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Album Reviews
Monday, Jan. 11, 2010

Now Is Not Forever

When Brian Reith sings R&B, he doesn't have to hire a rent-a-rapper to provide hip-hop flavor. That's because he's pretty killer at spitting out rhymed, spoken couplets, too. The Milwaukee native who goes by his first name's initial had been kicking around the city's gospel, contemporary Christian, indie ground for a...
Album Reviews
Monday, Dec. 28, 2009

Elvis 75: Good Rockin' Tonight (RCA/Legacy)

Each musical anthology of Elvis Presley, and one has been released every few years since his death more than 30 years ago, feels more and more like a referendum on the relevance of the man’s work. True, he altered the pop music landscape in the 1950s and may be the biggest-selling act in his label’s catalog...
Album Reviews
Monday, Dec. 21, 2009

Loathe, Love, Blame, Defend

With a voice resembling a young Jackson Browne, Milwaukee's Conrad Plymouth is a singer-songwriter with a heavier heart and a more indie musical background than the mellow dude he sounds like. Loathe, Love, Blame, Defend varies between lighter and heavier sonic textures through its seven songs, until at last...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009

The Blue Thumb Collection (Hip-O Select/Geffen/Blue Thumb)

Before reinventing himself as an influential electro-disco divo, Sylvester (née Sylvester James) plied his otherworldly falsetto and drag queen fashion sense to funky, bluesy rock. But despite pop music’s glammy sexual ambiguity during the first half of the ’70s, the two albums this large, flamboyant dude recorded...
Album Reviews
Monday, Dec. 7, 2009

Awake (Atlantic/Ardent/INO)

The Kenosha-based band Skillet has parlayed its solid popularity in the Christian subculture into growing general market success for much of the current decade. Awake finds the quartet refining its lite industrial rock to address heretofore unaddressed lyrical themes and vocal...
Album Reviews
Monday, Nov. 30, 2009

Reverie: Jazz Impressions

Milwaukee jazz songstress Julie Thompson issues a clear, sweet tone on her sophomore album. Balancing emotional nuance with a bell-like, almost motherly delivery, her restraint makes for a pleasing set of genre standards and show tunes. Piano, seven-string guitar, clarinet and a male a cappella quartet...
Album Reviews
Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009

Familiar Melodies (Mobius Trip)

Steve Lewandowski and his nimble, fluid guitar tones may be familiar to some as their teacher or from the orchestra pit at touring Broadway shows playing Milwaukee. The infrequently recorded axeman has gathered a diverse ensemble for his first jazz session as bandleader in years. Familiar Melodies showcase...
Album Reviews
Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009

Lonesome Heroes (Sector Five Records)

The second disc from Milwaukee experimental folkie Jay Flash doles out another helping of political sentiments and personal reflection, often within the same song. Guitar strumming mixes with synth programming of a systems-oriented classical bent that sounds like he collaborated...
Album Reviews
Monday, Nov. 2, 2009

The Sheep (Blue Collar Tunes)

The Milwaukee band The Sheep made a unique international impact. Born in the local “Jesus movement” of the late ’60s, the group wound up in Finland to record their first album. Soon, they recorded a couple more LPs in England, where they starred in a stage musical that brought them back to the...
Album Reviews
Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009

Spooky Love (Hyperdrive Motivator)

With their second CD, Eric Mire and his band are breaking some ground, as the Milwaukee rapper/singer puts a bass-riddled take on folk, alt soul, hip-hop, funk and cool jazz. The themes of love, socioeconomic struggle and politics may be similar to the Michael Franti/Spearhead and Arrested Development...