MC Mikal lumbered in the BBC upper room, tall, gangly, vibrating above it all. The scene, relatively modest by hip-hop standards, dropped like an ember that starts a wild brush fire. A performative charge present, highly concentrated energy burned the anticipatory material around it, not caring to be seen.
In a benefit for Men of Tomorrow, one of the older youth programs in Milwaukee, MC Mikal ripped the mic to beats cued by local music producer Moses. Showing mastery of the chambers of emceeing, deviating from prepared material, Mikal enthusiastically took liberty to casually experiment with increasingly poetic streams of mind over rhythm.
Lyrically, MC Mikal readily latches on to various wavelengths, mostly intelligent, conscious of today’s struggles to avoid snares in the web of crap that is American society. In other moments, he gets down right hedonist, encouraging the niceties of life in the moment, social mischief and pleasures of the flesh. Oddly the “Mr. Hyde” MC Mikal, allows you to take his profound lyrical repertoire more seriously, there are no more saints, and he doesn’t pretend to be one. When he’s on, he’s a force on the mic.
Running with Knives
Milwaukee rap conglomerate H.E.R. held the flank, delivering tracks with beats tailor-fit for trunks with subs, riding on rims in their mid-20′s and candy coated paint. Thank Moses, as one of the producers of H.E.R. he brings plenty of heat.
Words peppering the crowd, Jermaine Event led H.E.R, twisting traditional battle style Milwaukee flavored hip-hop banter, an easy combination for people to get lost in. Rarely seen in the contemporary era of hip-hop, H.E.R. prominently featured a hype-man on back-up vocals and 2 guest MC’s. That’s an old formula that usually works, and H.E.R. put it to use rather effectively.
Sean Smart pushed his flows for H.E.R., packing visions of rugged-living, slick talking in a notable mic voice. Expanding on H.E.R.’s lessons, Myke Deezy kept the pace of the show well above resting with his additional vocals and general stage presence.
Quietly, emerging from its chrysalis, we see new hip-hop fauna flashing its oversized moth wings in the likes of MC Mikal, mysterious white dots marking the wings looking like eyes, giving music explorers something new to find. MC Mikal might be considered more appropriately as an artist that emees, so catching a performance from him is a gem.
Some avian raptor varieties of the hip-hop kingdom still stalk the streets, evolving like H.E.R., hanging on resiliently not likely to parish with the Jurassic era of the genre, giving fans from the original depths of the boombap something to vibe to. The subtle reinventions of the street rap style that H.E.R. brings to the stage, although clearly drawing off classic underground gangster rap legends, makes H.E.R. an intriguing example of how each style contributes to the rap picture. All are needed to make the hip-hop eco-system viable, if hip hop is truly to be a voice by which various perspectives on life are amplified through stereo speakers.
Cause for a Cause
In an time when everyone has an idea, notion or feeling of divine right to tell people what to do and how to do it, Anwar Floyd-Pruitt understands that just having a mentor can mean the difference between falling for traps set by bad influences or deciding your own path. He’s the acting Director of Men of Tomorrow, and the proceeds of the MC Mikal with H.E.R show went as a small but meaningful tithe to the Men of Tomorrow youth program. Men of Tomorrow is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit that primarily focuses on providing elementary school aged Black youth with mentors and guided activities to assist their transition to adulthood.
Mark “Madden Miles” next project (Download the Kate Upton Beat EP) dropped on the net on Valenine’s Day. If you just couldn’t get enough of that you could have got out to the Kate Upton EP Beat Tape Release Party live in Racine February 21, 2013. Well if you missed that I suggest you cop the download, the play is extra nifty. Click on your favorite part of the Kate Upton EP cover art below and check the details.
Madden Miles’ last joint the Candace Baily EP Beat Tape dropped last year and is still bouncing. If haven’t pressed the player play button to get a snippet of Madden Miles’ beastliness you missing it!
Beyond Awesome #somethingsomething via Spectral Productions on YouTube
If I said I didn’t have a taste in music vulnerable to electronic bass music, I’d be lying. The genre has had its fits and starts over the years but has solidly stayed under the rug of hip-hop and club-pop, since Disco died. Nowadays it has a spectrum that spans material making great soundtracks for basement booty-shake jams, warehouse thumping Drum-and-Bass and fun loving dance in the mirror House music. The gradients even go way beyond and have to many pseudonyms to discern, solidly separating the current forms from their musical predecessors. It really doesn’t matter anyway, the current mutation has crept out like some cold-ass Thriller-video zombies, with LED lit rainbow finger tips.
A coven of Milwaukee beat heads started bringing the boom back over the past few years, one group loosely coalesced under the Beyond Awesome banner. Expanding from hole in wall venues, Beyond Awesome now blows up little big spots into mini-full action mini-shows, A/V effects and all. The latest installment took over the Miramar Theatre this past weekend at Beyond Awesome #14-something, with Ryan Albydamed, Deletah and special guest Team Bayside High putting woofers to the test, lashing the faint-hearted with some nasty bass mash-up party music.
