Disc Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Nonpoint - Nonpoint

Nonpoint - Nonpoint

Nonpoint

Album title: Nonpoint
By Aaron Manogue
Posted: Sep 2010
Label: Rocket Science
(18718) Page Views

Anyone who’s ever been to a Nonpoint concert can agree that their “in your face, knock you out” stage presence is something every self titled concert enthusiast or rocker needs to experience.  This is the energy most Nonpoint fans have been begging of the band to bring to their albums. And with their latest album release Miracle, they bring their ass kicking off the stage and into your home.  The former nu metallers have transitioned into a hard rock feel, which serves as a perfect new weapon for them to launch their music into listener’s eardrums.

From the opening song “Shadow,” guitarist Zach Broderick, who replaced Andrew Goldman as the bands lead guitarist, brings a much thicker hard rock sound to Nonpoint in comparison to Goldman’s previous recordings with the band.  The gritty riffs accompany vocalist Elias Soriano’s smooth-as-silk chords perfectly and drummer Robb Rivera’s beats carry the heart beat of the album triumphantly throughout. The energy stays in orbit with the title track “Miracle” which features guest vocals by Mudvayne/Hellyeah frontman Chad Gray who produced the album along with guitarist Greg Tribett. 

The next few songs tap the breaks a bit on the train that is Miracle transitioning into a middle of the tracks pace with “Crazy” and a song most likely written for our beloved troops “Frontlines.”  One of the bright spots along the way in this album is the inclusion of Nonpoint’s cover of the mighty Pantera’s “5 Minues Alone” which the band originally recorded as an online bonus track for legendary shredder “Dimebag” Darrel Abbott’s Tribute Album.

The absolute epitome of Nonpoint’s new hard rock sound is the intensity they portray in the song “Dangerous Waters.” Warning: Head banging is required when listening to this song. There’s even a short yet extremely addictive solo in the song which just adds to the hard rock feel, something that is for the most part non-existent in pre-Broderick Nonpoint music. The song seems to serve as Broderick’s introduction to us all and his stamp on the band is heard loud and clear.

Having followed Nonpoint throughout their careers, this is possibly their best album, deservedly right up there with my personal favorite To the Pain.  Traditional Nonpoint fans won’t be begging for their old Nonpoint back, because it’s still clearly evident in the new album.  Self proclaimed Nonpoint critics will have to do their best to resist the burning urge to tip their caps to the band for their new efforts and ass kicking they’ll experience once they hear Miracle.  It’ll be a Miracle if the same critics can also resist the urge to go buy the album.

DON’T MISS NONPOINT SUNDAY ON THE JJO STAGE AT TASTE OF MADISON!

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Street Sweeper Social Club - Ghetto Blaster EP

Street Sweeper Social Club - Ghetto Blaster EP

Street Sweeper Social Club

Album title: Ghetto Blaster EP
By Troy Johnson
Posted: Aug 2010
Label: Cooking Vinyl
(4150) Page Views

Street Sweeper Social Club, the rock/rap group featuring former Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello and vocalist Boots Riley from controversial California hip-hop group The Coup released their second studio album, a seven track EP, featuring covers of songs by LL Cool J, M.I.A., and The Coup on August 10, 2010.

Morello’s Rage Against The Machine style riffs are unhampered by too much distortion making Riley’s quick lyrics easy to distinguish. If you were a fan of Rage Against The Machine and like the rock/rap genre then you will probably enjoy this album. However, at times, Morello’s riffs sound derivative without much to distinguish them from Rage’s fierce instrumentals. On vocals, Boots Riley adds a tangent of creative, socially conscious lyrics that give the Street Sweeper Social Club more of a hip-hop sound than Rage Against The Machine had. Still, even Morello fans may take issue with his lack of creativity on this new album. His riffs on the EP are less explorations of his personal style and more like identical riffs from past Rage albums like Evil Empire and The Battle of Los Angeles.

