Disc Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Harvey Mandel - Snake Pit

Harvey Mandel - Snake Pit

Harvey Mandel

Album title: Snake Pit
By Sal Serio
Posted: Dec 2016
Label: Tompkins Square
(2024) Page Views

Musician Harvey “The Snake” Mandel has always been a hard one to categorize, but one can never deny his unparalleled level of excellence on the guitar. Detroit-born, Chicago-raised, and San Francisco-influenced, Mandel consistently seemed to be a couple steps ahead of the trends, being an early innovator of two-handed fretboard tapping, and distinguishing his sound with a mastery of syncopated phrasing, razor-edged sustain, and a genius touch when it comes to command of his effects pedals, as well as such natural phenomena as volume/feedback control.

Mandel, who has been battling illness in recent years, is back with his first studio album in ten years, the aptly titled ‘Snake Pit’, and it is a gross understatement to say it was merely worth the wait. These 10 instrumentals span blues to jazz, hard rock to jammy improv, and show enough chops, licks, and Snake’s unique signature style, to make any lover of the guitar stand up and take notice. ‘Snake Pit’ rivals any of the classic 1970s Mandel releases, and proves unequivocally why “The Snake” is one of rock’s most revered and formidable axe masters. It’s impossible to pick any individual track to study on ‘Snake Pit’, as they are all intense and inspirational in their own way, which truly illustrates what an amazing body of work this is.

Read More...


KidsonFire - KidsonFire

KidsonFire - KidsonFire

KidsonFire

Album title: KidsonFire
By Sal Serio
Posted: Dec 2016
Label: 616050 Records DK
(2358) Page Views

Press play, and the first thing you hear is a hellion youngster saying “We’re going to fuck this motherfucker UP!”, and that pretty much sets the tone for these four ruckus compositions that bristle with attitude, confidence, and immediacy. KidsonFire is a new project by bass player Danny Smash (of The Last Vegas) and claims Grand Rapids, Michigan, as it’s home base, although lead singer Karina Zephyr is from Chicago. Their two guitar / pummeling drum assault makes their debut E.P. leap screaming from the stereo speakers. This CD E.P. was released in mid-to-late 2016 as a follow-up to their 2015 single “Coup D’etat”.

You’ll experience an in-your-face heaviness with KidsonFire, but there’s also a tunefulness, a pop sensibility mixed in to their aggressive rock structure, that owes it’s presence to the engaging vocals courtesy of Karina. Songs like “Mother’s Little Monster” and “Anymore” will remain in your head for days. The centerpiece though (included here as both explicit and radio-friendly) is the anthem song “Kids On Fire” with it’s rebellious messages of “No more books and no more bells, I pledge allegiance to myself”, and “We’ll always disagree with you”.

Read More...


Popa Chubby - The Catfish

Popa Chubby - The Catfish

Popa Chubby

Album title: The Catfish
By Sal Serio
Posted: Dec 2016
Label: Popa Chubby Productions
(2170) Page Views

By my count, ‘The Catfish’ is the 19th studio album by Bronx blues man Ted Horowitz, aka Popa Chubby. That in and of itself is damn impressive, but consider that this is also one of his finest recorded efforts. From the get-go, on the songs “Going Downtown See My Old Gal Sue” and “Good Thing”, the modus operandi is boogie woogie hip shakin’ with dive bomber wah-wah drenched lead solos. Chubby’s grunt and grind vocals coax the listener through the grooves straight to the trippy downtown honky tonks.

I adore this album’s three instrumentals. Chubby assigns “Bye Bye Love” a reggae persona, flavored by Dave Keyes’ organ fills on the off-beat, which drives the Caribbean calypso rhythm. “Wes Is More” showcases the Wes Montgomery/Chet Atkins/Les Paul finger picking technique, and “Blues For Charlie” is true-blue blues, with chorus-clean singing/stinging guitar notes: crisp, clean, and mean.

“Slow Down Sugar” is the street smart urban blues number, akin to Los Lobos, punctuated by Tipitina Horowitz’ trumpet and Chubby’s gravely Tom Waits-like spoken rap that keep the beat down on the street. The rocker of the album is “Motörhead Saved My Life”, clocking in at 2:41. “Too damn ugly for the limelight. Who wants Ace of Spades? Who wants to get laid? Who wants to get high? Live fast ‘til you die”.

Read More...


Sad13 - Slugger

Sad13 - Slugger

Sad13

Album title: Slugger
By John Noyd
Posted: Nov 2016
Label: Carpark Records
(1915) Page Views

In the aftermath of a year fraught with personal loss and challenges, Sadie Dupuis took a break from fronting Speedy Ortiz, moved to Philly and mapped a path into trippy, bedroom-pop that harks back to her pre-band days when she found her bliss in upbeat demos where her rambunctious imagination could run wild. Sounding like a playground princess taking schoolyard bullies down a notch while throwing a Mad Hatter’s tea party for all her friends, Sad13 piles crunchy alt-rock waltzes atop frothy Jenga benders, dovetailing rubber-bullet hooks with frittering synths synched to giddy, gritty double-dutch funk. Fueled by full-throttled optimism spliced inside squishy riffs, “Slugger,” scores and floors, rocketing posh tolerance in frilly thrills spun from subtly bubbly pajama-party caroling and happily scrappy seesaw gloss.