In Every City
Kind of beat up, the Miramar Theatre is basically one of the last true hold outs of super open format live music in Milwaukee, mostly extra local. Miramar is notorious and friendly to everything from open mic nights, to metal, to gangster rap, and folk all in the same night (I personally have even done my first and only stand-up comedy routine there on a dare, and the Miramar hosts were kind enough to record it to CD for me, to remind me not to do stand-up again).
More or less suitable for any type of crowd, except intimate, an ample open floor layout cuddled up to the stage where a gang of bass heads bumped, stomped, juked, nodded, and bounced, feeding off of rhythm and lazers. Actually, many due high-fives to Miramar for having ample house sound capabilities to handle the low end (or to whoever the sound dude was if that wasn’t an Miramar upgrade). The February 2013 installment of Beyond Awesome smashed again with a few sea-weathered DJs guiding the ship.
Release Performance, Manual Controller, Salutations
The February 2013 term of Beyond Awesome featured lazer blazing Chicago duo Team Bayside High. If the Miramar Theatre was actually Bayside High these cats basically tied Mr. Belling up, put Zack in a full-nelson and made Screech punch him in the face at knife point, while blasting their stanking new refit of C+C Music Factory’s infamous hype-music era killing classic “Make You Sweat” over the PA. They bribed Slater to lug 10 barrels of PBR, by himself, into that super weak cafe they had called The Max, where Kelly, Lisa and Jessie were already covered in chocolate syrup and whip cream having a three-way tongue fight, forcing Slater to stuff that masochist Gimp leather gag-ball in his mouth if he wanted to stick around and watch… and he did. Yeah, pretty much like that.
Man… Gonna Make You Sweat Retake via http://soundcloud.com/teambaysidehigh
At some point in their fledgling careers mashing beats up and blasting them, Team Bayside High felt the apple drop on their head, realizing that people like that kind of nonsense. They are tearing scenes up like breakaway pro-wrestler tanks on their rag-tag Midwest tour that eventually hits Spring Awakening in Chicago this June at Soldier Field. Expecting any material to stay sacred around them is expecting to much, they are capable of mashing anything to smithereens, including the best Super Mario rendition I’ve heard yet. Maestros, for real…
Here we go… Super Mario via http://soundcloud.com/teambaysidehigh
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Miramar Theatre, Beyond Awesome
Picture a couple of everyday smart assess interlocking hands in an Exclusive Company dance instrumental section while reaching for the same rare Dan the Automator CD, their deranged minds forever become intertwined, morphing into a mighty entity called Deletah. They Glitch and Dubstep with a high degree of technicality, carrying well thought out concepts that warp the dance floor to a distant nebula. Deletah generally finds some way to squeeze infinite variations from similar pulsing modulated lazer synths. At the end of an otherwise boring day, keeping the commotion going at Beyond Awesome was really not a problem for Deletah.
Very Recently released Deletah track via Deletah
Taking in a deeper listen of Deletah’s track sets gives a better perspective of the horizons they reach in their craft. Understandably, for a gig like Beyond Awesome nothing less could be expected besides a spine-shaking ton of rhythm pound, with a heavy dose of good old kick in the chest.
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Miramar Theatre, Beyond Awesome
A nice cross between mellower House and hard banging club Electronica of vary shades, I hate to even try to give a written flavor of Albydamned controlling the monitors. He’s been a mainstay of Beyond Awesome dance-offs and collaborator with most of the who is’s of Milwaukee’s club jam producers, most notably 414MELT ‘s TheDemix who deserves his own post.
Like a great point guard, Albydamned set the tone for the latest edition of Beyond Awesome at the Miramar Theatre emitting slowly boiling mixes that got the crowd primed and frothing for the rest of the night, swaying involuntarily to his own blends, his flowing mane draping in through the bass. You can get a great taste of a few of his kicking downloadable sets on the Ryan Albydamned Mixcloud, chances of sitting still… none.
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Miramar Theatre, Beyond Awesome
Proclaiming ‘Old is the the new New’ on the most infamous social media outlet, attracted the comment “New is Ooover!” Can anything be official?
Inducing a new understanding of ubiquity, when Alverno Presents announced Ryan Schleicher would lead a night of musical rediscovery entitled Beautiful Dreamer: The Foster Project the pieces of this musical thread dangled unattached to my immediate reference. If Schleicher rings a bell, he’s a member of Milwaukee’s own Juniper Tar, a simple times bluesy rock band that evokes that slow roasted southern rock with sharp whiskers whose name I pray is a idiom for Gin and cigarettes… but Stephen Foster…
Juniper Tar will preside over Alverno’s Pitman Theatre as maestro of The Foster Project, giving segue to several performers of disparate musical genres all of them casting their interpretations of Stephen Foster’s body of work. Let your eyes relax, drifting the words ‘Stephen, Stephen … Foster‘ through your mind.
