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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March 18, 2008

In October 2005, while Swedish-born Jos Gonzlez rode the ripples from the abrupt wave of international acclaim given to his 2003 album, Veneer, in the wake of its U.S. release, I watched an unaccompanied Mia Doi Todd face the impatient, hirsute horde that had amassed for a late-night show at The Independent in San Francisco. Todd was illmatched as the opener for another Scandinavian . . .
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March 20, 2008

Even in his 40s, Stephen Malkmus is still as skinny as a teenager and as malleable as a Gumby doll. The former Pavement frontman possesses no discernable backbone: When he leans forward during a particularly impassioned solo, his head hangs nearly eye level with his guitar. Much of the weight that often results from settling down with a wife and a pair of kids never came to Malkmus; neither did the complacency that besets many musicians by middle age. Instead, Malkmus’ solo albums have pushed, often aggressively, against the Pavement template, and never more than on his latest disc, Real Emotional Trash . . .
Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 15, 2008

In both sound and manner of dress, members of The Scarring Party draw from the musicians of the early 20th century. Their frontman warbles like a demented vaudevillian performer, and they prominently feature a tuba. Their lyrics read like a 21st-century adaptation of the Old Testament. And they are quickly becoming one of the hottest acts in Milwaukee. Playing a well-attended Turner Hall Ballroom to commemorate the release of their new album, Come Away from the Light, the peculiar band demonstrated why so many have embraced them. The group’s newest material fleshes out the promise of its earlier work, adding cello and violin to a mix that already includes a litany of off-thewall instruments . . .
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

March 7, 2008

When multiple bands have little more in common than the same bill, the temptation to compare shiny apples to citrus is difficult to resist. At Turner Hall on Friday night, The Redwalls’ encyclopedic pastiche of ‘60s British rock felt anachronistically juxtaposed with Milwaukee’s own self-conscious duo, Fever Marlene. Though the two bands are separated geographically by fewer than 70 miles, outside the studio their respective sounds span an appreciable distance of nearly four decades. Local openers The Saltshakers ended their raucous set with a cover of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” providing an apropos segue for The Redwalls,
Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Feb. 29, 2008

The Newark, N.J.-based alternative hip-hop group Dalek has made a career out of defying expectations of what rap music should—or should not—sound like. On record, the band has managed to meld such disparate influences as Public Enemy, Eric B. & Rakim, Mogwai, My Bloody Valentine and Jesu to create a sound that remarkably coheres into something all its own. There is a sense that group members truly love all forms of underground music, and it comes across on their albums. With the horrors of the unholy late- 1990s “rap-rock” phenomenon quickly dissolving from our collective cultural memory, Dalek allows us to fully see the artistic benefits of indiscriminate genre-hopping. Yet the act of reproducing recorded rap tracks in a live setting is a skill that has eluded even some of the most gifted performers, and judging from its recent Cactus Club performance, even Dalek finds it difficult.
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Feb. 22, 2008

Friday, February 22, was a good night for Milwaukee music – both music in Milwaukee and Milwaukee music. There is a welcoming trend of support for local bands happening right now and everyone is benefiting from it, especially out of town headliners. When the houselights went out (early) at Turner Hall for a 7 p.m., four-band bill, there was already an impressive couple hundred people, roughly half of the total draw by the end of the (also early) night, which reached well into the mid 400s. Self-described as “Milwaunkee Tonk,” The Candliers took the stage shortly after 7 p.m. and played a quick set of jovial tributes to a time before synthesizers, drum machines and even overdriven guitars. Successfully recreating this sound on album is somewhat of a tedious task, but it can be accomplished.
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

Feb. 15, 2008

Their hair may be grayer and the musicians backing them may have changed, but Sam Llanas and Kurt Neumann remain the heart and soul of The BoDeans. With uncanny harmonies and a dynamic electric/acoustic-guitar tandem, the duo with Waukesha roots has survived record-label politics, an ugly management lawsuit and industry indifference. And Friday night at the sold-out Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s Northern Lights Theater—joined by keyboardist Bukka Allen, bassist Eric Holden and drummer Noah Levy—they proved that age and time have only strengthened them. Still, a new BoDeans album of impressive jangly (and sometimes dark) roots rock produced by recent Grammy-winner T-Bone Burnett, is slated for release on March 4, and a 12state tour kicks off a week later in Texas.
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008

Feb. 7, 2008

According to the venerable David Byrne, the better a singer’s voice, the more difficult it is to believe what the singer is saying. By that logic, Daniel Johnston may be the most truthful performer to ever grace a stage. He is the rare performer who is so genuine that he seems to believe every word that comes out of his mouth. At Turner Hall Ballroom last Thursday, for the third date of a relatively extensive tour . . .
Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008

Jan. 30, 2008

Left for dead a decade ago, the progressive-metal band Queensryche has spent the ensuing years reinventing itself. Post-grunge records, a covers disc and a sequel to 1988’s seminal concept album Operation: Mindcrime all entered the fray, as the arena stalwarts became accustomed to smaller . . .

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