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  • Disc Reviews

    by Max Ink Staff Writers


    Joan of Arc - Tim Melina Theo Bobby

    Joan of Arc - Tim Melina Theo Bobby

    Joan of Arc

    Album Title: Tim Melina Theo Bobby
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Nov 2020
    Label: Joyful Noise
    (47) Page Views

    As a final statement, “Tim Melina Theo Bobby,” also serves as a great introduction. After 20 albums, Chicago’s Joan of Arc remain successfully eclectic balancing quirky curiosity for the mundane and staunch fondness for non-conformity, the album’s nimble inroads into slacker nostalgia follow enigmatic maps leading to solid post-rock observations and hypnotic avant-garage electronics. Simultaneously comforting and confronting, keen on pariah irony, meta-fiction visions and first-person certainty, “TMTB,” candidly examine mechanical humanity where assembled memories and experimental speculation intersect without regret, suspicion or repercussion; a theoretical playhouse of wires and feelings sheltering devilish embellishments and developing a well-kept fetish for post-millennial ghosts in the machine. The quartet, left after years of rotating members, exits the stage oddly confident and beautifully puzzling, equally open and impervious.

    Joan of Arc Online
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    The Bird and The Bee - Put Up The Lights

    The Bird and The Bee - Put Up The Lights

    The Bird and The Bee

    Album Title: Put Up The Lights
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Nov 2020
    Label: Release Me Records
    (46) Page Views

    A match made in heaven where Tinsel Town meets Santa’s Midnight Reindeer Lounge, L.A.’s incomparable The Bird and The Bee work their special electro-pop jazz magic on traditional carols, holiday standards and fireside originals for a welcome holiday escape. Smooth grooves, upbeat takes and glowing vocals create cozy rose-colored comfort and sophisticated sugar-coated joy as, “Lights,” entertains gift-wrapped happiness and romantic notions bundled underneath candlelit mistletoe with friendly synths, tight harmonies and swinging arrangements that bounce from bright, bossa novas to frosted waltzes and swooning ballroom ballads. The duo’s immaculate gala balances enchanting singer Inara George’s polished sunshine with savvy multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin’s smart, sparkling solos; lending lively, inspiring good cheer to a well-coordinated production whose cool proficiency supports shiny kindness inside a warm rapport.

    The Bird and The Bee Online
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    Raye Zaragoza - Woman In Color

    Raye Zaragoza - Woman In Color

    Raye Zaragoza

    Album Title: Woman In Color
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Oct 2020
    Label: River Rebel Records
    (203) Page Views

    A nomadic daughter of immigrants, singer-songwriter Raye Zaragoza is also a tireless fighter and defiant survivor whose calm resolve and fearless perseverance seeks unity in community with a lyrical spirituality rooted in nature and family. The solid, polished folk-songs on her Tucker Martine produced sophomore release, “Woman In Color,” build willful wonders animated with lively bass, sparkling electric guitars and tugging percussion cushioned in placid brass and soaring strings. Centered in subtle strengths, Zaragoza’s dark lustrous voice cuts through cantering anthems and galloping ballads while tackling biographical passions with hints of hurt behind touches of dreaminess to deliver poignant life lessons brimming in encouragement and concern. Political and personal, brave and sincere, Raye’s unwavering story-songs face injustice head on with nurturing certainty and liberated faith.

    Raye Zaragoza Online
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    Róisín Murphy - Róisín Machine

    Róisín Murphy - Róisín Machine

    Róisín Murphy

    Album Title: Róisín Machine
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Sep 2020
    Label: Skint
    (320) Page Views

    Rallying elaborate nostalgia as an updated and outspoken disco queen, cyber-maestro Róisín Murphy’s groovy tutelage streams glamorous anthems bubbling beneath irresistible beats, processing stroboscopic gospel into boombox boogie and smoldering techno-soul. Nightlife highlights meet tungsten funk, invoking bold Moroder brushstrokes onto a seething cerebral sensuality where astute moves build emancipated declarations with effervescent tension. Decades into her career, this iconoclastic talent peddles edgy futurism alongside trendy escapism for brazen innovations rich in roller-skate bass, chanking guitar, old-school synths and supple strings. While several tracks have been dropped over the last few years, “Machine,” preens and gleams as one seamless dancefloor odyssey; taunting sauntering struts whose glittery surfaces birth teasing hedonism as elated persuasions turn glossy options empowering slick wit and slinky thinking into hip-swiveling visions.

