Disc Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Black Robot - Badass

Black Robot - Badass

Black Robot

Album title: Badass
By Sal Serio
Posted: Apr 2010
Label: Rocket Science/Formosa
(3894) Page Views

Black Robot takes hard rock back to the basics of concussive 4/4 beats, cocky lead vocals, and brutally bashing power chords. Remember feeling the bass drum pounding in your chest cavity, and a lead singer stuck in the unholy trinity of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll? Black Robot not only remembers, but they’re hell-bent on a mission to keep those days around for good.

Original Buckcherry bassist Jonathan “JB” Brightman formed Black Robot with motor city vocalizer Huck Johns, and the end result is a lot like an AC/DC-Buckcherry two headed berserker. Don’t look for hoity toity academic posturing on Baddass, just crack open the beers and PARTY. These guys want to ROCK you, not give you points to ponder. This isn’t geek music for the faint-of-heart, it’s the stinky soundtrack to a good sweaty FUCK. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Tipper Gore!

In all fairness, while 90% of this CD is crotch pulsation (“Cocaine”, “Girls Kissing Girls”, “23 Days Of Night”), there’s some softer sentiment within too (“I’m In Love” & “Stop The World” with keyboards by primo session man Fred Mandell), so I guess the Black Robot guys know the advantages of having a couple chick songs in the midst of the testosteroney tunage! I wholeheartedly salute them.

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Spiral Trance - All In Due Time

Spiral Trance - All In Due Time

Spiral Trance

Album title: All In Due Time
By Chris Fox
Posted: Mar 2010
Label: Rat Pak Records
(3337) Page Views

Riding on their recent signing with Rat-Pak Records, this Milwaukee based metal group has produced a diverse and heavy album. The true eccentricities of guitar effects really come through their grooving metal sound. The quartet has a refreshingly unique sound that doesn’t allow itself to delve too far into any single genre. Punky, hardcore vocals and melodic singing over driving songs help set SPIRAL TRANCE apart. Each song presents a different characteristic of the band and drives the listener to want more. The album will draw in hard rock and metal fans alike. Its sound allows itself to be heavy, but really draws on the chorus hooks of their lighter relatives.  With national recognition and a growing following, the Milwaukee natives have a bright future.

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Droids Attack - Must Destroy

Droids Attack - Must Destroy

Droids Attack

Album title: Must Destroy
By Chris Fox
Posted: Mar 2010
Label: Crustacean Records
(2559) Page Views

Heavy metal with strange rhythms, a punk attitude, and a blazingly groovy guitar tone that will make any purist move. DRIODS ATTACK have a truly genuine take on playing heavy music, yet they stay true to their sound without losing any momentum. Their comical banter creates a really interesting environment for metal to develop. Though not heavy metal in its purest form, they are clearly influenced by the likes of Tool and Black Sabbath. With cult status on the underground metal scene DROIDS ATTACK is a musical force that is driven to achieve. “Must Destroy” kicks your ass with a good time, and is sure to provide an entertaining live show.

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Sondre Lerche - Heartbeat Radio

Sondre Lerche - Heartbeat Radio

Sondre Lerche

Album title: Heartbeat Radio
By John Noyd
Posted: Feb 2010
Label: Rounder Records
(2229) Page Views

A precocious throwback, Lerche’s augmented charms and contrapuntal cuteness are muted by silver spoon cool and Rat Pack panache addressing fleeting moments, effervescent examinations of ordinary life. Choirboy voices among driving beats, dabbling dalliances between calculated swagger; “Heartbeat,” blasts hip sophistication sparkling with catchy hooks and restless intelligence. Swinging in charismatic happiness, Lerche dances around in unrestrained jazz-pop spotlights wrought with casual brilliance and wrapped in polished flourishes. Covered in cavalier brass and nimble strings courtesy of High Llama’s Sean O’Hagan, “Heartbeat,” gently bend genres, tweaking cheeky melodies into spectacular galas, combining swirling night club lounge wizardry and rockin’ music hall savoir faire. The starry-eyed wunderkind plays Madison’s Frequency February 20th and Milwaukee’s Shank Hall the 21st, don’t miss astute and subdued troubadour JMB opening.

