Saturday, December 31, 2011

FEATURE: WMSE Picks of 2011

I'm usually more than happy to just ignore all of the best-of lists that clog up the Internet this time of year, turned off by their ostentatious hipness and the pat encapsulation of larger trends that, as much as we may like them to, don't grow and develop according to any calendar. That being said however, if there is any list of 2011 musical goodness worth perusing, it's the one compiled by my knowledgeable, lovable comrades down at WMSE FM, who between them have covered the local, the obscure and, yes, the high profile releases of the year that was. If you're a fan of my show, the completely non-comprehensive Mondo Radio list is the fourth one down, but you'd be ill-advised to stop there. So, open up Youtube in a new tab and start exploring what kept Frontier Radio rocking in 2011! 

FEATURE: They Just Don't Get It: Vibrations

Musical movements don't exist in a vacuum. Any underground subculture is fated to eventually meet the mainstream, and that convergence can be awkward and frustrating, leaving its originators feeling like they've been robbed of control over a scene and a sound they helped create, calling their very identities into question. Thankfully, at least for those of us with a bit of distance, that over-exposure can also be totally hilarious, as is the case with 1996 film Vibrations, which, in its portrayal of the mid-nineties rave scene, wears its ignorance on its sleeve.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

PLAYLIST: Mondo Radio (12/28/11)

Here's the playlist for this week's edition of Mondo Radio, which you can download or stream here. If you enjoy it, please find the show on Facebook and Twitter.

Artist - Song - Album
Danny Elfman - Main Titles - Beetlejuice Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The B-52's - Dry County - Cosmic Thing
The B-52's - Junebug - Cosmic Thing
Devo - Beautiful World - New Traditionalists
Devo - Working In The Coal Mine - Greatest Hits
Enon - Carbonation - High Society 
Enon - In This City - High Society
Jean-Jaques Perrey - Groovy Leprechauns - At Home With The Groovebox
Bis - Oh My - At Home With The Groovebox
Blonde Redhead - 23 - 23
Blonde Redhead - Dr. Strangeluv - 23
The Dandy Warhols - Godless - Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia 
The Dandy Warhols - Mohammed - Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia
Pat Williams - Bubbles Was A Cheerleader - Shades Of Today
Black Lips - Don't Mess Up My Baby - Arabia Mountain
Black Lips - You Keep On Running - Arabia Mountain 
Davila 666 - Obsesionao - Tan Bajo
Davila 666 - Los Cruces - Tan Bajo
Nobunny - Ain't It A Shame - First Blood
Nobunny - Gone For Good - First Blood
Dusty Springfield - Wasn't Born To Follow - Dusty In London
Dusty Springfield - I Think It's Going To Rain Today - Dusty In London
Sir Robert Charles Griggs - Vhi-Vhamp-Thieu - The Legend Of Sir Robert Charles Griggs
Sir Robert Charles Griggs - A Sideman Talks To God - The Legend Of Sir Robert Charles Griggs
Deerhoof - I Did Crimes For You - Deerhoof Vs. Evil
Deerhoof - The Merry Barracks - Deerhoof Vs. Evil
Cornelius - Point Of View Point - Point
Cornelius - Smoke - Point
Lou Reed - Wagon Wheel - Transformer
Lou Reed - Heavenly Arms - The Blue Mask
Brian Eno - The Fat Lady Of Limbourg - Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
Brian Eno - I'll Come Running - Another Green World
T. Rex - Monolith - Electric Warrior
T. Rex - Cosmic Dancer - Electric Warrior
Van Morrison - Madame George - Astral Weeks 
Van Morrison - The Way Young Lovers Do - Astral Weeks
David Bowie - Soul Love - The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
David Bowie - Five Years - The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
The Kinks - This Time Tomorrow - Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One
The Kinks - Powerman - Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

PLAYLIST: Mondo Radio (12/21/11)

Here's the playlist for this week's edition of Mondo Radio, which you can download or stream here. If you dig it, please find the show on Facebook and Twitter.