    Róisín Murphy Online
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    Travis - 10 Songs

    Travis - 10 Songs

    Travis

    Album Title: 10 Songs
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Sep 2020
    Label: BMG
    (327) Page Views

    Travis’ latest shows a band after thirty years together, casually savvy, impeccably connected and solidly melodic. Classic passive pop lavished in ravishing passions, “10 Songs,” soars with unforced rhymes primed in sizzling sophistication. The ninth studio album from Glasgow’s indie icons is the first album powered exclusively by frontman Fran Healy’s songwriting since 2003’s, “Twelve Memories,” and four years since their last release, “Everything At Once.” Admitting he cruised through the last few albums, Healy felt rejuvenated with the prospect of working on, “10 Songs,” and says he probably produced ten albums worth of material in the past four years to get these ten, “really good things.” Evidence backs his assertion as each subtly muscular track unfolds with lyrical grace, harmonious sincerity and romantic candor.

    Travis Online
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    Squarewave - Hazy

    Squarewave - Hazy

    Squarewave

    Album Title: Hazy
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Aug 2020
    Label: Artisanal Records
    (557) Page Views

    Ephemeral memories dispatch crackling clashes between steadfast head-trips dripping in pensive entropy and nebulous indie-rock webs stretched and caressed, strung from fruitless pursuits and sung with aching radiance, ‘Hazy,” weightlessly braves prickly wickedness, muted ambiguity and regal fatigue with Martian guitars, respiratory synths and wily violin. Battling salvation born from after the storm poignancy, the album’s stately chord progressions, engaging arrangements and meditative lyrics float over atmospheric theatrics practiced in prudent disillusion. Cloud-chamber lion-tamers launched into space; raw, beating hearts on their sleeves, lost among the stars and crashing into the sea, Squarewave’s anchored patience, yearning turns and marathoner’s second wind fold shoegaze jangle into origami mirages, simmering hymns abandoned, rescued and tossed adrift onto cosmic symphonics whispering beneath folk-melody sweetness plucked from steampunk reductions.

    Squarewave Online
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    Nadine Shah - Kitchen Sink

    Nadine Shah - Kitchen Sink

    Nadine Shah

    Album Title: Kitchen Sink
    By John Noyd
    Posted: May 2020
    Label: BMG
    (767) Page Views

    Coiled in bold, majestic strangleholds and restless feather-boa smolder, Shah’s writhing grace and sultry embrace go hard on glam-rock grinds and suave with tropical gloss-pop teases. Rich in catfish bewitchment channeling quicksand-trance ambushes, “Sink,” challenges and balances, bending sensibilities. Swift in execution, cool in elocution, basking in fleeting intrigue, each track casts shadow moments among savvy impacts; dissecting institutional thoughts with discerning social burns accompanied by voodoo grooves whose fussy, gutsy, frank and funky struts rumble in space-age role-playing engagements, ominous comedies performed by foxy cosmonauts. Coy, supple couplets subtly rupturing percussion-driven sizzle, Shah’s provocateur suffragettes sum up slinky thinking in regal seizures wrecking eclectic testaments with hip-swiveling hypnosis, dressing up purring put-downs in rhythmic whimsy, tickling stony ceremonies with flirty verses and steely theories.
     

    Nadine Shah Online
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    The Dears - Lovers Rock

    The Dears - Lovers Rock

    The Dears

    Album Title: Lovers Rock
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Apr 2020
    Label: Dangerbird Records
    (837) Page Views

    Built on the sublime force of a solid pop chorus, “Lovers Rock,” wrestles expressive devils, doctoring desperate reflections and deploying royal contortions, cobra focus and cultivated cunning. Fearlessly conjuring outlier’s choirs,  the Canadian’s eighth studio album’s profound art-lounge, fiery diary pile-drivers and swarthy warrior power-chords support told-you-so emotions and succinct living-on-the-brink thinking. Apocalyptic philosophy greased in sonic feasts and harmonic treats, The Dears redefine refined survival through caustic yacht-rock dodging sugar-coated explosions among glamorous land-slides. Lost innocence rinsed in somber promises and reasonable pleads beseeching valiant gallantry, soothing chivalry and fashionable castle-burning; the band’s timely diatribes simmer wound-licking symphonies in suave barbs, inhaling an air of nonchalant taunting beneath seething beliefs and cinematic conceits leaping and creeping between scorched metaphors, startled karma and noble commotion.