Read More...


Testament - Brotherhood Of The Snake

Testament - Brotherhood Of The Snake

Testament

Album title: Brotherhood Of The Snake
By Sal Serio
Posted: Nov 2016
Label: Nuclear Blast
(2086) Page Views

Some bands are just reliable. Like strong coffee on a dark, cold morning; you just KNOW it’s going to provide the jolt that you desperately need. Chuck Billy and Testament are like that, and a new Testament record is similar to a visit from the oldest and truest of friends. Familiarity, yes, but always with a couple new tricks up their sleeves as well.

‘Brotherhood Of The Snake’ marks 11 studio albums in to Testament’s molten metal legacy, and emits a sound as fresh, vital, relevant, and incendiary as ever. Perhaps even more so, as these ten new songs have a sense of urgency about them that is relentless and inescapable. The staccato tempos (Gene Hoglan) and jackhammer riffs (Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson) make pretty much anything the “Big 4” bands have done this past decade seem bleached and sanitized by comparison. Yet, as brutal as this soundscape terrain is, there is still an embraceable and engaging vibe. Meaning that the heaviness does not push the listener away. Rather, these five brothers of the snake weave a sinewy, slithering, snakepit vortex that pulls all into it’s teeming viper’s nest. But don’t be afraid of this beast’s bite. This time it’s brotherly venom.

Read More...


Glenn Hughes - Resonate

Glenn Hughes - Resonate

Glenn Hughes

Album title: Resonate
By Sal Serio
Posted: Nov 2016
Label: Frontiers Music
(2843) Page Views

Considering the harrowing accounts of Glenn Hughes’ “lost years” to drugs (as documented in obscene detail in his recent autobiography), it is amazing that Hughes is still writing, recording, and performing, let alone hitting new heights of artistic achievement some 45+ years in to his career. The “Voice of Rock” moniker is no false crown. There are precious few with the range, emotion, and intensity of Hughes’ uncanny vocal prowess.

Never one to shy away from new collaborations or genre-defying free spirited musical excursions, the beauty of the new ‘Resonate’ album is an unabashed attitude of “let’s rock the fuck out”, and the presence of one of the most cohesive and talented backing bands ever showcased on a Glenn Hughes record. The powerhouse drumming of Pontus Engborg is the perfect companion to Hughes’ lyrical bass lines, and the lead flourishes by guitarist Soren Andersen and organist Lachlan Doley take these 11 solid rock compositions to the dizzying altitude of the highest musical mountain. Indeed, these songs and performances rival even the mid-1970s work that Hughes did with Deep Purple to earn his recent induction in to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Feel the groove, experience the volume, and let it RESONATE.

Read More...


Thompson Springs - Artifacts

Thompson Springs - Artifacts

Thompson Springs

Album title: Artifacts
By John Noyd
Posted: Oct 2016
Label: self-release
(2030) Page Views

A collaborative side-project from The Sharrows’ Matt Smith, Thompson Springs became an outlet for a backlog of songs Smith gathered over the years. Named after a ghost town in Utah Smith encountered early in his song-writing career, the band consists of a rotating crew who shaped his tunes into folk-rock gems whose casual valor, languid language and modest polish convey an everyman’s candor that rocks gently and goes down easy.  Produced by Rob Laakso of Kurt Vile and the Violators, the mini-collection of rambling self-reflection simmers in sing-along homilies and hitch-hiker’s poetry for a laid-back and breezy treatise that makes for a fine traveling companion on the winding road of life. As a taste of things to come, “Artifacts,” packs promising calm for uncertain journeys.

Read More...


Joey Broyles - Lucky Superstar

Joey Broyles - Lucky Superstar

Joey Broyles

Album title: Lucky Superstar
By John Noyd
Posted: Oct 2016
Label: self-release
(2135) Page Views

Washed in lavish passions, brave crusades and militant synths, “Lucky,” holds court against a world enslaved to gray conventions, cradled in ill-fitting labels and wedded to uncontested repression. Dystopian overtures rope social injustice and personal freedom into glitter-bombed romps and diva-teasing power-ballads as Broyles uncoils a conceptual conundrum where self-aware fairy-tales filled with sci-fi pariahs champion non-conformists everywhere in an enthralling call to arms suitable for mass consumption. Bold showmanship has always been the glam-pop auteur’s calling card and his latest do or die diatribes straddle pedantic fantasies and defiant non-compliance with exquisite commiseration, raging rock assaults and damning examinations. Principled sympathy and unequivocal civil disobedience go hand in hand with exorbitant portions and delectable spectacle making, “Lucky,” a fortunate collusion of art and ideas.

