Recorded by Billy Cicerelli live at UWM on 2/21/13 for WMSE’s MKE Unplugged series
Mixed and Mastered by Justin Perkins at Mystery Room
words by Keith Brammer
Milwaukee, WI’s pop kings and queens strip down their amped-up take on power-pop with no loss of intensity or energy. Recorded at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in February of 2013 as part of radio station WMSE’s “MKE Unplugged” series of live broadcasts, “Stems’n’Friends” finds the band utilizing acoustic guitars as well as keyboards, xylophone, and additional vocalists to produce a sonic tapestry of upbeat, melodic joyousness. Incorporating tracks from both of Sugar Stems’ LP’s (“Sweet Sounds of the Sugar Stems” and “Can’t Wait”), “Stems’n’Friends” serves as both a fantastic introduction to this irrepressible band and as a great addition to the collections of those already familiar with their glittering pop greatness. “Friends” include Andy Harris (of the Goodnight Loving and Phylums) on keyboards, Tabman (of Holy Shit! and Phylums) on xylophone, and vocalists Katie Harris and Claire Carlson. Although not originally intended for release, Sugar Stems were pleased enough with the recording to approach Milwaukee’s Dusty Medical Records about pressing it on vinyl. “Stems’n’Friends” will be released in a STRICTLY limited edition of 300 copies, never to be repressed. If you’re familiar with Sugar Stems you’ll know this already, but this is stellar pop music, played by one of the foremost practitioners of the genre. Don’t sleep on this one.