Last summer I saw and heard Eau Claire duo Peter Wolf Crier -- now based in Minneapolis -- in a video performing a cover "Place to Be," my favorite Nick Drake song, on the Terrace at UW-Madison.
Turning the performance of the song on its head -- with impassioned high energy vocals, snaky overdriven guitar and a frenetic drum figure -- the duo made the song its own. That's not easy to do with a Drake song.
That kind of interesting approach to arrangements is what I also like about the band's Jagjaguwar disc, "Inter-Be."
Peter Wolf Crier plays with Retribution Gospel Choir at Shank Hall on Friday, Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
The songwriting is pretty straightforward melodic pop, but the arrangements take it to another level.
Check out the piano wedded to an almost industrial drumbeat on "Untitled 101," or the delayed guitar on "Hard As Nails" that clatters like a train. The opener, "Crutch & Cane," could have been a retro soul stomper, but the duo instead chose a quirkier approach.
It's no secret that with these guys, Bon Iver, Meridene and others, something is going on up there in Eau Claire. Alas, thanks to geography it's more tightly bound to Minneapolis than Milwaukee, but with bands this good in the Dairy State, we're happy to claim them as our own.
Retribution Gospel Choir, meanwhile, is a project of Low's Alan Sparhawk, and has two records out, including the latest, "2," released last week on Sub Pop.
A couple other gigs in town this week include:
Lyle Lovett brings the 24-city tour for "Natural Forces" -- with John Hiatt -- to The Pabst on Wednesday, Feb. 2. The two will play together, alternating songs from their long, respected careers and Lovett vows each performance will be unique.
"The shows are very spontaneous," he says, "no two are alike. It gives our audiences a chance to see a side of us they don't always see."
Less Than Jake at The Rave on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. for an all ages show that will set you back $15. The band is on the road supporting its new "TV/EP" disc which finds the bands rocking on some classic television theme songs and commercials.
Since the band is also set to reisssue "Losing Streak" and "Hello Rockview" in a month, they just might feature those, too. Supervillains and Off With Their Heads open.
Rooney, Eisley and The Chapin Sisters team up for a gig at The Mad Planet on Monday, Feb. 7.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.