For a while Milwaukee power pop kings The Lackloves were churning out a new CD every two years. But it took four years for the latest, "Cathedral Square Park," to arrive.
The band's first, self-issued CD, "As Far As You Know," arrived in 2000 and staked a claim on a contemporary, poppy guitar band sound that conjured the spirit of the British Invasion, in no small part thanks to the Lennon-esque vocals of frontman Mike Jarvis.
That record led to a deal with New York-based Rainbow Quartz International and tours to Europe and beyond for the band, which grew out of the now-legendary Brew City band The Blow Pops and now comprises Jarvis, bassist Kevin Ponec and drummer Tommy Dougherty.
"Starcitybaby" followed in 2002 and "The Beat and the Time" was released in 2004. So, why the wait?
"Some personnel changes," says Jarvis. "(We) lost our rehearsal space ... typical stuff that can set a band back for a bit."
But The Lackloves didn't sit idle during that time. Recording for "Cathedral Square Park" began at Walls Have Ears studio in the Miramar Theater on the East Side, but later shifted to Simon Bundy's Audiotrailz.
Jarvis says that decision was a technological one but also a geographical one.
"Bill Stace's Walls Have Ears was great to do basic tracks, and Bill gets some great sounds but, we wanted to do vocals and production somewhere a bit more current," he says. "Simon's studio has the latest and greatest and it's also in the building where we rehearse, so, it was also very convenient."
With Beatles-esque harmonies and melodies, nods to Ray Davies and songs like the opener, "On My Way," that will swirl in your head for days, it might be easy to write The Lackloves off as revivalists.
But that would be a mistake because Jarvis is a talented songwriter and while clothed in familiar garments, these songs aren't fluff. Instead they are explorations into faith, determination and, of course, relationships.
In fact, the disc's title is a subtle nod to subject matter of some of the songs, too, Jarvis says.
"On the surface, I wanted a bit of a shout-out to Milwaukee," he says. "But there are some tunes on this CD - "On My Way," "Bended Knees," "Belong to Sunday" -- where I'm questioning about meaning on a spiritual level and questioning the idea of faith in general.
"I wanted something that was reflective of this sort of philosophical / spiritual searching I was (and still am) doing, ‘Cathedral Square Park' seemed like the perfect title."
The Lackloves launch the disc with a release party at Linneman's Riverwest Inn on April 19 and there will be no opener. Jarvis says the band is prepping for a full night of playing.
"We will (play) ... lots of our stuff but lots of covers as well. We've been keeping our chops up doing cover gigs out west -- as in Waukesha and Delafield, not California -- so have about two hours of covers we now can add to our sets."
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.