Set Adrift on Memories Bliss
Yes, that green composite plastic cardboard cuboid with metal hinges and stubby round feet opens, revealing the platter of that 2nd grade classroom A.V. wonder sitting on the counter. Maybe it stood in the music room. Mrs. Staccato delicately picks up the arm of the phonograph and places it on the already rotating vinyl record. “Oh Susanna, don’t you cry for me…, Today class were going to learn about Stephen Foster”, Mrs. Staccato says. Please, come off of that bookshelf before you hurt yourself in your daydream now.
Old Music Dawns
Giving due to Stephen Foster, Jon Langford representing punk/blue grass, Blueprint accounting for Hip Hop, Robbie Fulks revving up Country, and Bethany Thomas pipping Choral solo will treat the audience to their personal tributes to Foster’s music.
Incredible talent will perform Beautiful Dreamer: The Foster Project at Alverno College’s Pitman Theatre, 3134 South 39th Street, on February 2, 2013 at 8:00p. Tickets are available in advance and at the door. It’s early, but The Foster Project might be one of the most genuinely interesting musical performances of the year.
Darkness permeates the atmosphere, the bar’s rich and chocolate brown stain has the visual quality of an oak barrel that soaked up raw molasses for decades. Oversized canvases beset the Bad Genie’s walls, bestowing florescent pop art images of the great heroes of rock n roll’s childhood, bears dancing, a Vicious snarl. The stage on this night invited a taste of old made new, Furious Frank smashing Chicago blues into traveling carnival vaudevillian show tunes.
Multi-pieced and maybe leaning a bit to the freaky side musically, Furious Frank keeps typical band instruments around (drums, guitar, bass, and assorted percussion pieces like tambourine) to accompany a prominently featured Trombone and kitschy favorites the Concertina and Mandolin. Furious Frank amplifies instrumentation making treats out of sound by massacring feel good covers and original songs.
If ears could be deceived, at least one set piece easily stunt-doubled for a Ska-version of “Soul Man”. All notes considered, Furious Frank subliminally rocked the house, a feat beautifully contorted Carny-rock can’t always pull. They put together some wicked low-tech animation for this video release that makes them even more weird.
via Hobocampmudshow on YouTube
Have you given up on beats? Unplug those earbuds and get a download of this collab of Ed Pengame and Madden Miles that’s only suitable for quality headphones, car systems with sub port bass systems or home stereos. Ed Pengame aka e.d.g.e gets clean on this one, indie and nothing to lose except respect in the underground hip-hop game, so you know what that means, Rip a Shot!
e.d.g.e. “For Your Thoughts” produced by Madden Miles via bigmcenroe on YouTube
Madden Miles released a limited edition EP this summer, The Candace Bailey Beat Tape, and keeps beating on the doors with a quality contender showing at the 2012 Miltown Beatdown. The kid keeps it very nice for purists and instrumental lovers with occasional beat sample drops check out some of the latest.
“Powdered Nostrils” Madden Miles
“Broken Mirrors” Madden Miles
“Rising Above” Madden Miles
The Candace Bailey Beat Tape, Madden Miles
Busting out the It’s Tricky Irish folk band rendition? That’s gutsy Brothers Quinn, that’s gutsy. A musical brigade armed with fiddle, banjo, upright bass, drums and probably some other instruments I couldn’t see, Brothers Quinn heated up Fire on Water last Friday with traditional Irish tunes and even a cover of the classic Gorillaz ft. Deltron compilation track Clint Eastwood. Adding even more fever to the night MC One Self made a lyrical cameo.
It was already well beyond room temperature in the joint, and I’m not sure if that was to keep with the theme of the bar or because Brothers Quinn had a consistent jolly riot of dance floor junkies doing the half House of Pain Jump Around, half Polka, half Irish Jig move all night. What better to go with a few shots of Tullamore Dew than some kick butt Irish rock.
Brothers Quinn tour all around Wisconsin, and when they come around to Milwaukee again they may be worth pairing with a round or two.
Note: This video has not been altered and is shot in real time… Manual Controller doing some live spastism unreal. The Salutations album broke after two years in the making, constructed with all live hardware applications of digital composition.
Manual Controller, Salutations is available for purchase through some unknown alien being.
People trickle in and out of Orcanine Abbey‘s most recent open studio, checking out Rachel Sutter-Smith‘s set of provocative illustrations depicting personages both fantastic and realistic; conceivably a few self-portraits delving into the depths of her own inner most spaces. A dude listlessly sits in an a brown high back chair waiting for what’s next.
A handful of unheroic but reasonably cool looking kids have exuded a practical chemistry that usually can being felt among good friends. In good spirits, they enjoy the stellar performance of two piece band Pepe le Moko warming up the jerry-rigged stage. Episodically creepy yet blissful strumming done, these reasonably cool kids Sally, Sam, John and Lars that happen to be from Worcester, Ma, take up musical arms and crank up some major throwback post hoc garage/art rock mania as Secret Lover.
