Rock Roundup

Folk, Prog-Rock and New Age?

That’s the sound of The Soil & The Sun, known for “Are You” and coming to Turner Hall.

By - Jan 19th, 2015 12:51 pm

Top Show: The Soil & the Sun at Turner Hall Ballroom, Wednesday, January 21

Which song is worse, the one you hate from the first time you hear it or the one you hate after hearing it in heavy rotation for a month?

I hated “My Humps” by the Black Eyed Peas every single time I heard it, but between my first and my 1,000th hearing of “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry I went from hate to shrugging acceptance and then back to hate.

(I’m not going to post links to either hit.)

This does connect to the Soil & the Sun, whose song “Are You?” is quite gorgeous:

It’s just that—with the above video dating to November 2013 and Meridian, the LP the song is taken from, released in August 2014. “Are You?” has been traipsing around for over a year, and I don’t think it has the staying power of, say, Spoon’s “Do You” (which I will post):

In the context of the entirety of Meridian, however, “Are You?” is a snapshot in a fuller, longer sequence of photos of the Soil & the Sun.

On its third album overall, the septet from Grand Rapids, Michigan is in theory a folk-rock band. In practice, it is closer to the Decemberists than to the Lumineers—that is to say, more practiced than ramshackle—and given to prog-rock ruminations and New Age drifting.

In the context of both Meridian and a show that costs ten dollars, “Are You?” is the hook and the bait with which the Soil & the Sun hopes to lure you into really paying attention to everything else it can do. It is an introduction as well as a single.

Wednesday, January 21: Veil of Maya and Upon a Burning Body at Rave

Veil of Maya might sound aggressive to metalheads accustomed to perverse concepts like non-guttural singing. Yet the Chicago deathcore group has recently strengthened Wisconsin-Illinois relations with the departure of longtime lead growler-and-screamer Brandon Butler and the entrance of Lukas Magyar of the Horicon band Arms of Empire.

A new song!

Upon a Burning Body, Veil of Maya’s mate both on a record label and on this tour, is even tighter and more aggressive. Resident in San Antonio, Texas, the quintet is also a little smoother in its cranked-to-max fury, especially on its latest album, 2014’s subtly titled The World Is My Enemy Now.

Friday, January 23: The Hollowz at Cactus Club

On any list of annoying things a local music act must put up with, the fan-posed question “So when’s your new music coming out?” is probably pretty high, though the asking does indicate interest and excitement. Better to be badgered than to be ignored.

In July 2014, more than three years after its last LP, Dreams of Sex and Flying, the Hollowz—primarily the duo of producer Edward Cayce and rapper Logic—dropped “Heist,” a really funky track from its vault or hard drive. (The accompanying Bullitt-inspired artwork is suitable for framing.) Show love and maybe the Hollowz will answer the aforementioned question.

Friday, January 23: Taylor Dayne and John Waite at Northern Lights Theater, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

It can be difficult to choose between two evils, such as Ted Nugent vs. a punch to the scrotum, but it’s easy to choose between ironic fans of 1980s music and earnest fans of 1980s music: earnest fans win, especially in a large crowd. Who wants to look around at all those sneers?

Therefore, I say unto ye fans of Taylor Dayne and John Waite: enjoy her dance-pop and lungbusting ballads from the 1980s without shame; sing along to his babys, bad English, and solo hits like “Missing You,” and think less of cheesy fashions and more of what you felt the last time you heard these songs:

Saturday, January 24: Oumar Sagna and Sindoolaa at Club Garibaldi

There’s an old, never-dying joke with a punchline that everybody hates jazz, even those who pretend to like it. (Last November, former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver did his version of the wilted perennial at around the 1:05 mark of this clip from Last Week Tonight.) A couple word changes would adjust the joke for world music.

The change wouldn’t make the joke funnier or truer, whereas there is laughter and soul in the Sindoolaa ensemble formed by Senegal native Oumar Sagna. With a mixture of West African and American styles, the Milwaukee-based group swings in an unusual fashion, but the locals don’t seem to have trouble keeping up with the beats. Or genuinely enjoying them.

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