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This Week in Milwaukee

Nick Lowe, Def Harmonic and Iron & Wine

Oct. 7, 2010
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Thursday, Oct. 7

Nick Lowe w/ Geraint Watkins @ The Pabst Theater 8 p.m.

Elvis Costello’s cover of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” turned the song into a hit, but it was Curtis Stigers’ lesscelebrated cover of that song from the massive-selling soundtrack to The Bodyguard that earned Lowe a fortune in royalties. Perhaps because of that wealth, Lowe now works at the leisurely pace of a retiree, recording a new album every five years or so and touring when he feels like it—tonight’s show will be the songwriter’s first tour of the United States with a full band in more than a decade. Though Lowe was instrumental in transforming British pub-rock into New Wave and power-pop, he has mostly left those sounds behind on his latest albums. He now favors roots and country music.

Friday, Oct. 8

The Ragadors w/ The Wildbirds and The Delta Routine @ Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m.

Suggesting how The Black Crowes might sound if they recorded in the raw, bare-budget style of The Black Keys, Milwaukee’s The Ragadors revel in sleazy blues-rock on their debut album, blackinkyswells, dialing up the hooks and volume alike. This is down-and-out, whiskey-soaked blues—though judging from the band’s slick, tuneful choruses, the whiskey is a good deal more top-shelf than that of their Mississippi forefathers. The Ragadors share this album release show with their similarly styled peers The Wildbirds. The $10 admission includes a copy of blackinkyswells.

Faun Fables @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

Combining the sprawling, theatrical song structures of British folk with Wiccan imagery, Faun Fables leader Dawn McCarthy has been recording with her band since 1997, making her a predecessor to both the freak-folk movement and the recent boom of witch-themed folk and rock bands. The band’s output has become lighter and more accessible over the years, while still remaining true to McCarthy’s original muse. Their upcoming Light of a Vaster Dark, their latest for Drag City Records, is an eerie song cycle about magic rituals and the passage of time.

Willy Porter w/ The Carpe Diem String Quartet @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

Last spring, Mequon folk singer Willy Porter joined Columbus, Ohio’s Carpe Diem String Quartet for an intended one-off show featuring expanded arrangements of Porter’s songs, including selections from his latest album, 2009’s How to Rob a Bank. That show yielded the new album Willy Porter & Carpe Diem – Live at BoMA, so Porter and the quartet have re-teamed for several more shows to promote the

Saturday, Oct. 9

Def Harmonic w/ The Fatty Acids and Cyborg Fortress @ Bay View Brew Haus, 10 p.m.

Years before Kanye West was sampling Tears for Fears and Kid Cudi and Drake were recording rapless rap songs, Milwaukee’s Def Harmonic was weaving spaced-out, wildly experimental hip-hop records from electronic music and synthesized ’80s pop and R&B. Rappers J Todd and Lunaversol 9 reunited Def Harmonic in 2009 after several years spent working on outside projects, and tonight they mark the release of their new album, Figs, a typically odd, funky record containing some of the duo’s most confessional songs yet. Def Harmonic’s album won’t be the only one on sale at this show. The group’s label, Listening Party, will set up a market space at the show for other local record labels, including Uni-Fi, Dusty Medical and Wolf Interval, to sell their recent releases.

Bad Religion w/ Bouncing Souls and Off With Their Heads @ The Rave, 8 p.m.

In hindsight, it only makes sense that one of the most mature punk bands of their time would also be among those that aged the best. Thirty years and 15 albums into their career, Southern California punks Bad Religion still sound vital on their latest record, The Dissent of Man, a typically charged set of their signature melodic punk. This spring the group also released the concert album 30 Years Live for free download.

Widespread Panic @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.

One of the oldest staples of the American jam-music scene, Athens, Ga., rockers Widespread Panic have been playing together since the mid-’80s, well before the jam scene was the organized network it is today. Nonetheless, they found their audience quickly, the same way that today’s younger jam bands do: through relentless touring. This spring the group released its 11th studio album, the Southern-rockoriented set Dirty Side Down. (Also Sunday, Oct. 10.)

