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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daniel Nathan brings the flute back

Today’s bands need a hook. The hook could be a number of things—novel influences, Halloween masks, a highly publicized substance abuse problem, whatever—but they’ve got to have some panache and an inimitable shtick. The Daniel Nathan Band has both. The Milwaukee-based band is a self described psychedelic soul trio, its tunes undeniably inspired by the ’70s and stewed in Southern blues. It’s not the well-crafted songs or Nathan’s mannish boy vocals that make the boldest first impression. Instead it’s what Nathan calls the band’s “procedural weapon”: his flute, “the psycho flute.”
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The mysterious sounds of Wooden Robot

Local band Wooden Robot couldn’t be more mysterious. First, there’s their undeniably spooky sound: Think haunted Old World carnival or, better yet, a vodka-drenched dance party with your dead Polish-babushka grandmother. Then there are the places they usually play: dimly lit bars, crowded houses of friends and dark corners in cramped basements. The band’s performance at Turner Hall Ballroom on July 26, opening for Secret Chiefs 3 with The Demix, will mark a rare appearance in the spotlight.
Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tonight @ the Cactus Club - 10 p.m.

Fresh off a spot on WMSE’s Local/Live series, Quinn Scharber and the… are finally set to introduce their first album, the rather grimly titled Being Nice Won’t Save Milwaukee. Sounding like a happier Elliott Smith next door (although Smith’s infamous Maddog 20/20 gets a mention in “Midwest Blues”), Quinn Scharber and . . .
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The band name We’rewolves resulted from a misunderstanding between the group’s members, Eliah Koerner (vocals, keyboard), Dan Perlstein (drums) and Ryan “Smitty” Smith (bass). “I said, ‘Let’s call ourselves The Vampires,’” Perlstein recalled. “And Smitty said, ‘How about werewolves?’ and I thought he said ‘we’rewolves,’ like ‘we are wolves.’” The contraction was subsequently expanded into a song in which the group chants “We are all wolves!” over and over. I interviewed the band before a recent show at Mad Planet. It was raining, and they stood huddled under . . .
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
It’s been said that desperate times produce desperate music, and the current scene in Milwaukee would appear to bear this out. Bands such as Father Phoenix, Cougar Den, Pigs on Ice and Call Me Lightning are cranking out uneasy, volatile songs that provide the perfect soundtrack for our current era of anxiety. These groups, with obvious roots in the world of hardcore, have managed to craft a sound that captures the anger of punk while avoiding the generic tendencies that mark much of the genre. Simply put, these groups are innovative and exciting. It’s a rare breed of band that is able to pull off such a delicate balance, and Milwaukee is lucky to have so many of them.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
A sonic screech sounds as Holy Shit! rips into their 12-minute set in the basement of a Riverwest punk house called Mint Mint Chocopocalypse. About 30 or 40 people huddle around the band, and once they get going it becomes hard to separate the band and the audience. The basement is lit by a single bare bulb. The singer flails wildly, his hair flying back and forth. There is a problem with the microphone and it constantly cuts out, leaving the image of a mute wild man screaming his head off. The music plays at breakneck speed, with one song instantly bleeding into the next.
Monday, June 9, 2008

Tonight @ the Jazz Estate - 10 p.m.

Evan Christian’s commitment to mastering the flamenco guitar is so great that he moved to Spain to study the craft. That’s not to say that his playing is completely grounded in tradition, though. In the studio, he pairs his flamenco guitar riffs with smooth, hip-hop-inflected neo-soul and synthesized, peppy funk in the vein . . .
Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tonight @ Shank Hall - 9 p.m.

John Sieger returned to Nashville, the city he lived in for much of the 1990s, to cut his latest solo album, The Shaming of the True. The album’s release arrives at a curious time, however. These days Sieger is devoting much of his energy to his new, Milwaukee-based soul/western-swing band The Subcontinentals, so . . .
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The Nashville that John Sieger experienced during the mid-’90s was just as many music lovers picture the city, a friendly haven for songwriting talent where hungry up-and-comers intermingle with established legends. During his time there, Sieger performed with Lucinda Williams and rubbed shoulders with Shelby Lynn. His friend lived next door to Emmylou Harris. Sieger, who has written songs for Dwight Yoakam and The BoDeans, had some success in Nashville—he hosted a weekly night at the city’s renowned Pub of Love—but, he explains, “I wasn’t making enough money to really say I had a career in music.”
Monday, May 26, 2008

Spoken Answer to a Silent Question (Aftermusic)

Milwaukee's Boy Dirt Car (BDC), among the elite of American industrial bands in the 1980s, returns for the group’s first studio recording in about 20 years. Where once they engaged in metallic, percussive excursions, the mood has changed. Drones, throbs and the sounds of various modes of transportation dominate . . .