words by Cal Roach
Welcome to December, and (naturally) 50-degree weather! Surely it won’t last long, but just think: normally you’d be bundled into your heaviest winter coat to venture outside by this time, but we’ve barely had to scrape any car windows yet! It’s looking like another virtually snowless winter, but just in case, you’d better take this opportunity to get out on the town without mussing your hair up under a hat. There’s really no let-up in great shows happening so somebody must’ve anticipated this, or maybe it’s just that the great music never lets up in Milwaukee any more? Read on for some recommended events for the coming week…
Plenty of bands have latched onto the 80s synth-pop revival craze, but most of them haven’t done so with such commitment and style as Milwaukee’s own Canopies. Their untitled debut EP (or maybe its title is “[EP]?” We’re not sure…) was one of the biggest head-turners of last year, and the band will be appearing tonight (Friday) with a killer lineup of keyboard-wielding weirdos tonight at Cactus Club. Surely you’ve heard that the one-woman gothic/electronic machine known as Stacian just put out a new record? Yep, it’s called Songs For Cadets and you really need to hear it ASAP; thank goodness for BBandcamp! She will be tearing up the dancefloor along with Canopies and fellow spastic synth-poppers Faux Fir, who will surely release a full-length album one of these days but for now there’s the new-ish “Windings” single complete with remixes for which you may pay what you wish at their (you guessed it) Bandcamp page.
Also tonight at the Riverwest Public House, you’re advised to BRING EARPLUGS for one of those shows where you’ll be able to feel the feedback and guitar effects as much as hear them. Yep, it’s Brief Candles, which we keep saying is one of the best live bands in town, and we mean it every time. And yeah, it’s largely because they have such awesome songs, particularly on last year’s Fractured Days album, which you must pick up if you haven’t already. Joining them will be a host of similarly noisy poppy artists like Minneapolis’s Gospel Gossip, Chicago’s Panda Riot, and another local band, Cousins. Plus, WMSE’s very own Erik Void will be providing the tunes while the bands tear down and set up, which is appropriate, duh.
Saturday marks the second annual Hover Craft event, the best place to get some holiday shopping done this weekend and support your community artists-n-craftspeople. Head over to Sweet Water Organics in Bay View from noon to six and cut out the middle man between you and the folks who make cool stuff right here in Milwaukee, everything from jewelry to holiday cards and of course, food and beer. Local DJs will be spinning tunes, and the fun doesn’t end at 6; there’s a free after party happening at Tonic Tavern starting at 9! Get down to the sweet sounds of The Sugar Stems (you’ll be shocked to learn that they have a new album coming out too, another catchy burst of super poppy punkish rock called Can’t Wait), as well as Phylums, Static Eyes, and The Olives, all home-grown talent. Click here for all the details about Hover Craft, and here for the after party info.
Can you tell it’s been a banner year in local recorded music (as you’re no doubt prepared to hear all about for the next month or so–it’s LIST SEASON!)? But few Milwaukee releases have been as highly anticipated as the new High Feather from The Championship. Following a similar path as cohorts Juniper Tar, the band has evolved from the alt-country sound that was popular a decade or so ago into a full-fledged atmospheric folk rock band, and the new album is sure to live up to most fans’ expectations or surpass them. Key factor: Joe Crockett’s gravelly baritone is as strong as ever. The release party for the record is Saturday night at Cactus Club, and will also feature another bunch of local folkies, Blessed Feathers, who also happen to have just released a fantastic new EP, Peaceful Beasts In An Ocean Of Weeds. Hey, you could pick ‘em both up at this show! Yep, we think that’s what you should definitely do, if you go.
Whoops, this must be the official Cactus Club/Riverwest Public House weekend, ‘cause the former (read: NEW AND IMPROVED) Riverwest Commons also has a great show going on Saturday. The latest folk-rock troubadours gaining momentum out of Eau Claire, The Daredevil Christopher Wright have (like everyone else we know) released a new album this year, The Nature Of Things, and it’s already getting played on NPR and stuff, so hey, catch ‘em while they’re hot! Plus, Milwaukee’s own Hello Death will be playing as well; these four are busy prepping their own debut record for early 2013. Also playing: Madison’s Ida Jo.
Mad Planet is known for dancing, even if its interior may not immediately appear conducive to such an atmosphere, but trust us; it must be something in the air, which is also so much sweeter now that you can’t smoke in there! Anyway, get those particular shoes on in which you like to dance, and cruise up there on Saturday night if you’re the type who likes that familiar blend of jazz, funk and rock and roll improvisation that some folks like to call the jam band genre. Minneapolis’s Roster McCabe fits the bill with a pretty typical overall sound; the only way to set oneself apart from the pack in this crowded field is with notable spontaneous creativity, and this band has the knack. It’s easy to get a bunch of guys on a stage and noodle around aimlessly at once, but to get that racket to turn into a meaningful new creation is hard, and McCabe occasionally pulls it off.
Next Tuesday, one of the city’s most high-profile (and busiest) bands will be playing an intimate headlining slot at Mad Planet. Yep, it’s Jaill, who upstaged the big name act last weekend, ran away with a song of the year award (“Waste A Lot Of Things”) after playing Turner Hall again on Wednesday, and might have written the single sweetest guitar riff we’ve heard all year (“Perfect Ten”). If this all suggests you should probably pick up the band’s new Traps album, well, good! We’re confident they’ll have some for sale at this show, and also confident the show will be killer, super catchy psychedelic rock at its finest, and might even feature some brand new material if last weekend’s set was any indication. Also playing: John Wesley Coleman III.