Jan. 8 - Jan. 14
This Week in Milwaukee
Friday, Jan. 9
Revolush w/ Chief @ Shank Hall, 10 p.m.
Few Milwaukee bands are more proudly stuck in the past than Revolush, a group transfixed by the sounds of the late ’70s, a time when wiry young bands like XTC pushed rock in quirky directions that would lay the groundwork for the next wave of underground rock and fresh blood like Cheap Trick breathed renewed life into ’70s arena rock. That the most modern band Revolush cites as an influence on their MySpace page is The Darkness, another retro band obsessed with Carter-era jams, speaks wonders about Revolush’s reverence for the period, as do the bluesy, charging riffs on the group’s newest album, Arrivals, which evokes a more down-to-earth re-imagining of ’70s-era Aerosmith.
1956 w/ Nolo Contendre and Certain Stars @ The Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Milwaukee’s 1956 gets better with age. After a couple of early releases steeped in crushingly heavy alt-rock riffs and Helmet-inspired screeds, the alt-rock trio matured in satisfying directions on their 2007 record, Saboteur, which they spent years crafting. Swapping some of their hard-rock swagger for bleary-eyed sighs, the disc almost strikes the same melancholic tone as The National’s Boxer—another album by a band that mellowed with age to great effect—while still playing to the band’s penchant for searing, propulsive guitar riffs.
Saturday, Jan. 10
The Goodnight Loving @ Cafe Lulu, 11 p.m.
Milwaukee’s music scene is far too vast to be represented by just one band, but if you had to pick a sole poster child, you could do a lot worse than The Goodnight Loving. The group touches on many of the sounds Milwaukeeans love most, from rollicking, twang-kissed guitars and thumping rockabilly bass to the unlabored pop hooks of ’60s garage-rock. And by virtue of being a band arguably classifiable as “acoustic folk-punk,” the group owes at least a cursory hat tip to one of the city’s most beloved exports, the Violent Femmes, even if The Goodnight Loving’s amiable romps probably owe more to the joyful throwbacks of The Feelies than the tart kiss-offs of the Femmes. Fresh from a lengthy international tour behind their self-titled third album, the group plays a home gig at Cafe Lulu tonight.
Sunday, Jan. 11Reel Big Fish w/ Streetlight Manifesto and Tip The Van @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
After 2005’s self-indulgent We’re Not Happy ’Til You’re Not Happy, a bitter rumination on their unceremonious fall from stardom after ska fell out of popular favor, Reel Big Fish returned to the silly, irreverent party music fans expect of them for 2007’s Monkeys For Nothin’ and the Chimps for Free. The group keeps the good times rolling with their upcoming Fame, Fortune and Fornication, a collection of cartoony, punked-out covers of songs by Poison, Tom Petty and John Mellencamp. The band reasserts their ska credentials with the requisite Toots and the Maytals cover (“Monkey Man”) and nods to their considerable frat following with a stab at “Brown Eyed Girl” that’s just begging to be licensed to the next National Lampoon straight-to-DVD college farce.
Monday, Jan. 12
Metallica @ The Bradley Center, 7 p.m.
Once again superstar producer Rick Rubin helped an aging act reclaim some of its early vitality in 2008, this time working with Metallica, whose deceptively smart, meat-and-potatoes thrash metal had begun to lose some of its vital edge. As expected, the newest Metallica disc, Death Magnetic, is a heralded return to form, reintroducing the blazing guitar solos and epileptic tempos that the band mostly abandoned around the turnof-the-century. It’s also arguably Metallica’s loudest album yet, which, according to some fans, is the problem. The latest casualty of the so-called “loudness war” (Wikipedia it—or not), Death Magnetic’s production is so oversaturated that the sound is clipped, resulting in a mix that’s thin, distorted and crappy. Though fans mostly embraced the new record with open arms, many couldn’t get over how the early songs that premiered on “Guitar Hero” were actually cleaner, crisper and fuller than the final, botched album mix.
Wednesday, Jan. 14
Cheap Trick @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Though their late-career sales haven’t matched those of some of the goliaths of their era, Cheap Trick has stood the test of time better than most bands spawned by the ’70s hard-rock movement. Hits kept them popular through the ’80s; Steve Albini, Nirvana and Weezer kept them relevant well into the ’90s; and “Guitar Hero” and the dozens of pop-punk bands that have covered “Surrender” should guarantee the group infamy for at least another generation. Of course, it also helps that the band never jumped the shark. Their latest album, 2006’s Rockford, is a true highlight of their discography, rife with great songs that effortlessly capture the hard and sweet power-pop hooks that made their At Budokanera hits so memorable. The new year promises a new album, but first Cheap Trick does three nights in Milwaukee at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino. (Through Friday, Jan. 16.)