Under a dim oozing red light, the front woman calls out “Poison Ivy”, her cue to her band mates to let the gear rip into a raucous fury that soon animates the listless dude to his feet for a better vantage point. Not playing nice, the drum lead (Sam) crashes his symbol to the floor several times, and the guitarist (John) snaps two guitar strings banging out riffs for Sally‘s volcanic pipes to drift upon heralding exuberant tributes to life and youth, with Lars consistently throbbing the low end. Seriously smashing.
Secret Lover @ Orcanine Abbey, Milwaukee, WI, July 8, 2012
The Dumb Over, Orcanine Alley, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1iM
The digital/electronic music spectrum has a fairly large amplitude that crests with pop-corny sound synths’ endemic to Owl City tracks, hits a solid plane with mainstays like the Gorillaz, and sweeps to another phase of under-pop experimentation with a local debut release entitled Salutations, by digital impresario Manual Controller.
A varied tempo ode to the glory ages of pre- hip-hop composed electronica, Salutations hits ambient realms with shades of dub on tracks Recessional Processional and Id and ignites a fist-full of freaking sparklers with hyper-synchronized and stylish tracks Gentleman in a Hat and Anthemis Colors.
Bringing an ethic back to the genre lost in the Scratch Live era, Manual Controller’s makes a habit of minimizing his use of digital software aids for arrangement and mastering by playing much of his instrumentation live, recording individual devices through a series of 1/4″ patch cables connecting to a multi-jack monitor. Imagine an American Bell call operator wearing an helmet seeming of some historical significance, surrounded by an arsenal of intense music equipment, and your pixelated view of the spectacle that Manual Controller manifests becomes a little crisper.
Befitting the growing appetite for electronic music in Milwaukee cultivated by events like WMSE‘s 414Melt and shown by the great reception Teisto got at Summerfest, Manual Controller will brandish his newly pressed compact disc on top of a live performance at Stonefly Brewery Thursday July 19th at 7p, after Stonefly’s notoriously bearable dinner time. In the mean time, you can test drive the album or get the whole schwabang on Bandcamp.
Kind of like a comet, Mark Valdez Jr. aka Madden Miles swooshed in ready to win the 2011 Miltown Beatdown. Briefly, Milwaukee experienced that stream of genius that accompanies musical minds every so often, but the listening public didn’t have their telescopes directed and calibrated properly to fully appreciate Valdez’s contribution to Hip-Hop’s now generation. Unphased Madden Miles has plugged right along, opening ears with new refinements on beat fury for 2012.
Madden Miles latest beat tape plays prodigiously evoking all that was, is and should be heard in Hip-Hop musically. The Candace Bailey Beat Tape is available for casual listening or promo download.
As Seen on ProducersIKnow.com
As Seen on TheMadBloggers.com
As Seen on The9Elements.com
Previously seen on Local Trolley, It’s Halftime, Miltown Beat Down Final Prelim
It hangs out on a block best known for the grizzly working-class pub Steny’s, smushed-up next to Fat Daddy’s. Making use of the sign design made famous by Southern used car lots, coin-sized dots spell “Lo Cash”, shimmering flecks of silvery sunlight off the side of the building.
The interior decor although not brand-spanking new has yet accumulated the drinking hours to adequately absorb the savory juices that amply flow from the kitchen, a dive in the making. A neon sign couldn’t even bring it attention. Lo Cash Live keeps the low-key atmosphere of the 5th Ward strip, still adding flavor to recipe. Lo Cash Live is a Barbecue Joint, South by Mid-West.
I sit down at a table near the wall with my dinner mate. Swinging into the tall seat I nod at Al Jarreau, who poses behind the glass of the frame that holds an old promo portrait. Other crooning singers from various eras and genres nudge corners with him. I’m hard on BBQ so I’m ready for disappointment. Nothing beats the backyard and down-home secrets that make it atop the briquette heated grill.
Lo Cash’s menu makes the right first impression, short, easy to read and to-the-point. Each main dish of either BBQ pork, chicken or brisket and comes with a side, picking from sweet corn, slaw, baked beans or macaroni and cheese (with is technically a vegetable south of the Mason-Dixon). Sandwiches of the same fill also for your fancy. The house adds variety with a fried shrimp po’ boy and a Wisconsin inspired option called Three Little Piggies: a brat patty with pulled pork and bacon, ‘tween a bun. Not one of the meals or sandwiches cost more than ten bucks.
Packing it In
I hone in the brisket meal, it’s even tough to cook-up outdoors. In fifteen minutes a sawed-off tin water pale comes out lined with red and white checked wax paper, table cloth inspired. On top of it, steaming slices of tender beef brisket lay naked, with a perfect amount of edge fat, and covered in vinegary BBQ sauce. The fork goes in, the brisket disappears, mighty delicious on a cool spring evening.
