• Secret Chiefs 3: Cactus Club, 10/8/2014

    Posted 10/9/2014 by cal
    I keep thinking that at some point they're not going to be as good. Probably just trying to lower my unreasonable expectations of this band. Fortunately Secret Chiefs 3 are unreasonably good. Every time they pick up instruments and play. Read more... Comments (0)
  • SONGS OF INNOCENCE (and other tangentially related topics)

    Posted 10/5/2014 by cal
    I think U2 may have finally brought about the death of the record review. As a longtime fan, I can only sit back and laugh at the hoopla surrounding Songs Of Innocence. I've found it to be a pretty enjoyable listen. It's not going to win over many new fans, that's for sure. In fact, the way in which it was released has only energized the curious U2-hatred that has existed ineffectually for decades. It's like politics: At least 90% of the half a billion who now "own" this album made up their minds about U2 long ago. Those who haven't bought into the cult of U2 are now even less likely to listen to Songs Of Innocence, and even if they were to listen, there would be no getting around their hyperconscious truth that U2 is crap and couldn't possibly make good music. Read more... Comments (0)
  • King Crimson: The Vic, 9/26/2014

    Posted 9/29/2014 by cal
    In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a prog-nut from way back. Yes started me down the road, but it wasn't long before I became almost as obsessed with ELP, and since Greg Lake had been in King Crimson prior to forming that band, it was inevitable that I'd find my way to In The Court Of The Crimson King (as if the cover art alone weren't enticing enough). Crimson is different from all the other 70s prog giants in that over the course of its nearly half-century of on-and-off existence, it has never become an utterly lame anachronism. Robert Fripp has always been mindful of the Crimson legacy. Still, each successive reformation of the project brings an increasing threat of tarnish. For the few of us who care about such things, anyway. Read more... Comments (5)
  • Phish: Midwest Run 2014

    Posted 7/23/2014 by cal

    Reviewing Phish is quite a different undertaking than reviewing other music. For one thing, there's a whole dictionary of jargon and mythology that's taken for granted, making the critique virtually unreadable to the uninitiated, but going about it any other way would make the review tedious for almost anyone who might be interested in reading it. Also, rather than just take into account the experience of a single show, it's important to put it into a thirty-plus-year context and assess where it stands in the pantheon of live Phishdom. There's also a lot of puzzling over the intentions of the band, particularly Trey, and conjecturing about how much effort he's putting in and what sort of statement he might be making--mostly by people who've never had a conversation with the man himself.

    I didn't feel like thinking about all that crap on my birthday weekend this year. I just wanted to relax and enjoy myself. In the long run, though, I have a lot of thoughts about the Midwest run, and I can't keep them all to myself. So here are some of them. Read more... Comments (2)
  • Dave Matthews Band: Summerfest, 7/2/2014

    Posted 7/3/2014 by cal
    Ten years ago I would've been coming at this from a pure fan perspective. At that point I knew every song Dave might play and had a pretty good handle on when he might play it. Last night I had trouble singing along to "Rhyme & Reason" and couldn't remember the name of "The Stone". I guess I'm not the fan I once was. There are probably a lot of reasons for this. Let's see... Read more... Comments (1)
  • Swans: Lincoln Hall, 6/25/2014

    Posted 6/25/2014 by cal
    One by one, a motley gang of intense-looking men weave their way through a maze of speakers and instruments and begin to build a wall of sound. At first, it needn't be categorized as music, and at certain times throughout the set, by most metrics, it wouldn't be, especially according to most people Michael Gira's age. Then again, from a certain perspective, everything is music; some of it, you just can't hear. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Milwaukee Theatre, 6/20/2014

    Posted 6/24/2014 by cal
    The Milwaukee Theatre is clearly not designed for rock and roll. Why they put on such shows there is beyond me. Even Sting back in 2004 seemed kinda edgy for this room. The overdressed, gregarious bar staff is ill-equipped to serve the thirst of even a well-below-capacity horde of Nick Cave fans (or even Leonard Cohen fans) in a timely fashion. The sterile decor of the hall itself screams middle-school auditorium, complete with underperforming PA that popped and cracked repeatedly under the extreme duress of the Bad Seeds' sonic onslaught Friday night. And none of these factors made much of an impact on the show, as Australia's creepiest export led his band and audience through an intoxicating séance of storytelling and noise. Read more... Comments (0)
  • I don't know what to call this one.

