Lauren Keene – Milwaukee Record http://milwaukeerecord.com Music, culture, gentle sarcasm. Sat, 22 Sep 2018 00:52:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://milwaukeerecord.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/cropped-mrapp-32x32.jpg Lauren Keene – Milwaukee Record http://milwaukeerecord.com 32 32 MKE Music Rewind: The Shivvers, “Remember Tonight” http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/mke-music-rewind-the-shivvers-remember-tonight/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/mke-music-rewind-the-shivvers-remember-tonight/#respond Tue, 24 Jul 2018 05:45:32 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=53226 In our weekly MKE Music Rewind, we revisit a notable Milwaukee song that was released before Milwaukee Record became a thing in April 2014. t’s sometimes said that the Midwest rocks the hardest. That may or may not be true, but one thing’s for sure: the Midwest has a strong affinity for power pop. The […]

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In our weekly MKE Music Rewind, we revisit a notable Milwaukee song that was released before Milwaukee Record became a thing in April 2014.

It’s sometimes said that the Midwest rocks the hardest. That may or may not be true, but one thing’s for sure: the Midwest has a strong affinity for power pop. The genre has maintained a cult following since its birth, particularly here in Milwaukee. Through the magic of radio airwaves, power pop’s slick, infectious melodies made their way to the shores of Lake Michigan and haven’t left since. Even the most casual local music listener can’t deny the genre’s enduring influence in the Milwaukee music community.

Power pop’s resilience in Milwaukee should come as no surprise. During the genre’s short-lived peak, Milwaukee was home to a band that should have been crowned power pop royalty. Though their popularity may pale in comparison to their power pop peers, The Shivvers continue to hold a special place in the heart of Milwaukee music lovers young and old.

If you Google “The Shivvers Milwaukee,” many of the search results on the first page include the word “lost.” The Shivvers undoubtedly had both talent and charm, but they never achieved the same success as Cheap Trick, Paul Collins’ Beat, and other ’80s power pop bands. They found little fame outside of Milwaukee, and they remain one of those “lost” bands that lacked the resources to achieve mainstream success. Their Midwestern stomping grounds left the band in the wrong place at the right time.

The Shivvers have never been “lost” in Milwaukee, especially among those who consider themselves Milwaukee music history buffs. I stumbled upon The Shivvers a few years ago, in the midst of a hyper-obsessive power pop phase. My love for the genre began with Big Star, another “forgotten” band who have only recently began to receive the attention they never got during their 1970s heyday. I was inclined to check out Big Star after hearing The Replacements’ loving tribute to the band’s frontman, a single aptly titled “Alex Chilton.”

Honestly, power pop is hard not to fall in love with. It’s rock and roll with pop music sensibility, guitar riffs and drum beats you can dance to until your feet hurt. I was instantly smitten with The Shivvers, especially with frontwoman Jill Kossoris. I watched countless Shivvers performances on YouTube as I danced around my bedroom. I was elated to discover a rare female-fronted power pop band from my very own city. How could I not be enamored?

I was fortunate enough to interview Kossoris last winter, and I can wholeheartedly say it was one of the highlights of my “Milwaukee-based freelance culture writer” career. Kossoris told me that if the band would have been able to record a second album, their sound would have become similar to “Remember Tonight,” the final track off their first (and only) LP.

“Remember Tonight” is noticeably different from the 11 other songs off of The Shivvers. The track’s drum beat is remarkably similar to the iconic drumbeat from The Ronettes’ 1963 track “Be My Baby.” Though that beat has been imitated hundreds—maybe thousands—of times, it sounds brand new behind Kossoris’ sweet, striking voice. The song features haunting harmonies and melodic keyboard arrangements that move much more smoothly than the rest of the album’s poppy tunes. It’s still power pop, but it’s slower and darker. It’s kind of spooky.

Even though The Shivvers’ greatest hits are “Teen Line” and “No Substitute,” I find “Remember Tonight” to be the most memorable track in the band’s small discography. Given their longstanding reputation as a “lost” band, it’s hard not to imagine what the group’s second, third, or fourth album could have sounded like. “Remember Tonight” was a glimpse into the band’s nonexistent future, an open-ended journey into what could have been. We’ll never know what The Shivvers could have accomplished, but we do have one legendary album that we’ll always remember.

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The War On Drugs bring beauty, boldness to sold-out Riverside show http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/war-on-drugs-beauty-boldness-sold-out-riverside-show/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/war-on-drugs-beauty-boldness-sold-out-riverside-show/#respond Mon, 23 Jul 2018 14:36:03 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=53200 ver the weekend, a congregation of the biggest and baddest names in indie music gathered in Chicago for Pitchfork Music Festival. The three-day gig boasted an impressive lineup of artists who were fortunate enough to receive a coveted stamp of approval from the infamous music criticism website. Luckily for Milwaukee music fans, Pitchfork doesn’t enforce […]

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Over the weekend, a congregation of the biggest and baddest names in indie music gathered in Chicago for Pitchfork Music Festival. The three-day gig boasted an impressive lineup of artists who were fortunate enough to receive a coveted stamp of approval from the infamous music criticism website.

Luckily for Milwaukee music fans, Pitchfork doesn’t enforce “radius clauses” like that other Chicago music festival—clauses that prevent performers from playing nearby cities within a time frame too close to the festival dates. A few Pitchfork performers headlined their own shows in the Cream City this weekend, including lo-fi crooner Japanese Breakfast and indie rock gods The War On Drugs. The latter performed an ethereal, gorgeous set at Riverside Theater Sunday night that would surely make the festival crowd—or anyone—jealous they missed out.

