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Educational Davis, Milwaukee Mode, Novagolde

  • Frequency 121 West Main Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)
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The pseudonymous Madison-based musician Educational Davis has played in a number of projects over the years, from the twisted new-wave band Baristacide to the soaring goth-pop of a newer outfit, Therapy Drones. He plays here to celebrate the release of Sing Bleow Bleow, a new solo album on which he plays or programs nearly all the instruments and explores synth-pop from a few different vantage points.  "Conversation" is a fine showcase for Davis' yearning baritone, and its lyrics explore self-doubt and loss with a lofty touch that feels just right for moody '80s-inspired pop ("We circled every temple that we could still believe in / When the news came out and we couldn’t find a reason"), over sparse and tasteful synth and guitar lines. He dabbles in folky and Western touches on "The Day I Cut You Down" and "Gunfighter," and delves into harder beats and distorted synth stabs on "Operator." Much of the album feels pretty vulnerable and tender, but Davis offers what seems to be a half-affectionate, half-snide take on local music boosterism with "Promo Song," with a chorus that goes "Gotta ride on the 18 bus to see this Madtown opportunity." Educational Davis has always given his music a playful and mischievous touch, but Sing Bleow Bleow he finds him sounding more focused than ever, and achieving deeper emotional resonance without losing his oddball edge. —Scott Gordon