• Tom Petty, RIP

    Posted 10/03/2017 by cal

    A giant middle finger to the LAPD and the national press for their disgraceful handling of Tom Petty's death. The emotional limbo they plunged me into yesterday has turned into a deep denial that I don't know how to deal with right now. So, I expect I will cringe if I ever read this again, but here goes. 

  • Chris Cornell, RIP

    Posted 05/18/2017 by cal

    I don't know if anyone who will read this follows me on twitter, but if you do, you may be thinking 'He's never had a single nice thing to say about Chris Cornell in his life. Who the hell does he think he is writing a tribute?' I'll admit that at this moment I feel bad for talking shit about Cornell. Today is a sobering reminder that every single person you've ever made fun of on social media will die. But also, social media is not real life. I've said lots of nice things about Chris in real life. It's true that both the critic and the fan in me lamented the slow degradation one of the strongest voices of my formative years. Maybe it's a dumb impulse; think what you want. If you want to be a legend, die young; if you want to be a human being, live as long as possible. But this death, this timing, this everything...this is the worst.

  • 2015: Rap

    Posted 02/08/2016 by cal

    One of the main reasons I didn’t want to do a simple list this year is that number one has been so obvious all year. Why bother if there’s no suspense?

  • David Bowie, RIP

    Posted 01/15/2016 by cal

    I can't believe I just typed "David Bowie, RIP". Such bullshit. I wonder if it will ever seem true.

  • 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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  • King Crimson: The Vic, 9/26/2014

    Posted 09/29/2014 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.

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  • The Best Albums Of 2013

    Posted 12/29/2013 by cal

    2013: not as good as 2012 (musically speaking), but not nearly as bad as this boring list season would have you believe.

  • AV Club Milwaukee, RIP

    Posted 11/09/2013 by cal

    At a time like this I really wish I'd hung onto that final copy of Vital Source. I've wished that before, though. The last page of it was all Matt Wild ranting about how the music scene here sucked and he was quitting his band because the only people who came to shows were friends who bitched if you didn't put them on the guest list, or something like that. I always liked that little column, but after reading that tirade I wanted to find Matt and throw a shoe at him or something. This is how you want to end Vital Source's glorious run? Just because your shitty band (I never saw Holy Mary Motor Club and have no idea if they were any good) never got famous, you decide to tear down the whole Milwaukee scene? As an idealistic moron myself, I hadn't yet gotten to the point where I could look at the art of writing in a purely rhetorical sense, and I was just starting to feel like I was becoming immersed in this scene and discovering all these incredible Milwaukee bands (whatever happened to Wooden Robot??).

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  • A Requiem For LULU

    Posted 10/29/2013 by cal

    I never reviewed Lulu, the 2011 album that seemed to mark the low point of both Metallica's and Lou Reed's careers; it was such a shitstorm of media frenzy that it ceased to be music before the general public even had the chance to listen to it. Although I didn't find it to be a complete mess in every respect, there's nothing on it that I ever want to listen to again. But I do have a theory on why it exists.

  • Lou Reed, RIP

    Posted 10/28/2013 by cal

    Around this time of year, the merits of best-of lists start to be discussed in music-nut circles almost as much as music. All I know is if it hadn't been for my public library and two or three books proclaiming The Top However-Many Albums Of All Time, I might never have gotten into The Velvet Underground. There, underneath Sgt. Pepper's and Dark Side and maybe a few other classic rock bastions, was The Velvet Underground & Nico, without fail. When I think about it now, I'm a little perplexed as to why I liked it when I took the record out from the library and played it, because I hadn't really even gotten into punk rock yet. Yet to me, a 14-year-old in 1990 or so, despite its somewhat grotesque production values and the weirdo lady singer, it sounded contemporary. I had no historical perspective on music yet; it didn't occur to me to be shocked that it was 23 years old. I liked it, but I didn't get it.

  • 2013 Mid-Year Album Roundup: Rock

    Posted 07/31/2013 by cal

    Let's hear it for electric guitars!  Here's another round of overdue album reviews, including ones by Earl Greyhound, Eight Bells, The Men, My Gold Mask, Shouting Matches, Spectrals, Team Spirit, Temple, Their/They're/There, Tripwires and Turf War.

  • The Best Music Of 2012

    Posted 01/21/2013 by cal

    I've finally finished, folks!  As the final strains of your next-door neighbor's crappy demo tape fade out, I can now say I've heard every single record produced in 2012.  Therefore, I can now present the definitive list of The Best Music Of 2012.  Yes, I know you are dying to see how your personal opinion matches up with the truth; you shall now have your answers.  I wish I could reveal how my own tastes line up with objective goodness, let you all in on what I'm a FAN of, an indulgence that is only permissible for music writers at this time of year; oh, to afford myself such a luxury!  But what a disservice it would be to you, my dear readers!  In the face of undeniable greatness, what is one man's opinion?  I do welcome any incorrect arguments you may have concerning omissions; please submit them in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

  • Michael

    Posted 06/28/2009 by cal

    One of the most common names in the history of the world, yet there was one man who possessed it so completely that he may as well have done away with his surname. So completely that now, it will be difficult to hear that name and think of anyone else. How can it be that we’ve suddenly been thrust into the era that comes after Michael?

  • Lux Interior: 1946-2009

    Posted 02/05/2009 by cal

    Few artists have had as deep an impact on the trajectory of my musical journey as The Cramps, a group which came to a definitive end yesterday with the death of founding singer Lux Interior. Like Captain Beefheart or Frank Zappa, I was drawn to Lux in my youth for his humor and shock value, but there was also just a visceral thrill in the echoey, punkish guitars and Lux's primal howling that grabbed me in a way I couldn't compare to anything else at the time. Over time I fell in love with his abiding passion for resurrecting the demons of true rock and roll and making it something my parents could hate and fear again. His gift for writing demented, clever rockabilly songs was matched only by his need to dust off forgotten classics from the 50's and bring them to a new audience, making them his own in the process. As a singer he was a cross between Elvis and a b-movie psychotic wolfman, reverb-drenched and over the top. He brought rockabilly back from the dead in the late 70's, and his influence has kept it alive ever since. I didn't even discover the Cramps until the mid-90's, but they instantly made everything else in my collection seem timid and boring. I listened to little else for months. At the time it was as much the intoxication, horror-film imagery and sexual perversion as the punk attitude, but now I listen to The Cramps for the pure soul and raw energy that still emanates from (almost) everything they recorded. And, Lux's crazed imagination can still make me laugh. "Spiders in my eyelids and ghosts in the cheese." 'Nuff said.
    Just last year, I finally located one of my holy grails: an original vinyl copy of The Cramps' first E.P., Gravest Hits. I brought it home, stuck it on the turntable, dusted it off and put the needle on. The glorious clang of "Human Fly" rang through the house. I got halfway through "The Way I Walk" before my downstairs neighbor called. "Cal, what the hell are you doing, man?" I hope he wasn't exaggerating with his claim that his pictures were falling off the walls. I didn't have it up that loud, after all, but the destructive yelp of Lux Interior is a powerful thing. He didn't write these next couple of lines, but he sang them the way I'll always remember them, his preemptive epitaph:
    "The rock 'n roll daddy has done passed on
    but my bones will keep a' rockin' long after I'm gone"

  • ATOMIC RECORDS...R.I.P.??!?!!

    Posted 12/05/2008 by cal

    First, the Milwaukee Shakespeare Company goes belly up. Now this? What's next, Fuel Café? The Cactus Club? WMSE???

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