Springtime is all about new beginnings - baby animals, budding trees, summer-vacation planning - at least if you believe the Hallmark-generated hype.
In the case of the local music scene, this spring means new projects cropping up. At least for Madison musicians whose energy tends toward the silly and theatrical (jumping jacks, prom dresses), there's been a lot of mating and spawning going on, musically speaking.
Screamin' Cyn Cyn & the Pons make their way into at least a few venues each month, but the over-the-top punks aren't just rocking about pet cats and dinner parties anymore. Donning headdresses made from cardboard and Magic Markers and funneling his rants and raves through electro beats, Pons frontman Shane O'Neill has had a handful of well-attended shows as a solo act, Shane Shane.
Meanwhile, familiar faces from the equally hyper but recently defunct pop-rockers Awesome Car Funmaker have teamed with Pons bassist Christian Burnson to explore some straight-ahead alt-rock as Lake Delton.
The Pons and Awesome Car Funmaker, which shared fans and played many of the same venues, became tight over the years, especially after Burnson joined the Pons in 2004. When Awesome Car's ride seemed to be winding down (the band played a farewell show in February), frontman Ryan Corcoran looked for a partner or two. After listening to some demos in Corcoran's basement, Burnson and Awesome Car drummer - and Corcoran's roommate - Adam Manos signed on for the next leg of the journey.
Using these recordings as a starting point, the musicians have been figuring out what style and shape the project will take, while pushing themselves to write songs in a somewhat different way. "For me, it's meant making a lot of meatier stuff and really getting into harmonies, which I haven't done so much of before with the Pons," Burnson says.
Lake Delton's first live performance, a low-key gig opening for Jeff Hanson at the Frequency on April 29, revealed a guitar-driven group with sounds that range from hard and intense to trippy and experimental.
"The first half of the songs were acoustic with lots of effects pedals - kind of out-there stuff," says Burnson. "The end of the set had some heavier songs, which seemed to work pretty well."
There has been talk of recording some tracks after the new band's members get a few more shows under their belts. But the main focus, other than the music, seems to be finding a name. The current moniker could change. It is a reference to last summer's floods - including the newsmaking one in Lake Delton - which happened as Corcoran began putting together demos for the group.
"The irony of being Lake Delton is that we're like this flood that took out a lot of wealthy people's vacation homes," Burnson says. The downside of the name is that in a Google search, the group may get buried in a flood of other information about the ill-fated resort area.
While O'Neill's been lobbying the band to consider silly-yet-searchable names like Just Me and My Dad, the band's still mulling over the possibilities - and the degree to which jumping jacks, prom dresses and glitter will figure into the act, if at all.
For now, fans will have to wait and see.