glory.
Looking for a more traditional musical partner? Band to Band Combat will introduce you to all types.
Sky Road Fly is a rock quartet that's been on the scene since last year. This fall, the band released its debut album, Pure Danger. Their songs recall eras when rock explored new song structures - think 1970s prog and 1990s grunge. "Train Magnet" recasts grunge's quiet/loud/quiet formula by emphasizing tempo changes. At the approach of each chorus, the sluggish, hard-driving guitars turn quick, limber and steady.
The Big Payback is a nine-piece funk and soul outfit that follows the Madison tradition of large, horn-based stage ensembles. With two saxophones, trumpet and trombone, the Big Payback shares characteristics with longtime local favorites like Tony Castañeda and Phat Phunktion.
The band is led by vocalist Leah Isabel Tirado, who is also active in local theater. Last year, she played Aldonza in Strollers Theatre's Man of La Mancha. Her soulful voice helps the Big Payback navigate their ambitious R&B sound.
The most laidback new band I met in Band to Band Combat is TL;DR. Their ambient guitar and lo-fi recording techniques give them a slacker edge.
After noon on Wednesday, Nov. 23, only eight bands will be left. But all it takes is one to set your musical heart on fire.