This Week in Milwaukee: May 22-28
Friday, May 23
Future w/ Rico Love and Que @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Future’s 2012 major label debut Pluto turned out to be one of the most memorable rap albums of that year, not so much because of its bangers—though the album did have its share of those—but because of its ballads. The Atlanta rapper scored several hits with his emotional love songs, inspiring dozens of imitators who have adopted his unmistakable croon, but on his new sophomore album Honest, he opts against repeating himself. Though the record has a few tender moments, it’s a harder, faster and all around more conventional rap album than its predecessor. That’s not to say it wants for inspiration, though. “Move That Dope” unites the rapper with guests Pharrell, Pusha T and Casino over one of producer Mike Will Made It’s most insidious beats ever, while the playful “Benz Friendz (Whatchutola)” joins Future with André 3000 on a track that keeps piling one delirious hook on top of another.
Naomi Marie w/ Ugly Brothers and Outside Lions @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Singer-songwriter Naomi Marie relocated from her native Minnesota for Kenosha following the release of her debut EP, 2011’s Four Miles to Story City, a catchy little collection of plaintive folk-pop and brazen piano ballads. After several years of kicking around the southeast Wisconsin music scene, this month she’ll release her first full length, Primary Colors, which she recorded at Kenosha’s Skies Fall Studios over a half year with some help from money she raised on Kickstarter. She shares this bill with Milwaukee’s Ugly Brothers, a group formed by Green Bay siblings Palmer and Alex Shah, fellow transplants to the Milwaukee music scene. Since relocating here, the brothers have expanded the group, adding members to flesh out their ever-prettier hybrid of folk, Delta blues and jazz.
Saturday, May 24
Two Cow Garage w/ Frank Says Fuck It @ Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m.
With his kinda-sorta alt-country band Two Cow Garage, singer-songwriter Micah Schnabel explores the louder end of roots music, drawing inspiration as much from ’80s and ’90s college rock and grunge as traditional country troubadours. The group’s recent albums often sound like particularly tough Soul Asylum or Replacements records. The band can thank its fans for its latest album, The Death Of The Self-Preservation Society, which was released last fall. They helped fund the record, raising more than $16,000 for its recording and release on the site IndieGoGo.
Michael Jackson vs. Prince Dance Party @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.
This month Epic Records released a new Michael Jackson album, Xscape, and to the surprise of anybody who heard the singer’s first posthumous album, 2010’s unlovable Michael, it’s actually really good. That’s because unlike Michael, which was cobbled together from the singer’s late-life leftovers, Xscape compiles choice unfinished tracks from Jackson’s ’80s and ’90s prime. It’s a bright, enthusiastic listen that, if not nearly on par with the singer’s classics, offers a welcome reminder of Jackson’s singular brilliance. Meanwhile, in another testament to the singer’s enduring popularity, Milwaukee’s Mad Planet will host this dance party pitting Jackson’s hits against singles from the other great R&B/rock/pop crossover figure of the ’80s, Prince. DJs Frank Straka and Kid Millions will man the tables.
Failure @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
The Los Angeles trio Failure was one of the countless casualties of the alternative era, a band that by all measures should have been huge but got lost in a sea of bands all vying for modern-rock airplay. They certainly had the right sound: a rich, textured spin on Nirvana’s feedback-heavy rock. They earned a cult following and scored some prime tour dates opening for Tool and playing Lollapalooza, but they disbanded in 1997 after never quite finding the success they sought. This year, however, they reunited, picking up right where they left off with yet another tour opening for Tool and, more recently, the news that they’re working on a new studio album. If all goes will it should come out in 2015.
Nashville Skyline Revisited @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 9 p.m.
For his ninth album, 1969’s Nashville Skyline, Bob Dylan inched further away from his signature folk to record the purest, most perfect country album of his career, a 10-track wonder that captured him at the peak of his songwriting power. In honor of the singer’s 73rd birthday, a host of Milwaukee musicians who were inspired by Dylan will perform that record in its entirety for this benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association. The lineup includes John Sieger, Peter Roller, Zachary Pluer, Matthew Davies, Alex Ballard and The Blinding Lights.
Sunday, May 25
The Championship w/ Carter Hulsy @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
The Championship are survivors. Over their decade together, they’ve endured lineup changes and hiatuses, but through it all they’ve continued to return, in some form or another, with wonderful new music. Their latest release is 2012’s High Feather, a late-night record that downplays the My Morning Jacket-esque country of the group’s early efforts for a beautifully hazy dream sound with shades of R.E.M. and Bruce Springsteen at his most melancholy. For this bill, the band is joined by Carter Hulsey, a poignant folk songwriter from tiny Joplin, Mo.