Xenia Rubinos, Amy Goodman, Nick Zoulek, Marshall Applewhite, and more events of note in Madison this week. | Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, Joel Shanahan
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THURSDAY MAY 12
Nick Zoulek & Aleks Tengesdal, Rob Lundberg & Brian Grimm. Gates of Heaven, 7 p.m.
Hailing from Bowling Green, Ohio, saxophonist Nick Zoulek and cellist Aleks Tengesdal will play solo and collaborative sets here, and just about all of it should be completely bonkers. Listening to Zoulek’s piece “These Roots Grown Deep,” from his upcoming, Kickstarter-funded album Rushing Past Willow, pulls you into swirling portal of disciplined arpeggiations packed with shifts and flourishes, bringing to mind the work of German synth pioneers like Cluster and early Tangerine Dream. However, Zoulek isn’t triggering a synthesizer or twisting filter knobs—he’s playing this stuff manually on a sax, which is insane for the amount of controlled dynamics he brings to the timbre, volume, and frequency spectrum. Tengesdal approaches his cello through the perspective of a metalhead (check out his abstract black metal compositions under the name Weapons Of Indignation) with a similarly absurd amount of control in his piece “Kralizec For Solo Cello,” in which droning, melancholy passages give way to his intense, sword-swinging speed-bowing. Filling out the bill will be a collaboration between stand-up jazz bassist Rob Lundberg (of New York-based synth-pop outfit Leverage Models and noise-rockers Jobs, and also, full disclosure, the co-curator of many of the music events Tone Madison puts on) and multi-instrumentalist composer Brian Grimm. —Joel Shanahan
The English Beat, Something To Do. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
Birmingham, England legends The English Beat were significant for more than their string of jangly, ska-infused hits like “Save It For Later” and “Mirror In The Bathroom,” or the fact that they had three different aliases—The Beat, The English Beat, and The British Beat, depending on which continent you were on. The band also featured an all-star cast of jammers who split off into General Public and falsetto-pop cheeseballs Fine Young Cannibals after the band’s initial folding in 1983. Now guitarist-vocalist Dave Wakeling is the only original member in the band, and his reformed version English Beat is currently preparing to release a new, crowdfunded album, Here We Go Love. —JS
FRIDAY MAY 13
Square One: Marshall Applewhite, The Friend, Glumi. Cardinal Bar, 9 p.m.
For most electronic music heads, the term “down-tempo” typically implies that a track has a tempo of between 90 and 110 beats per minute and has a relationship to something smooth, ambient, or balearic. This is exactly why no one is referring to Detroit-based producer and DJ Marshall Applewhite’s slow, filthy reimaginations of acid house, electro, and techno as “down-tempo,” but instead pinning it with its own appropriately nasty genre-tag—”sludge.” Named after the infamous, purple-hooded Heaven’s Gate cult leader, Applewhite (née Joel Dunn) has been jerking heads around with a fresh slew of releases via Madison-based imprint Yo Sucka (run by longtime Detroiter DJ and current Madisonian Brian Gillespie). —JS
Indigenous: Alison Margaret Quintet. Central Library, 7:30 p.m. (free)
The locally and regionally focused Indigenous jazz series starts back up for the year with versatile Madison-based vocalist Alison Margaret, in a quintet with Paul Hastil on Rhodes, Eric Koppa on sax, Michael Brenneis on drums, and John Christensen on bass. Like many jazz singers, Margaret has a lot of experience interpreting standards, but this series is all about original compositions, and here the quintet will be performing new compositions, some by Margaret and some written (both music and lyrics) by Hastil. A few songs from Margaret’s 2009 album Shades Of Morning will round out the set. Margaret says the group plans to record an album of the new material later this year. —Scott Gordon
Nashville. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
Robert Altman’s 1975 film Nashville offers many wonderful slices of life, but Jeff Goldblum gets my best-in-show for his role as a weirdo who seems to exist only to perform little magic tricks for random people in bars and ride around on his moto-trike, or whatever you wanna call it. Everything in Nashville happens with a purposeful looseness, but the massive ensemble cast and intertwined mess of plots and subplots always seem to be in perfect harmony. It ends up being a movie about a city, politics, life, a specific moment in music history, everything but also nothing. It’s the perfect (only?) way for UW Cinematheque to wrap up its altogether too brief spring retrospective of Altman films. —Chris Lay
SATURDAY MAY 14
Dungen, Boogarins. High Noon Saloon, 9:30 p.m.
For the past 17 years, Stockholm, Sweden’s Dungen have consistently refined their spiked, worldly cocktail of psych-rock, avant-folk, and prog. Last year’s Allas Sak continues multi-instrumentalist, composer, and mastermind Gustav Ejstes’ ascent. One thing we love about this band is how—unlike so many bands in the desperately overpopulated, modern psych-rock climate—Dungen forgoes the common fixation so many contemporary stoner-rock and psych bands have with bastardizing the blues and instead drifts deep into looser, jazzier territory. Album highlight “Franks Kaktus” favors Bob James over Black Sabbath as Ejstes’ expressive flute lines frolic over a locked-in, break-ready drum groove and a tastefully modulating acoustic-guitar strums. Eventually an incredibly heady guitar solo pulls the baton away from the flute and wanders circles over the gorgeous chord progression. While Dungen may get pretty jammy throughout Allas Sak, drifting piano-ballad “Akt Dit” shows that the band has no trouble pulling back and serving a pop tune loaded with twisting vocal harmonies, fuzzy guitar lines, and a bonkers saxophone solo. Dungen really don’t tour stateside very often, so it might be a good idea to check this one out. —JS
Notaword, Paper Wasp, We Should Have Been DJs. Frequency, 10 p.m.