The War On Drugs have been playing together since their 2005 inception, but their current lineup has only been in place since 2014. The band has endured its share of lineup changes (notably losing guitar player Kurt Vile to a solo endeavor), but the six-piece has the kind of chemistry that older groups seldom achieve. They didn’t miss a single beat throughout their two-hour set, keeping audiences on their toes both figuratively and literally.

The War On Drugs are one of the most unique-sounding groups of our time, and it’s obvious they draw from a variety of source material to craft their one-of-a-kind sound. Their music sounds completely modern while still drawing on classic, tried-and-true influences. Their thumping bass lines are reminiscent of New Order while their harmonica grooves bring Neil Young to mind. Nearly all of their songs could easily invoke a dance party, and the audience didn’t abuse their opportunity to move their feet.

If legendary sound engineer Phil Spector pioneered the “wall of sound” in the 1960s, front man Adam Granduciel and company have revolutionized the beloved recording technique for the modern age. Their sound was so, so incredibly full. A six-piece band is naturally going to have a sound much broader in scope than a band with fewer members, but The War On Drugs’ six members are each multi-instrumentalists who put their multiple instruments to use. Granduciel performed both irresistible guitar solos and crispy harmonica melodies while Jon Natchez traded his keyboard for a saxophone. Drummer Charlie Hall also played an organ. It’s a privilege to watch a band whose members each utilize their many talents, and it was refreshing to hear such a variety of instruments used in a rock set.

Crowd members may have purchased their tickets expecting one show, but they instead received two. Yeah, colorful lights are pretty much mandatory at any concert, but The War On Drugs had one of the most unique, gorgeous stage arrangements the Riverside Theater has ever seen. Countless white spotlights moved in unison, drowning the audience in a soft, hazy glow. On stage, a half-moon of smaller lights changed colors throughout the set, paralleling the drumbeats and bass lines. When the light hit Granduciel at a certain angle, the massive shadows of his body, guitar and microphone were projected on the walls of the theater. It was really fucking cool, and the sensory overload added an extra layer of beauty to an already beautiful show.

Granduciel was very grateful to play in front of the sold-out crowd, calling the audience “beautiful” and expressing his gratitude multiple times throughout the set. The War On Drugs probably have the least corny encore routine possible, which was very much appreciated. Instead of performing an over-the-top, exuberant miniature grand finale, Granduciel told the audience the band would grab a drink and come back and play some more. The move spoke volumes about the band and their set. The War On Drugs don’t need gimmicks to entertain; their straightforward talent and earnestness is more than enough to dazzle audiences. After Sunday night’s stunning performance, there’s no question they’ll sell out their next Milwaukee show.

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The Pretenders deliver full-force set at Riverside Theater http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/the-pretenders-deliver-full-force-set-at-riverside-theater/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/the-pretenders-deliver-full-force-set-at-riverside-theater/#respond Wed, 11 Jul 2018 05:12:55 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=52742 Summerfest 2018 ended its 11-night run on Sunday, and one might think Milwaukee audiences are completely out of concert-going energy. Well, it turns out they aren’t–at least, not yet. On Tuesday night, Riverside Theater was packed with excited Pretenders fans eager to see the legendary new-wave band perform an electrifying, unforgettable set. Those expecting a […]

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Summerfest 2018 ended its 11-night run on Sunday, and one might think Milwaukee audiences are completely out of concert-going energy. Well, it turns out they aren’t–at least, not yet. On Tuesday night, Riverside Theater was packed with excited Pretenders fans eager to see the legendary new-wave band perform an electrifying, unforgettable set. Those expecting a night to remember certainly were not disappointed.

The Pretenders performed with a magnetic energy and a sophisticated swagger that is often imitated, rarely duplicated. The ravenous crowd could hardly resist the band’s infectious grooves. A few zealous fans in the balcony gave the band a standing ovation after every single song. The group’s lineup has changed a few times since its ’70s debut, but original members Chrissie Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers continue to tour with the band.

Hynde was naturally the star of the show. Though 66 years old, the rocker is still a force to be reckoned with. She made shredding guitar and singing along look both effortless and effortlessly cool. She led the five-piece band with her signature badass-ness and enviable confidence.

Playing both older hits and a few newer tracks, Pretenders kept fans on their toes the entire night. In 2016, the band released “I Hate Myself,” a brooding, self-loathing track about, uh, self-hatred. Hynde’s delivery of the angst-ridden anthem was both chilling and comedic, and the performance was one of the night’s most memorable moments. She explained the song was inspired by waking up in the morning, taking a look in the mirror and thinking to yourself, “What an asshole.” After finishing up the performance, Hynde turned to the audience with a twinkle in her eye.

“I don’t really hate myself,” she quipped. “I think I’m fucking awesome.”

Hynde proved her awesomeness even more upon receiving some unwelcome comments from audience members. When one fan yelled that Hynde could come to their house and do whatever she wants, Hynde took a long, cool pause and replied, “I’m doing what I want right now.”

The Pretenders could easily fill an arena—or at least a festival stage—with their anthemic rock sound, so to see the band perform in a venue the size of Riverside Theater was an absolute privilege. Hynde spent the night switching back and forth between singing and singing/playing guitar, and the band’s sound was noticeably more full while Hynde played along.

Before the group’s five-song encore, Hynde took off her guitar and held it triumphantly in the air. The Pretenders have lived many lives, and their set was a reminder that they’ve only improved with age and maturity. Here’s hoping the band makes a triumphant return to Milwaukee soon.