    The Dears Online
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    Half-handed Cloud - Gathered Out of Thin Air

    Half-handed Cloud - Gathered Out of Thin Air

    Half-handed Cloud

    Album Title: Gathered Out of Thin Air
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Nov 2019
    Label: Asthmatic Kitty
    (5360) Page Views

    Sixty newly-mastered, non-LP singles from the band’s second decade, including compositions commissioned for a London printmaking event that had cloud-master John Ringhofer leading group sing-a-longs from a giant spinning plywood record player, “Thin Air,” disburse harmonic mirth with invigorating play, inventing colorful exemptions to overturn conventions while willfully lobbing lyrical hobgoblins. There are songs written to benefit breast cancer research and songs wrestling with 16th century exploration, Christmas songs and songs intended as devotionals for walking.  Logic defied and imaginations indulged, Half-Handed Cloud lives life singing through every moment as the mundane is blessed in wonder, his observational conversations slipping between insistent whimsy and gleeful upheaval; twisted pixie fictions dipped in dizzying divinity, delivered with wind-up toy melodies spouting doubtful mouthfuls and uttering supple mumbles.

    Half-handed Cloud Online
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    {review_band_full} - Gathered Out of Thin Air

    {review_band_full} - Gathered Out of Thin Air

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    Album Title: Gathered Out of Thin Air
    By {review_writers_name}
    Posted: Nov 2019
    Label: {review_record_label}
    (5375) Page Views

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    {review_band_full} Online


    Vagabon - Vagabon

    Vagabon - Vagabon

    Vagabon

    Album Title: Vagabon
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Oct 2019
    Label: Nonesuch
    (1784) Page Views

    A wonderful step forward in musical emancipation, the self in Vagabon’s self-titled release sounds refreshed and confident. Redefining her indie roots, the Cameroon singer-songwriter happenstance wanders throughout the album in pursuit of vibrant ideas and new settings for recurring questions. Flushed in hushed colors, “Vagabon,” spawns exhilarating tranquility and congenial critiques; an uncaged song-bird sweetening smart beats and carving lusty harmonies from Afro-pop perches basking under soul-folk skies, tweaking close-cropped philosophy dusted in day-glo R&B. Strong, sauntering melodies coalesce into dreamy getaways as tribal choirs and soft, translucent electronics spill over hip bass and quivering rhythms while important words and casual phrases turn serious moments intimate and vital. Do not miss Vagabon opening up for the exquisite Angel Olsen November 13th at Madison’s The Sylvee.

    Vagabon Online
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    Abram Shook - The Neon Machine

    Abram Shook - The Neon Machine

    Abram Shook

    Album Title: The Neon Machine
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Sep 2019
    Label: Western Vinyl
    (7910) Page Views

    Between catwalk catechism swimming in champagne confessions and mystical mathematics bringing sizzling calisthenics into slinky, mincing funk, Shook’s direct yet slippery dance-floor metaphors exert flirtatious glam-rock struts over carnivorous mischief lit in glow-stick falsettos and velvet grinds that is both savage in its slap-downs and pretty in its delivery. Dosed with flipped synth-pop squiggles and buzzing rock-guitar rebuttals, “The Neon Machine,” pushes all the right buttons, heating apocalyptic fevers inside midnight jive greasing double-dare teases with electric menace for super-pumped satin-sheet seductions. Barely breaking a sweat, the non-stop onslaught breaks down and holds back only to rise again as the album’s cat and mouse playhouse keeps the smarmy, party moving, cruising and begging for more. Catch the Texas wonder Oct 16th at Milwaukee’s Cactus Club.

    Abram Shook Online
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