One added note, this 5th Ward diner will soon have the distinction of filling the void left by the closing of Sil’s Mini-Donuts on North Avenue. An appetizer called Corn Fritters comes out looking like a basket of traditional hushpuppies, however, sugared and thoroughly fried, the cornmeal balls come with a tub of molten butter sauce for dip. Goodness!
For Your Listening Pleasure
The food should draw you in and Lo Cash keeps the good times going with cover free live music. I got a fortunate treat hearing a solo set from Annie B who rocks lead for group Annie B and Vagabond Company. They actually just jammed the pre-game show with Icarus Down for the Bucks game Monday night.
Of hard Americana cast and heart made, sometimes mellow vocals belt from Annie B’s lips in front of her acoustic guitar on her two recorded albums Fancies of a Random Heart and a solo project The Kiwi Cafe, sounds well suited for live performance.
Lo Cash Live is located on 2nd and National and open serving great food and music daily.
Dark and eclectic, Mad Planet did its usual service providing temporary abode to wayward fun-seekers, freak flags waving. Everything from sport coats to jeggings were barely visible between the dim-dive ambiance and the shocking zips of colored light emitting from the dance floor laser effects. Personally partial to The Cure‘s earlier sounds, dance-synth and saxophone infused tunes of The Smiths interrupted the heavy crunch and symbols The Cure kept around even post-punk.
Surprisingly, The Cure’s tribute to Albert Camus, Killing an Arab, made it into the set and was complimented with subtler emotional hits that The Cure well know for off of albums like Faith. Love that album and Mad Planet for making Riverwest Milwaukee’s Hell’s Kitchen/Theater District and being the burn-out/play hard club for a night; the kind of venue where you can make-out shamelessly with your girlfriend in a corner like the dead-beat lovers that you are.
Mad Planet sticks with the regularly scheduled Retro-Dance Party this Friday night and the Saturday Night Get Down returns April 14.
I’m stepping on a thousand cigarette butts on the way in, it’s not dark and smokey in the Cactus Club anymore, but still a little dank on the music side. Someone on staff managed to keep a VHS tape of an old Arsenio Hall episode featuring N.W.A from being magnetized after all these years and its playing on wall-mounted t.v. monitors, nice.
Among the sippers, a sturdily built dude stands-out reviving shades of Trugoy during the Daisy Age crossed with Starski. If any one has a license Busdriver does, his pops wrote Krush Groove. Plus looks can be deceiving, Busdriver’s styles on the mic don’t need image to generate uniqueness.
The Un- to Fame
A musical dervish, Busdriver worked whatever electronic synth-instrument he was hovered over like a steering wheel to jerk the crowd through audio turns, unbelievably speeding up a Scott Joplin riff and ripping it on Me Time and, on Imaginary Places, annihilating a track that sounded familiar to the classic Beasties‘ Floop Loops sample, right after swinging out of a dub Reggae toast.
Busdriver himself is an unsung classic, notably contributing to the Aceyalone-led Project Blowed, way back then, and completed a better know collaboration with Daedalus, worth checking out even if you’re behind the indie-hop scene.
Check out this 10 year-old baby
Something newer for your knew
Milwaukee’s got the Catus
Busdriver did it up setting the Cactus Club stage for Astronautalis, an indie-fun-twirl group that mashes up the music spectrum really well, while highlighting how formulated mainstream hip-hop as a sound has become. Digital music producer Jel was scheduled on the undercard, didn’t her him live, however fluid, harmonic, ambient beats deserve a mention anyway. Milwaukee got a real treat before Busdriver and Astronautalis make their way to SXSW.
Live original composition jazz meets experimental performance theater at the Marian Center for Non-Profits for one night only on Friday March 2.
Milwaukee Area Composers & Artists (MACA) jazz collective, led by Milwaukee grown Jazz composers and saxophonists Steve Gallam and Blake Manning, will perform in tribute to their first CD Release of Live Jazz performances. Solo, duet and quartet sets will create melody, as Mike Neumeyer navigates the marimba, Steve Gallam on Bass Guitar duals with Nathan Dill on violin, and Blake Manning corners a quartet of sax, drums, violin, and bass. MACA’s musicians all benefit from formal training but maintain their artistic warrant, clearly paying homage to their golden age of Jazz heroes in their works. This show should be a real treat for jazz enthusiasts who may be concerned about the future of the music, the MACA residents are all barely approaching 30 years of age.
Quasi Mondo Productions artistically directed by Brian Rott (formerly of Loose Canon Productions) pours a night cap/second-wind starter with its experimental theater trial Stand By that distills movement, props and illusion to tell a story. A subset of short acts from its parent production A Night of Something or Other, Stand By will play with elements designed to leave the audience room to narrate their own sub-text filling the space left by the production’s deliberate omission of spoken dialog. Visually intriguing and at times a bit nonsensical, Stand By aims to satiate the theater scene’s taste for something slightly askew of the typical flavor spectrum. Stand By enlists the talents of artistic consultant Jessi Miller, Lamont Smith and several other budding performers.