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Stephen Malkmus lives up to his legacy at sold-out Colectivo show http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/stephen-malkmus-lives-up-to-his-legacy-at-sold-out-colectivo-show/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/stephen-malkmus-lives-up-to-his-legacy-at-sold-out-colectivo-show/#respond Sun, 03 Jun 2018 14:54:01 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=50729 In his 2007 book Love Is A Mixtape, author Rob Sheffield describes his introduction to Pavement, the ’90s indie rock band that put singer/songwriter Stephen Malkmus on the musical map: Our friend Joe in New York sent us a tape, a third-generation dub of the Pavement album Slanted And Enchanted. Renee and I decided this […]

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In his 2007 book Love Is A Mixtape, author Rob Sheffield describes his introduction to Pavement, the ’90s indie rock band that put singer/songwriter Stephen Malkmus on the musical map:

Our friend Joe in New York sent us a tape, a third-generation dub of the Pavement album Slanted And Enchanted. Renee and I decided this was our favorite tape of all time. The guitars were all boyish ache and shiver. The vocals were funny bad poetry sung through a Burger World drive-through mike. The melodies were full of surfer-boy serenity, dreaming through a haze of tape hiss and mysterious amp noise. This was the greatest band ever, obviously. And they didn’t live twenty years ago, or ten years ago, or even five years ago. They were right now. They were ours.

Pavement has since remained Sheffield’s band; a quick Google search will reveal his lifelong obsession with the group, both as a pseudo-celebrity music writer and a passionate fan. Saturday night’s Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks show at The Back Room @ Colectivo was a reminder that Malkmus himself is a musician who belongs to a certain group of people—even 20 years after Pavement’s tragically early demise.

As a twenty-something spring chicken, Sheffield first saw Pavement in the early 1990s. Today, the writer is 52 years old; his passion for Pavement mirrors that of his peers. Though The Back Room was mostly a sea of salt and pepper hair, there was a surprising amount of younger fans who came out to see Malkmus alongside people who could easily be their parents.

Pavement is one of those bands with an infamous, well-deserved cult following. The early 1990s admittedly didn’t provide much rock music worth writing home about (sorry, Mr. Vedder). The lighthearted, earnest four-piece offered a light at the end of the scuzzy grunge-rock tunnel. Many a music critic has crowned Pavement the best band of the 1990s, and that sentiment is objectively accurate (sorry, Mr. Cobain).

Malkmus became an indie rock hero for his comical earnestness, slick guitar riffs, and almost dissociative singing style. Pavement broke up in 1999, and his solo effort The Jicks have been a band for significantly longer than Pavement even existed. Malkmus continues to be idolized through the ups and downs of his long career; the band very quickly sold out The Back Room, a venue certainly too small for Malkmus’ legacy and impact.

Portland post-punkers Lithics warmed up the crowd before Malkmus and company took the stage. The band was an all-too-appropriate choice for an opener. Their late ’80s, Pixies-esque punk was refreshingly straightforward, reminiscent of the long-gone time when Pavement was on top of the world. Aubrey Hornor’s atonal crooning mirrored a Stop Making Sense-era David Byrne; the band’s influences are no secret.

As soon as Malkmus appeared on stage, audience members immediately began talking at him, in a comically conversational tone. Yep, people are close to Malkmus, and that intimacy was obvious almost instantly. Malkmus is still the same cool guy that he was in 1989, and the most wonderfully satisfying part of the show was hearing his voice in person. Almost 30 years after Pavement’s first record, his voice still sounds as pure and angsty as ever. In fact, it sounds even better live than it does on those early recordings.

For anyone who may not be familiar with Malkmus’ solo work, the show was a great gateway into his breadth of post-Pavement tunes. A few of the Jicks’ albums have been criticized for being too self-serving, but their most recent release, Sparkle Hard, finds Malkmus in a political position. That currency was mirrored in Malkmus’ stage presence; he joked about Tide Pods and “manspreading” throughout the set. His signature casualness was evident, and he’s as lovable as ever.

Not many “older” (read: middle-aged) musicians can nail angst when they’re older (see: Tom Delonge), even if that is their signature thing (see also: Billy Joel Armstrong). Unlike many of his contemporaries, Malkmus continues to radiate that infamous ’90s angst flawlessly. He’s not a 45-year-old man singing about falling in love with girls at the rock show, and thank God for that. Stephen Malkmus is a tried-and-true, timeless indie rock crooner whose talent is seemingly ageless.

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John Prine reminds audiences of his timeless talents at Riverside Theater show http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/john-prine-timeless-talents-riverside-show/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/john-prine-timeless-talents-riverside-show/#respond Thu, 26 Apr 2018 05:20:42 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=49102 Very few touring artists have a career breadth as expansive as John Prine‘s. The 71-year-old crooner has been cranking out songs, EPs, and albums since the early ’70s after being “discovered” by fellow folk legend Kris Kristofferson. In February, Prine released The Tree Of Forgiveness, his first album of entirely new songs in 13 years. […]

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Very few touring artists have a career breadth as expansive as John Prine‘s. The 71-year-old crooner has been cranking out songs, EPs, and albums since the early ’70s after being “discovered” by fellow folk legend Kris Kristofferson. In February, Prine released The Tree Of Forgiveness, his first album of entirely new songs in 13 years. Though a break that long may prove inefficient for some artists, it reminded listeners that Prine isn’t even a little rusty. His performance at Riverside Theater Wednesday night highlighted his many talents.

Before Prine took center stage, folk duo The Milk Carton Kids shared the spotlight. Their minimalist arrangement—two guitars, two voices—was calming and endearing, not unlike the various folk troubadours who achieved fame during Prine’s own era. They joked with the audience in between songs, setting a cheery tone for the evening.

