This Week in Milwaukee
Alejandro Escovedo, LCD Soundsystem and Sleigh Bells
Thursday, Oct. 21
Alejandro Escovedo @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 9 p.m.
the late ’90s, the alt-country magazine No Depression named Alejandro
Escovedo the artist of the decade, an honor the roots-rocker would
surely have been up for again had the print publication lasted until the
end of this past decade. After surviving a nearly fatal bout with
Hepatitis C at the start of the 2000s, Escovedo went on to record two of
his liveliest, most vital records: 2006’s haunting The Boxing Mirror
and 2008’s looser, harder-rocking Real Animal. Escovedo’s latest, Street
Songs of Love, is his most pop-oriented in years, smoothing out some of
the darkness and rough edges that colored the last two discs.
Buffalo w/ Grant Cutler & The Gorgeous Lords and Cyborg Fortress @ The Cactus Club, 9:30 p.m.
years of on-again/off-again recording, the duo Buffalo—the
slow-simmering collaboration between Def Harmonic rapper Lunaversol 9
and Decibully/Made of Oak beatmaker Nicholas Sanborn—hopes to issue its
inaugural album this winter. Set to Sanborn’s dreamy, experimental pop
backdrop, the project highlights the softer side of Lunaversol 9’s
voice, letting her sing as much as she raps. Tonight’s bill features two
fairly new acts: Grant Cutler & The Gorgeous Lords, the latest
project from the co-founder of the former Twin Cities electro-pop group
Lookbook, and Cyborg Fortress, an electronic-minded group from John the
Savage’s Michael Skorcz.
Friday, Oct. 22
LCD Soundsystem w/ Hot Chip @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
frustration with the traditional cycle of recording and then touring
behind an album, LCD Soundsystem leader James Murphy has suggested that
the band’s latest fulllength, This Is Happening, will be its last. He’ll
still make music, he told the British music magazine The Quietus this
summer, but explains, “I just need to get away from it being a big
thing.” If Murphy is daunted by the expectations for each LCD
Soundsystem album, though, the dance-rock visionary has only himself to
blame. The latest arrived with a title that all but promised a big
event, and more than delivered the goods. The British electropop
ensemble Hot Chip opens, touring behind their latest album, One Life
Saturday, Oct. 23
Eric Alexander/Rick Germanson Quartet @ The Jazz Estate, 8 and 10 p.m.
Rick Germanson is a fixture of the New York City jazz scene, where he’s
an in-demand session player and prolific bandleader, but he still makes
frequent voyages back to his native Milwaukee. His latest return home
finds him playing with tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, who has
recorded several lovely bop albums for HighNote Records. Bassist Dezron
Douglas and drummer Neal Smith round out the quartet.
David Sedaris @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
in droll prose befitting National Public Radio, David Sedaris became
one of the literary world’s top stars thanks largely to his
autobiographical essays about his eccentric family, personal foibles and
the many odd jobs he’s held. His latest essay collection, Squirrel
Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, is a compilation of sometimes-violent
fables about nameless animals, though it isn’t quite the break from
form it may seem on the surface—these animals have very human traits,
including day jobs and mother issues. Sedaris’ appearance at the
Riverside Theater tonight includes a conversation and
Stricklin w/ AUTOMatic, The Hollowz and SPEAK Easy and Misen Lync @ The Cactus Club, 9:30 p.m.
one of Milwaukee’s funniest, punchiest rappers, signed to the hip-hop
institution Tommy Boy shortly before the label collapsed. His luck
turned when Juice Crew veteran Masta Ace, impressed by what he’d heard,
took the Milwaukee rapper under his wing, featuring him on his
early-2000s albums Disposable Arts and A Long Hot Summer. Stricklin
currently tours and records with Masta Ace and “Lyricist Lounge” rappers
Punchline and Wordsworth in the group eMC, but is still prepping his
long—long—awaited solo album. He joins younger local hip-hop acts
AUTOMatic, The Hollowz and SPEAK Easy and Misen Lync on tonight’s
Hip-Hop Hates Breast Cancer benefit concert. The $5 cover and additional
donations go to the local chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Leo Kottke w/ Leon Redbone @ South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, 8 p.m.
one of the most celebrated acoustic guitar players of his time, Leo
Kottke has long been revered in both folk and jazz circles, but last
decade, thanks to a pair of collaborative albums with Phish’s Mike
Gordon, he became an icon in the jam scene as well. Kottke returns to
the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center to share this bill with Tin
Pan Alley enthusiast Leon Redbone.
