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Album Reviews
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009

“Salt Water” (Bopaganda! Records)

The trail end of 2008 saw the RIAA confirm that sales of vinyl records are surging. Sure, CDs and MP3s are convenient, but all you have to do is listen to vinyl to confirm its sonic superiority. Look no further than Milwaukee's own Eric Blowtorch, who has released a 7" vinyl slab of reggae flavor. The A-side "Salt Water" skanks along with a throbbing rhythm section as Blowtorch sings of dread on the high seas. The flip side is a dub-crazy version led by a melodica riff that fades into ghostly piano and Echoplexed vocals. While some artists...
Books
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The band that made Minneapolis rock

Jim Walsh’s The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting—An Oral History (Voyageur Press), published to coincide with Rhino Records’ first installment of Replacements reissues, wisely lets those who were there tell the tale. History, by its nature, allows the winner to write the story, and rock ’n’ roll mythmaking is as much about refraction as it is reflection. Walsh’s anecdotal style depicts a Minneapolis music scene built around a few record stores and clubs hip enough to evolve into the post-disco era. Guitarist Bob Stinson, his 14-year-old brother bassist Tommy and drummer Chris Mars were jamming in the basement to Yes’ “Roundabout” when songwriter Paul Westerberg talked his way into the group. As midwived by Peter Jesperson and his girlfriend . . .
Concert Reviews
Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

As leader of The Silos, Walter Salas-Humara has been recording since the mid-’80s, working on more than a dozen albums with collaborators as diverse as Alejandro Escovedo and, in an upcoming project, novelist Jonathan Lethem. At Sunday’s Shank Hall show, Salas-Humara led a band made up of Milwaukee and Madison musicians.
Album Reviews
Monday, June 9, 2008

The Shaming of the True (Faux Real)

For more than two decades John Sieger has been cranking out great songs, ranging from tunes for the R&B Cadets and Semi-Twang to a string of solo albums. The man oozes soul, and his talent is not in question. Even still, Sieger and co-writer Michael Feldman’s gems too often fly under the radar. Recorded. . .
Album Reviews
Monday, May 12, 2008

Deluxe Reissues (Twin/Tone/Ryko/Rhino)

OK, so The Replacements hung around for an album too long (maybe even two albums), but their arc is the stuff of legend with good reason. Gather ’round, children, and you will hear stories of the early ’80s, when “alternative” music was still called “college radio” and good old punk rock was still relevant. Well, kinda . . .
Local Music
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Local Music

At this point it’s fair to recognize songwriter Mike Jarvis as an elder statesman of Milwaukee’s pop music scene. In addition to a résumé that includes time with The Blow Pops, Root Cellar, Simpleton, Chicago’s Green and three albums with The Lackloves, guitarist/vocalist Jarvis has toured Europe and Asia. The Lackloves’ latest album, Cathedral Square Park, marks a lineup shift back to the band’s original trio incarnation after spending much of its existence as a two guitars/bass/drums quartet. Drummer/vocalist Tommy Dougherty and newcomer bassist/vocalist Kevin Ponec round out the current lineup.
Concert Reviews
Tuesday, April 8, 2008

April 4, 2008

On Friday at Turner Hall, armed with only a pair of acoustic guitars and their voices, Escovedo and David Pulkingham delivered a graduate-level class on songwriting that ranged from sensitive ballads to Mexican-influenced tunes to flat-out punk-rock noise—sometimes even in the same song.
Album Reviews
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Jesus of Cool: 30th Anniversary Edition (Yep Roc)

If there’s another album that gives such an impression of pop offhandedness yet holds up three decades later as a work of brilliance, I can’t think of it. For most listeners, Nick Lowe came onto the scene via his 1979 hit “Cruel to Be Kind” and Rockpile, the band he co-fronted with Dave Edmunds. But before that he was the primary songwriter/singer/bassist for Brinsley Schwarz, reigning champions of England’s rootsy pub rock scene. It’s a safe bet that over the course of the group’s half-dozen albums, Lowe learned a thing or two about making records. So when his buddies Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson started Stiff Records, they gave Nick the nod as house producer.
Album Reviews
Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007

Don't Fall Down (Lazy Ike)

People from outside Milwaukee who look down their noses at our local talent should dig into this album by the Peder Hedman Quartet