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Bruce Kulick - BK3

Bruce Kulick - BK3

Bruce Kulick

Album title: BK3
By Sal Serio
Posted: Feb 2010
Label: Twenty 4 Records
(5586) Page Views

I have a soft spot in my heart for Bruce Kulick. He’s like the modern day Tommy Bolin, in that he’s an immensely talented musician and songwriter, but it seems like his contributions as an artist will be forever eclipsed by his stints as a replacement guitarist in high profile bands like KISS and Grand Funk Railroad. This is a damn shame, because his solo work is stellar, and the new BK3 CD drives home that point like a sledgehammer hitting a stickpin.

BK3 mixes up moods nicely, with a little pop, a dash of fusion, a pinch of psychedelia, and heaping helpings of hard rock. Nick Simmons lends vocals to the grungy “Hand Of The King”, which is BK3’s first single. Simmons’ love of the intensely dark graphic novel realm color the lyrics and vocal delivery of this driving radio-friendly rocker.

Other notable guests on BK3 include former Kulick band mates Eric Singer, Gene Simmons, and John Corabi, as well as The Knack’s Doug Fieger. One of my favorite BK3 moments is the instrumental “Between The Lines” where Kulick wields a six-string axe battle with Steve Lukather of Toto fame. Their fret board interplay is transcendental and moving, inspiring this writer to practice!
By Sal Serio

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Ace Frehley - Behnind The Player: Ace Frehley

Ace Frehley - Behnind The Player: Ace Frehley

Ace Frehley

Album title: Behnind The Player: Ace Frehley
By Sal Serio
Posted: Feb 2010
Label: Sony/Red
(2174) Page Views

The latest installment of the popular “Behind The Player” DVD series features former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley, who entertains with his stoney demeanor and cackle as he details his beginnings as a guitarist, history with one of the biggest bands in the world, and subsequent solo career.

KISS fans will be happy to see ample archival concert footage, mainly of Frehley’s solo guitar spots, albeit sometimes of dodgy visual quality. There are no significant revelations regarding the chemistry that made the original KISS line-up so uniquely special (nor gory details regarding their break-ups) that any die-hard KISS fan isn’t already aware of. However, there’s neat behind-the-scenes stories relating to the recording of his new Anomaly CD.

What’s really dope here are the all-star jam sessions and lessons on how to play “Shock Me” and “Cold Gin”. The lessons are told one-on-one by the Space Ace to the viewer, where he takes time to explain specifics regarding his gear set-up and technique. The jam sessions are instrumental versions of those two Frehley-penned KISS classics, with Ace joined by rock superstars like Matt Sorum and John 5. My favorite moment is a version of “Cold Gin” with Ace and legendary guitarist George Lynch, who shares in the sinewy six string soloing.

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Lita Ford - Wicked Wonderland

Lita Ford - Wicked Wonderland

Lita Ford

Album title: Wicked Wonderland
By Sal Serio
Posted: Jan 2010
Label: JLRG Entertainment
(5771) Page Views

O metal maven, O heavenly black brassiere pin-up of the 80s, how we loved you! But you left so suddenly, why O why was it so?

Lita Ford actually split for a Caribbean island in the mid 90s to shack up with rocker husband Jim Gillette and start a family. Lita and Jim home schooled their two pre-teen sons, and grew their own food. Sound like a fantasy? Well, what makes my dreams come true is: Lita’s BACK!

“Wicked Wonderland” is not some safe bet crassly calculated attempt to live off past glories it’s a BEAST of an album! The primary theme running through the pummeling tunes is kinky sex. Apparently the couple likes it nasty, and are cool with letting us know all about it. Songs like ‘Inside’ (“Feel me from the inside”), and ‘Bed’ (“Tie me to the bed, spank me ‘cause I like it”) plainly lay it out across the silk sheets for us all to enjoy.

Producer Greg Hampton goes for the huge production he’s known for, giving “Wicked Wonderland” a sinister vibe somewhere between Rob Zombie and Deborah Frost’s Brain Surgeons. Roberta Zombie? The Bra Surgeons? Call it what you will, just give me more, ‘cause it’s sexy as hell and rocks like a MOTHER!

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Nonpoint - Cut The Cord

Nonpoint - Cut The Cord

Nonpoint

Album title: Cut The Cord
By Sal Serio
Posted: Jan 2010
Label: 954 Records
(2179) Page Views

Released December 8th, via digital download, is a killer new unplugged EP of some of Nonpoint’s most well known songs, like “Your Signs” and “Circles”. “Cut The Cord” is crisp, spacious, emotive, and raw, yet still with the same edge that Nonpoint always delivers. The following comments came from singer Elias Soriano and drummer Rob Rivera before their recent Madison show.