Artist - Song - Album
Wall Of Voodoo - Shouldn't Have Given Him A Gun For Christmas - Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Xmas
The Beach Boys - The Man With All The Toys - The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
The Beach Boys - Santa's Beard - The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
The Beach Boys - Merry Christmas, Baby - The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
The Beach Boys - Christmas Day - The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
The Beach Boys - Frosty The Snowman - The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
The Beach Boys - We Three Kings Of Orient Are - The Beach Boys' Christmas Album 
David Bowie & Bing Crosby - Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy - Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Xmas
Big Star - Jesus Christ - Chris Stamey And Friends: Christmas Time
Heidecker & Wood - Christmas Suite - Starting From Nowhere
Bob & Doug McKenzie - Twelve Days Of Christmas - Great White North
Aqua Teen Hunger Force - The Little Drum Machine Boy - Have Yourself A Meaty Little Christmas
Run-D.M.C. - Christmas In Hollis - A Very Special Christmas
Otis Redding - White Christmas - The Original Soul Christmas
Booker T. & The MG's - Silver Bells - The Original Soul Christmas
Carla Thomas - Gee Whiz, It's Christmas - The Original Soul Christmas
Ren & Stimpy - Fleck The Walls - Ren & Stimpy's Crock O' Christmas
The Moog Machine - Jingle Bells - Christmas Becomes Electric
Elvis Costello - Welcome To The Working Week - My Aim Is True
Elvis Costello - Miracle Man - My Aim Is True
Elvis Costello - No Dancing - My Aim Is True
The Jam - That's Entertainment (Live) - Dig The New Breed
The Jam - Private Hell (Live) - Dig The New Breed
Joy Division - She's Lost Control - Substance: 1977-1980
Joy Division - Dead Souls - Substance:1977-1980
Gary Numan & Tubeway Army - Praying To The Aliens - Replicas
Gary Numan & Tubeway Army - Down In The Park - Replicas
The Cure - Friday I'm In Love - Wish
The Cure - In Your House - Seventeen Seconds
Love And Rockets - Yin And Yang The Flower Pot Man - Express
Love And Rockets - Love Me - Express
Nathaniel Merriweather - Everyone Has A Summer - Lovage: Music To Make Love To Your Old Lady By
Nathaniel Merriweather - To Catch A Thief - Lovage: Music To Make Love To Your Old Lady By
Danger Mouse - Public Service Announcement - The Grey Album  
Danger Mouse - What More Can I Say - The Grey Album
Dizzee Rascal - Knock, Knock - Showtime
Dizzee Rascal - I Luv U - Boy In Da Corner
Dizzee Rascal - Fix Up, Look Sharp - Boy In Da Corner
Wiley - Your Intuition - 100% Publishing
Wiley - I Just Woke Up - 100% Publishing
Wiley - Wise Man And His Words - 100% Publishing
DJ Quik (Feat. Jon B.) - Real Women - The Book Of David 
DJ Quik (Feat. Ice Cube) - Boogie Till You Conk Out - The Book Of David
N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton - Straight Outta Compton
N.W.A. - Something Like That - Straight Outta Compton
Dr. Dre (Feat. Snoop Dogg) - The Next Episode - 12" Single

Monday, December 19, 2011

VIDEO: Doc - Airplay

While this effective little documentary is about New York's powerful, popular WNEW-FM specifically, it could just as easily be about any radio station, exposing the rather mundane, behind-the-scenes work that keeps the transmitters humming from dawn to dusk and then back to dawn again.

Trouble viewing the video? Watch on Network Awesome!

FEATURE: Clowns: Not Funny

To accompany a day of clown-themed programming, Network Awesome asked me to look a little closer at the Bozos of this world. What I found was the history of a nearly mythical figure, potent with symbolism and meaning; all of which I promptly scrapped to write about how creepy they are.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

PLAYLIST: Mondo Radio (12/14/11)

Here's the playlist for this week's edition of Mondo Radio, which you can download or stream here. If you enjoy it, please find the show on Facebook and Twitter.

Artist - Song - Album
David Lynch - Good Day Today - Crazy Clown Time
Mustafa Özkent - Dolana Dolana - Gençlik Ile Elele
Michiaki "Chumei" Watanabe - Adventure Of Spiderman - Eccentric Sound Of Spiderman
Yuuki Hide - Kakero! Spiderman - Eccentric Sound Of Spiderman
Magma - Kobaïa - Magma
Magma - Sckxyss - Magma
Gong - Tropical Fish/Selene - Camembert Electrique
Van Der Graaf Generator - Lost - H To He, Who Am The Only One
Crazy Joe And The Variable Speed Band - Little Puffies - Crazy Joe And The Variable Speed Band
The Clash - The Guns Of Brixton - London Calling
The Clash - Jimmy Jazz - London Calling
The Cramps - Garbageman - Bad Music For Bad People
The Cramps - New Kind Of Kick - Bad Music For Bad People
Cypress Hill - How I Could Just Kill A Man - Cypress Hill
Dead Prez - Hip Hop - 12'' Single
The Wu-Tang Clan - Protect Ya Neck - Wu: The Story Of The Wu-Tang Clan
Jay-Z - Dead Presidents - 12'' Single
Bob & Doug McKenzie - This Is Our Album, Eh? - Great White North
Cream - Strange Brew - Disraeli Gears
Deltron 3030 - National Movie Review - Deltron 3030
Bob & Doug McKenzie (Feat. Geddy Lee) - Take Off - Great White North
Adventure - Battle Cat - Adventure
Adventure - Jurassic Park City - Adventure
Terrior Bute - Realm Dweller - Realm Dwellers
Terrior Bute - Summon Da Sandman - Realm Dwellers
The Stooges - We Will Fall - The Stooges
The Velvet Underground - European Son - The Velvet Underground & Nico
The Jayhawks - High Water Blues - Mockingbird Time
The Jayhawks - Hide Your Colors - Mockingbird Time
Wilco - I'm Always In Love - Summerteeth
Wilco - Theologians - A Ghost Is Born 