The Marian Center for Non-Profits Auditorium provides the stage for MACA part IV and will begin at 7:30pm. Proceeds or the $5 cover at the door go to offset the cost of space rental.
The Marian Center for Non Profits is located just South of Oklahoma Avenue on South Superior Street in the old St. Mary’s High School across from Bay View Park. The Marian Center for NonProfits is a mission of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Francis Assisi that provides affordable office space for non-profits and rent-able space for events.
Alive Week, Three Fingers-Plus of Weekend Performance Happenings, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1bf
Marian Center for Nonprofits, Bay View Compass
Some roads serve their perfect purpose, along the way her’s happened through Milwaukee. Most importantly her road is her road, and it has taken feet, shoes, wheels, tracks, wings, rudders, hoofs, whispers, screams and prayers to travel it, her music always in tow. Her road takes its next turn with the release of her latest ensemble of vocals on My Heart In Focus, a drifting and extremely personal take on classic R&B and Be-Bop-Pop.
My Heart In Focus presents an elegant tight spin on ice vibe that slows its revolutions with arms outstretched, nicely contrasting the versatility Meleni can rouse as shown in her earlier releases. You just can’t box her in.
The roots of Meleni’s music authentically grip all sorts of ground, felt very clearly in her tracks Organ Donor 2nd Movement and Last Laugh anchoring My Heart In Focus as all out velvet hammer bang-ers. Meleni’s album even touches a little vaudeville in Grace Jonesin’. Major just due to Salaam Remi for brining a ferocious musical vision to the album’s soundscape.
In natural fashion when I asked “So you been majoring coast to coast supernova growing, you warmed up for some crazy show in NY a while back, wasn’t it Talib? Now you got the album [My Heart In Focus] dropping how close do you feel to blowing!?” Meleni shoots “I’m blowin’ every day I can wake up and choose what I do.” That’s what dreams are made of.
Meleni Smith shines a consummate supernova not just in the studio, this live performance lets you see what many have seen but many more shall certainly see. Sound travels slower than light, especially in New York (well light travels slow there too). I don’t use iTunes, but I will now to snag this album, an alto love song to life: My Heart In Focus.
Meleni Smith puts the blues back in R&B for My Heart In Focus, Casey Gane-McCalla, The Urban Daily
Oh yeah it’s 2012! That means it’s time to quickly look back at 2011 before speeding off into the night of the New Year. I’ve been blogging for about 3 years now, and the new year also brings us closer to Local Trolley’s one year anniversary! Before I go on posting, I want to acknowledge my most popular posts from 2011. Even though I don’t know how I will honor my most popular post subjects, I still want to give them the desserts they deserve!
Here are the five Local Trolley topics receiving the most page views in 2011!
#5 Vision Noir, Ryan Laessig, Milwaukee Alt (posted August 19, 2011)
Meeting Ryan Laessig was an unexpected jolt of freshness. A photographer and avid re-branded clothing maker, Laessig taps into the alternative fashion scene with a couple of location based themes titled Milwaukee Alt. and Capital Alt..
Laessig published a book photography this past summer entitled Milwaukee Alt. featuring men and women’s fashion styles and aesthetics. His efforts engage sexuality, seductiveness and pleasure, hanging out in area between tasteful and taboo.
#4 Breaking Beats Down, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1 (posted May 12, 2011)
Generating much hype over the past 5 years or so the Miltown Beat Down has provided and outlet for not just aspiring rappers but music producers. The past three years the Miltown Beat Down has featured music producers exclusively. In 2011 hip-hip producer Reason took the title, on the precipices of one of 2011′s top underground collaborations UniFi Records’ release Know Flight Zone with Dana Coppa.
The Miltown Beat Down featured a lot of other independent efforts like Audio Pilot, Sam Winters, Luxi, Mark V, and White Russian, and approximately 36 other talented hip-hop musicians. DJ Madhatter and Kid Cut Up, two hip-hop mainstays in Milwaukee (minus Kid Cut Up now who left Milwaukee to spread his wings this past fall) mastered the ceremonies last year, no telling what in store this year. In the wake of Andrew Tyler’s murder, the only thing the hip-hop community can do is keep striving for higher ground and efforts like the Miltown Beat Down humbly keep the culture ascending.
#3 Making the Mold, Northern Chocolate Co. (posted April 8, 2011)
Filling a need to associate people we know with established type cast, takes a little bit from Jim Fetzer‘s natural mystique. None the less people seek his chocolate desperately and I definitely noticed that as the winter holidays approached, views of my post on Northern Chocolate Company trickled up.