Prine emerged onstage with a four-person backing band and greeted the crowd with “Be My Friend Tonight.” The inviting performance immediately enchanted the audience and set the precedent for the rest of the set. Prine kept the crowd lingering on his every word. He played the recently released “Caravan Of Fools” early in his set. Ever political, he remarked that the track is about impending doom and “has more verses than members of the cabinet.”

As the set progressed, band members continually switched instruments. This was only appropriate, of course; Prine has dabbled in folk rock, rockabilly, country, and everything in between, and his genre transcendence requires quite a bit of flexibility. Even though he can easily shine with only an acoustic guitar and his weathered voice, his lively support system created a lush soundscape that filled every nook and cranny of the Riverside.

Prine has 26 albums under his belt, and a discography that vast naturally leads to a collection of cherished classics. Though he slipped in a few of his tried-and-true tracks, the bulk of his setlist featured songs off his most recent release. While some older artists can occasionally bore audiences with their newer material, Prine didn’t miss a single beat. The set was virtually seamless, and it’s safe to assume tracks off of Forgiveness will provide good company for his classic material.

One of the most enchanting performances of the night was “Boundless Love,” a song dedicated to Prine’s longtime wife, Fiona. Prine sang and strummed with a tenderness and sweetness that is often mirrored but rarely duplicated. Before diving into the performance, he explained how his wife told him he needed a new record and joked about how she locked him in a hotel room, forcing him to work.

Prine’s slick sense of humor is frequently noticeable in his lyrics, and that comedic sensibility made an easy transition to his onstage presence. He told goofy stories about his recording process and songwriting inspirations, and the twinkle in his eye was noticeable even to audience members in the last row. He had the crowd giggling and cheering throughout the night, and it’s clear his undeniable charm has only increased with age.

Near the tail-end of the set, the band left the stage and gave Prine the opportunity to strum solo. The all-too-brief unplugged stint showed Prine in his prime: an effortlessly talented songwriter with nothing but his voice and an acoustic guitar. He joked about how his voice is “sometimes like a radio; it goes in and out.”

The lively audience participated in a sing-along during “Egg & Daughter Nite, Lincoln Nebraska, 1967 (Crazy Bone).” Like so many others in the set, the song was off of Forgiveness. The avid sing-along proved that Prine’s talents are timeless, and he continues to dazzle fans even when they aren’t in his midst. The Milk Carton Kids joined Prine onstage for two songs, creating a charming blend of folk music past and folk music present.

John Prine is a national treasure, and his Riverside show was a much-needed reminder of his timeless talent. He may not always receive the same reverence as his contemporaries, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for audiences; he will always be our little, unkept secret.

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In Love With The Modern World: An interview with Jonathan Richman http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/in-love-with-the-modern-world-an-interview-with-jonathan-richman/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/in-love-with-the-modern-world-an-interview-with-jonathan-richman/#respond Tue, 13 Mar 2018 05:55:12 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=47280 What’s left to say about Jonathan Richman that hasn’t been said before? The prolific Modern Lovers front man-turned-solo artist has rightfully earned his spot in rock and roll history, but you don’t need us to tell you that. Richman’s most acclaimed work may be The Modern Lovers’ discography (and a notable role in There’s Something […]

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What’s left to say about Jonathan Richman that hasn’t been said before? The prolific Modern Lovers front man-turned-solo artist has rightfully earned his spot in rock and roll history, but you don’t need us to tell you that. Richman’s most acclaimed work may be The Modern Lovers’ discography (and a notable role in There’s Something About Mary), but he’s dedicated his entire life to making music. To this day, he still tours with drummer Tommy Larkin, and the duo are making a stop at Paradigm Coffee & Music in Sheboygan on Thursday, March 15.

Richman is known for a few things, including his “heart on his sleeve” songwriting style, his anti-drug lifestyle, and his unconventional means of giving interviews. We spoke with Richman over email about “masculine arrogance,” the state of rock and roll, and goats.

Milwaukee Record: In 1973, you wrote a letter to Creem Magazine titled “Masculine Arrogance Blows.” How do you think masculine arrogance has evolved since sending that letter? 


Jonathan Richman: Well, since that letter, I’ve seen how much of that arrogance I myself still had. I’m still working on it.

MR: A lot of people today think rock and roll is dead, or at least dying quickly. Do you agree? Why or why not?


JR: I don’t know about dead or alive in relation to rock’n’roll, but I do think that what my drummer and I do is very different from that.

MR: Do you have any idea of how your life would have been spent if you’d never picked up a guitar?


JR: I might have been a visual artist. I did oil paintings (and still do from time to time).

MR: How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before? 


JR: I really don’t know how to describe the music you play. I’ve tried. I’ve also asked Tommy (my drummer) how he would describe it? I guess I tell people “we don’t play very loud and it’s mostly songs” (as opposed to groups that do more jamming).

MR: Are you a dog person or a cat person?


JR: I’m both now and a goat person. Have you spent much time around goats? They have this ancient silence about them (usually).

MR: Do you have any tips on how someone can become as vibrantly youthful and optimistic as you are—and stay that way as they age?


JR: Yah, don’t be too critical of stuff. See the good in it, too.

MR: If you could perform alongside any musicians, living or dead, who would you pick and why? 


JR: Well, it’s great to play with Jerry lately. How about with a string section with John Cale, Andrew Bird, and Warren Ellis. Why them? Because they’re all sensitive, imaginative and soulful musicians.

