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The New Pornographers’ easy chemistry on display in packed Session

A man wearing glasses and holding an acoustic guitar smiles on stage in a small concert venue.
Erin Bagatta

One of the things I always look forward to with a new album from The New Pornographers is the consistent variety — their ability to create a mix of sounds that keeps your ears and brain engaged but still manages to be a cohesive collection of music that is very them.

It’s a difficult feat made easier when your band has two things: talent and chemistry. The New Pornographers have plenty of both and put it on display during a Studio Milwaukee Session on a picture-perfect Thursday afternoon just a few hours before they played Turner Hall Ballroom.

Even in a scaled-back set that peeled away a few layers from their deeply rich power pop, they had an overflowing room of Radio Milwaukee members literally leaning into every note. Carl "A.C." Newman, Kathryn Calder and Joe Seiders (or, as Newman put it, 42.8 percent of The New Pornographers) showcased three songs from the band’s ninth studio effort, Continue as a Guest — the latest example of their ability to sonically pivot from one track to the next without losing that album feel.

They were in that flow during the session, only stopping to share a few insights with Radio Milwaukee’s Nate Imig. He got Newman talking about the seed of songwriting, picking a band name that guaranteed future success and — in a segment just for the members in the room — his favorite Star Wars character (hint: anything that starts with “IG”).

Hit the “Listen” button at the top of the page to hear that conversation, as well as the appetizer of a set they served to the Radio Milwaukee members in the room and listeners on 88Nine. If you want the main course, you still have time to pick up tickets for tonight’s show at Turner Hall with opener Wild Pink.

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Set list

  1. “Continue as a Guest”
  2. “Last and Beautiful”
  3. “Firework in the Falling Snow”