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This Week in Milwaukee

Jan. 13, 2011
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Thursday, Jan. 13

James McMurtry w/ Jim Hoehn @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

Texas roots-rocker James McMurtry is the son of an English-professor mother and a novelist father (Lonesome Dove author Larry McMurtry), so it’s no surprise that a literary streak runs through his songs, which often play like dispatches from a country at war with itself. John Mellencamp helped McMurtry get his foot in the door, producing the songwriter’s 1989 Columbia Records debut, Too Long in the Wasteland, but McMurtry’s subsequent albums have been much more political than that debut, particularly his most recent ones, 2005’s Childish Things and 2008’s Just Us Kids, both of James McMurtry which wallow in Bush-era despair.

Sharking Hour w/ Shoot Down the Moon and Jay Flash @ Mad Planet, 8 p.m.

The Milwaukee group Sharking Hour considerably fleshed out their sound on their 2010 sophomore album, Telemetry, channeling the back-to-basics songwriting of early alt-country, the frayed rock ’n’ roll of The Replacements and the earthy, lived-in mood of The Feelies’ mid-period records. Their first release as a full-piece band, following their 2009 debut, North of Nippon, which they recorded as a duo, Telemetry benefits from a live, in-studio sound that better captures the spirit of their concerts.

Friday, Jan. 14

So So Radio w/ Boy Blue @ Murray Cultural Center, 7 p.m.

Steady gigging around the region helped the Janesville-bred power-pop trio So So Radio to land a great slot opening for The Hold Steady at last month’s New Year’s Eve show at the Riverside Theater. This weekend the group follows up that gig with a pair of Milwaukee release shows behind their debut album, Dustcovers, a Big Star-inspired set of pop-rock with frequent nods to Okkervil River’s dramatic Americana. Tonight’s all-ages show at the Murray Cultural Center, 2586 N. Murray Ave., pairs them with openers Boy Blue. They’ll split Saturday’s 21-plus bill at Mad Planet with the synthloving Milwaukee alternative trio The New Loud.

The Red River w/ Jackraasch and Slow Walker @ Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m.

To judge from their latest album, the aptly titled Little Songs About the Big Picture, the Portland, Ore. indie-pop band The Red River’s record collection begins at about 1996 and ends at about 2004. Lo-fi but not unambitious, the group pays homage to heyday indie-rock, showing particular reverence for the pocket symphonies of Elephant 6 acts like Neutral Milk Hotel on bittersweet, banjo-, string- and brass-laced ditties about the trivialities of daily life and what it all means.

Saturday, Jan. 15

Kathleen Madigan @ Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.

In a comedy scene that heavily favors performers who are young, loud, crass, male or ideally all of the above, Missouri stand-up Kathleen Madigan has managed to build a profi le without being any of those things: She’s a low-key, middle-aged woman with an understated, conversational style. Frequent appearances on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” have helped her build an audience, as have dual stints on “Last Comic Standing,” where she fi rst competed in 2004 before returning as a talent scout.

S. Carey w/ Conrad Plymouth @ Club Garibaldi, 10 p.m.

Eau Claire drummer S. Carey parlayed his fandom of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago into a gig touring with that group. Between tours over the course of two years, Carey pieced together the songs that would make up his 2010 solo album, All We Grow. The album’s intricately composed, atmospheric folk is very much in the spirit of band mate Justin Vernon’s work, though where Vernon prefers raw emotion, Carey leans on regal, fluttering arrangements that draw from his classical training. Tonight Carey headlines the second of two anniversary shows for the local music blog Muzzle of Bees, supported by Milwaukee folk-rockers Conrad Plymouth, a group with its own roots in the Eau Claire music scene.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals w/ Chamberlin @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

With her obvious reverence for ’70s classic rock, 20-something Vermont musician Grace Potter is a terrifically magnetic stage presence who exudes confidence far beyond her years, whether she’s pounding on her organ or wailing away on her Flying V guitar. After inviting countless Janis Joplin comparisons, last year Potter and her band, the Nocturnals, parlayed their frequent appearances at outdoor blues, rock and jam-oriented music festivals like Bonnaroo into significant album sales, debuting at No. 20 on the Billboard charts with their self-titled third album, their most high-profile yet.

Tuesday, Jan. 18

Toxic Holocaust w/ Burning Sons and Architects of the Aftermath @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.

For the last decade, Portland, Ore., thrash-metal enthusiast Joel Grind has run his band Toxic Holocaust as something of a solo project, self-recording most of his albums alone and hiring ringers to back him on the road. Grind’s latest album for Relapse Records is 2008’s An Overdose of Death, a typically morbid homage to early Slayer and Discharge with myriad songs about widespread death. Among the representative song titles: “March From Hell,” “Endless Armageddon,” “Feedback, Blood & Distortion” and “City of a Million Graves.” The band is well paired on this bill with Milwaukee speed-punk veterans Burning Sons and local metal purists Architects of the Aftermath.

MELT @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.

This month the experimental Milwaukee electronica artist The Demix began curating MELT, a weekly Tuesday night music series at Mad Planet. Tonight’s sophomore installment of the series gives a sense of how eclectic each week promises to be. Headlining the bill is the prog-influenced lounge band Lovanova, which will be supported by intelligent dance music enthusiast RichDad, the electronic DJ Megan Minya and the remix artist Boost. The night will also include a drum and bass battle.


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