Madison calendar, July 27 through August 2

Solid Freex, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, OTHERsound, Weatherman, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Emili Earhart, Scott Gordon, and David Wolinsky

Solid Freex.

Solid Freex.

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THURSDAY JULY 27

OTHERsound: Jimmy Sugarcane, Asumaya. Art In, 8 p.m.

Nigeria-via-London-via-Chicago artist Jimmy Sugarcane’s recent move to Madison marks the emergence of possibly the only active dancehall force in town. While Madison has several thriving reggae/dub-fusion artists and DJs, Jimmy Sugarcane’s Nigerian heritage and formerly London-based operation has yielded an interesting perspective and a distinctive blend of sounds and styles. His track “Child Of God” offers a heavy-hitting dancehall rhythm packed with sharp synth melodies and energetic vocals. On the other end, “Ti Ile” centers an array of vocal colors and harmonies over a rhythm in a much more spacious, minimal setting. This show will be Jimmy Sugarcane’s first local performance, as well as the first event in the OTHERsound series, presented by Luke Bassuener. Bassuener also performs here as Asumaya, his much-loved one-man dub-loop outfit. Bassuener will also be flipping tapes throughout the night as Bawku West Soundsystem, playing a mix comprised of West African artists. —Emili Earhart

Laith Al-Saadi, Aaron Williams & The HooDoo. Majestic, 8:30 p.m.

Laith Al-Saadi is the kind of performer who proves refreshing on a contest show like The Voice. The big, bearded Michigander's run on the show's 2016 season showcased his amiable interpretations of blues and folk chestnuts, which thrived on deep, gruff vocals and conversational, unhurried guitar leads. Al-Saadi knows his way around a show-stopping growl but also knows how to get his point across without overplaying things, as he showed on his rendition of "Born Under A Bad Sign." Sure, there are a few folks who put a slightly more distinctive imprint on this realm of music—it's hard to match the wooly charisma of Duluth's Charlie Parr, for instance—but there's a lot to be said for approaching it with finesse and charm. Hopefully this show will be a chance for people who enjoyed Al-Saadi's Voice run to see how his strengths translate to his original material. —Scott Gordon

FRIDAY JULY 28

Weatherman, Dosh. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 8 p.m.

Chicago trio Weatherman write wistful pop songs that pick you up and carry you through a space simultaneously crisp and cloudy. Annie Toth’s airy yet soulful voice floats above the nostalgic piano melodies and minimalist harmonies she constructs. New, unexpected sounds introduce themselves, elevating further the narrative Toth creates. Songs like "Wild Geese" pivot between contemplative post-rock and a driving, alternative pop character, often defined by drummer Jason Toth’s confined (yet never hindering) rhythmic direction. Weatherman play here behind a new self-titled EP, recorded at Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio. Minneapolis one-man sound sculptor Dosh constructs everything from gritty, broken beats, to a drifting ambience of intermingling textures, to erratic collections of vibrant, splashy colors. Dosh is adept at blending genres and styles in a way that proves both seamless and honest, walking the line between challenging and accessible. —Emili Earhart

Brother Ali, Fringe Character, Lucien Parker. 100 block of King Street, 7 p.m. (free)

It’s a testament to Brother Ali’s character and focus as a rapper that what he says and does onstage and off frequently merits media coverage for the right, or at least positive, reasons. The Madison-born, Twin Cities-based rapper was arrested in summer 2012 along with other protesters in Twin Cities, attempting to prevent and block the eviction of a family. Similarly, social justice and privilege have been frequent topics in his career, starting with his debut album Rites Of Passage in 2000. On Ali’s latest, All The Beauty In This Whole Life, he rekindles his long-running collaboration with Atmosphere producer Ant, and the result is a record that is intensely introspective, trying to find the silver lining in the seeming dystopia we have been thrust into today. It’s sigh-inducingly clichéd to mention that Ali is an albino Muslim in a show preview, though these factors are central on “Before They Called You White” and “Uncle Usi Taught Me,” which respectively ruminate on concepts of whiteness in America and xenophobia in the TSA. Ali’s ability to pack heavy and discouraging subject matter in funky, barebones production has always made for approachable and even fun listens. On All The Beauty, as always, he makes an effort to give you even more to think about and question. This free Live On King Street show also features two solid openers in Madison hip-hop band Fringe Character and Minneapolis MC Lucien Parker. —David Wolinsky

Zebras, The Hussy, Absolutely Not, Forsake Ya To The Snakes. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.

Spazzed-out synth-punk outfit Zebras are celebrating their 10-year anniversary as a band, and playing what may be their last show ever. They perform here in a special throwback format—old songs played by current and previous members for the first time since 2011, in a lineup that finds the Madison band incorporating members of Milwaukee noise-punk band IfIHadAHiFi. Most of the tracks originate from their 2008 and 2009 releases, Parasitic Clones Under The Strong Arm Of The Robotic Machine and Fate Of A World Plagued By Soulless Shits, respectively. This return to the spazzier side of Zebras differs drastically from the crossover-thrash doom personality that Zebras have gravitated towards in more recent years on albums like 2015's The City Of Sun. Vincent Presley’s angular guitar melodies and erratic vocals, and Lacey Smith’s convulsive synth tones, yield an equally humorous and brutal result, complementing the night’s lineup. Chicago’s Absolutely Not plays here behind a new album (to be released the night of the show) and inhabit a glam-garage side of synth-punk. Local garage punk outfit The Hussy share the stage, as well as off-kilter synth rock outfit Forsake Ya To The Snakes. —Emili Earhart

Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Help Desk, The American Dead. Frequency, 9 p.m.

