words by Cal Roach
The year’s almost over with; are you getting your top ten list ready? 2012 has been a humdinger of a year for music, both local and worldwide, which makes that whole list-making process even tougher; you feel bad for all the great stuff you leave out! In case you’re still trying to narrow things down, there are some definite contenders playing out in Milwaukee in the coming weeks, particularly on the local scene. Brace yourself for Riverwest Fest coming up in a couple weeks–the lineup is incredible–and in the meantime, here are a few suggestions for what to do over the coming week.
We do so like to tout new releases by Milwaukee bands, don’t we? And it’s been a gosh darn busy year for that, but whatever you do, don’t forget to check out the new one by Catacombz, called Mother Tongue 2. You can get the digital version at their Bandcamp page (where else??) or if you’re stubbornly old-fashioned in an inconvenient sort of way, pick up the cassette tonight (Friday) when they play Linneman’s. Heck, even if you’re not interested in buying the album, go to this show; Catacombz are incredible live, a pulsing, throbbing wall of guitars and noise that’s loud and ridiculously danceable. They make up the middle of the lineup headlined by Drag City duo Blues Control: expect guitar and drums and singing, everything from folky to proggy to garage-y (oh, and we interviewed them too!). Opening the show will be Appleton’s Technicolor Teeth, and if you haven’t checked out this band’s latest album (Bandcamp! Click the band name!) you obviously haven’t been keeping up on Linky McLinkster very diligently; shame on you.
A mere block away at Circle A Café, you have another option for a raucous good time tonight: Samson (You guys all remember that gorilla named Samson who used to live at the Milwaukee County Zoo, right? The band is named after him, FYI) will bring its blustery brand of Brew-City punk to the club’s ever-popular “Alive At Eight” series (which means, seriously, don’t be late). Joining Samson will be The Riverwest Aces, and let’s just say you can’t possibly consider yourself a true Riverwesterner until you’ve seen these guys live. We’re pretty sure this is as close as you can get anywhere on the planet in modern times to what it might’ve been like to see Hank Williams live; throw in a generous dose of raunchy rock and roll/rockabilly and you’ll realize that what was cutting edge in the early 50s can still sound fresh today when it’s done properly.
Okay, we admit it: of Montreal sucked last time through Milwaukee. But it might just have been that sub-par Skeletal Lamping album, or the fact that the band is usually so good live (or at least strange enough to be worth seeing), or that opener Janelle Monáe blew them off the stage, that that particular show fell short. Luckily, the band’s new album, Paralytic Stalks, is at least somewhat of a return to form, and hopefully Kevin Barnes realizes he owes us one. We’re not saying we demand live horses onstage, or heck, any props whatsoever; sometimes of Montreal is best when they just get out there and play rock and roll. The band is armed with a bunch of killer new tunes and something to prove, so we’re thinking this might turn out well for those in attendance at Turner Hall Ballroom Saturday night. Also playing: Wild Belle and Foxygen.
What do you think of when you hear (or read) the name “El Vez?” Mexican Elvis impersonator, yes, but did you know the guy (Robert Lopez, to be accurate) writes his own tunes too? And they’re not bad, believe it or not, and his particular take on the music of The King is actually more appropriate for the term “tribute” than most such acts, although there will of course be some lampooning going on as well. It’s “Mexmas” time (didn’t ya know?), so this will be a holiday-themed show, complete with the Lovely Elvettes and plenty of goofy skits and banter and costume changes. We’re gonna go out on a limb and predict you will hear some songs from his album Sno-Way José. Hey, you’re not supposed to take the holidays so seriously; this could be your perfect breather to take your mind off shopping and family stress, so take advantage (Monday night, Turner Hall Ballroom).
Speaking of holidays, the ever-popular Beer And A Movie (BAAM) series continues on Tuesday with everyone’s favorite Christmas film, Bad Santa. Okay, it might not be everyone’s favorite; maybe it’s not even Billy Bob Thornton’s favorite, but as far as Christmas movies to watch at Turner Hall Ballroom whilst drinking beer, it’s tough to beat. For one thing, there’s a lot of drinking going on in the movie. For another thing, there’s quite a bit of foul language, so you won’t feel out of place when you start slurring your F-bombs, and there won’t be any little kids around like at your family holiday dinner so you needn’t feel guilty, either. Billy Bob may have given up on that whole serious-actor thing he had going back when he made Sling Blade and whatnot, but he’s always fun to watch and this flick is a clever and, believe it or not, occasionally heartwarming tale.
Speaking of people named “Thornton,” Kool Keith must have had a swell time when he played Mad Planet in January, because he’s coming back there on Thursday! The man behind aliases Dr. Doom, Black Elvis and, most prominently, Dr. Octagon, will make his triumphant return to Milwaukee and likely bring a substantial wardrobe and collection of props to represent his various personas. We probably don’t need to tell you this, but his first solo album, Dr. Octagonecologyst, is one of the greatest rap records ever; the trio of Keith, producer Dan The Automator and DJ QBert created an insane burst of surreal and hilarious tracks unlike anything that had come before (don’t say “horrorcore…” or, what the heck, go ahead; Keith is the rare artist who actually owns up to these silly genre tags). Rest assured, we’re talking about a living legend here; don’t miss out.