Elias:  “For years we had been discussing putting out Spanish EPs or acoustic EPs and it had never come together. It had been almost two years since “Vengeance”. We’re releasing it digitally because it was the smartest, most economical, (and) fastest way to get new music into the hands of our fans, while carrying them over to the (upcoming) full length. A lot of people have been singing these songs for ten years now, so getting a new swing on them freshens them up a bit, for them and us.”

Rob:  “We’ve been doing this acoustic stuff for years at radio stations, and these songs kinda popped up online. The songs we picked were the ones kids always ask for in our live set.”

Elias: “We wanted to pick favorites, and also add some obscure tracks that people love, like ‘Victim’ and ‘Rabia’, but would never ever consider hearing acoustic.”

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Tail Dragger - Live At Rooster’s Lounge

Tail Dragger - Live At Rooster’s Lounge

Tail Dragger

Album title: Live At Rooster’s Lounge
By Chris Fox
Posted: Dec 2009
Label: Delmark Records
(2428) Page Views

TAIL DRAGGER is a melding of the old Mississippi Delta blues and Chicago 1950’s blues. This DVD presents TAIL DRAGGER in his element, an old run down bar with a small crowd and an eclectic group of traveled blues musicians. Though the film quality is on the lower end, the feel and personality of the blues could not be more apparent. As he wanders through the crowd he sings his woes in the faces of his fans, and even some hapless women at a bus stop outside. This video truly presents “Blues with a Feeling,” and really portrays the personality of the old Chicago blues.

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 tUnE-YaRds - Bird-Brains

tUnE-YaRds - Bird-Brains

tUnE-YaRds

Album title: Bird-Brains
By John Noyd
Posted: Dec 2009
Label: 4AD Records
(2141) Page Views

As evident by her recent Madison appearance at the High Noon Saloon, New England native Merrill Garbus knows how to swing simple beats into monstrous concoctions whose grooves provide solid bedrock for her quirky vocal acrobatics and ukulele-infused hooks. Her charmingly unpredictable debut, “Bird-Brains,” overflows with cock-eyed hopscotch cocktails and looped 200 proof goulash, amassing sweetly treated catastrophes whose child-like innocence produces playfully unhindered inventiveness. Scrapbook symphonies quietly infiltrate before unleashing rollercoaster yelps of Maori warriors, zig-zag magpies take flight summoning dainty dances and avenging angels, household ambience submerges beneath an unearthly whirl of unwrapped passion. Wonderfully contradictory yet refreshingly personal, alien and familiar, equally comforting and shocking, “Bird-Brains,” draws us in with its sorted sonic intrigues; embodying the opposing forces contained within us all.

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Karnivool - Sound Awake

Karnivool - Sound Awake

Karnivool

Album title: Sound Awake
By Chris Fox
Posted: Dec 2009
Label: Sony Music
(2022) Page Views

The second studio album from Australian progressives KARNIVOOL brings about a very unique sound to progressive hard rock. These guys have found a middle ground between heavy and orchestrated, similar to TOOL with a “less eerie” feel. Layered, epic songs with soaring space guitar work over the top really meld every song on the album into each other. Complex time signatures and a true depth to the music really make this album a story to hear from beginning to end. The songs progress and develop into hopeful yet dark musings from this Australian quintet.

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Creedence Clearwater Revival - The Singles Collection

Creedence Clearwater Revival - The Singles Collection

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Album title: The Singles Collection
By John Noyd
Posted: Dec 2009
Label: Fantasy Records
(2048) Page Views

A handsomely packaged two CD set covering thirty tracks plus a bonus DVD with four music videos, “Singles,” presents an unflinching glimpse into the late sixties, early seventies American psyche. A dash of country panache, a measure of Memphis soul and a healthy helping of rockabilly bravado added to the trippy wisdom of hobos and hippies - CCR captured the zeitgeist of a generation haunted by war and civil unrest. Sowing the hope of an open road, juxtaposing Vietnam jungles into Southern bayous, CCR’s spooky swamp boogie voodoo provided a stark reflection and an ample escape hatch that resonates across the decades - a timeless touchstone addressing unique times through redressed roots and relentless questioning as relevant today as it was nearly forty years ago.

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