Every now and again a record strikes a chord with those of us in the editorial office here at OnMilwaukee.com and we rock it all day long until we could sing it forward and backward.
Past winners have included Placebo's "Black Market Music" and The Decemberists "Picareque." Another was "Dying to Say This to You," the 2006 sophomore effort from Helsingborg, Sweden retro rockers The Sounds.
So, when we got a link to hear "Crossing the Rubicon," the third disc by The Sounds -- who play in Milwaukee on Saturday, May 9 at The Rave -- we were excited. Especially since the CD doesn't hit shops until June 2.
Singer Maja Ivarsson and company continue to build on a passion for ‘80s female-fronted new wave groups like Blondie, Berlin and Missing Persons, wrapping sugary melodies in staccato rhythms and catchy guitar riffs.
The opener, "No One Sleeps When I'm Awake," is a perfect example. It's keyboard flourishes and chug-chug-chugging clipped rhythm guitar would have felt right at home on FM radio in 1985.
"Beatbox" makes the most of an ‘80s-style low-fi drum machine beat and a comparison with Blondie's "Rapture" is irresistible.
But maybe assuming that piano-fueled "The Only Ones" is an ode to Peter Perrett's beloved power pop ensemble is going a step too far.
One of the more unusual songs is the title song, an epic quirky pop song that almost flirts with prog rock.
"Crossing the Rubicon" was recorded in Sweden, L.A. and New York with a range of producers -- the band itself, among them -- including Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha, Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger and others.
The Sounds come to Milwaukee as part of a long spring and summer American tour that includes a stint with No Doubt (although not here at Summerfest).
The Rave show starts at 8 p.m. and Hey Champ opens. Tickets are $15.
Some other shows on the books this week include:
Singer, songwriter and fiddler Sara Watkins -- a founding member of Nickel Creek -- recorded her solo debut (released by Nonesuch) with former Led Zeppelin bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, so you know she's willing to take chances and try new things. Hear the direction she's taken when the Grammy-winning Watkins plays at Shank Hall on Wednesday, May 6 at 8 p.m. Cover is $15.
Smart, literate and inventive Cursive comes to town for a giog at Turner Hall on Thursday, May 7. The band's latest disc, "Mama, I'm Swollen," was released in March on Saddle Creek and has drawn raves from Rolling Stone, Time Out New York and Billboard. Tickets for the 8 p.m. gig -- which also includes P.O.S. -- are $15.
Bobby Conn, who recently released the 12-song "King for a Day" -- which blends conventional pop songs with psychedelic interludes -- on Thrill Jockey plays the Cactus Club on the same night, along with sidekick Monica Bou Bou. D. Rider (of US Maple) and The Chain also play at the 9 p.m. show.
If fusion is more your bag, check out the seminal Spyro Gyra at the seventh annual Jazz on the Vine at Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake on Friday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m. For details, check jazzonthevine.net. The Gyra released a new disc, "Down the Wire," last week on Heads Up International.
Last but certainly not least, Glaswegian guitar gods Mogwai play at Turner Hall on Saturday, May 9 as part of the tour in support of the band's latest Matador Records disc, "The Hawk is Howling." There's no doubt this will be a great show. $15, 8 p.m. and Women opens.
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.