The EP is available on vinyl and cd. For all its flaws, it’s still good party music and you can stream most of the tracks for free on their facebook page.

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Heart-Set Self-Destruct - Bridges To Burn

Heart-Set Self-Destruct - Bridges To Burn

Heart-Set Self-Destruct

Album title: Bridges To Burn
By Sal Serio
Posted: Aug 2010
Label: self-released
(1817) Page Views

Ready, set… self destruct! These aggressive hard rockers come out of the gate red-hot blazing on their new six song mini album. Based out of Chicago, the quartet of Heart-Set Self-Destruct are taking no prisoners, and leaving nothing but rubble in their wake. In less colorful lingo, I mean to say that this CD is the real deal, and sears the ears from start to finish.

Which is not to say this is super heavy pound-your-brain-into-pulp music. While it definitely is brutal at times, there’s a solid pop sensibility in the core of their catchy yet doom-grooved compositions. Comparisons to Tool and Chevelle are inevitable, and for an up-and-coming band, there’s certainly worse associations that could be made.

I’m drawn mostly to the tempo of these tunes, which are unrelenting in their driving power. The strength of lead singer Dave’s vocal delivery, which shows many different manifestations and moods, is always ripe with intrigue, captivating and holding the listener’s attention.

This disc is a good argument for more bands to release shorter CDs earlier in their career. There’s something to be said for a quick introduction, a major ass kicking, and then leaving ‘em wanting more. I’m sold.

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The Rolling Stones - Stones In Exile

The Rolling Stones - Stones In Exile

The Rolling Stones

Album title: Stones In Exile
By Gregory Harutunian
Posted: Jul 2010
Label: Eagle Records
(1825) Page Views

In 1971, the Rolling Stones faced massive tax problems and left England to live in France as a shelter. Their landmark album, Exile On Main Street, came out of this period and was recorded all over the the insides of Keith Richard’s rented villa in a maelstrom of chaos.

Eagle Rock Entertainment has released “Stones In Exile,” a documentary chock full of rare footage and music that chronicles the making of the project. It’s part of a deal with the Stones’ management that will see the long-lost “Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s the Rolling Stones” concert film released later this year.

This DVD is loaded with interviews, and it’s odd to see how people have fared in 40 years, along with their recollections coupled with footage of the recording process. One surprise is a well know TV actor, a child at the time, whose job it was to roll joints for everyone. The sex, drugs, and of course, rock and roll, are well represented—-so it’s a wonder anything got done.
   
Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts are also shown returning to the scene of the crime at Olympic Studios, where the overdubs to flesh out the tracks for “Exile” were done. The music is the main thing, and rehearsal takes are included in the soundtrack.
   
The album was initially panned upon its release, and not until a decade later was it considered a masterpiece. The documentary is well done, no filler, and a wild ride, if you’re interested in how this thing came together through all the financial and drug-induced problems. A nice keeper to whet the appetite for the concert film later this year, which featured many of the songs on the album.

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John Prine - Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine

John Prine - Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine

John Prine

Album title: Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine
By Troy Johnson
Posted: Jul 2010
Label: Oh Boy Records
(1969) Page Views

On June 22, 2010, ‘Oh Boy’ records released the tribute album “Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine.” Twelve of the album’s tracks were recorded by well?known musicians who love Prine’s music. These artists have collaborated and tweaked some of the classic folk artist’s songs on “Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows,” and although the man himself doesn’t make an appearance on the album it was his label that put it out. The vinyl was in my mailbox on June 21st and it just goes to show the lengths that Prine??always known for his generosity to fans??is willing to go for music lovers to hear his songs.