He’s an alum of the old Ambrosia chocolate factory workforce and has kept busy making chocolate on Martin Luther King Drive well before urban renewal took hold in Brewer’s Hill. If you made a Milwaukee Pabst-Can-list, tearing-off and devouring the head of one Northern Chocolate Co‘s famous chocolate bunnies would settle in the top ten must-do’s.
#2 Talent transplant: Riverwest a Rhapsody! (posted March 12, 2011)
Riverwest, ah Riverwest. Some love it, some get broken by it, some thrive in its rubbery stew. Riverwest is kind of like Milwaukee’s City of the Lost Children and playwright Eric Theis wound his experiences there into a theatrical ditty entitled Riverwest: A Rhapsody!.
Ironically, Theis produced his musical in Madison at Broom Street Theater. Despite the play’s, geographical limitations, Theis masterfully transformed his Madisonian cast into a band of gypsies worthy of a inhabiting a Polish flat on Weil Street.
Fearless of difficult topics, Theis’s other projects include an original script about the Reconstruction Era South titled The Temples of Nadir. Crafting intelligent, poignant and nuanced dramatic prose, Eric Theis falls into the category of extremely talented young risk-taking writers to support.
#1 Pt. 2, Art Opulence, Mike Maegestro (posted September 1, 2011)
On a very indiscript late summer day in August, an art show gracing several store fronts in the Plankington Arcade section of the Grand Avenue Mall had just underwhelmed me. Having heard about another lightly promoted art show, I decided why not check it out, I never go to Avenues West.
Milwaukee artist Brittany Farina pulled a few fellow artists together for one of the more unsung event of 2011, an art night at the Brumder Mansion. One of the artists, Mike Magaestro, strung together a tremendous series of paintings centering on the most difficult subject matter to make interesting: flowers. He’s nearly a landmark unto himself in the Milwaukee design world, it seems that visual arts just add to the proficiencies that Magaestro nimbly executes.
Congrats Mike on being Local Trolley’s #1 post for 2011!
Creeping in crevices up and down Milwaukee’s curvy strip of the Third Coast, for The Niama kicking-audiences’ arses comes second to just kicking-arse. The duo that makes up The Niama reek of deep Milwaukee roots that span both sides of the Hoan, and rock like skinned-elbows and the stories that go with them.
This dude Steve Gallam wears a new-school Milwaukee County Parks shirt, none of that blue pocket-T with the mini oak leaf logo. It’s black so it absorbs maximum stains and odors. Bandmate Mike Hodzinski looks pretty raw, head shaved strategically to maximize radness, but has bust-his-wrist-on-a-suckas-face-and-still-play-the-show guts to back it up (take that all you jive wanna-be long hyphenated word users).
Brandishing heavy percussion and aggressive guitar progressions, The Naima surfaces periodically like the Caddyshack gopher to amplify deviant and raucous live music.
With a blind fold on, you might think there are 2 guitars, 1 bass, and a drummer, but with no blind fold on you see that it’s just 1 guitar and a drummer playing leg and neck flexing metal instrumentals. It’s hard, it’s rhythmic and masterfully composed, pretty much two ornery musicians that put together a couple EPs (and an SP) worth of super sick songs by one-upping and stumping each other with their ideas.
Like true sell outs, The Naima headlined a very non-hyped show at Circle-A-Cafe’s Alive at 8 session over the weekend, that also featured Gnarrenschiff, a tough screw and rugged folk-blend of tambour and bodhran, spewing a beautiful and cacophonous layered mixture of notes.
As for next shows, you should be so lucky! (By the way, they are the last known band to effectively use myspace, what…? Myspace is cool again like flannels)
A man on guitar plays solo, accompanying his reckless guitar strums with cackles of sung melody without tune. Live muzac really gets the adrenaline for the next act in a show going. The Borg Ward, unique for attracting antics of this sort, rightfully and righteously encourages spectacles, thriving in its new interior design and performance layout.
Teaming with other classic local underpop groups Terminal Orchestra, Ahab’s Ghost and the Busybodies at the Borg Ward, Gozortenplat divvied up some live tunes that featured a kicking drummer in an executioners mask, guitarist, and a thoughtful psycho-babbling vocalist scatting non-stop for thirty minutes. Exceedingly notable in live music entourages, lesser known instruments sneak-in. Gozortenplat made exceptional use of a dude in a lucha libre sequined mask on Theremin and Jenny Schrank on the Saw.
Never seen a Theremin? Well look at the original footage of Theremin in use, and you though people of today were weird.
Leon Theremin, on the Theremin he invented
Might be kind of hard to believe such a creation could add to an otherwise rock stomping band. The drummer/executioner playing upbeat heavy patter toms behind the rest of the ensemble amassed a sound quite capable of enabling dark forces to be unleashed from a netherworld of anguish and fun-bringing pain.
The Borg Ward kicked off Milwaukee Noise Festival yesterday, which continues tonight, and tomorrow.
