April 2 - April 8
This Week in Milwaukee
The Gaslight Anthem @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
While New Jersey natives The Gaslight Anthem continually invoke mentions of Bruce Springsteen from critics, in truth those comparisons have more to do with both acts’ shared Garden State origins and fondness for times past than anything else. The Gaslight Anthem’s second album, The ‘59 Sound, uses hard-strummed punk guitars and classic-rock melodies to celebrate mid-century Americana, with song titles like “Here’s Looking at You, Kid,” “Film Noir” and “Miles Davis & The Cool” testifying to how the group’s true roots predate the E Street Band.
Friday, April 3
Sin City @ The Times Cinema, 11:50 p.m.
Since Sin City, other films have tried to replicate the tone of Frank Miller’s graphic novels by using green screens and color corrections, including the blockbuster war epic 300 and the ridiculous super-hero disaster The Spirit, the first and likely the last film Miller will direct without the assistance of a more seasoned filmmaker. None quite captured the brisk pace and striking visuals of comic books the way Sin City did, though. With its cartoonish extremes, gruesome bloodshed and deep mythology, this collaboration between Miller and Robert Rodriguez is an uncompromising cult film, but it’s executed with a tact few films so outlandishly violent can claim. The film screens tonight at midnight as part of WMSE’s Friday Night Freak Show series.
Morrissey w/ The Courteeners @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
After a seven-year hiatus from recording, former Smiths singer Morrissey returned a little bit grayer and a little chubbier but otherwise more or less the same for his seventh solo record in 2004, You Are the Quarry, the disc that returned him to critical favor. He diligently followed that comeback album with a pair of respectable follow-ups, the most recent of which, this year’s Years of Refusal, does little to reinvent the wheel but has the distinction of being easily his hardest-rocking record in a decade. With his trademark morose, self-deprecating humor, the Moz waxes theatrically about intertwined themes of parenthood and codependence, and returns to the chiming romanticism of The Smiths for “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris,” one of his finest singles.
Saturday, April 4
Miltown Beatdown Hip Hop Olympics @ The Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Since its inception, but in particular over the course of this year, the Miltown Beatdown has grown from a low-key weekly hangout into a destination event for Milwaukee’s hip-hop scene, so it’s fitting that the annual producer battle ends its year in grand fashion not at its usual cozy club, the Jackalope Lounj, but on the expansive stage of the Turner Hall Ballroom. Representing the best of the 50-or-so competitors, the finals have brought out a trio of guest judges from beyond the city: Roots drummer ?uestlove and old-school luminaries Masta Ace and Diamond D. Masta Ace will take the opportunity to give a rare local performance with his Milwaukee cohort and fellow eMC rapper, Stricklin.
O.A.R. @ The Rave, 8:30 p.m.
Though often dismissed outside of their tape-trading fan base, between tour dates college staples O.A.R. have learned how write some pretty catchy pop songs. “Shattered (Turn the Car Around),” the biggest hit off 2008’s All Sides, trumpets their new-found radio-friendliness, closely resembling The Fray’s “Over My Head (Cable Car),” and not just because both titles have brackets. With their kinda-sorta jam tendencies, the group was already bankable touring outfit before their commercial success, but every year their empire grows bigger.
Collections of Colonies of Bees @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.
Like a folkier Thurston Moore or Kurt Cobain, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon has made point of using his notoriety to shine light on music he feels worthwhile, which is good news for Milwaukee’s Collections of Colonies of Bees, the group that perhaps stands to benefit most from Vernon’s cachet. An instrumental post-rock quartet founded by Chris Rosenau and Jon Mueller the far more volatile trio Pele, the group planning a release with their sometimes tourmate Vernon later this year. With any luck, the resulting exposure should bring more attention to the band’s 2008 four-song suite Birds, which imagines a calmer, more textural counterpart to Explosions the Sky, one that replaces crashing crescendos with fluid harmonies.
Sunday, April 5
The Rosebuds w/ Megafaun @ Club Garibaldi, 8 p.m.
Bands like the Handsome Furs, Matt and Kim and Mates of State all rely on that delicate chemistry that only a husband and wife can create. The same goes for The Rosebuds, the North Carolina team of Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, who returned to dark, fuzzy pop on their latest album, 2008’s Life Like, after an affair with chilly synths on 2007’s Night of the Furies. The duo’s best work is sweet and infectious, hinting at demons that are just out of sight. Pairing rustic rhythms with white noise, openers Megafaun are at the more experimental end of the flannelled indie-folk scene that’s boomed in recent years. Though they risk being dismissed as a footnote for their ties to Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who played in an earlier incarnation of the band, their restless 2008 debut, Bury the Square, casts an impressive shadow of its own.
Tuesday, April 7
Fucked Up @ Borg Ward Collective, 8 p.m.
The Chemistry of Common Life, Fucked Up’s 2008 album, starts deceptively with a flute solo on “Son the Father.” A minute later, after a guitar build, lead singer Damian Abraham begins screaming his lungs out about the birth of civilization. Their name and rabble-rousing antics suggest a straightforward hardcore punk group, but Fucked Up constantly throws listeners for a loop, filling songs with violins and doe-eyed female vocals seemingly just to tick off the hardcore faithful, while skirting the increasingly piqued masses by limiting most of their releases to 7-inches only. At this point, they’ve released more albums on cassette tape than they have CD.
Wednesday, April 8
Andrew Ripp @ Miramar Theatre, 8 p.m.
Palatine, Ill., singer-songwriter Andrew Ripp’s debut Fifty Miles to Chicago is a tale in two parts. While the album’s first half treads closely to the acoustic musings of Jason Mraz and Joshua Radin, increasingly adventurous folk and funk influences creep into the disc’s B side, lending the record unexpected eclecticism. Earnestness is the glue that binds the album, defining songs like “On My Way,” a bittersweet rumination on long-distance relationships accented by mournful, twanging guitars.