Sunday, Oct. 10

The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass @ Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 3 p.m.

The Bel Canto Chorus celebrates bluegrass in both its past and present iterations in the company’s latest program, “The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass.” Spotlighting the Bel Canto Boy Choir, the concert includes performances of folk traditionals and spirituals like “Shenandoah” and “Down by the Riverside,” as well as a full set from the contemporary area bluegrass quartet Above the Town. The program culminates in a performance of Bluegrass Mass, a classical/bluegrass hybrid piece commissioned several years ago by Minneapolis’ VocalEssence Ensemble Singers.

Tuesday, Oct. 12

JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys w/ Amy Correia @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys’ Fidelity!, the first full-length album that singer Chrissie Hynde has ever recorded outside of The Pretenders, opens with “Perfect Lover,” a song where Hynde sings, “I’ve found the perfect lover but he’s half my age/ He was learning how to stand when I was wearing my first wedding band.” You don’t need CliffsNotes to know that the 59-year-old icon is singing about her partner and collaborator JP Jones, a 32-yearold Welsh singer/songwriter. Written in Cuba, Fidelity! is a testament to their May/December relationship, and though the set’s lovey-dovey lyrics aren’t always Hynde’s most graceful, they’re certainly among her most personal, and along with Jones (himself a charismatic singer), she sells them with her trademark conviction.

Jukebox the Ghost, Elizabeth and The Catapult and Ruby Coast @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.

Like the Ben Folds Five before them, the Philadelphia piano-rock trio Jukebox the Ghost employs a mix of irreverent, quirky pop and heart-on-sleeve sentimentalism, with ample nods to Billy Joel and The Beatles. That’s not to say that they’re bound by these influences, though. On their hyperactive, hook-a-minute new sophomore album, Everything Under the Sun, the band goes some ways toward shaking those inevitable Ben Folds comparisons, dialing up the energy for a peppy set that often plays more like The Dismemberment Plan’s Emergency & I than Folds’ Rockin’ the Suburbs.

Wednesday, Oct. 13

Iron & Wine w/ Heidi Spencer @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

Iron & Wine songwriter Sam Beam has a lot more company these days. In the years since the lovely, lo-fi folk albums The Creek Drank the Cradle (2002) and Our Endless Numbered Days (2004), countless other bearded folk singers have sprouted like dandelions in May, yet few can rival the gentle grace of Beam’s easy, rootsy songs. Beam is planning a new Iron & Wine album for early 2011, but so far there’s no word on whether it will follow in the sparse mold of his early releases or the fuller folk-rock of 2007’s The Shepherd’s Dog. Iron & Wine is well paired tonight with opener Heidi Spencer, a poignant Milwaukee singer-songwriter who this year signed to the indie-rock and folk clearinghouse Bella Union records.

Agent Orange w/ The Berettas @ The Miramar Theatre, Iron & Wine 8 p.m.

One of the most popular Southern California skate-punk bands of the ’80s, Agent Orange was one of the first punk acts to draw extensively from the melodies and guitar work of surf rock—among their earliest recordings was a cover of Dick Dale’s “Misirlou.” The band enjoyed a resurgence in the ’90s, when punk bands like The Offspring sang their praises, introducing them to a younger audience, but has slowed down considerably over the last decade—they haven’t released a new studio album since 1996. They have, however, recorded a new Halloween single: “This House Is Haunted,” a fun piece of kitsch that easily could have been cut in the late ’80s.

The Temper Trap w/ Delphic and The Hundred in the Hands @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

Like so many alternative-rock groups formed around 2005, Australia’s Temper Trap began as post-punk revivalists, but they had broadened their palette considerably by the time they released their 2009 album, Conditions. The record has emerged as a modest hit, largely on the back of its shimmering single “Sweet Disposition,” a flashy, U2-styled skyscraper that has memorably appeared in commercials for (500) Days of Summer, Rhapsody.com, Diet Coke and several TV shows. Openers Delphic are touring behind one of the year’s best British rock records, Acolyte, a debut that draws from both modern and ’80s-styled dance music, with particular debt to New Order.


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