Brendan Benson and Cory Chisel at Turner Hall Ballroom
After touring together for more than a month, the Brendan Benson/Cory Chisel road show has become a finely tuned machine, so it's a damn shame that more people know of Benson as "that guy from The Raconteurs" than "a power-pop genius who has a handful of independently brilliant records under his belt." The gap between his first solo release and his initial appearance alongside Jack White & Co. spanned almost exactly a decade, but to the delight of longtime fans this latter notoriety resulted in a comfortably crowded Turner Hall Ballroom for Benson's show on Wednesday night.
The audience seemed especially responsive toward honorary-Milwaukeean-by-way-of-Appleton Cory Chisel—even his obligatory Brett Favre/Vikings jokes garnered some chuckles, which is saying a lot in Our Year of Favre Fatigue. Ably supported by his five-piece Wandering Sons, Chisel responded to his affectionate reception with an outright inspiring set.Taut melodies and gorgeous backing vocals propelled an arrangement of stomp-along pop-rock interspersed with a few self-described "lullabies," each of which conjured more than a touch of The Swell Season's love-haunted ache.
Backyard Beauties: Heirloom Vegetables and the Simple Art of Seed Saving
Whether as a byproduct of fiscal necessity or a desire to have a hand in what winds up on the family's dinner plate, the act of growing fruits and vegetables at home has recently returned to its rightful status as a revered American pastime. As the homegrown revolution continues to spread, many gardeners are branching out from mass-produced, highly disease-resistant hybrid plants to open-pollinated heirlooms.
Industrialized modern agriculture has never ensnared heirloom plants, as heirlooms' diverse, and sometimes unpredictable, dimensions and appearances make them difficult to mechanically harvest and process. While they are often less productive than hybrids, heirlooms offer a wide variety of bold, old-fashioned flavors in an amazing array of unique shapes, sizes, and colors that simply can't be found in carefully standardized plants. After falling off the radar long ago in favor of uniform, monochrome produce, pearlescent indigo potatoes ("All Blue"), ivory-hued tomatoes ("White Snowball"), and purple-and-yellow dappled wax beans ("Dragon's Tongue") are now, through the efforts of devoted seed savers and small-scale farmers, returning to catalogs and backyards all over the world. I will explore a trio of heirloom vegetables, all easy to find and adaptable to a wide variety of climates, and how to save their seeds.
P.O.S., Dessa, and Astronautalis at Turner Hall
With a fiercely DIY attitude and wordplay skills that dominate almost every other name in underground hip-hop, Minneapolis native P.O.S. rolled into Turner Hall on Saturday with a handful of labelmates—representing his hometown crew, the unstoppable force known as Doomtree—and energy to spare. Last time he was in town, he faced a quizzical crowd who were surely curious as to why the hell he was sharing a bill with indie rock stalwarts Cursive; this time, he had the benefit of headlining a hip-hop show.
Jacksonville-cum-Seattleite Astronautalis opened up accompanied only by his MacBook, spitting urgent, impish rhymes through a gravelly, Jameson-drenched larynx that conjured Tom Waits and belied his boyish looks. After coaxing the table-and-chair assembly in the back to get a little closer ("Sorry, there is no dinner theater here tonight"), he eased the tone even more by referring to Pabst Blue Ribbon as "God's fucking sweat"— presumably not in a pejorative manner. Imagine cathartic tales of troublemaking and woe shouted at you by a scrawnier Henry Rollins over beats that range from rock to rap and back again, and you have Astronautalis. A Scribble Jam veteran, he closed out his fraction of the evening with the age-old tradition of a long form, audience-inspired freestyle.
“Alice’s Restaurant” doesn’t live here: 42 10+ minute “pop” songs worth your time
18. The Dismemberment Plan, “Respect Is Due” (12:35)
Constructed slowly over a snaking, minimal backbeat, “Respect Is Due” appears to be The Dismemberment Plan’s weary goodbye to a relationship well past its expiration date. Long pauses, whispered grievances, and the occasional sarcastic quip create an air of almost-but-not-quite-indifference that would serve well as the last track on the breakup mix to end all breakup mixes. The chorus, delivered at increasingly higher tempos and tones starting around the 10-minute mark (repeated a dozen times to double as the closing verse), winds up brutal in both its volume and irrevocability: “If I ever would let down the walls that protect me from you / I would say respect is due / but not in this lifetime.”