Though Prine’s songs are folky, silly, sing?songy, lyrical masterpieces, the collaborators on this album often turn his originals into new and exciting arrangements that rock a little harder. Songs like “Daddy’s Little Pumpkin” by the ‘Drive By Truckers’ and a version of “All The Best” by ‘My Morning Jacket’ in particular really give Prine’s laid?back style a more upbeat spin. “All The Best” is from Prine’s “The Missing Years” album which is in my top three Prine albums of all time and ‘My Morning Jacket’ turns in a worthy rendition of that great album cut.

Other outstanding artists on this album such as The Avett Brothers, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, and Old Crow Medicine Show also turn in interesting renditions of Prine’s classic music. The best way to experience Prine’s classic folk stylings is to listen to the original songs. But for those of you who can’t get enough of John Prine, “Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows” is a great tribute to a fantastic artist.

You can find official press releases on www.johnprine.net/news.html and take time to search www.ohboy.com which is John Prine’s current label. Since 1984 Prine has done 11 studio albums with ‘Oh Boy Records” and one live Album, “In Person and on Stage” which is also a recent release that is only on cd or downloadable, it was released May 25, 2010.

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The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street

The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street

The Rolling Stones

Album title: Exile on Main Street
By Troy Johnson
Posted: Jul 2010
Label: Umvd Labels
(1843) Page Views

In May, 2010 the Rolling Stones re?released their immortal 1972 album, “Exile On Main Street.” The reissued version from Atlantic Records includes 10 previously unheard tracks from sessions along the way that were never recorded for release.  Along with alternate takes of “Loving Cup” and “Soul Survivor,” are other songs that have been remastered and some with minor guitar and vocal adjustments but of the ten new tracks 8 of them you have probaby never been able to listen to until now.

Accompanying the new reissue is a documentary film directed by Stephen Kijak. The film, called ‘Stones in Exile,’ will be shown in the US on network television and on the BBC worldwide.

Many different versions of the reissue have been released including a CD with the bonus tracks, a double LP on vinyl which includes the new songs along with the rest of the album, and—if you can afford it—a collectors edition featuring the LP on vinyl, the documentary on DVD, multiple CD’s, and an assortment of Stones collectibles. As with every Stones Album there are countless legends surrounding the recording of Exile. You can find many of these on the internet and at the band’s official website www.rollingstones.com where you can find press releases and any of the latest information that a fan of the still rocking and still touring Rolling Stones might need to know.

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Teenage Fanclub - Shadows

Teenage Fanclub - Shadows

Teenage Fanclub

Album title: Shadows
By John Noyd
Posted: Jun 2010
Label: Merge Records
(1810) Page Views

Electrified by mellow summer strumming and cushioned in exquisite streamlined jangle, the Fannies latest neatly-tied package of sparkling gems is softly sculpted pillow-talk buffed to effortless dreaminess. While earlier albums clearly divided the band’s love of noise and thrash from their love of melody and harmony, “Shadows,” gurgles subversively, blending splendidly a feverish but methodical buzzing of bustling cities, racing thoughts and restless meditations; stoic, rock-solid interiors beneath casually concise pop-rock pirouettes.  Possessing three accomplished songwriters, the band’s chiming rhymes, uplifting introspection and idyllic delivery balance exquisite lullabies inside breathless promise for shimmering syncopation calming life’s uncertain turns. Bursting in crackling choirboy caresses and baptismal rejuvenation, “Shadow,” casts shiny uphill optimism hiding in heavenly messages, anchored by worldly-wise experience and laced with compassion and humility.

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Acrassicauda - Heavy Metal in Baghdad

Acrassicauda - Heavy Metal in Baghdad

Acrassicauda

Album title: Heavy Metal in Baghdad
By Jason Mansavage
Posted: Jun 2010
Label: Arts Alliance America
(1603) Page Views

When one thinks of Iraq, one envisions a war torn country, a country plagued by civil unrest, political and religious upheaval, a dry, hot, sand infested wasteland. Sometimes Americans don’t realize how good we have it and how important freedom really is. Just ask Acrassicauda (Latin for “Black Scorpion”), Iraq’s only metal band. Conceived in a basement rehearsal space and tutored by music instructor and guitar virtuoso Saad Say “the Yngwie Malmsteen of the Middle East,” and inspired by western bands like Metallica, Slayer and Slipknot, they began writing and playing metal in 2001. You think it’s hard enough for most bands to get a gig in the free countries of the world, try getting a show in Iraq.