MR: You’ve often said you find creative inspiration almost anywhere. Why do you think that is?


JR: I really don’t remember saying that even once. I only find music ideas some places—not all places. Boston and New York have been real good places for music ideas for me. Madrid, Tokyo, Southern Spain, Italy, the state of Maine, Los Angeles… San Francisco… or the right dirt road somewhere, especially when it’s hot outside.

MR: Can you recommend some movies, musicians or books worth checking out? 


JR: Yah, have you seen The General’s Son by Miko Peled or I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish? Check ‘em out!

MR: Would you still say you’re in love with the modern world? 


JR: No. Now it’s more the sky, the sun, the moon and stuff like that.

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Lorde is the electrifying voice of Generation Z at BMO Harris Bradley Center http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/lorde-electrifying-voice-generation-z-bmo-harris-bradley-center/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/music/lorde-electrifying-voice-generation-z-bmo-harris-bradley-center/#respond Fri, 02 Mar 2018 16:13:16 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=46832 usic fans of a certain age undoubtedly remember when Lorde‘s magnum opus, “Royals,” made its radio debut back in 2012. The indie-influenced track was unlike anything else on the dreaded top-40 radio stations, and its uniqueness propelled the New Zealander towards superstardom seemingly overnight. With a track that was (and still is!) such a pop […]

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Music fans of a certain age undoubtedly remember when Lorde‘s magnum opus, “Royals,” made its radio debut back in 2012. The indie-influenced track was unlike anything else on the dreaded top-40 radio stations, and its uniqueness propelled the New Zealander towards superstardom seemingly overnight. With a track that was (and still is!) such a pop anomaly, Lorde could have easily become a one-hit wonder doomed to an existence of indie obscurity. (Lana Del Rey, anyone?) Instead of fading into the background, the 21-year-old singer is taking huge stages across the U.S. on her first-ever arena tour. That tour began Thursday night with an intimate Milwaukee performance.

Lorde made her Milwaukee debut back in 2014, following the release of her first record, Pure Heroine. Her star has only risen since that seemingly humble beginning, and since being called “the future of music” by David Bowie, she’s only lived up to Starman’s prediction. Even though Thursday night’s show at the BMO Harris Bradley Center didn’t sell particularly well, her infectious performance reminded audiences why the star has found so much acclaim, fame, and success at such a young age.

Upon entering the soon-to-be-doomed BMO, the first thing one would notice is how poorly attended the show was. The entire 300 and 400 sections of the arena were covered in a thick black tarp, and even in the open sections there were quite a few empty seats. It’s hard not to feel like Milwaukee is especially un-hip in a situation like this. How can a superstar like Lorde pack arenas in similarly-sized cities, but barely fill half of Milwaukee’s largest (indoor) venue? Attendance aside, the occupied seats were almost exclusively filled by Lorde’s adoring army of young fans, each sporting crop tops, chokers, and acid-wash jeans. It’s safe to assume most members of the Generation Tumblr crowd were present at her 2014 show, too, and have grown and matured alongside the singer herself.

Lorde brought along two very special guests for her American Dance tour, and both were very underwhelming compared to the singer herself. Tove Styrke played with minimal energy to a scant crowd and managed to slip a cover of Lorde’s “Liability” into her set, which was a little tacky. Run The Jewels made their highly anticipated Milwaukee debut, but the eternally hyped “hardcore hip hop band” seemed rather unenthused about taking the stage alongside Lorde.

To be fair, the Bradley Center show was the first night of the North American leg of the tour, and it’s completely understandable if they were shaking off some nerves and getting into their groove. Nearly all their songs sounded the same, but despite the repetitiveness, many crowd members continued to excitedly chant “R! T! J!” in between tracks. Their set was especially un-compelling given the prestige that’s followed them for the last few years. Socialist icon Killer Mike mentioned how March 1 is the first day of Women’s History Month, which was much appreciated by the mostly female audience.

At long last, Lorde emerged from the smoky shadows of the stage. Opening with “Sober,” she captured the audience’s attention quickly with her blatant enthusiasm and infamous dance moves. From the very beginning of the show, the ethereal young songstress seemed genuinely appreciative of her audience, even despite the lackluster crowd size. It’s rare for artists to shower Milwaukee with so much praise, and it felt like Lorde couldn’t be more excited to be in town. (She even gave a shout-out to Wolski’s!) The already-excited crowd became even more energized after electric performances of “Homemade Dynamite” and “Tennis Court.”

“This is for all the kids who grew up in the suburbs,” she said before diving into an emotional rendition of longtime fan-favorite “400 Lux.” Given her age and suburban New Zealand upbringing, it’s miraculous Lorde is playing venues of this size at all. She’s barely older than the median concert attendee, but her apparent passion and undeniable magnetism only prove she’s an enigma among her pop-star peers. Her subdued theatrics are a prime example of what happens when you give an indie-pop chanteuse the opportunity to tour on a Beyoncé or Lady Gaga-size scale. The lights were artistic rather than distracting; her costume changes were low-key high fashion. The backup dancers were equally electrifying and served as a cherry on top to Lorde’s performances, most notably during “Yellow Flicker Beat.” Their fluid, slick movements were so captivating, they were almost distracting from the singer herself. Almost.

The post-adolescent songstress was especially enchanting while addressing the audience in between songs, providing personal stories and anecdotes that only enhanced each performance. She waxed poetic about how she’s grown and changed since her last Milwaukee visit almost four years ago, telling the crowd about how she’s continually “dreaming these fluorescent dreams.” While talking about Melodrama’s debut, she confessed, “I’m insecure, I’m anxious, I’m overconfident. But when I see you, I know I’m not that different,” prior to an emotional performance of “Writer In The Dark.”