FEATURE: The Return of Riverwest Fest: 49 Bands, 8 Venues, 2 Days, 1 Neighborhood

Milwaukee's diverse Riverwest neighborhood is always a hive of creative activity, with numerous venues, galleries and idiosyncratic watering-holes packed into a relatively small area. It's somewhat startling then, when an event comes along and kicks what was already a lively area into an even higher gear, which is precisely what the second-annual Riverwest Fest (December 16 & 17 at various venues) plans to do, bringing in dozens of great bands from across the city for a two day celebration of DIY music. In anticipation of the 2011 installment, which promises to be an even bigger party than last year's inaugural event, I sat down with the festival organizers to talk about the challenges and rewards of concentrating so much Milwaukee music into just a few small blocks.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

CONCERT REVIEW: Wilco (The Riverside Theatre, Milwaukee)

Wilco seems to be in a good place right now. They've long outgrown the restrictive alt-country label, branching out in a variety of directions, both experimental and populist, and they've been rewarded for their effort with critical acclaim as well as mainstream acceptance. Of all the currently active American bands, they have one of the widest appeals, and in a fractured pop music landscape, built around niche sounds, it's rather refreshing to have a band that everyone can agree on, if not liking, than at least not reviling.

Even they're choice of opening act, Nick Lowe, is classy without being pretentiously alienating. Playing solo with an acoustic guitar, Lowe ran through the highlights of an illustrious career, including "The Beast in Me" and the Rockpile tune "When I Write the Book", as well as throwing in a few covers like Elvis Costello's "Alison", a song he also produced. He's a pretty big name to be playing the warm up slot, and the sold out crowd largely gave him the respect he deserved.

Anticipation ran high as Wilco took the stage, and from the first song it was apparent that those expectations would be met, even exceeded. Given the eclectic styles synthesized into their sound, it was unsurprising, but still impressive, that they were able to transition so seamlessly from the weirder, more atmospheric numbers populating the front end of the set, through the tender ballads in the middle and on to the finely tuned pop that closed out the night. Their ability to go from delicate to urgent in the space of only a few moments is remarkable, aided in part by the band's untethered, improvisational approach that breathed new life into even their most well-worn numbers. Songs from every era of their discography, including A.M.'s "Box Full of Letters", memorable Yankee Hotel Foxtrot tracks like "War on War", Heavy Metal Drummer" and 'I am Trying to Break Your Heart", and "The Art of Almost" from the brand new The Whole Love, were all sequenced into a majestic song cycle that packed an emotional punch while without skimping on the crowd-pleasers.

The visually striking, abstracted projections (which, if you looked closely included some stock footage of Milwaukee), added another evocative layer as they played and shimmered across the hundreds of pieces of cloth hanging from the rafters, giving you the sense that there was no detail of the performance that the band didn't think deeply about. On the rare occasions that de facto leader Jeff Tweedy addressed the crowd, he was gracious and friendly, albeit in his own cranky way, and the band seemed determined to leave it all on the stage, tacking on a long encore before coming back out a second time for a rendition of "Cruel to be Kind" with Nick Lowe. It was an exquisite, and quite lengthy, show; it's nice to see a band follow their muse so completely and leave so many people satisfied at the same time.

CONCERT REVIEW: Smokey Robinson (Potawatomi Bingo Casino, Milwaukee)

Smokey Robinson should require no introduction. Beyond cutting hits with his group the Miracles and as a solo artist, the Motown legend wrote or produced many of the labels most indelible classics. Making a rare Milwaukee appearance at Potawatomi Bingo Casino's Northern Lights Theatre, the soul legend proved that age hasn't diminished the talent that helped put 'the sound of young America' on the top of the charts and in the history books.

Friday, December 9, 2011

VIDEO: Captain N: The Game Master - Episode 01 - Kevin In Videoland

Here's another video I curated for Network Awesome, the first episode of the animated series/half-hour long Nintendo commercial, Captain N: The Game Master, which aired between 1989 and 1991 as part of NBC's Saturday morning cartoon lineup. Enjoy!