Original members Firas (bass), Tony (lead guitar), Marwan (drums), Faisal (rhythm guitar) and Waleed (lead vocals) were only able to play three shows before the war started in 2003. Waleed fled the country soon after, which left Faisal to fill in at vocals. Tightened security made it difficult to practice and get gigs. They even received death threats from insurgent groups and religious fundamentalists accusing them of Satan-worship. Eventually, it proved impossible to find any venue that was safe to perform in. Their practice space was eventually destroyed by a rocket attack.

Their dream of being a metal band and even making an EP became possible from several generous donations. The entire band took refuge in Damascus, Syria for a year before finally ending up in Turkey. In their seven years as a band they have managed to play only six concerts in Baghdad, two in Syria and one in Turkey. “The war has all but destroyed their dream to live in peace, grow their hair long, bang their heads and play metal as loud as they want. Life in Turkey is proving extremely difficult for them. Acrassicauda is literally a band on the run,” proclaimed their bio. “Heavy Metal in Baghdad” is a documentary of their struggles in Iraq. I found the DVD very compelling. It was well put together and the footage was filmed over several years and took more than one visit to Iraq. Their story echoes the unspoken hopes of an entire generation of young Iraqis and is a must see for metalheads.

After seeing the film, I ended up searching Google for them and discovered that they finally came out with an EP entitled “Only the Dead See the End of the War.” This four song disc is straight-forward thrash with gritty vocals and virtuosic guitar solos provided by the highly skilled Tony. Although their sound isn’t entirely unique, Acrassicauda does throw in some Middle Eastern flair in the guitar solo on “Garden of Stones” accompanied by some Arabic wailing for the dead. There is also a passage in Arabic on the intro to “Massacre” and some downright sick drumming. Lyrically, they discuss the ravages of war and what they have endured. Produced by Alex Skolnick (Testament guitarist), this CD is worth every dime if you have a penchant for some down home Iraqi metal.

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The The Black Keys - Brothers

The The Black Keys - Brothers

The The Black Keys

Album title: Brothers
By Troy Johnson
Posted: Jun 2010
Label: Nonesuch Records
(1603) Page Views

If you are not familiar with the discography of the Black Keys then their new album ‘Brothers’ is a fine place to start. Released on Warner Brothers’ Nonesuch records, the bulk of the album was recorded in the Muscle Shoals sound studio in Alabama where other legends such as The Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, and Bob Dylan have recorded. ‘Brothers’ has 15 tracks with a spooky fuzz reminiscent of darker Led Zeppelin tunes but all the while keeping their blues sound. The band’s previous studio album, ‘Attack and Release’ was produced entirely by Danger Mouse who also produced the track ‘Tighten Up’ off the latest album. Danger Mouse is the producer that created the Grey Album which was the first of many Jay-Z acappella DJ productions. When you listen to ‘Tighten Up’ you can tell that it is the work of Danger Mouse and stands out as a great song on the album.  The lead guitar and vocalist of the Black Keys duo Dan Auerbach released a solo album ‘Keep It Hid’ in 2009 with bluesy riffs that have become his truly unique style . The drummer, main producer, and second part to the group Patrick Carney have a respect and knowledge for old music in a 2010 setting that gives the Black Keys a style that is not reproduced. 

The ‘Black Keys’ first two albums, ‘The Big Come Up’ and ‘Thickfreakness’ were both recorded and produced in Carney’s basement in Akron, Ohio. Don’t worry about catching up on old albums though because ‘Brothers’ will bring you up to speed on the style and soul of the rock duo. Carney has also been working on some solo projects but when he and Auerbach get together they create dark sounds with crowd pumping percussion that are not found anywhere else.