Read More...


The Mascot Theory - Trust and Bones

The Mascot Theory - Trust and Bones

The Mascot Theory

Album title: Trust and Bones
By John Noyd
Posted: Sep 2016
Label: self-release
(2466) Page Views

Despite releasing a solid EP late last year, the latest full-length album from Wisconsin’s The Mascot Theory took over a year and half to complete. It was not time wasted as, “Trust and Bones,” shines in polished gems whose proven grooves swing in crystal-clear lyrics honed from diamond-hard truths. Fancy hootenannies buck against beguiling revivals as sawdust two-steps with carnival-barker sparkle call boot-scootin’ moon-dances with devilish glee. Recording and mixing between Madison and Nashville, the country-rock quartet drew talented cameos from both places to supplement an already robust sound with titillating fiddle and night-train pedal-steel. Join the CD Release Party October 8th at Middleton’s Capitol Brewing or join a good cause when the band plays Flannel Fest 2016 November 5th with Beth Kille and American Aquarium.

Read More...


Teenage Fanclub - Here

Teenage Fanclub - Here

Teenage Fanclub

Album title: Here
By John Noyd
Posted: Sep 2016
Label: Merge
(2193) Page Views

Making it look easy, Scotland’s alt-rock melody-makers Teenage Fanclub produce seamless breezes filled with quiet yearning and stern, rock-solid solace. Nostalgic romantics whose cherished harmonies flow with pleasing expediency, the five-piece league of gentlemen coast on dreamy beds of gurgling guitars whose occasionally fitful backlashes strengthen each song’s faith and convictions. From the waterfall cover art to the Zen song titles, “Here,” focuses on life’s ubiquitous transience; wrapping unsettled uncertainties around searching hearts through plainspoken lyrics rolling in consoling, cajoling sympathies. Whether reflecting on wisdom gained from days gone by or simply pondering unformed futures, the band’s unerring ear for nuanced chord progressions make well-feathered nests for lovesick songbirds. In a rare convergence of good fortune, Teenage Fan club plays Madison’s High Noon Saloon October 23rd with Sam Evian.

Read More...


Ryley Walker - Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

Ryley Walker - Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

Ryley Walker

Album title: Golden Sings That Have Been Sung
By John Noyd
Posted: Aug 2016
Label: Dead Oceans
(2024) Page Views

Sliding and gliding between brazen flamenco flourishes nourishing babbling bluegrass patches and scrumptious country runs feeding tangled blues-based ballads; “Golden,” proposes casually dazzling six-string slivers straddling raga-jazz folk rivers channeling jam-friendly undertows elbowing ghostly Americana roller-coasters as radiant chamber-rock campfires toast elaborate catalytic interactions. Cagey frontier quilts map alleyways and corner bars inside sparkling, cerebral interiors while the swift riffing Walker hawks cryptic fragments bursting with purpose and coated in calm pseudo-psalms, cool daredevil prayers and plainly arcane refrains. Even-keeled spiels harnessing hobo anecdotes, Chicago’s eclectic electric guitarist rides deep-current journeys with cavalier good cheer and stark marksman timing for an album whose restlessness never strays too far from absorbing orbits. Walker visits Madison’s The Frequency September 29th along with the surreptitious Circuit des Yeux.

Read More...


Faun Fables - Born of the Sun

Faun Fables - Born of the Sun

Faun Fables

Album title: Born of the Sun
By John Noyd
Posted: Jul 2016
Label: Drag City
(2877) Page Views

Perched on cosmic cobwebs spanning whiplashed witchcraft alongside gypsy-driven whimsy, Faun Fables spin untamed prog-rock polyphonics into rays of dappled sunlight slicing primordial forests. Mythical, mystical masonry smelting fissionable madrigals into time-jumping hybrids, “Born,” swarms and buzzes, harnessing artisan karma from shape-shifting rhythms. Stellar songtellers Dawn McCarthy and Nils Frykdahl’s furious curiosity ceaselessly weaves elaborate patterns with nimble stitches from multi-colored thread. Whether Teutonic sonnets casting Slavic spells splashed in ecstatic rapture or Appalachian folk-blues nestling post-apocalyptic parables in lonesome sailor’s jigs, FF’s medieval easels color cunning hunting within historical foraging; midsummer caroling gathers restlessly inventive connections while rumbling hand-drums scurry, herding and circling puckish flutes paired with fairy-dusted autoharps and heavy, electric six-strings for daring organic performances scoring swelling tarantellas dancing around wrangled fandangos.

Read More...

View More

Viewing Page 5 - of 34

‹ First  < 3 4 5 6 7 >  Last ›