When New York's Parts & Labor takes the stage at Cactus Club later this month they'll have a bit of a hometown advantage.
Besides counting part-time Milwaukee resident Joe Wong among its ranks, the Brooklyn-based critically lauded noise rock band made its last two albums here.
Wong, who plays drums in the band, and his bandmates -- keyboard and guitar player Dan Friel and bass player B.J. Warshaw -- holed up here for a couple weeks last summer to record "Constant Future," their new album on Jagjaguwar Records. Their efforts resulted in a fabulous record that manages to artfully straddle the line between sonic density and accessibility.
After recording their previous album at Shane Hochstetler's Howl Street recording studio in Bay View, Wong said the band was drawn back to Milwaukee after securing a recording studio here for several weeks that would have been impossible to afford back in New York.
"Basically I fell into a situation here where we could get a lockout at a space that has a lot of great recording equipment," said Wong. "We had it reserved for a few weeks and it was a total luxury. It would have been a lot more expensive to do something like that in another city, and it also just gave us a lot more control over the recording process."
Before delving into recording, the band got to revel in a Milwaukee summer tradition, a trip to Summerfest.
"The very first day we got here Summerfest was going on and we had backstage passes to see 'Weird Al,' so they got to meet 'Weird Al' on their very first day in Milwaukee. It set the tone for the whole experience," Wong said.
The run-in with "Weird Al" doesn't appear to have had any overt musical influence on the album, which has been well received by music critics who marvel at its ability to blend chaotic experimentation with something resembling pop song structure.
"Sonically I think it's a huge step forward," said Wong. "I feel like the song writing is a lot stronger. The singing has really stepped up a notch. I feel like my drumming is stepped up a notch on this record and I feel like the songs are more cohesive and fit together as an album."
While most of the band's time here was consumed with the recording process, Wong said he enjoyed his role as the band's Milwaukee tour guide.
"Typically, lots of people that are from New York or from the East Coast are unaware of how charming and cool a Midwestern town can be and how many hidden treasures there may be, so I had to show them some of that," Wong said.
Parts & Labor's April 18 show at Cactus Club will not only see the band reunited with its Midwestern home away from home, but also with Hochstetler, whose band Call Me Lightning is also on the bill. CML guitarist Nathan Lilley performed with Wong in their high school math rock band Akarso.
"They are good friends and Shane helped us on our last record. I just think it will make for an awesome show in Milwaukee," Wong said.