For their new album Lookout Low, Chicago DIY heroes enlisted a producer - Ethan Johns (Kings Of Leon, White Denim, Ryan Adams) no less, for the first time in the career. The results are a shaggy, but not ragged, take on the garage rock this five-piece has spent the past nine years perfecting, that owes as much to 70's-era Rolling Stones as it does to Them or 13th Floor Elevators. If these songs are a more polished version of Twin Peaks than we've heard before, there's an undeniable energy crackling just under the surface of them. At Turner Hall in Milwaukee last week, that energy burst from the stage like lightning from a bottle onto a crowd who were there to give it right back in equal measure.
Pairing one of today’s most gifted jazz guitarists (Anthony Pirog) with one of rock ‘n’ roll’s fiercest rhythm sections (Brendan Canty and Joe Lally) was always going to be a recipe for success, but on their sophomore LP Anthropocosmic Nest, Washington, D.C.’s The Messthetics are blowing past the old goals and delivering one of the most raucous and satisfying releases of the year. Wildly inventive with surprises awaiting the listener at every turn, Nest is an ecstatic proclamation of skronk-and-circumstance that says not only are The Messthetics BACK, but they’re here to stay!
Now that she’s found true love, on her new album Lover pop domineer Taylor Swift is stepping out of the shade and leaving the H8R/revenge life behind. Or is she? Avoid Swifty Eduardo Nunes joins us to talk through the good, the bad, and the awkward of Swift’s latest which ***SPOILERS*** most definitely does not “…hold the key to pop music’s survival” but also might not be that bad in the end.
On August 7, 2019, beloved indie-rock poet laureate David Berman committed suicide, leaving his family, friends, and fans devasted. Purple Mountains, a sophisticated, sad, and often hilarious look at Berman’s interior and the world at large, is the final statement from an artist whose words and songs are stitched into the DNA of an entire generation. Join as we discuss Berman’s legacy, how depression and anxiety can crush us if we're not careful, and how an album that looks unflinchingly at the abyss can still offer hope in the darkest of nights.
If you are struggling, here are few of the many organizations you can reach out to. Please reach out.
After several years working behind the scenes, the legendary Raphael Saadiq returns to the spotlight to deliver his most personal, and compelling album to date. Jerry Lee (named after his brother who was an addict who died of AIDS) takes a profoundly human look at not just the consequences of addiction, but the underlying causes. Oppression comes in many forms in this world, and Saadiq explores that theme with compassion, an understanding of just how deeply all of us are connected, and a belief that it is only love that can save us in the end.
Austin, TX's Mike and The Moonpies have come a long way from playing the dancehalls of their native Texas. On their new LP, Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold, the quintet is leaving the honky-tonk behind and exploring the sounds of smoothed out 70's Country with the help of their friends the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Recorded at the famed Abbey Road Studios, Cheap Silver is bringing countrypolitan "back" in a big way, and the results are a timeless listen that is also one of the years best.
Last month the duo of Chris Rosenau (Collections Of Colonies Of Bees, Volcano Choir) and Nick Sanborn (Made Of Oak. Sylvan Esso) released Bluebird (listen to our review here), their improvised collaboration that is part studio wizardry and part magic. And on Friday night in Milwaukee they released the material into the wild in front of a live audience.
The date kicked off a short tour that stopped through Eaux Claires and Minneapolis for the first leg and will conclude in September with two stops: First at the tenth annual Hopscotch Music Festival and finally landing at the legendary Mothlight in Asheville, NC.
Check out the photos from their date in Milwaukee below, and don’t miss your chance to have this powerfully uplifting piece of music move the air around you. With any luck, we’ll be seeing more dates from them soon.
By all accounts, Bruce Hornsby is having a hell of a year. But if you've been paying attention at all, that's been pretty much every year for the legendary pianist. In the 33 years since fame first found him on 1986's The Way It Is, Hornsby has been a pop star, jazz titan, Grateful Dead member, bluegrass provocateur and more. Suffice to say, this Virginia boy "done good."
Bringing all of that history to the stage is no small feat, but at his recent stop at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee with his band The Noisemakers, Hornsby delivered a dream setlist that spanned from his latest LP Absolute Zero all the way back to his first album and back again with some Hornsby penned (but not recorded) hits thrown in for good measure.
Sounds Like: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo, which makes total sense because it’s Aimee Mann and Ted Leo.
Why You Should Care: Symbiosis! The end result is more than the sum of their parts, which is saying something. Also, great song.
“Long distance bike rides are a terrible, terrible idea,” Peter Mulvey told the Jammin’ Java audience Thursday night. He should know; he’s coming to the end of his sixth annual, 14-city bike tour, in which he arrives at every show on a very cool looking German-made recumbent bike. “I’d like to thank you for living in a flat place,” he added.
Mulvey is an engaging performer, wonderful singer, and impressive guitar player, all of which made for a very entertaining show on Thursday. Mixing old and new material with a great array of covers throughout his 20 songs, Mulvey covered a lot of ground and had his audience spellbound.
His latest album, The Good Stuff is a collection of what he calls “the great American songbook;” in addition to classic American artists like Bobby Charles and Thelonious Monk, Mulvey adds modern songwriters such as Tom Waits and Joe Henry. Mulvey performed his interpretations of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” and the Duke Ellington staple “Mood Indigo,” but kept the rest of the covers a surprise. His version of Waits’ “Jockey Full of Bourbon” (not the Waits song that appears on The Good Stuff, actually) sounded like John Hammond’s recent version but with darker vocal delivery and superior guitar work. Mulvey also threw in a cover of Randy Newman’s “Sigmund Freud’s Impersonation of Albert Einstein” after telling the audience how the statue of Christopher Columbus at Union Station reminded him of Newman’s song “Great Nations of Europe.”
Many musicians have written about getting “in the van” to head out on tour, and by and large they don’t make it sound like a pleasant experience. Perhaps they should roll out on a $3,500 German-made black HP Velotechnik Grasshopper foldable touring bike, as that’s Peter Mulvey’s choice of ride, and it sounds like he’s having a fun time. Traveling around the country on his bike, Mulvey is, in his own words, “turning American into a European Socialist dystopia one folksinger at a time.” He’ll ride his bike into town this evening and do his best to communize Jammin’ Java. (Alright, in point of fact he’s riding from Union Station, but still…)
Originally from Wisconsin, Mulvey spent time honing his skills in Boston subways (as did Tracy Chapman before him). He now has more than a dozen albums under this belt, ranging from contemporary folk to acoustic rock to an all-instrumental album with longtime collaborator David Goodrich.
On his latest album, The Good Stuff, Mulvey focuses on a wide array of covers, from Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk to Tom Waits and Joe Henry. The songs are all linked by Mulvey’s fantastic ability with an acoustic guitar, which seems to be tuned a different way on every song. (His website’s discography lists the tunings for each song, which has no doubt caused many a guitar player to say “wait….what?”)
His original material is fantastic as well, particularly 2007’s solo acoustic Notes From Elsewhere, which best reflects his live performances – witty, insightful songs sung with one of the best voices this side of Leonard Cohen.