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  • Disc Reviews

    by Max Ink Staff Writers


     tUnE-YaRds - Bird-Brains

    tUnE-YaRds - Bird-Brains

    tUnE-YaRds

    Album title: Bird-Brains
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Dec 2009
    Label: 4AD Records
    (2221) 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
    (2106) 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
    (2127) 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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    Mudvayne - Mudvayne

    Mudvayne - Mudvayne

    Mudvayne

    Album title: Mudvayne
    By Chris Fox
    Posted: Dec 2009
    Label: Sony Records
    (12136) Page Views

    MUDVAYNE returns to their manic musings with shadows of their past sound. The truly heavy sound of “Dig” and “Prod” has resurfaced in their newest album. Rediscovering their scattered and abrasive sound, MUDVAYNE has created an album that delves into the disturbing tonality of their past with subtle examples of their seasoned musical status. This album is full of songs that lull you into a false sense of security with ambient rumbles and calming melodies before they hit you with a wall of sound that is undeniable. After previous albums, where they thrived on the lighter side of their sound, this album finds itself rivaling “L.D. 50,” and a new understanding of what it means to be angry. The guttural vocals and eerie bass lines have reestablished what MUDVAYNE is and what they are capable of.

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    Lynyrd Skynyrd - God & Guns

    Lynyrd Skynyrd - God & Guns

    Lynyrd Skynyrd

    Album title: God & Guns
    By Chris Fox
    Posted: Nov 2009
    Label: Roadrunner Records
    (2020) Page Views

    Good ole LYNYRD SKYNYRD. Their formula is the same, hard rockin’ bluesy riffs for songs that make guys’ heads bang and girls’ hips shake. Their recent release has a bit more bite that SKYNYRD had back in the day with “Gimme Back My Bullets.” Though their songs are reflecting their age a bit, the boys from the south still have it, and the sheer amount of soul in their songs makes this album worth every minute. The bluesy touch of the south in rock is still there and proud as ever.

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    Slayer - World Painted Blood

    Slayer - World Painted Blood

    Slayer

    Album title: World Painted Blood
    By Chris Fox
    Posted: Nov 2009
    Label: Sony Records
    (1687) Page Views

    The thrash metal titans are back with a vengeance. Angry as ever, and still grinding the axe like there is no tomorrow SLAYER puts another notch in their belt with their tenth studio album. The sound of “World Painted Blood” builds on the elements from every album before. Dissonated chords, some dark melodies, and a driving beat that will force you to bang your head are what keep this album fresh with creepy SLAYER surprises around every corner. This album is far from a career capping effort, but rather the continuation of the epicness that is SLAYER. As usual government, God, and everything that might be controversial in between is covered is true thrash metal fashion. These guys have developed new material in a progressive direction without losing their roots. Metal continues to reign in blood.

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    Mo', Keb' - Live and Mo

    Mo', Keb' - Live and Mo

    Mo', Keb'

    Album title: Live and Mo
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Nov 2009
    Label: Yolabelle International
    (2108) Page Views

    Never one to sit back and rest on his laurels, contemporary bluesman, occasional actor and three-time Grammy winner Keb’ Mo’ launches his first self-produced indie album in conjunction with a coast to coast American tour and a newly designed website. A tasty sample of K.M’s current output, “Live,” features six live performances and four new studio recordings for an excellent overview of hand-picked gems highlighting a song-writer whose roots are in the blues but who subtly colors his songs with pop, gospel and funk influences. Welcoming and sympathetic, open-hearted and socially conscious, Mo’s laid-back enlightenment hides its pains and struggles deep inside hope and encouragement, making a gentle, soothing sound that uplifts and comforts. K.M. brings his band to Milwaukee’s Northern Lights Theater Nov. 14th.

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    Dethklok - Dethalbum II

    Dethklok - Dethalbum II

    Dethklok

    Album title: Dethalbum II
    By Chris Fox
    Posted: Oct 2009
    Label: Turner Music Publishing
    (2298) Page Views

    DETHKLOK is everything that metal should be. Loud, fast and larger than life. Epic song titles like “Bloodlines” and “The Gears” really say it all for this animated quintet. This album is the sophomore production for Brendon Small and Gene Hoglan and they have been able to deliver. With season three of Metalocalypse, the animated series following Dethklok, on the horizon, this album makes the mouths of many serious and satirical metal fans water. The music is heavy and brutal, but the guitar work melding almost seamlessly with the percussion is what makes this music so good. Tight, bottom heavy, and simply epic. Fans of heavy music of all genres, whether they enjoy the cartoon or not, will thoroughly enjoy this overpowering monster of an album.