Notaword formed in Kenosha in 1996, and had a five-year run of angsty yet amiable indie-rock, yielding a few EPs and the 1999 album You Can Only Grow So Much. Notaword also played shows with bands including Rainer Maria and The Dismemberment Plan (they sound more like the former). After they broke up, two members played in the psych-blasted post-punk outfit Sleepcomesdown. Notaword recently got back together to play a few reunion shows around the Midwest, and recently told the Shepherd ExpressShepherd Express that it may or may not lead to more collaboration. —SG
Busking For Books. State Street, 1 p.m.
(Note: This event was postponed from April 30.) Busking For Books is an annual fundraiser for Literacy Network, a local non-profit that provides free literacy and English-language instruction for adults across Dane County. Local musicians set up at just about every intersection along State Street and play acoustic sets, and the change people toss into their instrument cases goes straight to Literacy Network. Naturally, it leans heavily toward folk and bluegrass performers, but you can always expect a few musical outliers posted up along the route too, including Pixies cover band Crackity Jones and throat-singer DB Pedersen. —SG
Wanda. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
SUNDAY MAY 15
The Dark Clan, Null Device, Joey Broyles. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
Madison-based outfit Null Device play a rare breed of synth-pop that, while obviously drawing from the classics, refuses to corner itself with nostalgia. Maybe it’s because mastermind synth-wizard and songwriter Eric Oehler has been at this for 20-plus years and, like so many of the most iconic synth-pop artists that the 1980s brought on, has kept up an active interest in the progression of electronic music and the technological means to create it. When the multi-instrumentalist foursome dropped their latest album, Perihelion, back in 2013, they jammed their lush and concise tunes through the sonic lenses of deep house in “Night Owl,” dub techno “Indecision,” and dubstep with half-time swingers like “Metaphysic” and the trance-laced “Wardrobe” (that’s right, we hear that supersaw). Oehler tells us that Null Device is currently working on a new album and he hopes to have it out by September, for which he says they’re “taking a lot of influences from the early ’90s.” —JS
TUESDAY MAY 17
Baroness, Youth Code. Majestic, 8 p.m.
Baroness was last here just six months ago, before the December 2015 release of their fifth album, Purple—not that we take it for granted, especially after a 2012 tour-bus crash in England that damn near put an end to the Savannah, Georgia band (everyone survived, but three band members were seriously injured and two ended up leaving). After a good eight months or so of recovery, guitarist-vocalist John Dyer Baizley and guitarist Pete Adams got back to touring with a new rhythm section, and Baizley to making his crazy-ass paintings of Rubenesque women draped in weird things. Purple, the first release since the crash, continues to build on Baroness’ full-spectrum but stubbornly heavy approach to rock, embracing a range of textures that wouldn’t necessarily cohere if not for the band’s sharp songwriting and fierce execution. —SG
WEDNESDAY MAY 18
Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan. Barrymore, 7:30 p.m.
Amy Goodman is one of the true heroes of contemporary media, someone who’s not just claimed the moral high ground of grassroots journalism but actually put in the work. She co-founded Democracy Now! In 1996 as a radio show, and has since expanded it into a TV show and web outlet with a non-profit business model and a tenacious focus on the stories and viewpoints that mainstream media doesn’t always necessarily ignore, but rarely treats with the same depth or emphasis. Goodman and Denis Moynihan visit here to discuss and sign their new book Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America. —SG
Lacuna Coil, 9Electric, Painted Wives. Majestic, 8 p.m.
Despite a long string of releases on juggernaut metal institution Century Media and being wrapped carefully in fantasy-goth imagery, Milan, Italy’s Lacuna Coil are a radio-ready pop-rock band. And while they may be extremely accessible and frankly difficult to pick apart from the likes of Evanescence (which unfortunately has a lot to do with vocalist Andrea Ferro’s overtly angsty delivery), Lacuna Coil has always seemed pure and concise in comparison, even if extremely overproduced. The band just dropped latest single “Delirium,” the title-track from their forthcoming album, and if you could somehow suck out the characterless guitar tone and Ferro’s vocal lines, fellow singer Cristina Scabbia’s vocal hooks are soaring and the atmospheric string melodies laced into the tune’s intro and chorus are pretty gorgeous. At the end of the day, Lacuna Coil is a veteran radio-rock band whose tunes are aimed at a younger audience. It is what it is, but they’re really good it. —JS
Nerd Nite Madison. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m. (free)
This month’s presentation topics at Nerd Nite Madison include Madison’s karaoke scene and female sexual desire. Perhaps most notably, longtime Nerd Nite host Ben Taylor is giving what he says will be his final presentation for the event, which can’t be good, but we’ll look forward to one more chance to enjoy his delightfully esoteric insights into the insect world. As usual, we’ll be recording the talks for our ongoing Nerd Nite Madison audio series. —SG
Son Lux, Xenia Rubinos, Photay. Frequency, 9 p.m.
New York artist Xenia Rubinos combines playful vocal melodies, a bit of beatboxing, and fragments of everything from punk to Caribbean music into works of slap-happy patchwork pop. On her 2013 album Magic Trix, tracks like “Ultima” and “Los Mangopaunos” can’t help but remind me a bit of Tune-Yards (a frequent comparison, admittedly, and Tune-Yards is probably less an influence than a contemporary who uses some of the same compositional tools and reference points) The difference is that Rubinos feels more fluid in her pop eclecticism, and has a more powerful, versatile voice. She plays here ahead of the June release of a new album, Black Terry Cat. —SG