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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Wooldridge Brothers @ Turner Hall Ballroom

March 6, 2009

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If it has been nearly a decade since the last Wooldridge Brothers album, then it seems like it's been nearly a lifetime since the duo relocated to Milwaukee from Kokomo, Ind., to form The Squares, the noted jangle-pop band that was an East Side presence in the late-'80s.

These days Scott Wooldridge lives in Minnesota, which makes for a long commute, but he and brother Brian nonetheless recently released the album Days Went Around. Friday's CD-release gig at the Turner Hall Ballroom found an expanded lineup onstage before a packed house, as the Brothers played a set top-loaded with songs from the new album.

Opening with Scott's meditation on texting-madness, "Thumbs," they would later address lust and longing in virtual reality with "Connecting to Aphrodite." Yet for the modern subject matter, the Wooldridge Brothers' strength always lay in their heartland rock and in Scott's timeless songwriting. Charged by the twin telecaster twang of Brian and Jeff Benske, the guitars offered a wide range of dynamics, from Benske's volume swells on "Coffee Spoons" to his ripping solos on "This Rain" and Brian's sci-fi effects on "The Jungle."

Peaking with an anthemic version of "Last Man Standing," the muscular rhythm section of Jack Rice on bass and Scott Gorsuch (late of the Carolinas) on drums shone brilliantly, while Julie Straszewski-Wooldridge added vocal counterpoint and percussion and Matt Meixner keyboards.For their finale the band welcomed back openers Mike Benign and Michelle Anthony for a courageous reading of John Lennon's "Instant Karma."