    Posted 6/9/2014 by cal
    I'll come right out and say it: The dissolution of The Delphines is devastating. Hush has become my biggest obsession-album of the year so far. To think that you could make that album and then not carry on, that messes with my head. Obviously it can't be nearly as trying for me as it is for the members of the band, and I'm excited for whatever they all come up with next, but it won't, and it oughtn't, be The Delphines. And that's brutal, for the city of Milwaukee and for music at large. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Calliope: ORBIS

    Posted 5/24/2014 by cal
    Calliope's 2013 self-titled debut was pretty eclectic for a classic rock record. The new EP Orbis is the sophomore effort to hone the sound: with psychedelia, in this case, fuzzy synths and reverb and layers of sound. So, you don't get the occasional jam-band tendencies or the White Denim-esque prog/folk tunes or the countryish stompers that coexisted on the first album. But do you miss those things? Read more... Comments (0)
  • Mogwai: The Vic, 5/16/2014

    Posted 5/19/2014 by cal
    Mogwai bears the burden of perfecting its own style of music simply by inventing it. The movement carries on, and Mogwai with it, in varying degrees of dilution. Everything that has come after, say, 2001's Rock Action hasn't quite stacked up because it had already been done, and not just by Mogwai but by its innumerable imitators as well. Happy Songs For Happy People and Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will are great albums, but along the way were plenty of retreads and awkward sidetracks. Mogwai essentially drifted through a decade in a relative creative stasis before releasing Rave Tapes earlier this year, which is proving to be the first significant evolution in the band's sound in ages. I've felt for years that Mogwai isn't the same band that changed my life when I first experienced it live at The Vic in 2001. Friday night at The Vic, this was no longer a bad thing. Read more... Comments (0)
  • John Zorn's Bladerunner: Reggie's, 5/3/2014

    Posted 5/5/2014 by cal
    As we sat outside the bar portion of Reggie's drinking bourbon around 9, the early Bladerunner show got out. We'd been able to hear the muffled deep hum of loud music happening, punctuated by the occasional burst of spastic saxophone when the door would open for a few seconds, but it's safe to say I was dying of curiosity. My best guess for a frame of reference was Painkiller, John Zorn's sporadic avant-noise outfit that also featured (features? Do Zorn projects ever really cease to exist?) Bill Laswell on bass. Drummer Dave Lombardo could be considered the wild card; I'm far from a Zorn expert, but the other projects I'm aware of that brought Zorn and Lombardo together didn't include actually playing together. But if Painkiller was to be the touchstone, Lombardo would obviously be more than capable of providing the backbone. [side note: a HUGE shout-out to the dipshits in Slayer for kicking Dave out so that this could occur] Still, Painkiller's original drummer left in 1995; if this was going to be more of the same, why invent a new identity? Hmmm... Read more... Comments (0)
  • Milwaukee Psych Fest 2014

    Posted 4/29/2014 by Cal
    In its second year, Milwaukee Psych Fest has already doubled in length to four days, and despite an apparent flagging fervor in the genre while the world waits for a new Tame Impala album or marquee Sacred Bones release, the Brew City is as jazzed up as ever, thanks in large part to the enthusiasm of our local record stores and WMSE programs like Tom Wanderer's and The 5 & Dime Show. Plus, after a slew of top-notch local psych-rock records last year, the Space Raft debut is mere days from FINALLY being released, Elusive Parallelograms are changing their name to Tapebenders (still no web presence that I can locate for the newly-named band, but they are apparently readying a new release), and according to my sources,
    Catacombz are still a band and presumably will start acting like it one of these days. Counter Culture Club, the organizers of Psych Fest, have been ramping up their efforts to bring artists from all across the trippy spectrum to Milwaukee like never before, and the weekend lineup for this little fest was pretty stacked, to the point where you have to wonder if Cactus Club will be able to contain the crowds if this thing gets any bigger. Read more... Comments (2)
  • The You-Phoria Guide To Festivals: 2014

    Posted 4/9/2014 by cal

    Because tweeting my disdain isn't enough.

    Read more... Comments (0)
  • Animals In Human Attire: OURMEGADAWN

    Posted 4/8/2014 by cal
    Animals In Human Attire have been gigging around town fairly regularly for a few years now with somewhat of a revolving cast of players, and for anyone who's seen them live, it's probably tough to imagine them nailing down an official lineup, let alone coming together to record an album. Yet here it is: Ourmegadawn, actually the band's second foray into the studio, following up 2011's lost-in-the-shuffle self-titled debut. The new record comes close to capturing the unpredictable thrill of an AIHA live show, but it also allows some of their catchier melodies ("Antfarm", "Sun Machines") to worm their way quickly into memorability. It happily sacrifices the brute force of the debut for a more searching, thoughtful attitude, winding up with something perhaps less focused but much more original. Read more... Comments (0)
  • St. Vincent: Turner Hall, 4/4/14

    Posted 4/7/2014 by cal
    In September of 2007, The National played a lower-level show at the Pabst, and when the crowd filtered out it seemed like all anyone was talking about was opener St. Vincent. At that show, St. Vincent was simply Annie Clark, alone onstage with an arsenal of gadgets. I assume she must've had a guitar but I seriously don't remember; her set seemed to me like a noisy bunch of loops and I scoffed at the hype. Typical. Read more... Comments (0)
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