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    The Motherhive Syndicate - Negative Spaces

    The Motherhive Syndicate - Negative Spaces

    The Motherhive Syndicate

    Album title: Negative Spaces
    By Chris Fox
    Posted: Oct 2009
    Label: Self Released
    (2611) Page Views

    With a sound the resembles a mix of modern hard rock and the classic days of heavy metal with just a touch of bluesy funk, THE MOTHERHIVE SYNDICATE delivers headbanging drive and emotion for 58 minutes on their album, “Negative Spaces.” Soaring vocals with just enough grit, and a guitar that rides that fine line between rhythm and shred are the carrying sounds of this album. Turning down the treble, reveals the solid percussion and groovy bass lines that really drive this music. Clearly drawing on influences from all over the musical world, these guys are a Madison band to be watched.

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    Frehley, Ace - Anomaly

    Frehley, Ace - Anomaly

    Frehley, Ace

    Album title: Anomaly
    By Sal Serio
    Posted: Oct 2009
    Label: Bronx Born Records
    (2522) Page Views

    After a 20 year absence, “Space” Ace Frehley is back with a new solo album! ‘Anomaly’s Sept. 15 release date marks three years since the notorious drinker has been clean and sober. Some artists lose their edge once they’ve cleaned up their act, but Frehley is back with a vengeance.

    This CD just screams ROCK ‘N ROLL with the levels hitting red while Ace and band take no prisoners! The primary musical purveyors here are just the spaceman and longtime drummer Anton Fig with contributions from members of Ace’s 2008 touring band, Anthony Esposito, Derrick Hawkins, and Scot Coogan.

    ‘Anomaly’s first single is the appropriately titled “Outer Space” which ought to be hitting the playlist hard on hard rock radio around the world… it’s brutal! The endearing thing here is a balls-out new-rock mentality mixing with the poppy metal songwriting that Frehley has always been known for, providing the perfect spacewalk from the past to the present.

    My personal faves from ‘Anomaly’ are the instrumental-heavy cuts “Space Bear”, “Genghis Kahn”, and “Fractured Quantum”, ripe with Ace’s trademark string bending acrobatics… stuff we know to expect from the spaceman, like toggle switch stutter and blistering triplets. However, there are also plenty of subtleties and acoustic moments within. Ace is back and I told you so!

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    Decapitado - Autowriter

    Decapitado - Autowriter

    Decapitado

    Album title: Autowriter
    By Jeff Muendel
    Posted: Oct 2009
    Label: Self Released
    (2544) Page Views

    Decapitado members describe themselves as “chaos controlled with razor-sharp precision,” and that is quite accurate. The punk band’s instrumentation is telling as well, with singer and bassist Daniel Kubinski (once the frontman of the legendary Die Kreuzen) playing 5-string bass and guitarist Andy Skeels playing 7-string guitar. In other words, they like to play it low and dirty.

    Decapitado’s new 7” vinyl release (red vinyl, to be specific, and that’s cool in and of itself) is a two-song affair with “Autowriter” on one side and “Muzzle” on the other. The songs are grinding and apocalyptic, but as the band claims, there is in some way a meticulous nature to them as well. That may, indeed, be the primary draw of the music: within the growls and guttural mayhem of overdriven amplifiers and hard-pounded drums is a certain correctness, an emotional ambush, that is altogether human.

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    Black Label Society - Skullage

    Black Label Society - Skullage

    Black Label Society

    Album title: Skullage
    By Jeff Muendel
    Posted: Sep 2009
    Label: Eagle Rock Entertainment
    (2693) Page Views

    Black Label Society frontman Zakk Wylde, who came to fame with Ozzy Osbourne, has spent the last twenty years establishing himself as not only a guitar icon, but also songwriter. Studying at the alter of Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, and Randy Rhoads, Wylde is now revered by the latest wave of metal guitarists. His solo group, Black Label Society, has released a greatest hits package called “Skullage” that includes both a DVD and CD. It should be noted (as it was in the press release) that Skullage rhymes with collage; it is not pronounced “skull-idge” (I had it wrong).

    The CD portion includes a cross-section of some of the best BLS tracks, including “13 Years of Grief,” “Doomsday Jesus,” and “New Religion.” The DVD is a mash-up of material that includes various live sets (including acoustic versions of “The Blessed Hellride,” “Spoke In The Wheel,” and “Stillborn”), Interviews with Zakk and the band, and some very cool music videos. This package makes a great stand-alone document of Black Label Society thus far and showcases the Zakk Wylde as both a performer and songwriter. The 115-minute DVD and individual CD are also available separately.

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