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In Music Commentary

Wisconsin's own Peter Wolf Crier plays at Shank Hall this week with Retribution Gospel Choir.

Gig roundup: Peter Wolf Crier calls again

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.

If you haven't heard it yet, you can get a glimpse via the video for "Your Bird," and via a free download of "Hide It Away."

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.


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