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Jul. 10 - Jul. 16

This Week in Milwaukee

Jul. 10, 2008
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Thursday, July 10

Blackberry Smoke @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

While diverse stylistic range is often the hallmark of profound musical study, sometimes there’s something equally admirable about cornering and perfecting a specific niche. That’s the path taken by Atlanta’s Blackberry Smoke, who’ve wholeheartedly devoted themselves to the cause of Southern rock. While the standard ’70s guitar licks still prevail, Blackberry Smoke retains a heavy dose of their country-and-western roots, setting them apart from your typical “Free Bird” fare.

Friday, July 11

Missy Higgins @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

Endlessly compared to Sarah McLachlan and Vanessa Carlton because, well, she sounds an awful lot like both of those artists, Missy Higgins is a bona fide star in her native Australia, where she’s charted regularly since her next-big-thing emergence five years ago. Her latest album, On A Clear Night, places less emphasis on gentle piano-pop in favor of more tumultuous (but still pretty), “Grey’s Anatomy”-ready guitar pop. Singer-songwriters Eric Hutchinson and Julie Moffitt open.


Paul Cebar’s Tomorrow Sound @ Bastille Days, 11:45 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Who better to headline Friday night of Milwaukee’s annual four-day, French-cul ture celebration than Paul Cebar, the man who, with his Milwaukeeans, made danceable, New Orleans-styled R&B a staple of our city’s music scene? Tonight Cebar performs with his new outfit, Tomorrow Sound—essentially a rechristened version of the Milwaukeeans.

The Pistols at Dawn @ The Borg Ward Collective, 7 p.m.

As we creep into the dog days of summer, it seems only fitting to score the season with the upbeat organ work and whammy bar fades of authentic surf rock. Madison’s The Pistols At Dawn, influenced as much by Nintendo start screens as The Ventures, seem more than up to the task of bringing a fresh take on a relatively abandoned genre. They don’t stray far from convention, but it’s all for the best. Milwaukee’s Squidbotz, all synth bloops and post-Tom Morello licks, open the show, along with King’s Horses and The GC Love Band.

Saturday, July 12

Hulot & NAOTA w/ D.A. and the Madpack @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.

Electronic artists Hulot & NAOTA’s affinities for nostalgic, Amon Tobin jazz smoothness appear to make them strange bedfellows with openers D.A. and the Madpack’s circa-Manfred Mann guitar work and Talking Heads vocals. But all these electronic artists find vaguely common ground in informed, respectful throwbacks to older works and genres. In that sense, the spirit of Black Flag appears alive and well on songs like D.A.’s “Critical Miss,” whereas NAOTA seems more comfortable weaving ’30s-style clarinet jazz and occasionally heavily distorted guitar into spacey melodies.

3 Doors Down w/ Staind and Hinder @ Marcus Amphitheater, 6:30 p.m.

Like their phonetically similar post-grunge peers, Three Days Grace, 3 Doors Down write soundtrack-ready, doom-and-gloom scorchers about matters of life-and-death urgency. It’s a profitable formula, and all their albums since their 2000 hit single “Kryptonite” have charted reliably. It’s been a while since Staind released their signature 2001 single, but since that hit, the one-time Fred Durst protgs have continued their shift away from alt-metal and toward Alice in Chains-styled buzz ballads. Openers Hinder, meanwhile, scored a No. 1 single of their own in 2006 with “Lips of an Angel,” a power ballad that would make Aerosmith jealous.

Slippery Slopes w/ Johnny and the Limelites’ Pizza Patrol and Plexi 3 @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 10 p.m.

Orlando, Fla., group Slippery Slopes plays what can best be described as a surf-punk hybrid—but the punk in question is relatively light by contemporary standards—of the user-friendly Stooges brand (their lead singer can often sound like a dead ringer for Iggy). Nevertheless, their nostalgic approach is comfortably reminiscent of the days when punk wasn’t necessarily defined by simple, aggressive song structure and was free to be fun and melodic. Midwest retro-pop reps Johnny & the Limelites’ Pizza Patrol open along with Milwaukee’s Plexi 3.
Monday, July 14

Bullet For My Valentine @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.

Lord help us: The emo kids are discovering ’80s hair metal. It’s tough to say whether their newfound interest stems from a genuine appreciation of the much maligned genre or from ironic laughs at the expense of the primed rockers of yore, but like their fellow South Wales band Funeral for a Friend, Bullet for My Valentine makes a strong case that Reagan-era metal was smarter than music historians give it credit for. Bleeding Through and Cancer Bats open.

Tuesday, July 15

Kittie w/ Dope @ The Rave, 8 p.m.

Kittie earned considerable press in the late-’90s for the obvious novelty factor: They were four cute women playing nu-metal, a genre dominated by chest-beating men. The quartet has improved over the years, softening its sound on the 2007 release Funeral For Yesterday to rely more on melodic, Veruca Salt-ish vocals and less on primal grunts—though, to be sure, the guitars still grind away angrily in deference to their metal roots. New York industrial institution Dope, the type of testosterone outlet that makes Kittie such a curiosity, opens.

Wednesday, July 16

Son Ambulance w/ Jennifer O’Connor, Fable & The World Flat @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.

Son Ambulance is the brainchild of one-time Bright Eyes sideman Joe Knapp, who employs similar melancholic, electro-beat backdrops in his own somber tunes, but has begun to distinguish himself from his more-famous Omaha, Neb., collaborator. Soft-strummed songs like “Horizons,” off the group’s latest album, Someone Else’s Dj Vu, touch on wistful, Shins-fashioned indie-pop, avoiding the emotional catharsis of vintage Conor Oberst. Plenty of Saddle Creek mainstays lent a hand to the record, including members of The Faint and Tilly and the Wall, and ubiquitous producer Mike Mogis.


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