Though calling any pop star the voice of a generation is a stretch, it’s hard not to assign that title to Lorde. Her magnetism was undeniable, and the way she addressed the audience made it feel like she was speaking to an old friend. It’s hard for young audiences NOT to identify with Lorde; she really, truly feels like one of their own, a #relatable pop icon with anthemic ballads that are almost exclusively written in the first-person plural. It feels like she’s singing with them, not to them; “we,” “us,” and “our” are words not used sparingly in Lorde’s songwriting. She may not be a “YAAAS QUEEN!” pop icon, and that’s perfectly fine – she doesn’t need to be. She’s young, she’s hip, she’s cool and she feels like one of Generation Z’s very own.

The show came to a boil with “Perfect Places” and, finally, “Green Light.” The audience could not contain their adoration for Lorde as the BMO Harris Bradley Center lit up green, and star-shaped confetti shot into the audience. Lorde demanded the audience give her all they had, and they dared not disobey a word she said.

Her encore was low-key compared to the rest of the show, but ending the night with her 2013 track “Team” couldn’t have felt more appropriate. During the performance, Lorde walked into the crowd without fear, embracing her fans and singing directly in front of them. It’s clear there’s a layer of trust between Lorde and her fans, her very own peers who could easily be her friends or classmates if she wasn’t a world-famous musician. If there’s any pop star who plays for young people’s disillusioned, moody team, it’s Lorde.

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Tucked Away: Layton Fruit Market http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/tucked-away-layton-fruit-market/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/tucked-away-layton-fruit-market/#respond Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:10:30 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=45274 Between beloved and well-established local staples and a steady wave of new bars and restaurants, worthwhile dining and drinking gems can occasionally get lost in the shuffle. With Tucked Away, Milwaukee Record digs deep with the hope of unearthing some of these gems. here’s no shortage of places to eat in Bay View. From sausage bars […]

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Between beloved and well-established local staples and a steady wave of new bars and restaurants, worthwhile dining and drinking gems can occasionally get lost in the shuffle. With Tucked Away, Milwaukee Record digs deep with the hope of unearthing some of these gems.

There’s no shortage of places to eat in Bay View. From sausage bars to family pizzerias I and II, it’s pretty much impossible to leave the neighborhood hungry. There aren’t just restaurants, either—Bay View is also home to more than a few places to buy groceries (and therefore avoid that looming temptation to eat out every single night).

There’s a Pick ‘n Save, an Outpost, and a Groppi’s each within Bay View parameters. Only a few minutes south of Kinnickinnic Avenue is another unassuming place to shop: the Layton Fruit Market. The quaint grocer has all the charms of a higher-end grocery store without the pretension. The handpicked selection is, of course, full of local delicacies and tasty treats made in-house alongside traditional grocery items like bread, condiments, and, uh, fruit.

The space: Located just north of the airport, the Layton Fruit Market isn’t physically tucked away—in fact, it’s pretty hard to miss. The compact market packs a lot of deliciousness into its small space. Upon walking in, shoppers are greeted by baked goods, deli items, and wine. Not unlike those other Milwaukee-focused Bay View grocery stores, the Layton Fruit Market lines its shelves with an assortment of locally made goodies. Treats from various bakeries (Canfora, Scordato’s, East Side Ovens) are for sale, along with tons of candy from Buddy Squirrel. Yum.

For the more health-conscious shoppers, produce is the store’s highligh—after all, it is called the Layton Fruit Market. The colorful displays pop against the white walls, and the goofy, redundant signage makes picking out potatoes a little more entertaining. The fruit market also has its own line of seasonings and salad dressings for those who are a little more creative in the kitchen.

Milwaukee Record‘s food/drinks: The Layton Fruit Market isn’t technically a restaurant, meaning the only hot food served daily is soup. We passed on soup this time around (it was vegetable barley) and instead opted for some house-made items from the grab-and-go deli. Though the various pasta salads, sandwiches, and wraps were all tempting, we eventually settled on a chicken salad croissant and some chips and taco dip on the side. (We love our health here at Milwaukee Record.) For dessert, we couldn’t pass up a mudslide parfait and chocolate chip cookies (again, we love our health).

Chicken salad is pretty hard to screw up, but the Layton Fruit Market has some of most delicious chicken salad around. Of course, piling it on top of a flaky, buttery croissant doesn’t hurt. The taco dip wasn’t as spicy or flavorful as we would prefer, but it was yummy nonetheless. The highlight of our meal was definitely our double dose of dessert. The mudslide parfait was a delicious concoction made of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and crumbled Oreo pieces. The tiny chocolate chunk cookies had the perfect chocolate to cookie ratio, and they were that perfect “not too chewy, not too crunchy” texture. We might even argue the Layton Fruit Market has the best chocolate chip cookies in Milwaukee.

The verdict: Next time you’re perusing sweet deals at the Value Village down the street, take a five-minute detour west. The Layton Fruit Market is a great spot to grab a quick lunch or pick up a few groceries. Try the chocolate chunk cookies, and thank us later.

