You always see obscure band stickers plastered in bathroom stalls at the bar, on the fridges, or both; On empty shells of payphones, bus shelters and all kinds of other non-objectionable places, tattoos of the modern urban landscape. Then that one always jumps into your vision, hard to unsee, especially when the colorway gleams hot pink. S-H-I-N-0-B-I in geometric block letters, circles, squares and triangles the dominant motifs… NINJA. You know what genre it doesn’t come from, but from where does it? Blau!
Rounding that corner to full on band maturity, Shinobi Ninja rose out of Brooklyn’s primordial soup in 2008, dropped their debut in 2011 (the title track of it Rock Hood swiftly picked and featured on the video game NBA 2K12) and dabbled in storytelling with their 2014 release Escape from NY.
They’ve found their way back into their true niche of Afropunk with their most recent release Artistic Visions, which to the uninitiated equals rock x rap x fitting genre (y). They leaked an exclusive from Absolutepunk.net titled Bang Bang, a self-aware, clinical and polished cut from an outfit that cared enough to make a extra stop in MKE long enough to inspire a few game revelers to slap a stickers up, the mark of a good memory.
Bang Bang via Shinobi Ninja on YouTube
Damn conventional wisdom, Busdriver still matters if he don’t get heard. It baffles me that a dude can collaborate with one of the illest, illest, rappers of all time Aceyalone as a teen, put out give-or-take 12 albums through out the 2000’s into today, and still be okay paying dues. That’s probably why he’s so raw. Not trying too hard to be cool, and being cool being among the good people.
In 2014, Busdriver let Open Mic Eagle, Nocando, and Milo kill it before he let loose some sheit that had me thinking “this is what Socrates was talking about with The Cave.” Do you know what you’re seeing?
Busdriver at MadPlanet, Dorner vs Tookie Tour, 2014
Busdriver getting it with a pretty lovely local slate putting on, Lorde Fredd33, Zed Kenzo, Milo and admirable Miltown Beatdown competitor hitmayng jockying tonite at Mad Planet.
Setting the mark for improvised jazz in Milwaukee, Unrehearsed MKE paced its two year anniversary with a follow-up show in March. Unrehearsed MKE came equipped its usual stable of thorough bred musicians, fit for carrying music jockeys around the gormandizing track, a mile and a quarter.
Unrehearsed’s departure from the traditional recital performance doesn’t reveal itself until host Barry Clark shares the recipe, its all improvised. The musicians are live tracks that Clark taps, steps back, and listens to the joy that composition gave.
Unrehearsed #26 featured selections of go-to instrumentation of Jay Mollerskov with Nicholas Elert, and Cody Steinmann all on guitar. Jess Lemont (percussion), Michael Lang (percussion), and Nick Weckman (trombone) went in together.
An odd pairing, vibraphone and gongs performed by Timothy Dries and Michael Bettine, ushered a savory flavor profile coating the audience with satiating interplay.
Unrehearsed #26, Jazz Estate
Unrehearsed #26, Jazz Estate part 2
Unrehearsed MKE residency at Jazz Estate will pick up its monthly place sometime in future, as in May 3rd at 7:30p.
Rumors of an instantaneous sell-out at Turner Hall added to the lore that made Sleater-Kinney’s highly anticipated post-Valentine’s Day performance at the Riverside legendary. You know you’re all grown up when you can say you’ve been to the Riverside more than once in a calendar year. My time has apparently come. If any band was to do it I’m glad it was them.
The Elephant Pose
Riverside’s gorgeous Baroque interior couldn’t mute the obvious mental chatter permeating the foyer atmosphere, brimming with posers poser-checking other posers, myself included. My then-girlfriend, now-fiance, caught me laughing out loud while watching Portlandia a couple years ago, and enlightened me on Carrie Brownstein. I admittedly only had at the tip of my tongue, ‘Oh that cool looking girl who’s pretty funny?’
