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  • Disc Reviews

    by Max Ink Staff Writers


    Nadine Shah - Kitchen Sink

    Nadine Shah - Kitchen Sink

    Nadine Shah

    Album Title: Kitchen Sink
    By John Noyd
    Posted: May 2020
    Label: BMG
    (398) 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
    (496) 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
    (4691) 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}
    (4706) 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
    (1611) 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
    (6906) 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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    The Police - “Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out”

    The Police - “Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out”

    The Police

    Album Title: “Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out”
    By Michael Sherer
    Posted: Sep 2019
    Label:
    (4179) Page Views

    Stewart Copeland, drummer and founding member of The Police, bought a Super 8 film camera in 1978. Then 26, The Police, formed only a year earlier in London England, were beginning to gain real momentum, having been signed to A & M Records and releasing their debut record “Outlandos d’Amour” in 1978. It was while on tour for this release that Copeland began filming extensively with his new camera. This continued throughout their career, which ended in 1986 with The Police being one of the biggest groups in the world, if not the biggest.

    This documentary type DVD film was initially released in 2006, a year before The Police reformed for a very successful 2007 - 2008 tour, marking their 30th anniversary of formation. In the summer of this year 2019, it was released in Blue Ray.

    Made entirely by Copeland, it consists of the footage (with audio) he filmed, still photos taken by photographers, with a continual narration/story line provided by Copeland. It’s essentially a running commentary filled with insightful and thoughtful musings of a paradox and scenario all hugely successful groups/solo artists face: How does one deal with being so intensely in the public eye whilst being in your own bubble year after year while churning out a new record and then tour over and over and over again? Copeland alludes to how it became increasingly isolating and difficult to endure certain aspects of it, with the initial “all for one one for all” spirit becoming increasingly more about Sting, their front man, singer/bassist and chief songwriter, presenting the band with essentially finished songs with little or no room for the others’ input as they used to have. On the other hand, Copeland notes that it was, of course, nice to travel in much comfort and not in a cramped van as they started with.

    It was a family affair with The Police, with Copland’s older brothers, Miles and Ian, as their manager and booking agent, respectively. We see plenty of them in action, within the very decent footage of the band performing throughout the world, all the members talking and their activities, the dizzying fan outcry, scenery of their extensive travels, them in the studio and a lot of funny horsing around between the three band mates. This last part became less and less as the demands of being in an increasingly big time juggernaut sapped their energy and time.

    The footage and film ends in 1984, with them literally and metaphorically handcuffed to a railing at a hotel in France while on tour for their most last and most successful record “Synchronicity.”  (It that had their huge and biggest hit by far “Every Breathe You Take.”) Although cuffed as a goof and play on their band name, it was poignantly symbolic for being trapped by their own major success in many respects.

    An alternative title for this fun, introspective, personal and footage rich documentary could be “Copeland coping.” A must see for any Police fan. Go to eagle-rock.com for it and many more.

    The Police Online
    Website


    Vibrationland - Private Bits

    Vibrationland - Private Bits

    Vibrationland

    Album Title: Private Bits
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Jan 2019
    Label: self-release
    (6137) Page Views

    Despair flares and restless questions pester as woozy blues slip through psychedelic grooves to cruise into stereoscopic honky-tonk stained in uncurbed reverb and slightly toasted overdrive, Vibrationland’s latest rubber-band rock concoction oozes in organic banter well-versed in preposterous philosophies; roots-rocked fantasies blazed in fuzz-phased delays and merry prankster strangeness, grandstanding anthems born from narcoleptic revelations embracing zany mental-vacation getaways lined in fearless hall-of-mirror launch-pads and plush, carpeted landing-strips. A psychotic collection of conventional instruments melted into fun, unconventional arrangements, “Private,” ranges from opulent to ominous, hosting tympanis and banjos, harpsichords and brass, for monumental love-matches between eerie and cheery, spiked in riled off-course spirals and dizzy indie mysteries. Assembling unparalleled carousels of dreamy cohesiveness and informal non-conformity, Vibrationland leads brave, persuasive parades down exploratory detours.

    Vibrationland Online
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    Cold Black River - Tales Of Death And The Devil

    Cold Black River - Tales Of Death And The Devil

    Cold Black River

    Album Title: Tales Of Death And The Devil
    By Sal Serio
    Posted: Nov 2018
    Label: Cold Black River
    (9473) Page Views

    Today we discuss the 3rd album from Madison’s resident purveyors of doom metal, Cold Black River. In a nutshell, the formula remains the same but the songcraft continues to improve. Generally speaking, “doom” compositions have a tendency to bog down with plodding riffs that take forever to reward with thrills and audience payoff, kind of like a porno that never reaches the climax. Fortunately this CBR release includes all the money shots in the final edit, which is to say thank goodness there truly IS a happy ending here!