Making a few waves only takes one big ripple. Marty McDoom gradually builds his repertoire of music, adding tracks to his under-the- surface hip-hop playlists regularly. Marty McDoom recently dropped a EP demo online called Super, Ultra. Hey… McDoom might be on to something, Local Trolley got a chance to exchange a few words about his progress towards breaking his sound out.
Fuck it, I’m Depressed, Marty McDoom
L.S. Trolley: What best describes your style… hot water on a hot day or cold water on a cold day?
Marty McDoom: I’m Like….uh…uh…cold water on a hot day (laughing), Perfectly slightly colder than room temp water on a hot day..(laughing).
LT: You put out some EPs recently, dark themes, but still listenable, were you surprised by how they were received?
MM: Yeah they did pretty good for completely random projects. I tried to really capture my thoughts and what was going on in my life at the time and people responded pretty good to it all. I knew that i couldn’t be the only person who has those thoughts or has those feelings. I made them to be an accurate depiction of myself at the time, and relate-able.
LT: Yeah, in hip-hop emotions are basically to be avoided, even truth, I was listening to the Mad Kids on WMSE tonight and they were getting on Rick Ross, joking that he was a probation officer at one time or something, [quite] opposite of his persona. Rick Ross is one of the biggest out there, do you feel pressure to make music that responds to this tendency?
MM: I’m totally against this pressure…I think this “pressure” is whats killing Hip-Hop, no one feels free to be themselves, everyone is trying to live up to these expectations and normalities of what a hip-hop artist is suppose to be and represent, its all wrong…completely f*cked. If you ask me, instead of being an expression of real life , real thoughts and feelings, and real issues, its become a big advertisement. One huge show and tell of everything your suppose to want and want to be, but its all bullshit…f*ck a chain, f*ck a nice car, f*ck money. I mean that’s all nice, and should be a by-product of your success but it shouldn’t come as a replacement for reality.
LT: What was the hip-hop moment that pissed you off the most in this era… the one that gave you the, “man this is #$% ##%% #%…”
MM: It sounds cliche…but when they turned Kanye into a social villain for being spontaneous at that award show, at Taylor Swift’s expense… that’s the [real] reality and the flare we need back in not only hip-hop…but the world…everything is becoming so scripted, its lame.
LT: Oh ok it was the act of spontaneity, I’m surprised they didn’t tackle him [on stage]. Obama called him an ass for that, what was your take? Did you agree that Beyonce’s song was really better? or [fill in the blank]…
MM: Nah…he wasn’t an ass…He was just out of place..and drunk [laughing]. I never saw Beyonce’s video… Could care less to be honest. Think about it, who let him up there? A huge award show and no security? Fuck that..they let him up there… They just didn’t know what he was gonna do. He shocked all their asses [laughing]. Personally, I laughed for days.
LT: Do you see any hope for Milwaukee harboring scenes friendly for your flavor of music. Right now it’s really street or really traditional style battle rap.
MM: Not really no….but I love Milwaukee enough to know that it’s not all about Milwaukee. People are really receptive to my music in other places, other States to other countries. Once everyone else loves you…then Milwaukee will.
LT: Good getting a chance to hear some words from the mind for a few, any parting words for the fans?
MM: Stay tuned…Got a lot of cool music in the works, a lot of big things happening…No spoilers as of yet, but improvised sound is definitely in the works…!
The tipped brim of a black dimpled fedora hides the eyes of a man plugged into an ornate guitar, his ivory relic looks to have magical powers. A deep gaze of an indescribable repressed pain, looks passed his arm as he belts out a custom version of The Animals’ classic House of the Rising Sun.
John McLaughlin and The Rogues mend together several genres, played with an attitude conceivably born from wrestling rattlesnakes and cutthroats. Behind heavy crunch reverb, light piano keys and reeds, McLaughlin takes listeners through tribulations sung in folk parables and life bred tales. Thread by thread, John McLaughlin and The Rogues slowly unravel their musical influences. Their music sounds slick, comfortable and well-worn, like a pair of alligator skin boots.
At times mellow, and at other times raucous, McLaughlin plays a little something for all occasions. McLaughlin strolls with The Rogues to slow drone blues riffs that mix with toppling vaudevillian themes, sometimes repenting in harmony with gospel devotionals.
Lightening in a Bottle
McLaughlin coined Eerie Americana to describe he and his Rogue’s compositions. Musical styles come and musical styles go, they splinter and they fuse. McLaughlin succeeds in distilling a tasty and intoxicating sound, hosting his listeners in a smokey parlor room that captures the best of American music during any era of the past century.
John McLaughlin and The Rogues released their debut LP Short Stories in 2010, carried by several online retailers and locally at Bay View’s Rushmore Records. The Brass Rooster also carries the disc, well worth a stop to kill your new music and vintage fashion fix birds with one stone. Short Stories’ album cover art, designed by Leslie Ditto, pretty much says it all, two burlesque porcelain dolls, and a monkey in minstrel costume, crowded by carny road show baggage.