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Suburban staples: familiar places to chow down on the outskirts of town http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/suburban-staples-familiar-places-to-chow-down-on-the-outskirts-of-town/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/suburban-staples-familiar-places-to-chow-down-on-the-outskirts-of-town/#respond Mon, 15 Jan 2018 06:10:36 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=44984 It’s no secret Milwaukee has been trying really hard to appeal to millennials in recent years. For those of us who have spent our entire lives in this city, millennial engagement is (for the most part) a laughable pursuit. Milwaukee will never, ever be comparable to Seattle or Portland, and that’s perfectly fine. We don’t […]

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It’s no secret Milwaukee has been trying really hard to appeal to millennials in recent years. For those of us who have spent our entire lives in this city, millennial engagement is (for the most part) a laughable pursuit. Milwaukee will never, ever be comparable to Seattle or Portland, and that’s perfectly fine. We don’t need to be like those places to be special, because we’re already special. Do we really want to let a bunch of yuppies in on our little secrets? No!

The Steve Buscemi-like, “How do you do, fellow kids?” branding aside, Milwaukee’s millennial-grabbing transformation does have a few perks. No, we aren’t talking about the streetcar or even the fancy schmancy new Bucks arena—we’re talking about places to stuff your face. Some of Milwaukee’s most tried and true “flagship” restaurants have transformed into local chains, giving even the most suburban diners some alternative dining options.

The days where Panera Bread and 24-hour Greek-style family restaurants were the pinnacles of suburban fine dining are long gone. Today, people who reside in the Oak Creek boonies and those who bask in the luxury of the North Shore are afforded the exact same dining options as those who are privileged enough to live in Bay View or on the East Side.

OAK CREEK

Thanks to recent developments inside the Drexel Town Square, Oak Creek has gone from a desolate suburban wasteland to a hotbed of runoff Milwaukee culture. Gone are the glory days of Georgie Porgie’s. The southeastern suburb currently has a lot of dining options, some admittedly better than others. We’re especially looking forward to eating IKEA’s famous Swedish meatballs this summer.

Pizza Man – The Pizza Man located inside Drexel Down Square is huge and wide open, not unlike their Milwaukee counterparts. The best part of this location is short or nonexistent wait times and prompt the service. Perhaps Oak Creek residents are still loyal to the established Oak Creek pizza legends (Marco’s and DiCarlo’s are both pretty dope), but that loyalty only makes trips to Pizza Man fast and easy, at least until people catch on.

Bel Air Cantina – It’s 2018 and people are still going crazy over Bel Air. Sure, their Mexi-Cali fusion fare is a source of local debate, but $6 for three tacos and two sides is a damn good deal, especially for the broke college students who popularized the first two East Side locations. The Oak Creek location is quite far-removed from that Downer Avenue vibe. Most of the staff seem to be local high school kids, and clientele during or visit was mostly parents with their rugrats in tow. One thing it has in common with its Milwaukee locations: $6 is still a steal for three tacos and two sides on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Cubanita’s – Cubanita’s opened their second location inside the Drexel Town Square, adding some much-needed Latin American fare to Oak Creek’s cultural hub. Pina coladas, plantain chips, key lime pie and of course, Cubano sandwiches are on the menu at one of the best Milwaukee restaurants in Oak Creek. Their food may be more expensive than that of their neighbors, but the ambiance and quality is well worth the price tag.

Valentine Coffee – Oak Creek has not one, not two, but five Starbucks locations within its city limits. Even though the layout of this Valentine shop is confusing, it’s extremely refreshing to see a local coffee roaster in the suburbs. Their food menu is small, but the options are each tasty and fresh. There’s a full-service bar alongside the coffee menu, too. We guarantee you can’t get buzzed at Starbucks.

MEQUON

Our neighbors to the north have an array of Milwaukee-born dining options as well. Pizza, coffee, and falafel are on the menu throughout Mequon, Grafton and Thiensville. Save room in your stomach on your next trip to the Grafton Costco. We know those samples are tempting (okay, irresistible), but just try, okay?

Café Hollander – These days, it seems like there’s a pseudo-European style eatery popping up in every corner of southeastern Wisconsin, but Lowlands Group was way ahead of the curve. With five locations, Café Hollander is the group’s renowned mini-chain. Hollander’s menu and ambiance doesn’t change much from location to location, but Mequon’s standout is a lovely patio that makes for a gorgeous summer night out. Enjoy sipping a craft beer (or “bier”) and snacking on a sweet potato “frites” dipped in garlic basil aioli under the warm glow of twinkling string lights.

Colectivo Coffee – Many moons ago, Colectivo was the reigning local coffee king of Milwaukee. Today, the empire faces stiff competition with Anodyne, Stone Creek, Valentine, Hawthorne, and Pilcrow. But Colectivo’s biggest advantage in the growing market of local roasters is their volume of locations. North Shore residents can enjoy a locally-roasted cappuccino in Mequon or Grafton. Colectivo’s second bragging point is their bakery, which is made from scratch daily in Bay View. Their maple glazed donuts are really fucking hard to top.

Zaffiro’s Pizza – We can all agree Zaffiro’s Pizza (Farwell Ave location) is a strong contender for the best pizza in Milwaukee. At very least, it’s in the conversation. The Marcus Theaters “Zaffiro’s Pizza” is definitely not the same. It is not at all close to the cracker-thin, crispy goodness that comes out of that tiny Farwell Avenue building, but it’s still a hell of a lot better than your average movie theater pizza, if you can even find movie theater pizza at all. Plus, who doesn’t love stuffing their face with calamari before seeing an Oscar-contending human/fish man love story?

Falafel Guys – The cherished Milwaukee food truck has a brick and mortar location in the ol’ 53092 zip code. With falafel options decreasing by the day in Milwaukee, you may need to head up to Mequon to get your fried chickpea fix. (RIP, Hello Falafel. We will never forget you.)

