Disc Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


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
(311) 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.

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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:
(243) 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.

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Vibrationland - Private Bits

Vibrationland - Private Bits

Vibrationland

Album title: Private Bits
By John Noyd
Posted: Jan 2019
Label: self-release
(2420) 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.

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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
(5731) 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”.

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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
(6287) 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.

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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
(6153) 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”

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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
(6326) 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”.

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Brittany Shane - Brittany Shane

Brittany Shane - Brittany Shane

Brittany Shane

Album title: Brittany Shane
By John Noyd
Posted: Aug 2018
Label: Painted Lady Records
(6353) Page Views

Supported by an able-bodied posse of seasoned players, steady, centered Baraboo native and Austin transplant Brittany Shane keeps a level-head, if just this side of a second wind, on her crackling new mini-album. A pleasant collection upon first listen and a rewarding restorative after many more, Brittany’s brave-face grace and double-down directness connects the half-dozen tracks into a rich song-cycle orbiting love’s push and pull. A singer-songwriter, dancer and Mom; all parts of Shane’s personality come together in this self-titled work with poise, discipline and affection apparent in every line. A beacon projecting calm resolve and soft-spoken strength, Shane’s patience reins in the crashing guitars, restless rhythms and runaway twang to make her sixth album a testament to taming wild hearts and reaping life’s treasures.

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Martin Turner - The Beauty Of Chaos: Live At The Citadel

Martin Turner - The Beauty Of Chaos: Live At The Citadel

Martin Turner

Album title: The Beauty Of Chaos: Live At The Citadel
By Sal Serio
Posted: Jun 2018
Label: Cherry Red / Dirty Dog Discs
(5723) Page Views

Classic rock fans undoubtedly know the name Martin Turner as a founding member of Wishbone Ash, and Turner certainly doesn’t deny his role in that band’s seminal 1970s catalog. In fact, Turner’s current release, the 2-CD / DVD live set ‘The Beauty Of Chaos’ is a brilliant document of Turner’s band performing their most recent studio album ‘Written In The Stars’ in it’s entirety, along with a heap of supplemental material, all culled from the Wishbone Ash initial decade, 1970-1980 (which Turner joking refers to as “old hippie music”).

It should not be understated how excellent the vocal harmonies are in this live concert, with Turner’s lead being supplemented by guitarist Danny Willson (ex-Showaddywaddy) and drummer Tim Brown. This quartet is extremely competent, especially evident in the sinewy guitar interplay between Willson and Misha Nikolic. The tone of the guitars is like fine crystal, pure and pristine, with Turner’s melodic bass parts acting at times like a third guitar in the extended instrumental passages. Historians may be interested that Turner’s white Gibson Thunderbird bass guitar was purchased from the late musician Pete Overend Watts of Mott The Hoople fame.

The featured new material is quite enjoyable contemporary-sounding hard rock, however the rubber really hits the road when the performance travels in to Wishbone Ash territory, as the quiet intro portion of “The Pilgrim” segues in to polyrhythmic prog rock of the highest degree. The DVD, which includes the entire concert as well as band interview, is highlighted by inventive multi-camera videography and spectacular surround sound audio.

Recommended tracks: “The Beauty Of Chaos”, “Written In The Stars”, “The Pilgrim”, “The King Will Come”, “Sometime World”, “F.U.B.B.”, “You See Red”, and “Doctor”.

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Chaos Revolution Theory - Chaos Revolution Theory

Chaos Revolution Theory - Chaos Revolution Theory

Chaos Revolution Theory

Album title: Chaos Revolution Theory
By Sal Serio
Posted: Jun 2018
Label: Chaos Revolution Theory
(6371) Page Views

Madison-based original rock band Chaos Revolution Theory are busy guys. This latest CD, their 6th release overall, is a double disc 14 song offering that even has two different versions of the cover artwork! CRT actually has their next album already in the can, having recently recorded it in Austin, TX. This current self-titled double album was recorded split between Austin, and Madison’s Acme Studios, engineered here by Tim Consequence. The recording and mixing is crystalline, bringing these performances to life.

