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This Week in Milwaukee

The Black Angels, Absolutely and The National

Apr. 21, 2011
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Talib Kweli @ The Rave, 8 p.m.

Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli earned his status as underground hip-hop royalty early in his career through his work with two acclaimed projects: Black Star, his collaboration with Mos Def, and Reflection Eternal, his duo with DJ Hi-Tek. With his solo albums, Kweli has made scattered pop-crossover grabs, working with producers like Kanye West and will.i.am and guests including Justin Timberlake and Norah Jones on 2007's Eardrum, but Kweli never drifts too far from his underground roots. In 2007 he rewarded his most loyal fans with the free album Liberation, a dream collaboration with oddball producer Madlib, and last year he re-teamed with Hi-Tek for the long-awaited second Reflection Eternal album, Revolutions Per Minute.

The Black Angels w/ Suuns @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

Lest there be any question about The Black Angels' love for The Velvet Underground, the Austin, Texas, sextet not only named itself after the Velvet's "Black Angel's Death Song," but also styled its logo after an iconic image of the Velvet's one-time singer Nico. The Black Angels were thusly lumped in with other VU revivalists like Brian Jonestown Massacre and Spacemen 3, but albums like 2008's Directions to See a Ghost and the recent Phosphene Dream stand out for their sheer commitment to traditional psychedelic rock. From the reverb-heavy production to the droning organ, those albums often sound like they were recorded in a black-lit basement during the Vietnam War.


Bill Burr @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

Taking cues from shock comedians George Carlin and Richard Pryor, Bill Burr navigates divisive racial topics, political controversies and other hot-button issues in his stand-up routines. Burr's 2004 appearances on Comedy Central's "Chappelle's Show" paved the way for his "One Night Stand" special on HBO, multiple performances on late-night talk shows and a role in the film Date Night. In 2007, Burr began producing Monday Morning Podcast, a weekly hour-long podcast that puts his cringe humor to use on sports, politics and current events.

Celebrate Earth Day @ Harley-Davidson Museum Riverwalk, 5-7 p.m.

A parade of environmentally minded puppets and performances from musicians Tim Maher and Kristina Paris are among the draws at this

two-hour Earth Day program on the Harley- Davidson Museum grounds at Sixth and Canal streets. Congresswoman Gwen Moore will give an opening address, followed by speeches by Dr.

Francisco Enriquez, who will address environmental justice, and Butterfly Barb Agnew and Carrie Hennessy, who will speak about habitat protection.

The Juan MacLean w/ Mr. Horror and DoubleDrop @ Crisp Pizza Bar and Lounge, 9 p.m.

The Juan MacLean beat-maker John MacLean came to dance music relatively late in life, after spending the '90s with the experimental punk band Six Finger Satellite, but he's since gone on to prove himself to be one of electronic music's most staunch traditionalists, recording studied throwbacks to disco and late-'80s house without the hint of winking irony that his DFA Records affiliation might suggest. Last year MacLean burnished his house credentials with a mix for the !K7 DJ- Kicks series, which proved him as versed in modern dance music as the classics. He plays a DJ set tonight.


Absolutely w/ Stock Options, Sunday Flood and Control @ Cactus Club, 9:30 p.m.

The Milwaukee trio Absolutely isn't beholden to any lone form of punk. Instead, the group cribs generously from melodic post-hardcore, spry math-rock, combustible emo, riffheavy stoner rock and winking grunge. That may read like a mess on paper, but the group's eagerness to follow all these sounds wherever they may lead makes their debut album, Learns to Love Mistakes, one of this year's most exhilarating punk records, local or otherwise. The band is streaming the Shane Hochstetler-produced album on its Bandcamp site in advance of a vinyl release later this spring.

Chris Cornell w/ William Elliott Whitmore @ The Pabst Theater, 9 p.m.

Perhaps no 2009 album was more widely panned than Chris Cornell's Scream, which paired the sometimes Soundgarden frontman with Top 40 hitmaker Timbaland—a bold stylistic risk that never stopped to consider how terribly Cornell's pained grunts and cries clashed with Timbaland's busy electro-clatter. Cornell has wisely launched a back-to-basics push since that debacle, reuniting with Soundgarden and touring solo acoustic behind career-spanning sets that play up Soundgarden and Audioslave favorites over recent missteps.

End-of-Season Garage Sale @ Milwaukee Repertory Theater, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

In the market for a wooden-locker set from the Milwaukee Repertory Theater's production of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, or do you think the Victorian wardrobe from the company's The Government Inspector would be the perfect finish to your bedroom set? The Rep will be selling off those collectibles, as well as troves of clothes, costumes, furniture and assorted other odds and ends from its recent productions at its annual End-of- Season Garage Sale.


Jonathan Coulton w/ Paul and Storm @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

A geek-chic computer programmer who moonlights as a folk artist, 40-year-old Jonathan Coulton uses his Yale education to craft odes to science fiction, technology and general nerd culture. Similar to fellow musical comedians Flight of the Conchords, Coulton uses a variety of stringed instruments to perform songs like his tender acoustic version of Sir Mix- A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" with banjos, ukuleles or mandolins. Since his debut album Smoking Monkey in 2003, Coulton has made appearances on NPR and "The Daily Show" and released seven more albums, including his latest, Artificial Heart.


Foals w/ Freelance Whales and The Naked and Famous @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

British indie-rockers Foals haven't made nearly as much of an impression stateside as they have in their native land, where the typically overzealous British music press gave them the redcarpet treatment even before they released their 2008 debut album, Antidotes. On their 2010 sophomore album, Total Life Forever, Foals prove themselves one of the rare British buzz bands that really deserves a larger American audience. It's a savvy record, building on the syncopated, half-danceable post-punk of their debut with moodier atmospherics and sharper songs that unfold at a deliberate pace.


The National w/ The Pains of Being Pure at Heart @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.

For years The National was one of indie-rock's most infamous also-rans, the band that slipped under the radar of critics and listeners alike, but in 2007, when the group released its acclaimed album Boxer, the masses began to take notice. This year's follow-up, High Violet, arrived amid a flurry of press that put the band on the cover of almost every magazine of note, and the record lived up to the buzz: It's another lovingly crafted slab of headphone-friendly melancholy. Openers The Pains of Being Pure at Heart aren't nearly as wistful. The New York indie-pop band beefed up the cuddly lo-fi guitar-pop of their self-titled 2009 debut on this year's Belong, a bigger, bolder album recorded with Smashing Pumpkins producers Flood and Alan Moulder.


Chris Duarte Group w/ Serious Trouble @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

A Texas blues-rock prodigy who's always seemed comfortable with the Stevie Ray Vaughan comparisons he's invited since his 1994 breakthrough, Texas Sugar/Strat Magik, Chris Duarte has been particularly prolific recently, recording five albums in as many years. His latest, 2010's Infinite Energy, recorded with his power trio, is a classic Duarte album, with long, 12-bar blues jams, impressive guitar wizardry and sizzling grooves from his rhythm section.


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