This Week in Milwaukee
Poliça, Brad Paisley and Brewcity Bruisers Roller Derby
THURSDAY, JAN. 12
Poliça w/ Worrier @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Twin Cities producer Ryan Olson was one of the driving creative forces behind Gayngs, the sprawling 25-member soft-rock collective that included members of The Rosebuds, Megafaun and Bon Iver. His latest project features a much smaller cast. The R&B-inspired electronic dream-pop group Poliça reunites him with Gayngs singer Channy Leaneagh. With bassist Chris Bierdan and drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson, they recorded a debut album, Give You the Ghost, that was mixed by Spoon's Jim Eno and will be released on Valentine's Day. The band shares this show with the Milwaukee art-punk band Worrier, which is at work on a follow-up to its 2010 debut album SOURCEERrORSSPELLS.
The Trews w/ Pilot Airer @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Though they haven't made as much of a commercial impression in America, rockers The Trews have been staples of the Canadian airwaves since their 2003 debut, House of Ill Fame. They've released three albums since, including 2005's Den of Thieves, which they recorded with Aerosmith and Cheap Trick producer Jack Douglas, and last year's Hope & Ruin, which featured production from The Tragically Hip's Gord Sinclair and was recorded at that band's studio in Ontario. Like all Trews records, Hope & Ruin splits the difference between the hardswaggering classic rock of the '70s and the sweeter, poppier sounds of '90s alternative rock.
Maniac @ Times Cinema, 11 p.m.
Joe Spinell wasn't blessed with leading-man good looks. Burly and pot-bellied, Spinell spent most of his screen time as a character actor, appearing as a loan shark in the first Rocky films, but he took on a rare starring role in 1980's Maniac, a disturbing splatter film he scripted himself. In it, he plays a slovenly, middle-aged landlord who prowls the street at night for women to murder, using their scalps to decorate mannequins he imagines are his dead, abusive mother. After the killer begins to date one of his would-be victims, he loses what little grasp on reality he has left. The Times screens this unsettling cult flick on 35 mm film. (Also Saturday, Jan. 14.)
FRIDAY, JAN. 13
Brad Paisley w/ The Band Perry and Scotty McCreery @ Bradley Center, 7:30 p.m.
Contemporary country is woefully short on proud progressives. Though Brad Paisley doesn't try to fill the void, he happily spoke for the more open-minded contingent of country audiences on his bright-eyed 2009 album American Saturday Night, which looked beyond pickup trucks and small-town values to celebrate American marvels that his country peers sometimes ignore, including multiculturalism, marvelous technological advances and the remarkable capacity to embrace change. It was one of the only hit country albums that welcomed the nation's first black president with open, unsuspicious arms. Paisley's latest album, This Is Country Music, isn't as refreshingly forward-looking, but it's another solid work from the country vet, nicely balancing Paisley's neotraditionalist, honky-tonk instincts with his poppier impulses. Paisley shares this bill with the sibling trio The Band Perry, which recorded country's most bittersweet 2010 hit, “If I Die Young,” and “American Idol” victor Scotty McCreery.
Midnight Reruns w/ Slow Walker and Super Swamper @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Milwaukee's Midnight Reruns play agreeable heartland rock 'n' roll with a bit of a punky spin. The results, satisfyingly captured on the group's debut seven-song EP, Central Time, sound like an unlikely meeting of minds between Tom Petty and Social Distortion. The group celebrates that album's release at this show tonight with Slow Walker, a Milwaukee quartet whose eager rock 'n' roll takes on hues of grunge, Kinks-esque pop and Stooges-styled garage rock—with some of the standout tracks on the group's killer 2011 album Good for Business suggesting all three at once.
SATURDAY, JAN. 14
Henhouse Prowlers @ Café LuLu, 10:30 p.m.
Bluegrass has branched off in some pretty unlikely directions over the last decade, as tie-dyed fans have reimagined the genre as a rustic form of jam music and a handful of punk-leaning outfits have sped up the genre's already fast tempos to dizzying extremes. Chicago's Henhouse Prowlers, though, play their bluegrass straight. They're such traditionalists that they all perform huddled around a single microphone, just like the bluegrass pioneers of the '20s and '30s, and they pride themselves on their clean-cut appearance, wearing crisp suits at each show. The group's latest album is Verses, Chapters and Rhymes, which they recorded in Colorado with one of the modern bluegrass scene's most celebrated dobro players, Sally Van Meter.
Sat. Nite Duets w/ The Fatty Acids and Catacombz @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
There's no shortage of young bands revisiting Pavement's fractured, non-sequitur-laden guitarpop, but few are doing it with the gusto and infectious good cheer of Sat. Nite Duets, a Milwaukee band with an unusual gift for turning reconstituted indie-rockisms into shaggy party anthems. The group has been on a tear since its self-released 2010 album One Nite Only charmed all the right blogs, following it up with last year's enthused Wilder Dreams EP and Summer of Punishment, a full-length slated for release on the Brooklyn label Uninhabitable Mansions next month. They'll draw heavily from the new record at this pre-emptive album release show at Turner Hall Ballroom.
SUNDAY, JAN. 15
Brewcity Bruisers Roller Derby @ U.S. Cellular Arena, noon
A testament to the obvious appeal of strong, heavily fish-netted women playing a full-contact sport on roller skates, Milwaukee's Brewcity Bruisers roller derby league had its biggest season yet last year, regularly packing the cavernous U.S. Cellular Arena after having outgrown the Franklin Sports Complex. The girls kick off their 2012 season today with a double-header—and the only matinee bout of the season—as Maiden Milwaukee takes on the Shevil Knevils before the Rushin' Rollettes take on the Crazy 8s. Following the game, they'll head to the Turner Hall Ballroom for an after-party.