Guitarist and vocalist Nick Stanecki writes CRT’s songs. The lyrical content is like everyman’s ruminations. Thoughts filled with wanderlust and acknowledgment of the day-to-day things many might not take the time to appreciate: topics such as travel, food, nature, and relationships. Musically, it’s a stripped-down hard rock approach with touches of blues, country, reggae, and Latin music, accentuated by pulsating drum / percussion crescendos and explosive lead guitar solos. Musical cameos are provided by Bryan Moll of Subatomic (guitar), and Adam Ziertan of Mojo Radio (harmonica).

My constructive criticism for CRT is in the vocal department. I’d encourage the guys to consider adding a vocalist, although I “get it” when the songwriter wants to sing his own compositions. However, Stanecki’s vocal range is limited, which gives the songs a “samey” sort of feel. A dedicated singer could potentially offer the songs a distinct personality and take this music in to more memorable territory. Still, a fine release, overall.

Recommended tracks: “Trip I’m On”, “Hub City”, “La Hacienda”, and “Aztec”.

The “Chaos Revolution Theory” CD release party is Friday, July 6 at Mr. Roberts Bar in Madison, with special guest The Rotten Tommys.

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Gentle Brontosaurus - Bees of the Invisible

Gentle Brontosaurus - Bees of the Invisible

Gentle Brontosaurus

Album title: Bees of the Invisible
By John Noyd
Posted: May 2018
Label: self-release
(6088) Page Views

Cheeky geek-chic carnivals bounce around melodic lynch-pin symmetry as sprightly study-hall party-dolls packing wistful epiphanies dance through modern problems with modest jigsaw bop topped in college philosophy and soft-spoken anecdotes flashing dazzling indie-rock panache. Populated in good-natured sages frolicking with cunning wit, rosy prose and deadpan incantations, the happy-go-lucky, “Bees,” breezes through all-night sock-hops in feng shui love-shacks filling in the shadows with coy, sideway glances and wise, wide-eyed ironies. Variety spikes the politely subversive album as sweet, folk-pop doo-wop rigged in nifty guitar licks erupt between caroling harmonies; pithy shifts thick with shuffling percussion, roller-rink synths and throat-grabbing brass.  Find Gentle Brontosaurus closing out the Cottonwood Stage at the Marquette Waterfront Festival June 10th and playing one of the last Frequency shows June 20th.

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The Rotten Tommys - Shake It!

The Rotten Tommys - Shake It!

The Rotten Tommys

Album title: Shake It!
By Sal Serio
Posted: May 2018
Label: To The Core Records
(5605) Page Views

Madison’s The Rotten Tommys are back with their new CD, ‘Shake It!’, as they attack the specter of the sophomore slump with both barrels burning. This new CD hosts louder guitars, better crafted songwriting, and much improved sound engineering. Plus, MORE is always better, right? The first Tommys release was 10 songs and 26 minutes, and now we have 13 songs in 39 minutes. Bonus!

Right off the bat, you’ve got to love a song about a Mad Rollin’ Doll, especially when it opens with chords reminiscent of the Sex Pistols. “Devil’s Night” is unique, with a spoken word, almost film noir Private Dick narrative feel to it. Well, maybe if Wayne Kramer was a private detective! “Shake It” has a 60’s style mod-surf styled riff, with classic Phil Spector “Wall Of Sound” styled background vocals. Also, “Shevil” features a similar retro sound, with evil laughter sprinkled in for good measure, reminding me of Poison Ivy from The Cramps, who holds a near and dear place in my heart.

In the Constructive Criticism category: the faux vinyl noises on “Shevil” are a tad annoying…. if you want crackles, just press vinyl! Also, sometimes the swears seem just to be for the sake of saying a swear word. Don’t try so hard, take the high road… and it’s classier to not use songs to bash ex-lovers, or other members of the opposite sex in general.

Better efforts: “Casualty” has more open-ended societal themed lyrics that could be applicable to a wider populous. The mid-song tempo-shift and slide guitar solo is pretty cool. “Wolfman” is up-tempo fun rock song with mass appeal. Almost has a hot rod challenge grudge match feel… like the soundtrack to a scene in a Russ Meyer or Roger Corman film.

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