The song ‘Howlin’ For You’ is probably the catchiest single on the album and if you must download one song for a sample this would be the one. A copy of the CD comes with a vinyl purchase as the Black Keys lp’s usually do. The Black Keys are also active on their website with updates on tour status, dates, and new projects.

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Martin Sexton - Sugarcoating

Martin Sexton - Sugarcoating

Martin Sexton

Album title: Sugarcoating
By John Noyd
Posted: Jun 2010
Label: KTR Records
(2373) Page Views

Recorded in a week’s time; the tenderly rendered, clear-eyed, “Sugarcoating,” polishes off a sparkling variety of American styles. From Western Swing to Gospel-inflected R & B, Sexton’s buttery voice wraps compassion around honky-tonky hanky-panky and nuanced sympathies inside light-hearted jazz-pop assaults Drawn from deep wells of talent-laden emotion, Sexton’s live off the floor recordings dazzle in their embarrassingly casual competence. A friendly gentleness nudges winks and prods while the disarming, folksy, “Sugarcoating,” ladles breezy blessings over classic forms. Appropriating musical traditions for personal concerns, Sexton’s soulful jive sizzles as his slick pickin’ shimmers, lyrics pouring forth like sun-baked molasses, sneakily at ease between tumblin’ tumbleweed harmonies, salty twang and galloping patter.

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Pearl  - Little Immaculate White Fox

Pearl - Little Immaculate White Fox

Pearl

Album title: Little Immaculate White Fox
By Sal Serio
Posted: Jun 2010
Label: White Fox Music
(1909) Page Views

PEARL is fronted by Pearl Aday, who has rock ‘n roll roots via big daddy Meat Loaf. If you think Pearl’s rhythm guitarist looks familiar that would be ‘cause he’s Scott Ian of Anthrax, and also her husband.

However, these distractions are easily forgotten once you hear Pearl open her mouth. The lady has a bold, commanding voice that is 100% committed to knocking socks off. The years backing up her dad’s group and Motley Crue on the road have obviously given her plenty of confidence to take a no holds barred attitude on this, her debut, recording.

From the moment you push “play” and the tough chords of “Rock Child” blast out of the speakers, you’ll know you’re about to have your ass kicked something fierce. When Pearl sings “I’m a rock child, you gotta let me roll, I’m a rock child, I’ll leave you fully blown” there’s nothing but absolute conviction in the delivery. She’s paid her dues and she’s here to claim her stake of the world’s stage.

Quieter moments such as the sweetly sincere “My Heart Isn’t In It” fare well, but I prefer when the tempo cruises with kickers like “Whore” and “Check Out Charlie”, or the soulful cover “Nutbush City Limits”. Look for BIG things to come from Pearl.

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Jason Collett - Rat A Tat Tat

Jason Collett - Rat A Tat Tat

Jason Collett

Album title: Rat A Tat Tat
By John Noyd
Posted: Apr 2010
Label: Arts & Crafts
(2529) Page Views

Capturing ramshackle romances beneath crafty, crackling guitars, tail-feather shaking bass and happily lop-sided drums, Broken Social Scene’s laconic Lothario sling funky, greasy-spoon blues and off the cuff alt-pop chock full of jangly slang. “Rat A Tat Tat,” compacts slacker-backed blasts and rascally character assassination into backwoods ballads packing loose and groovy tropical rhythms for shifty, grifter tangos. Hiding refined treasures inside each gruff and grizzled tune, subtle choruses glow as off-beat accents rise - slyly disguising Collett’s articulate wit and savvy studio uses inside bohemian dreams and troubadour moves. Collett visits Madison’s Majestic April 6th along with special guests Zeus and Bermuda. Instead of the typical show in which each act plays its own set, all take the stage together, playing songs by all three.

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