• Milwaukee Psych Fest 2017

    Posted 05/15/2017 by cal

    You knew this thing would eventually outgrow Cactus Club. As sick as music writers have got to be of typing the word ‘psych’, still it persists as a catch-all tag for reverb, drone, and general weirdness in music, and its popularity shows no signs of fading despite the hiatus of Levitation (formerly Austin Psych Fest, the mother of all psych fests). The plus side of its omnipresence is that a psych festival can encompass virtually all genres nowadays, and this year’s Milwaukee edition boasted by far the most eclectic lineup to date. I caught most of the Friday and Saturday performances, and I wrote little bits about 'em.

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  • 2016 In Live Music

    Posted 12/29/2016 by cal

    Believe me, I realize this is partially a case of rationalization, but 2016 was the year I learned to stop being aggravated that most of the touring bands I love are gonna keep skipping Milwaukee, because almost all the live music I’ll ever need is already right here. Plus, I do relish an evening in Chicago whenever I can make it happen. It's no use getting hung up on this issue, I keep telling myself. There are plenty of negatives to focus on from 2016, if that's your bag. Personally, I can't keep it up. Music lives on, and this current moment right this second is all that’s even real anyway. But if I were to live solely in memories of local shows, I'd want to pull a good percentage of that life from 2016.

    Musician friends, I love you all, and your shows were all amazing, and ranking shows is silly and I apologize for doing it anyway. It’s just a thing I do. It doesn’t mean anything.

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  • 2015: Local Music

    Posted 01/12/2016 by cal

    What a year, Milwaukee.

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  • 2015: Live Music

    Posted 12/29/2015 by cal

    As I’ve ranted on twitter, 2015 was a fairly shitty year in terms of live music in Milwaukee. The Pabst group’s renaissance appeared to be over, as those venues welcomed lots of youtube sensations and actors and 88nine bands and not many artists I was very interested in seeing. What’s that? You say I’ve aged out of the venues’ target audience? Well shit. There were exceptions of course, and 2016 is already looking like it will destroy 2015 in this regard. We need slow years from time to time. And maybe the big events from this year will ultimately shine brighter in my memory for years to come. It certainly seems like they ought to. Here are the ones (excluding Altos and associated acts, since I'm married to an Alto and friends with the whole gang) that I most love reliving in my mind.

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  • Milwaukee Psych Fest 3

    Posted 05/19/2015 by cal

    I won't lie, it was an ordeal, navigating normal life in addition to this Milwaukee Psychology Festival (third annual), down at the ol' Cactus Club. I think we all learned a lot about ourselves.

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  • 2015 So Far

    Posted 03/29/2015 by cal

    We're only three months into 2015 and there's a ton of exceptional music out already. It's hard to keep up. It was hard to draw a line on what to include in this piece. Nevertheless, in my continuing odyssey of trying to determine whether or not record reviews still have any value at all, I'm going to post this rundown of albums I've been loving so far this year, brief (in most cases) blurbs with links to listen or download (in most cases), making this whole process as easy and painless for you as possible, in an attempt to get you to pay attention to some things you might not otherwise hear. Yes, you!

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  • The Prematurely Air-Conditioned Arts Collective Presents John Zorn's Cobra

    Posted 03/20/2015 by cal

    Pro: There's an ensemble in Milwaukee playing John Zorn's Cobra—twice so far, but hopefully many more times. Con: I didn't know about it until the day of the second installment (last night). It took place at Woodland Pattern Book Center, five blocks from my house. Clearly I am not as in-touch with my community as I ought to be.

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  • The Best Music Of 2014

    Posted 01/20/2015 by cal

    The Beast. Many, many words and numbers and links (and even a few playlists) concerning my favorite musicks of 2014. Enjoy.

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  • The Best Shows I Saw In 2014

    Posted 12/23/2014 by cal

    In an effort to impress upon people who need these things explained the ultimate meaningless of the numbers involved in these lists I like to write, there is a tie for number one this year. The shows were so completely different and earth-shattering that I couldn't possibly choose. BUT THEN NUMBER TWO SHOULD REALLY BE NUMBER THREE. Are you happy now?

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  • Dave Matthews Band: Summerfest, 7/2/2014

    Posted 07/03/2014 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...

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  • I don't know what to call this one.

    Posted 06/09/2014 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.

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  • Calliope: ORBIS

    Posted 05/24/2014 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?

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  • Milwaukee Psych Fest 2014

    Posted 04/29/2014 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.

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  • The You-Phoria Guide To Festivals: 2014

    Posted 04/09/2014 by cal

    Because tweeting my disdain isn't enough.

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  • Animals In Human Attire: OURMEGADAWN

    Posted 04/08/2014 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.

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