    A rock trio is like the opposite of a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. It’s only got three components. Four, if you count the vocals. Every one of the ingredients has to be of the highest quality, and all have to pull their own weight. Most importantly, each one must compliment each other and complete the big picture. I feel like CBR understands that, and with each successive visit to the studio they’ve executed a more impressive “painting”.

    I’d like to see this progression continue on to the next CBR project. Since the doom genre can be so predictable and formulaic, I think this group can continue to set themselves apart from the pack with this trend toward increased creativity in their song structure, proving there really is room for “artistic vision” within the context of hard rock music.

    Recommended tracks: “Keep Rollin’”, “Among The Stars”, “Anywhere Ya Wanna”.

    Cold Black River Online
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    Rocket Paloma - Mother Mountain

    Rocket Paloma - Mother Mountain

    Rocket Paloma

    Album Title: Mother Mountain
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Sep 2018
    Label: Rocket Paloma
    (9925) Page Views

    Compatible collaborations rattle well-staged rampages raising unrestrained purple haze alongside brawling blues-rock blazes and crazy red-hot moxie; breaking through the clouds, “Mother Mountain,” conquers in slinky kicks and roaring riffs. Rolling around in run-away swamp-pomp, incendiary rockabilly and wild-heart honky-tonk, the Milwaukee quartet flourishes in action-packed patchwork, peppering buzz-saw indie-rock collages with gypsy-kissed folk while coaxing toasty teases from lusty bell-bottom ballads tricked out in whammy bars and wah-wah pedals. Fronting frontier jangle inside spider-web solos, Rocket Paloma’s meandering melodies, walking bass and hip-swinging rhythms swim in box-canyon avalanches of extended send-offs, climatic sass and rousing, empowered crowd-pleasers. A rouge rock ‘n roll rodeo greased in raucous talk and smokin’ woke adventures, “Mother,” snakes its way shedding sinful skins with playful hints and sizzling mischief.

    Rocket Paloma Online
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    Pink Fairies - Resident Reptiles

    Pink Fairies - Resident Reptiles

    Pink Fairies

    Album Title: Resident Reptiles
    By Sal Serio
    Posted: Aug 2018
    Label: Purple Pyramid
    (9861) Page Views

    Pink Fairies, the English proto-punk psychedelic biker-rock band, formed in 1970. Paul Rudolph was the founding guitarist/vocalist and subsequent line-ups included members of The Pretty Things, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Hawkwind, and The Move. Reunions of various personnel occurred throughout the 2000s and 2010s, but now the Pink Fairies are back with an all-star band consisting of Rudolph, ex-Hawkwind bassist Alan Davey, and original Motörhead drummer Lucas Fox!

    The electroshock energy of this collaboration pops a white-hot spark out of the speakers from the very first power-chord and the intensity continues to build as these 8 songs progress. This trio communicates their gritty intent like a familiar group of old hooligans that have a strong desire to take care of unfinished business.

    The bottom line is that if you gravitate toward the heavy pre-punk UK bands of the early-to-mid 1970s, and wish there was a 2018 release with the same reckless and relentless attitude – straight out of the garage and the pubs and smack full-frontal in to your face - then this is exactly what you’ve been waiting for. Vinyl LP aficionados will be pleased to note the presence of pink vinyl pressings, as well as the CD and digital-file formats.

    Recommended tracks: “Mirage”, “Lone Wolf”, “Whipping Boy”, “Monkey Chatter”

    Pink Fairies Online
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    Stimuli - They Are We

    Stimuli - They Are We

    Stimuli

    Album Title: They Are We
    By Sal Serio
    Posted: Aug 2018
    Label: Stimuli Music
    (9969) Page Views

    Stimuli is an appropriate name for these new Bay-area hard rockers, because this music covers so many emotions, textures, and cultural styles. These are compelling sounds, it inspires and it rocks, and also offers pause for contemplation.

    ‘They Are We’ is the debut release by this trio, and if you hear a Native American influence, it is no accident. Band leaders Jimmy Tomahawk and Tai Hake spice up their heavy electrified sound with traditional Native American flute and acoustic guitar, along with less traditional Theremin, synthesizers, and sitar. The end result is a pulsating intense groove not unlike the best of the more intelligent 90s-era hard rock bands, if they were also infused with a significant indigenous cultural connection.

    At the end of the day it’s Tomahawk’s voice and guitar that really drives these songs, and without question there is some radio friendly material here. I only hope these guys keep their chins up,  stick out the rigors of the road, and keep plugging away at self promotion. If they can secure the right support and backing Stimuli could eventually be the next big thing.

    Recommended tracks: “The New Dream”, “Sandstorm”, “Fire In Disguise”, and “Pill For The Pill”.

    Stimuli Online
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