The Denver band Slim Cessna's Auto Club, formed in 1992, play a vein of gothic Americana that stands head and shoulders above all manner of psychobilly and outlaw-country contemporaries, thanks to its fevered, hallucinatory sense of drama. Songs about violence and religious fanaticism out in the sticks can often come off as gimmicky tales told among smirking outsiders, but at Slim Cessna's take a more cinematic approach. At their best, they can make their characters' occult obsessions and bizarre visions feel dead serious and immersive, tinged with the fervor of punk and the creeping terror of the best psych-rock. In short, the difference between this stuff and your average rockabilly revivalist is like the difference between Harry Crews and Trailer Park Boys. Their current tour celebrates the reissue of one particularly fine example, the 2008 album Cipher. Sure, one can find plenty of cracked humor in a song like "All About The Bullfrog In Three Verses"—whose protagonist is apparently tormented by the sound of bullfrogs—but the song's dark, swirling atmosphere is tough to shake. The band's most recent album is 2016's  The Commandments According To Slim Cessna's Auto Club. —Scott Gordon

Finite Fidelity, Rae, Heavy Looks, Carbon Bangle. Art In, 8 p.m.

Madison band Heavy Looks released a debut album of bittersweet power-pop in 2015's Waste It Right. On tracks like "LHF," "Packing Heat," and "Grin & Bear It," guitarists Rosalind Greiert and Dirk Gunderson trade short, prickly phrases and lead-vocal duties. They're concise but resourceful songwriters, finding a lot of little pockets in the songs to add a bit of thoughtful melodic character, and Greiert's vocals especially come through with a mix of genuine sadness and witty self-deprecation. Heavy Looks play here as they prepare to record a follow-up to Waste It Right, sharing the bill with Madison psych-rock adventurers Carbon Bangle, local duo Rae, and Austin band Finite Fidelity. —Scott Gordon

SATURDAY JULY 29

And Illusions, Plastic Crimewave Syndicate, Solid Freex. Mickey's Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)

Over the years Madison musician Steve Coombs has experimented with turning his wonderfully bizarre one-man band Trin Tran into a full band, at times recruiting his teenage sons. That family collaboration recently yielded a new trio, Solid Freex, with the elder Coombs on drums and vocals and sons Evan Coombs-Broekema on bass and Josh Coombs-Broekema on guitar/vocals. During a bunch of recent shows, including a bruising opening set for Deerhoof in June at the High Noon, Solid Freex have played fierce, slashing, smart-assed punk that draws on everything from scorched early-'80s hardcore to jagged noise-rock. It's fun to see Coombs just focus on drums after years of four-limbed multi-tasking in Trin Tran, and his kids are expressive, nimble players. They play first at this show, sharing a bill with Chicago psych institution Plastic Crimewave Syndicate and Madison experimental duo And Illusions (which includes Tone Madison contributor Emili Earhart). —Scott Gordon

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Majestic, 8 p.m.

A benefit for Planned Parenthood and a generally enjoyable idea for a show, R-E-S-P-E-C-T celebrates women in music from decade to decade and genre to genre. The celebration is twofold, serving also as a recognition of local women musicians, all of whom take on a role and cover the songs of a different woman in music history, in a revue consisting of more than a dozen performances. Aarushi Agni (of soulful blues-folk band Tin Can Diamonds) represents Ella Fitzgerald, as Ginny Kincaid (of alternative indie outfit, Nester) does her locally-known Alanis Morissette routine. Other highlights include jazz singer Megan Moran taking on Joni Mitchell and Abby Sherman of power-pop darlings Trophy Dad as Carly Rae Jepsen. The night is hosted by local octet The Big Payback, who play funky jazz-rock fusion. —Emili Earhart

SUNDAY JULY 30

All Tiny Creatures, adoptahighway, Dead Pawn. Art In, 7 p.m.

Milwaukee musician Barry Paul Clark works in several different spheres, including folk outfit Field Report and contemporary music quartet Tontine Ensemble. When he's operating solo as adoptahighway, Clark explores slow-moving, atmospheric soundscapes and reverberating, rhythmic territories. On his 2015 release A Fault, Clark combines a nostalgic, goth-industrial aesthetic with a modern, electronic-indie quality, but keeps his structures, tempos, and mood shifting throughout. Clark performs alongside Milwaukee’s immersive, ambient-drone project Dead Pawn, with both acts closing out a Midwest tour here. Madison’s All Tiny Creatures (Thomas Wincek and Andrew Fitzpatrick) join them with buoyant, modular pop for the deep kosmische. —Emili Earhart

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 2

Central Park Sessions: Marcia Ball, Mal-O-Dua, Cindy Cashdollar. Central Park, 5 p.m. (free)

The annual Central Park Sessions series functions as sort of a bonus in the east side's quirky summer-music mix of folk, blues, African music, and Cajun music. The year's first session features Louisiana singer and piano-pounder Marcia Ball, whose interpretation of the blues ranges from aggressively charging to that laid-back and rollicking feel that's unmistakably born of New Orleans. Veteran dobro/lap-steel player Cindy Cashdollar and Madison duo Mal-O-Dua should make this bill particularly interesting for anyone curious about esoteric Americana guitar styles. This year the Sessions have kind of a back-to-back format; they'll be back Thursday night with Foxygen, Beth Kille, and Samantha Fish. —Scott Gordon