Tindersticks -- The Hungry Saw (Constellation): After a five-year break Neil Fraser and company return with this set of cinematic in a lovely digipak sleeve that recreates the classic gatefold album sleeve (this is becoming popular lately). Fans of Yann Tiersen will adore the celebratory melancholy of "Intro" and Morricone fans will dig "Yesterday Tomorrows." But tunes like "The Flicker of a Little Girl" and "The Turns We Took" are rooted enough in jangly pop that "The Hungry Saw" never gets so esoteric that it would alienate mainstream listeners.
Vancougar -- Canadian Tuxedo (Mint): In honor of Molly Snyder Edler's cougar bar guide in our bars and clubs section, I give this Canadian quartet the coveted second spot in the mix tape. This riffy, catchy debut disc lays great garage rock girl vocals over crunchy guitars and diddly Farfisa-style keyboard sounds. Kinda like a lighter Echobelly or a chunkier Go-Go's maybe.
Paul Weller -- 22 Dreams (Yep Roc): Advance hype about how "out there" Weller's new record is only serve to disappoint me. The same thing happened when I first heard Wilco's "Yankee Foxtrot Hotel." We were promised a real departure, a real dive into the musical abyss. So, when we got an admittedly quality record -- but one that hardly challenged our pre-conceived notions about Wilco or modern music -- it seemed a little like a letdown. That said, Weller continues his fascination with his own mish-mash of classic rock and soul and revisits things like classical and spoken word that he toyed with during The Style Council years.
Billy Bragg -- Mr. Love & Justice (Yep Roc): Another of my ‘80s gurus returns after a long hiatus from the studio with this record, which I've waited a while to comment on. That's because upon first listen, I was disappointed. It seemed preachy and, frankly, dull. But repeated listens have converted me and I think Bragg -- who has never quite been the same since his last masterpiece, "Don't Try This At Home" -- offers up his most intimate and most eloquent record since that one. Try and get the double-disc version because, often, Bragg's solo readings of the songs (on disc two) hit harder than the full-on versions on the single disc.
Supergrass -- Diamond Hoo Ha (Astralwerks): Gaz Coombes and gang are back with the sixth Supergrass record. While the band dallied with ‘70s glam in the past, they hold their noses and dive straight in here. The result is a record that's uptempo and full of life. Sadly, the songs themselves don't feel as essential as on its predecessor, the tepidly received "Road to Rouen."
Dub Specialist: 17 Dub Shots from Studio One (Heartbeat): Best known for his work with singers and vocal groups like The Wailers, The Maytals, Burning Spear and Dennis Brown, Clement "Coxsone" Dodd also released many of his greatest rhythms on a string of dub LPs in the 1970s. Over the years, they've been pressed and re-pressed but still have never been available widely. This Heartbeat reissue collects a dozen great ones -- including tracks made famous by Cornell Campbell, The Heptones, Horace Andy, Delroy Wilson and others -- and they sound better than other when not pressed into wax flecked with dust, dirt and cigarette butts. Please note that the despite the title, the CD has 18 tracks. The vinyl version has two bonus tracks.
Hallam Foe: Original Soundtrack to "Mister Foe" (Domino): Any film soundtrack that starts with Orange Juice's "Blue Boy" is essential. Any soundtrack that dares to have a different name than its accompanying film deserves kudos in the cojones category. Add in 15 more interesting tunes from the likes of Clinic, King Creosote, Woodbine, Psapp and Franz Ferdinand and you've got the rare soundtrack that is really worth buying and stands on its own as a good compilation.
Daddy Rings -- The Most High (African Glory): A roots singer in the style of Luciano and Bushman, Daddy Rings is hardly rewriting the modern electronic roots cannon, but the rhythms are thumping, the topics of righteousness and self reliance (on a song called, natch, "Self-Reliance" with Paul Elliott) are hard to argue and the final product is enjoyable.
Perfect -- Born Dead With Life (Irie Vibrations/Groove Attack): While this looks to be a record in the vein of Daddy Rings, its got live drummers and some different influences on tunes like "Greg Rose," making for interesting listening. Perfect's voice isn't as easy on the ears as Rings' smooth tenor, but it'll do nicely enough, thank you.
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.