Krol Show

Now signed to Merge Records, Milwaukee area native Mike Krol is poised for a big year. His headlining tour begins Wednesday at Cactus Club. Plus: Soul Low, Mondo Lucha and more.

Mike Krol. Photo by George Baier.
Mike Krol. Photo by George Baier.

By Sahan Jayasuriya

There’s a good chance you’ll be seeing Mike Krol’s name quite a bit in the next few months. Over the last four years, the Milwaukee-born musician self released two albums of speedy, hook-laden guitar pop. Earlier this year, Krol signed to North Carolina-based indie mainstay Merge Records, the label responsible for launching the careers of everyone from Spoon and the Arcade Fire to Superchunk and the Magnetic Fields.

Krol credits Tom Scharpling of internet radio show and podcast “The Best Show with Tom Scharpling” in helping him forge a relationship with the label. “Tom introduced me to [Merge Records founder] Mac McCaughan, and about a year’s worth of email correspondence later, I’m on Merge,” says Krol. “It was more complicated than I’m making it seem, but I really owe a lot to Tom for believing in my music enough to send it out to a few of the labels that he had friendships with.”

The label has a reputation of being highly supportive of their artists, a fact that Krol firmly attests to. “Getting a record deal with Merge was this ultimate daydream goal that I’ve had for years and years. They are the nicest, most amazing people who treat everyone fairly and stand behind whatever vision their artists have. They were the only label I wanted to be on.”

In late August, Krol released his third album, Turkey, via Merge. Recorded completely in the analog domain over just three days (and with the assistance of former Wisconsin resident Beau Sorenson), Turkey is a delightful slice of garage pop that does a fantastic job of marrying the infectious hooks of early Weezer with the blown out in-the-red production of Jay Reatard. Since its release last month, the album has gradually begun to garner positive critical attention, and with the rest of the year dedicated to touring in its support, Turkey could very well find itself on the year-end lists of many. This Wednesday, Krol and his band will be making an appearance at Cactus Club, with the very appropriate Sat Nite Duets and Sin Bad serving as support for the evening. Over the years, Cactus Club has seen plenty of acts that have gone on to achieve greater success, like The White Stripes, Interpol and Spoon. But Krol isn’t getting ahead of himself. “I’m definitely taking one thing at a time now. I’m truly the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, so I feel totally fulfilled at the moment.”

Stream “This Is The News” below.

By Kevin Mueller

Video of the Week

In May, Soul Low released the four-song Sweet Pea EP that also included five demo tracks. The effort was book-ended by the lo-fi, searing onslaught of “I Want to Die,” a visceral crescendo that progresses after singer Jake Balistrieri off-handedly mentions he “left my girlfriend today.” Last week, the band premiered a music video for the song, a live rendition recorded by Harrison Colby (formerly of The Delphines, currently in NO/NO and co-owner of Gloss Records) and shot by Dan Black.

Lucha! Lucha! Lucha!

Professional wrestling almost universally gets a bad rap as low culture entertainment, feeding the mouth breathing masses its fill of violence and machismo. The biggest complaint against this quasi-sport is that the results are predetermined, making the whole show meaningless. But in wrestling who wins and loses rarely matters, as long as the stories being told are any good. On Friday night, the annual show Mondo Lucha returns to Turner Hall Ballroom for its assortment of high-flying lucha libre, burlesque dancing and the musical accompaniment of Whips. The quick pace and lively variety may have any wrestling skeptic cheering for the técnicos (the good guys) and booing the rudos (the bad guys) by night’s end.

Other Options

Wednesday, September 9: Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn at Pabst Theater Lower Level, 8 p.m. ($35) – (1032 N. 4th St., PabstTheater.org)

Thursday, Saturday September 10: Dr. John & The Nite Trippers at Potawatomi’s Northern Lights Theater, 8 p.m. ($35-$45) – (1721 W. Canal St., PaysBig.com)

Also: GLOSS with Youth Crush, Holy Shit!, Utah Jazz and LIFES at Borg Ward, 7 p.m. ($7) – (823 W. National Ave.)

Friday, September 11: Tommy Stinson with The Obsoletes and Beach Slang at Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m. ($12) – (2501 S. Superior St., ClubGaribaldis.com)

Saturday, September 12: Mary Ocher with Andi Action at Lucky Cat, 8 p.m. –(2541 N. Bremen St.)

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Kevin is a freelance writer residing in Milwaukee. He’s contributed to The Shepherd Express, Third Coast Daily, Pop Matters and the sadly now-defunct A.V. Club Milwaukee. He looks forward to forging a deeper connection with the city’s impressive music scene during his gig as a Music Notes blogger. His talents include music criticism, riding a bicycle, drinking tasty beers and a crafty croquet swing. His weaknesses comprise Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, professional wrestling and his ever-growing record collection. He’s in desperate need to find more physical (and hard drive) space for the exceptional albums Milwaukee musicians keep churning out.