A Q&A with The Midwestern Charm

Throughout the past few decades, there have been countless bands that started out playing aggressive, shambolic and most of all, noisy, rock music before slowly shedding the dissonance to reveal the melodies lurking beneath all the clamor—think seminal indie-rock bands like the Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Pavement and Deerhunter. The Midwestern Charm seems to be reverse engineering that sonic trajectory. Their 2012 self-titled debut found them leisurely shuffling through a cocktail of pop-punk and twangy country music. The record not only morphed two genres into a compelling amalgamation, but also signaled the dawn of a new force in the city’s strong…

Calliope Debuts “Casino”

When we last checked in with Milwaukee psych-rockers Calliope back in June, they were prepping the vinyl release for the trippy, fuzzed-out six-song EP Orbis at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn. In our Q&A, keyboardist and singer Al Kraemer and guitarist Vic Buell explained the influence that attending Austin Psych Fest had on the band’s sound, they listed some unusual musical heroes and they revealed a dangerous make-believe gauntlet idea involving Aaron Rodgers and some pieces of wood. Now, the band is back with an appropriately psychedelic music video for the EP’s single, “Casino,” that strays from the song’s gambling themes—though, there is…

The Sugar Stems and Jeff Bridges

Monday, August 18: Strand of Oaks with Christopher Denny at Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m. ($10) Whether bowling with mythical giants or devising a revenge fantasy for Dan Aykroyd against John Belushi’s drug dealer, the earlier lyrical narratives of Timothy Showalter, frontman behind Strand of Oaks, created a distance between himself and the subjects in his songs. His new record, entitled HEAL, however, drops those self-imposed masks and delivers Showalter’s most personal material to date. The album opens up the band’s sound, as well, losing the weepy acoustic guitar for bigger power pop sounds. (1032 N. Fourth St., PabstTheater.org) Also:…

Animal-Friendly Christian Metal Band Successfully Kickstarts

Still from the “Ark of Suffering” video When I was taking guitar lessons in fifth grade, metal, as a genre, was still something completely foreign to me and more the property of high school students I regarded as both terrifying and mysterious. My own paperback practice books teaching Auld Lang Syne, Greensleeves, and Michael Row Your Boat Ashore contained advertisements for other volumes from Mel Bay teaching METAL, a style that seemed both highly technical and hedonistic. The guitars pictured on those covers were raked with animal stripes and flames, and strummed by glamorously accessorized hands. My own, long-haired teacher, a metal-looking figure,…

Brewers Fan Willie Nelson and More

Monday, August 11: Boris with SubRosa and The Atlas Moth at Turner Hall Ballroom, 6:30 p.m. ($15) The swift pace at which the prolific Japanese three-piece Boris works makes your head spin. The disciples of the Melvins have released a total of 12 albums over the past 10 years. The band’s latest, Noise, won’t be considered the band’s loudest record, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t filled with moments that test the limits of your ear drums. (1032 N. Fourth St., PabstTheater.org) Tuesday, August 12: Altan at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, 7:30 p.m. ($8) For those who…

WebsterX’s New Release

Perhaps no current rapper reps his hometown better than Toronto-native Drake. But Milwaukee’s WebsterX might give the sensitive Canadian singer a run for his money. Along with an insightful Q&A with Sam Ahmed—the man behind the WebsterX moniker—Impose Magazine just premiered the picturesque, green-screened music video for his new track “Renaissance,” featuring an infectious, soulful Lex Allen hook and an uplifting verse from D. Bridge. The song, however, isn’t an outright love letter to Milwaukee, but rather confronts the problems the city faces and refuses to back away from them. “Don’t betray or sway me/ Cream city, this city made…

PHOX and Christopher Porterfield

Tuesday, August 5: Roadside Graves with Light Music and Christopher Porterfield at Cactus Club, 9 p.m. In a frank admission to indie music blog Aquarium Drunkard, lead singer of the New Jersey-based Americana group Roadside Graves John Gleason described his morning listening habits—reading Pitchfork and listening to a couple songs from each review—and what he gained from that daily routine—highly lauded, youthful up-and-coming bands all complained about being bored. Gleason, now a seasoned musician and father, remembers feeling “sad, pathetic, confused, covered in acne, and aching for some decent company, but never bored” during his teenage years. The first-released track…

July’s Top 10

It’s the end of July, which means two things: the weather’s nice and it’s time for a countdown of the month’s best music picks. 10. Summerfest ends, the city exhales Withstanding unseasonable weather and underwhelming side-stage offerings for six of the first seven days soured my already not-that-ecstatic mood on the Big Gig, but I’ve recently come to terms with Summerfest. It helps select local bands gain some exposure—and sometimes, compensation—brings in heaps of money downtown, and, hey, offers the opportunity to scream to the choruses of Third Eye Blind songs. According to a press release, attendance rose slightly this…

Breadfest 2014

Tuesday, July 29: Skyline Music featuring Tweed Funk at Kadish Park, 5:30 p.m. (FREE) Chances are—even for moderate festival goers—you’ve stumbled upon Tweed Funk during a summer block party without even knowing it. The six-piece band retreads the jazzy, R&B territory that many other groups have plodded through in the past. However, lead singer Smokey Holman and company do it better than anyone else in the city. Relive some nostalgia while seeing the premiere view of the city from Riverwest’s Kadish park on an easy-going Tuesday night. (308 E. Lloyd St.) Also: Chill on the Hill featuring Vitrolum Republic with…

Breadfest 2014

Tuesday, July 29: Skyline Music featuring Tweed Funk at Kadish Park, 5:30 p.m. (FREE) Chances are—even for moderate festival goers—you’ve stumbled upon Tweed Funk during a summer block party without even knowing it. The six-piece band retreads the jazzy, R&B territory that many other groups have plodded through in the past. However, lead singer Smokey Holman and company do it better than anyone else in the city. Relive some nostalgia while seeing the premiere view of the city from Riverwest’s Kadish park on an easy-going Tuesday night. (308 E. Lloyd St.) Also: Chill on the Hill featuring Vitrolum Republic with…