By Jason McDowell Creative Director Published Oct 12, 2006 at 1:01 PM
Recently I picked up an EP by a small band by the name of Norfolk & Western called "A Guilded Age," and it was very good. The band is small (technically only two people), they've been around for five years, and they've had a few albums out, but up to my point of purchase they didn't even have a requisite fan-heavy entry in Wikipedia.

Well, now they have a new album slated for release on Oct. 24 called "The Unsung Colony" and based on the few tracks released for preview on Hush Records' Web site, it sounds like it's going to be just as good as the first.

As a quirky beginning, when the band released their first album the cover displayed an image of a boxcar with the words "Norfolk & Western" emblazoned on its side, and that's when they found their name. The band includes such instrumentation (among others) as banjo, accordion, viola, glockenspiel, wurlitzer, saw, theramin, found sounds, and even film. Some songs amble along in a dreamy, introverted, personalized way, and others move forward and grab your attention. Singing duties are passed between male and female vocals. It is definitely the sound of a band doing what bands SHOULD be doing: loving music.

Now you in Milwaukee, on Oct. 24, I give you your duty to go out and buy their new album, especially if it's from one of our local record stores. And if you think it sounds really exciting and can't wait until then, their album is available right now for purchase on

I'm not saying this because I have a press release in my hand, or because they're giving me any free stuff (I submitted an order for their album yesterday), I just really want to see these guys play Milwaukee.

Their music is good, to be sure, and actually seeing the sound projecting forth from these atypical instruments would make for a great show in itself. They've been known to incorporate a film accompaniment, too!

The band has announced its intentions to headline a tour through November and December, but they have yet to announce any dates. Help them to take notice of Milwaukee.

Do I have to start name dropping? Rachel Blumberg is a former drummer from The Decemberists and tours with M. Ward. Adam Selzer does, too! Cory Gray plays in Desert City Soundtrack. If you like The Decemberists, The Weakerthans, The Scarring Party, or William Elliott Whitmore, you'll probably enjoy Norfolk & Western. Are you a fan of that dusty old vinyl record sound? Well, this band is for you.

So remember, Milwaukee, to head to your closest record store on Oct. 24 and look for the new Norfolk & Western record entitled "The Unsung Colony." Pre-order it to make sure they have it. Request their music (I'm assuming their first single will be "The Longest Stare") on 91.7 WMSE. Preview it on And most importantly, show up when they do play in our wonderful city.

Help me get Norfolk & Western to Milwaukee!
Jason McDowell Creative Director

Jason McDowell grew up in central Iowa and moved to Milwaukee in 2000 to attend the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

In 2006 he began working with OnMilwaukee as an advertising designer, but has since taken on a variety of rolls as the Creative Director, tackling all kinds of design problems, from digital to print, advertising to branding, icons to programming.

In 2016 he picked up the 414 Digital Star of the Year award.

Most other times he can be found racing bicycles, playing board games, or petting dogs.