I imagine 5 out 7 people attending stood in the category of Portlandia fans first. My fiance even confided her deference for Bikini Kill when she heard Sleater-Kinney was coming to town, and she’s not even as big a Portlandia fan as I am, right? Really, it’s not worth being like the SXSW hoard. Really, it’s physically, emotionally and socially impossible to have been there for everything, especially anything that happened before 2005.
SXSW Hoard via Jimmy Kimmel Live
Clear the Non-Sense
None of that poser-pretension mattered inside the Riverside auditorium, only that the die-hard pretentious were sharing their moment, gladly letting a little rub-off on everyone else. Neo-true skool Hip-hop serial-banger Lizzo had already tenderized the crowd and Sleater-Kinney went right to work.
They riffed, Carrie Brownstein funky as ever, in a capped shoulder blouse and jeans, throttled then soothed her guitar strings. They belted, Corin Tucker grounded herself as if she was drawing power directly from the floor to mega-amplify her cavernous voice. They banged, Janet Weiss pelted her drum kit furiously. They animated life-less objects, the backdrop of their staging hung motionless upstage, gray and textured like concrete; brought to life under DIY special effects, cut squares wafting upwards, blown by a giant fan.
Sleater-Kinney, Entertain – Live (2015)
Sleater-Kinney’s prowess showed best in their updated delivery of gravity carrying songs like Combat Song and their willingness to drift-off to distant glory held in frenetic anthems like Not What You Want, while introducing new material from their latest LP No Cities to Love. Brownstein heaped tons of praise on Milwaukee for turning out on a Sunday night and gushed a little at the Riverside’s handsomeness. I’m sure everyone welled-up a little with classic Milwaukee exuberance, wishing only to turn the entire lower level into the pit.
Understanding they are a piece of the heart and a gasp of the breath of the last generation to leave home en-mass and in earnest at 18 or sooner, Sleater-Kinney was nothing less that impressive musically. To know they played The Globe with a lot less lights and people, is even more ridiculous. What else is there to say, if you weren’t their you missed two damn good shows, hopefully in 15 years everyone in the audience and on stage will still have enough spunk to do it again.
Sleater-Kinney dropped into Milwaukee as one of 20 U.S. stops on their international campaign for their latest album No Cities to Love.
Expecting the same old dusky jams you can count on at the Jazz Estate, I stepped to that night more for the dim ambiance than the music. Though the music is always a big plus. I get the per usuals and the main act is preparing to go on. Then this trumpet leans on the silence.
It blows the cob webs off of everyone with a slow tenor drawl. Hi hat taps in the snare, and rim shot. A melodic line is sung-spoken by Maggie Vagle, keys trickling notes around her words,’I have seen the break of day, rising glistening, Im transfixing…’ It’s an exquisite lead in for Rico Sisney to begin his reminiscent verse about a person he knew.
Sidewalk Chalk, Vibrate
Sidewalk Chalk marked a high-point late in 2014 for sneakily good shows, a feat pulled easily by a such an obviously good band of musicians. Based in Chicago, Sidewalk Chalk touts a vintage brass section featuring a Trumpet (Sam Trump) and Trombone (David Ben-Porat), that build on the foundations set by urban R&B electric Bass (Garrett McGinn) and drums (Tyler Berg), and a hip deck of Keys (Charlie Coffeen). Sidewalk chalk has all the parts needed to steer an a all-terrain course through music’s soulful parts.
Their second album, Leaves, prepares to bud late in February and they treated the crowd a Jazz Estate to an early sampler. Sidewalk Chalk has a ton of moxie to go with their stage presence, striking the right balance of justified confidence needed in the urban fusion genre. Most of all they are a lot fun.
Sidewalk Chalk, Them Us
Sidewalk Chalk weaves in and out of dreamy and contemplative pieces, and go quickly from sentimentality to good times. When they get introspective you have a musical pal to accompany you on your daily laments and social tithing. At their upbeat best, they will give you perfect soundtrack to do something uplifting. Sidewak Chalk’s sophomore album leaves drops February 25.