Trouble viewing the video? Watch on Network Awesome!

FEATURE: The World As We Know It: Nolan Bushnell

In many ways, the history of video games is also the story of how our modern era came into being, of how we used computers to transform our culture and ourselves. Looming large in that story is Nolan Bushnell, co-founder of Atari, Inc., who's vision and tenacity helped realign people's perceptions in an age when most gave little thought to bits and bytes.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

PLAYLIST: Mondo Radio (12/07/11)

Here's the playlist for this week's edition of Mondo Radio, which you can download or stream here. If you dig it, please find the show on Facebook and Twitter.

Artist - Song - Album
Kate Bush - The Big Sky - Hounds Of Love
Kate Bush - Waking The Witch - Hounds Of Love
Public Image Limited - Rules And Regulations - Happy?
Public Image Limited - Seattle - Happy?
PJ Harvey - Good Fortune - Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
PJ Harvey - This Mess We're In - Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees - The Bends
Radiohead - My Iron Lung - The Bends
Pulp - Help The Aged - This Is Hardcore
Pulp - Glory Days - This Is Hardcore
Blur - Ambulance - Think Tank
Blur - 1992 - 13
Lew Davies And His Orchestra - Riders In The Sky - Strange Interlude
Arctic Monkeys - Do Me A Favour - Favourite Worst Nightmare
Arctic Monkeys - The View From The Afternoon - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
The (International) Noise Conspiracy - The Subversive Sound - Survival Sickness
The (International) Noise Conspiracy - (I've Got) Survival Sickness - Survival Sickness
The Orb - Perpetual Dawn - Certain Damage! Volume 36
Nightmares On Wax - Biofeedback - A Word Of Science: The First And Final Chapter
Nightmares On Wax - Aftermath - A Word Of Science: The First And Final Chapter
The KLF - What Time Is Love (Pure Trance 1) - 12" Single
Spank Rock - Energy - Everything Is Boring And Everyone Is A Fucking Liar
Spank Rock - #1 Hit - Everything Is Boring And Everyone Is A Fucking Liar
Big Freedia - It's A Shame (Crazy Big Dunkey) - Scion A/V Presents: Big Freedia
Big Freedia - Let It Go Nah - Scion A/V Presents: Big Freedia
Violent Femmes - Confessions - Violent Femmes
Violent Femmes - Please Do Not Go - Violent Femmes
Bruce Springsteen - Cover Me - Born In The U.S.A.
Bruce Springsteen - Darlington County - Born In The U.S.A.
N.A.S.A. (Feat. Method Man, E-40 & DJ Swamp) - N.A.S.A. Music - The Spirit Of Apollo
N.A.S.A. (Feat. Tom Waits & Kool Keith) - Spacious Thoughts - The Spirit Of Apollo
Gorillaz - Glitter Freeze - Plastic Beach
Deltron 3030 - Positive Contact - Deltron 3030
Stereophonics - Mr. Writer - Just Enough Education To Perform
Stereophonics - The Bartender And The Thief - Decade In The Sun: The Best Of Stereophonics
Richard Ashcroft - A Song For The Lovers - Alone With Everybody
Supergrass - Sad Girl - Road To Rouen

FEATURE: A Brief History of Print: Typewriters, Kitchen Sinks and the 2011 Milwaukee Zine Fest

Zines may be something of a relic from a now bygone are, a form of fandom and political expression made obsolete by the Internet, but that doesn't mean they've gone away. A small scene of creators and readers has kept the DIY Xeroxed publications alive, and their handmade charm has become all the more alluring because of how anachronistic they are. The 2011 Milwaukee Zine Fest, happening December 10th at the Polish Falcon, offers publishers, distributors and fans the chance to meet, swap stories, strategies and, of course, zines galore. To mark the occasion, I took a look back on our fair city's influence on underground publishing, past, present and future.

Monday, December 5, 2011

FEATURE: Pingu & The Language of Nonsense

Children's television is often maligned as being moronic, throwaway entertainment, but as with every genre, there are bright spots of innovation and creativity if you know where to look for them. Take the global hit Pinguon the surface, it's little more than the sweetly benign adventures of a clay penguin, but look a little closer, and the show's style and storytelling offers a lot to contemplate.

Friday, December 2, 2011

CONCERT REVIEW: Beirut (Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee)

It would be easy to think of Beirut as a contrivance, viewing their fusion of  indie and world music as an affectation. But conscious constructions rarely sound as organic as the sounds Zach Condon and company produce on record, or for that matter, here at Turner Hall.

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