WAUWATOSA

No area of southeastern Wisconsin has experienced a glow up quite like Wauwatosa. In recent years, the west side of town has gone from “where the Children’s Hospital is” to a city with countless dining, shopping and entertainment options. There are Bel Air, Colectivo, Pizza Man, and Hollander locations in Wauwatosa, too, but we figured we’d skip those since they’re already mentioned above. Simply put: there’s a lot of local chains to enjoy Wauwatosa.

Café Bavaria – Located right across the street from Tosa’s Café Hollander, Café Bavaria is a German-inspired bar and restaurant popular for brunch. Cheese curds, spätzle, and schnitzel are just a few of the German-inspired dishes on the huge menu alongside a huge list of German biers.

Hue Vietnamese Restaurant – With locations in Bay View and Wauwatosa, Hue is famed for their huge bowls of pho, its curry, and their delicious appetizers. The chill ambiance only enhances the tasty food.

Thainamite – Sushi and Thai food galore are served up at Thainamite, originally popularized on Brady Street and inside the Milwaukee Public Market. Though Tosa has countless dining options, there aren’t too many places to enjoy sushi, giving Thainamite a slight advantage over other Asian eateries in the area.

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Mandatory Milwaukee: Mars Cheese Castle is a tourist trap fit for a king http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/mandatory-milwaukee-mars-cheese-castle-is-a-tourist-trap-fit-for-a-king/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/mandatory-milwaukee-mars-cheese-castle-is-a-tourist-trap-fit-for-a-king/#respond Thu, 11 Jan 2018 15:02:24 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=44931 When driving north on I-94, it’s easy to miss the dark, foreboding sign that reads “Wisconsin Welcomes You!” on a long pilgrimage back to Milwaukee. Only a few miles upstate stands the Mars Cheese Castle, the unofficial reminder travelers are officially in the Dairy State. The Kenosha landmark began its legacy as a lowly gas […]

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When driving north on I-94, it’s easy to miss the dark, foreboding sign that reads “Wisconsin Welcomes You!” on a long pilgrimage back to Milwaukee. Only a few miles upstate stands the Mars Cheese Castle, the unofficial reminder travelers are officially in the Dairy State.

The Kenosha landmark began its legacy as a lowly gas station in 1947. A decade later, tragedy struck, and the building burned to the ground. A second building was erected in 1958, but it wasn’t until a long-overdue remodel that the Mars Cheese Castle began to resemble a royal estate. In 2011, the Mars Cheese Castle debuted a brand new building complete with a watchtower and drawbridge to mirror the shop’s iconic name.

Though the castle may look quaint while speeding down the freeway, it’s shockingly spacious inside. There’s around 10 different sections, each dedicated to their own specialty item; beer, wine, souvenirs, baked goods and, of course, cheese are only a few of the Cheese Castle’s offerings. There’s also two restaurants under the same regal roof; one counter-service, deli-style eatery and one full-service, sit-down restaurant with waiters and a full-service bar.

The Cheese Castle’s interior often mirrors the exterior, and it’s obvious the decorator really ran with the whole “castle” motif. The regal aesthetics are most cohesive in the wine department and both restaurants. Photos of founders Martha and Mario Ventura, Sr. hang above a pair of glossy, ornate thrones fit for a royal couple. There’s also a massive wooden table carefully decorated for each season complete with enough chairs for a royal feast.

There are stained glass windows in almost every room paired with other medieval architecture staples like exposed stone, mahogany brown wood and rusty chandeliers. It may be a Disney World, “Pirates of the Caribbean” type of design, but hey, it works.

Most of the Mars Cheese Castle is comparable to a deliciously tacky Wisconsin Dells gift shop, but the souvenir section boasts a level of kitsch that’s fit for royalty. It’s almost comically hokey. Every tchotchke imaginable is branded with the Mars Cheese Castle logo and imagery—koozies, car air fresheners, mugs and magnets are only a few of the overpriced items available to treat out-of-state family and friends with. Of course, there’s plenty of Wisconsin puns and “wine mom” humor to go around, and lots of t-shirts.

Strangely, the cheese department is pretty insignificant compared to the rest of the store, and frankly, it’s kind of unremarkable. The grocery department picks up the slack, highlighting countless Wisconsin food vendors. Many are foodie-friendly, specialty brands one would normally find at stores like Outpost Natural Foods and the Riverwest Co-Op. Potato chips, mustard, and maple syrups are only a few of the countless Wisconsin-bred snacks available to purchase.

Vendors aside, the food prepared inside the Cheese Castle is also worth the trip down to Frontage Road. Cheese bread, Kringles, fudge, and black-and-white cookies are made fresh daily in the tiny bakery. Their famous Reuben sandwich is stacked with a mountain of corned beef and thick layers of sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. Weighing in at half a pound, it can barely handle two pieces of bread. After all, what’s more “Wisconsin” than insane portion sizes?

The ghost of the original gas station lives within the beer department with fluorescent lights and huge refrigerated cases. Cases of Spotted Cow are famously expensive inside castle walls, going for $44.99 for a 24-pack. Even though some beers can get a little pricey, the stock follows the example led by the rest of the store: countless beers (both craft and mass-produced) brewed in Wisconsin.

With the tacky castle décor and massive souvenir gallery, it’s easy to dismiss the Mars Cheese Castle as a pathetic grab for tourists (and, uh, Illinois residents). But if first-time visitors can make it past their initial (and inevitable) round of eye rolls, they’ll be pleasantly surprised by the plethora of Wisconsin-made treats lining the castle’s shelves. It’s worth the stop on your next trip down to Chicago. We promise the delicious snacks will make the traffic slightly more bearable.

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