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This Week in Milwaukee: April 10 - 17

Apr. 9, 2014
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Phantogram @ The Pabst Theater, April 11

Thursday, April 10

The Pines w/ Chicago Farmer @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

The men of The Pines have a humble appearance and hushed sound: The wavering vocals of Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt dance with melancholy banjo and slide guitar melodies, while a subtle synth or cello often haunts the background. However, the band can take pride in their rare beginnings. Ramsey and Huckfelt, both from Iowa, began playing together while staying in the same neighborhood in Arizona. After settling down in Minneapolis, they added Ramsey’s brother Alex on keyboards, drummer J.T. Bates, bassist James Buckley and banjo player Michael Rossetto. The group quickly gained acclaim and was signed to Red House Records in 2007. That year, they released their debut album, Sparrows in the Bell. The group’s latest, the dusky Dark So Gold, arrived in 2012.


Keb’ Mo’ w/ Andrea Lucero @ The Pabst Theater, 6:30 p.m.

Keb’ Mo’ has won three Grammys for Best Contemporary Blues Album, which is ironic, since “contemporary” isn’t the first word that comes to mind to describe many of Mo’s recordings. He performs antique backwoods blues fashioned after legends like Robert Johnson, a man he emulates so precisely that he even depicted him in the 1998 documentary Can’t You Hear the Wind Howl? His latest album, 2011’s The Reflection, is one of his more expansive efforts, featuring collaborations with India.Arie, Dave Koz and Vince Gill, but for this show Mo’ will perform solo.


Loretta Lynn @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.

Loretta Lynn began her recording career in the early ’60s, an era when country music’s few female stars found success primarily by reaching out to crossover audiences. “At the time there weren’t really any woman doing country music except for Kitty Wells,” Lynn recalled in an interview with the Shepherd a few years ago. “Patsy Cline was going down the middle of the road, doing pop and country, and Wanda Jackson was in the middle of the road, too.” Lynn preferred hard-edged, meat-and-potatoes honky-tonk to glamorous crossover ballads, and it was in part because of that adherence to genre orthodoxy that she was able to take songwriting risks none of her peers dared. Using the traditional country sound to challenge traditional country values, she emerged as the genre’s first feminist, not only standing up to her husband on hits like “Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” but also tackling elephant-in-the-room social issues like birth control and the stigma facing divorced women. (Also Friday, April 11.)


Friday, April 11

Phantogram w/ TEEN @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.

Alternative rock is saturated with synth-pop bands right now, most of them offering plenty in the way of pleasant, candy-colored spectacle but little in the way of substance or originality. The New York duo Phantogram, however, offers a genuinely unique take on the sound, combining the eerie mystique of Blonde Redhead, the grand shoegaze of M83 and the sensual charge of Serge Gainsbourg with bold, kinetic hip-hop loops of the sort Pete Rock, J Dilla and Madlib pioneered. It’s that generous dose of hip-hop that truly makes the group stand out on their latest album, Voices, which includes their hard-thumping single “Fall in Love.”


Young Scooter @ The Eight, 8:30 p.m.

Of all the many talented Atlanta misfits signed to Gucci Mane’s Brick Squad Records, Young Scooter is the one who most closely mirrors Gucci’s money-minded street rhymes. Sometimes that resemblance has been a detriment, but on recent mixtapes Scooter has sounded less like Gucci’s lesser copy and more like his own presence as he’s honed his own style of lean, minimalist storytelling. On last year’s breakthrough Street Lottery and this year’s solid sequel Street Lottery 2, he’s paired his crisp, bare-bones wordplay with sticky, simple hooks that have done his mentor proud. Young Scooter returns to Milwaukee this weekend for this show at The Eight (formerly 618 Live on Water).


Saturday, April 12

The Living Statues @ Exclusive Company (Farwell Avenue), 7 p.m.

The early 2000s garage rock revival burned fast and bright. Given the insane amount of press the scene attracted, it wasn’t a wonder that the public quickly tired of bands with “The” in their names and leather jackets on their scrawny frames, but a decade later, it’s impressive how well so many albums from that era have held up. The itchy, slickly produced rock ’n’ roll of revival bands like The Strokes and The Exploding Hearts proves a fruitful muse for Milwaukee’s The Living Statues, who release their debut Knockin’ EP at this Exclusive Company performance.


Tweed Funk @ Milwaukee Beer Bistro, 8 p.m.

The 2013 WAMI nominations were kind to Tweed Funk. The punchy Milwaukee boogie-blues band was recognized in four categories and took home awards for Male Vocalist (for Joseph “Smokey” Holman) and Brass/Reeds Player (for Kevin Klemme). A protégé of Curtis Mayfield in the early ’70s, Holman is at the heart of the band’s sound, and his voice has lost none of its character with age—if anything, it has only grown smoother. Under his lead last year the group was busier than ever, playing nearly 70 shows, and this year looks to be similarly busy: At this free show they’ll celebrate the release of their latest album, First Name Lucky.


Sunday, April 13

The Men w/ Midnight Reruns and Absolutely @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.

Few bands have evolved as rapidly and as frequently as Brooklyn rockers The Men, who in a few short years have metamorphosed from a wild, caustic punk group on 2010’s Immaculada and 2011’s Leave Home to a more populist rock sound on 2012’s breakout Open Your Heart and then moved on to homey, Basement Tapes-esque Americana on 2013’s New Moon. That’s a pace no group can sustain for too long, and The Men have promised they’ll slow down soon, but first they released another new record this year, Tomorrow’s Hits, a Rolling Stones-inspired disc that flirts with decidedly un-punk influences like Tom Petty, Bob Seger and Creedence Clearwater Revival.


Monday, April 14

Milwaukee Day: Decibully w/ Juniper Tar and Whips @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.

Milwaukee Day is one of the city’s newer traditions, founded a few years ago after organizers realized that the date April 14 (4/14) shares the same digits as Milwaukee’s area code (414). Ever since, they’ve organized a host of parties around the city each April 14, and for this year’s celebration they’ve lined up something truly special: the reunion of one of the city’s most visionary indie-rock bands, Decibully, which quietly called it quits in 2011 as members moved on to new cities and new projects. Decibully will share the show with folk-rockers Juniper Tar, who are also reuniting after a brief hiatus, and rockers Whips, a group featuring past and present members of Red Knife Lottery, Hot Coffin and Call Me Lightning. In between sets, expect variety and comedy routines from Mondo Lucha, The Midnite Show and Tim Higgins and an appearance from the Brew City Bruisers Roller Derby girls.


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