Blonde Redhead and Pantha Du Prince @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
the most part, each Blonde Redhead album has been dreamier and less
turbulent than the last—the New York group has reinvented itself several
times over since its noisy 1995 debut—yet the group’s latest album,
Penny Sparkle, is a surprise nonetheless, downplaying the guitars in
favor of electronic arrangements that touch on shoegaze and trip-hop
equally. It’s a deeply pretty album, though it lacks the dramatic spark
that made albums like 2000’s Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons so
Sunday, Oct. 24
Bo Burnham @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
goofball Bo Burnham was one of the early breakout stars of YouTube,
where videos of the then-teenager singing about white supremacists and
Helen Keller quickly caught on. Comedy Central, never one to miss a
chance to capitalize on adolescent-male humor, took the comic
singer-songwriter under its wing, making him the youngest performer ever
to headline “Comedy Central Presents” and releasing three of his comedy
records in as many years, the latest of which, Words Words Words, is
the companion album to Burnham’s latest TV special.
Tuesday, Oct. 26
Stars @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
aren’t the first band to depict love as a battlefield, but on albums
like 2004’s Set Yourself on Fire and 2007’s In Our Bedroom After the
War, they depict the casualties in unusually graphic detail. The group’s
latest, The Five Ghosts, is a typically bitter set of duets between
singers Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell set to bright, synth-laced pop
arrangements that climb happily skyward, as if unaware of the anger and
tension that saturate the band’s lyrics
Sleigh Bells w/ Pictureplane @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.
Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells takes the noise-pop genre to literal
extremes, allaying the sting of blisteringly loud, distorted guitars
with the sweet, girl-group cooing of singer Alexis Krauss and a
persistent rhythmic clap on their highly buzzed debut album, Treats.
Drawing heavily from the bombast of rap, it’s music that sounds like a
riot but plays out like a party. Those who were able to grab tickets to
the group’s sold-out show tonight probably also have the foresight to
know to bring earplugs.
Wednesday, Oct. 27
Joan of Arc w/ Rollo Tomasi and Absolutely @ The Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Tim Kinsella has consistently confounded expectations (and often even
his biggest fans) with his post-Cap’n Jazz project Joan of Arc, an
experimental, sometimes-lo-fi, sometimes-widescreen indie-rock band in a
continual state of transition. Some of the dozens of musicians who have
recorded with Kinsella under the Joan of Arc umbrella are featured on
the new compilation Joan of Arc Presents: Don’t Mind Control, which
features new songs from Kinsella and affiliated acts including Cale
Parks, Owen, Vacations, Euphone, The Cairo Gang and Ghosts and Vodka.
Ever-prolific, this fall Kinsella also released a new Joan of Arc 7-inch
single, “Meaningful Work.”
The Black Angels w/ Light Pollution @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
there be any question about The Black Angels’ love for The Velvet
Underground, the Austin, Texas, sextet not only named itself after the
Velvet’s “Black Angel’s Death Song,” but also styled its logo after an
iconic image of the Velvet’s onetime singer Nico. The Black Angels were
thusly lumped in with other VU revivalists like Brian Jonestown Massacre
and Spacemen 3, but albums like 2008’s Directions to See a Ghost and
the new Phosphene Dream stand out for their sheer commitment to
traditional psychedelic rock. From the reverb-heavy production to the
droning organ, those albums often sound like they were recorded in a
black-lit basement during the Vietnam War.
Motion City Soundtrack w/ Say Anything, Saves the Day and Valencia @ The Rave, 6:30 p.m.
Some fortunate early tours with Blink-182 led the Minneapolis emo-pop-punk band
Motion City Soundtrack to collaborations with Mark Hoppus, who produced
their second album, 2005’s Commit This to Memory, as well as their
latest record, My Dinosaur Life, an album that suggests a heavier
version of blue album/Pinkerton-era Weezer. Motion City Soundtrack
co-headlines this bill with the restless pop-punk band Say Anything,
whose latest, self-titled album alternates between sentiments
tongue-incheek and fiercely serious.
Shawn Mullins w/ Callaghan @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
A throwback to James Taylor, Jackson Browne and other folky, soft-rock singersongwriters of the ’70s, Shawn Mullins scored one of the biggest adult-alternative ballads of the ’90s with his single “Lullaby.” Though he’s never topped that success on the charts, he’s continued to record at a brisk pace. His new Light You Up is his 11th studio album, and features songwriting contributions from Nashville vet Chuck Cannon and Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Glen Phillips.