THURSDAY, APRIL 12
Rickie Lee Jones @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
Decades into a career of recording everything from jazz to pop to R&B, Rickie Lee Jones continues to throw curveballs to her fans. Her 1997 record Ghostyhead experimented with drum-heavy trip-hop, and 2007’s The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard—a —a tough, rock ’n’ roll-minded treatise on religion—was one of the most intimate albums of her career. Her most recent work, 2009’s Balm in Gilead, , retains that intimacy even as it finds Jones in a more collaborative mood. It contains contributions from Ben Harper, Alison Krauss, Jon Brion and the late Vic Chesnutt.
FRIDAY, APRIL 13
Rupa & The April Fishes @ South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, 7:30 p.m.
Singer Rupa Marya and her ensemble Rupa & The April Fishes hail from San Francisco, but their music takes cues from all around the world, drawing from seductive French pop, Latin tango, Gypsy swing and, on one song from the 2009 album Este Mundo, American hip-hop (it features a guest rap from The Coup’s Boots Riley). The music is festive, even as the songs themselves are grounded in loss and suffering—two experiences that Marya witnesses on a nearly daily basis at her day job as a doctor at a San Francisco hospital.
Asleep at the Wheel @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 9 p.m.
Since their inception in the ’70s, Austin’s Asleep at the Wheel have been the most devout torchbearers of the Western swing style of country music popularized by the late Bob Wills. Throughout the decades, the ensemble has frequently crossed paths with one of Wills’ most famous fans, Willie Nelson, with whom they recorded the 2009 collaboration Willie and The Wheel, which included guests Vince Gill and Paul Shaffer. The next year they teamed up with Leon Rausch, the longtime singer in Wills’ band The Texas Playboys, for the album It’s a Good Day.
FRIDAY, APRIL 13
Rodrigo y Gabriela w/ C.U.B.A. and Bobby Long @ The Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.
The virtuosic Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela was versatile enough to be tapped for a Robert Rodriguez soundtrack and a Nightmare Before Christmas tribute album, all before recording what might be the only worthwhile cover of “Stairway to Heaven.” That cover made the duo a hot act in world-music circles, which they continued to charm with subsequent covers of Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix and John McLaughlin. The duo recorded its latest album, Area 52, with the 13-piece Cuban orchestra C.U.B.A., which will back the band at this concert.
SATURDAY, APRIL 14
The Cave Singers w/ Absolutely, Greatest Lakes, Icarus Himself and Slow Walker @ Cactus Club, 7 p.m.
Neither Pretty Girls Make Graves nor Hint Hint were known for restraint or subtlety, so it was a surprise when members of those wild-eyed indie-rock bands formed The Cave Singers, a trio that prefers terse folk-rock and bluesy dirges. While nobody will mistake them for Fleet Foxes—their songs are sparse and raw, often leaning on a primal, percussive thump—this Seattle group has emerged as an unlikely but welcome addition to the crowded indie-folk scene. The group filled their 2009 album for Matador Records, Welcome Joy, with elemental images of death, nature and baptism, and the group’s 2011 follow-up, No Witch, was even moodier.
Read our daily events guide, Today in Milwaukee, on expressmilwaukee.com
SATURDAY, APRIL 14
Ceremony w/ Get Rad, Shock Value and Pretty Wounds @ Borg Ward, 7 p.m.
hardcore bands would rather flame out than grow up, but those that keep
going after they’ve exhausted their initial, youthful muse can often
stumble upon great things. That’s the case with the Northern California
group Ceremony, which began as a purebred hardcore band in the mid-’00s
before signing to the respectable indie label Matador, where they
released this year’s John Goodmanson-produced full-length Zoo. The
rage of the band’s early work is gone, replaced by ’60s garage-rock
riffage and moody traces of ’80s post-punk, but make no mistake about
it, the band still rips: Zoo is one of this spring’s most rousing rock ’n’ roll albums.
The English Beat w/ The Invaders @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
an unwritten rule that if a band exists on- and off-again long enough
without making any new music, eventually it will splinter into two bands
touring under the same name. At least the crossover ’80s ska band The
Beat was well positioned for the split, since the group had two
vocalists: Dave Wakeling, the Brit-pop frontman, and Ranking Roger, the
toasting reggae singer. Wakeling now fronts the American version of The
Beat, called The English Beat, while Roger has carried the Beat torch in
the United Kingdom. Neither camp has released a new album.
Blue October w/ Girl in a Coma and Justin Furstenfeld @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Texas modern-rock quintet Blue October draws from the lighter sounds of
late- ’90s alternative rock. With their swooning choruses and
post-grunge angst, the band’s breakout 2006 singles “Hate Me” and “Into
the Ocean” played like relics from the MTV Buzz Bin circa 1997, so it’s
not surprising that they were embraced by alternative-radio formats that
have never moved beyond that era. One of the group’s most unexpected
breaks came when Twilight scribe Stephenie Meyer heartily
endorsed the band, introducing them to her massive fan base. Last year
the group released its sixth studio album, the synth-drenched Any Man in America, which documents singer/guitarist Justin Furstenfeld’s bitter divorce and the custody battle for his daughter.
SUNDAY, APRIL 15
Death Cab for Cutie w/ Magik*Magik Orchestra and Low @ The Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.
Death Cab for Cutie’s 1998 studio debut, Something About Airplanes, introduced
yet another charming little Pacific Northwest band infinitely indebted
to Built to Spill’s wobbly, heartsick guitarpop. With its nasally cries,
clumsy guitars and careening stabs of cello, the album seldom deviated
from There’s Nothing Wrong With Love’s reliable playbook, but on
subsequent releases the band would begin to distinguish itself from its
regional peers, crafting a tightly woven, achingly romantic strain of
indie-rock that’s made them the darlings of both college- and
alternative-radio stations. The group’s dreamy 2011 album, Codes and Keys, featured
strings from the Magik*Magik Orchestra, a San Francisco ensemble that’s
backed artists including Third Eye Blind, How to Dress Well, Sting and
The Dodos. They’ll be joined by that string section for this show.
TUESDAY, APRIL 17
Best of Milwaukee Web Awards Party @ The Wherehouse, 6 p.m.
This winter, the Shepherd Express and
expressmilwaukee.com asked readers to vote for their favorite
Milwaukee-area websites, blogs, Twitter personalities and tech-savvy
businesses for the second annual Best of Milwaukee Web Awards. The
winners of those awards will be printed in next week’s issue of the Shepherd, but
first they’ll be announced at tonight’s awards party and networking
event at the Wherehouse. There will be a build-your-own-burger bar from
Sobelman’s, cupcakes from the Milwaukee Cupcake Co., drink specials and
door prizes, including an iPad. Doors open at 6 p.m., the awards will be
announced at 8 and Milwaukee’s hip-hop band Fresh Cut Collective will
keep the party going after the awards with a live performance.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18
Cults w/ Mrs. Magician and Spectrals @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
The Manhattan indie-pop
duo Cults charmed music blogs with their 2010 debut single “Go Outside,”
a sunshine-soaked tower of double-dipped cotton candy heavily indebted
to ’60s girl groups. On the strength of that perfect summer pop song,
the band landed a deal with Lily Allen’s Sonybacked label In the Name
Of, where they released last year’s self-titled full length. The album
rarely matches the gleeful heights of “Go Outside,” but it conveys the
same sense of euphoria throughout. It brims with twinkling
glockenspiels, joyous handclaps and wistful doo-wop melodies.