Disc Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Julianna Barwick - Will

Julianna Barwick - Will

Julianna Barwick

Album title: Will
By John Noyd
Posted: May 2016
Label: Dead Oceans
(2720) Page Views

Paring down sounds to their essence, composer and sonic soothsayer Barwick lays a gentle hand to serene streams feeding ethereal spirituals through soft pliable hives buzzing in warm swarms. Passive, aqueous chorals plopped, plucked and massaged into captivating fabric, “Will,” blankets the listener in piano raindrops and synthesizer jellyfish, luminous blooms swallowing evolving colonies. Gathering diaphanous gasps voicing wordless hurts, Barwick blurs lines designing chromatic chakras into tonal sonar warbling in secular spectacle and interstellar telepathy. Expanding organic fantasies lift celestial vessels in radiant patience as unseen depths beckon bell-jar avatars to bubble in subtle synergy; methodical oddities suspended in heaven, heaving, breathing and rippling with sophisticated instincts. Julianna plays Madison’s The Frequency June 20th along with cyber-symphonic conjurer Mas Ysa and electro-master Cap Alan.

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The Rotten Tommys - The Rotten Tommys

The Rotten Tommys - The Rotten Tommys

The Rotten Tommys

Album title: The Rotten Tommys
By Sal Serio
Posted: May 2016
Label: To The Core Records
(2777) Page Views

I’ve always said that rock ‘n roll shouldn’t be overly analyzed and philosophized over. It’s best when stripped down to the essence of primal beats, loud chords, and huge sing-along choruses. The Rotten Tommys have taken this formula straight from the garage to the stage, and now to your personal CD players.

The attitude here is turn it up, rock it out, and don’t waste any time. Short, catchy, songs with no filler, sums up things well. Four Rotten Tommys, ten songs, and under 27 minutes total. Ray Davies and Pete Townshend would approve. Two guitars, bass, and drums… the way it was meant to be. A little snotty and a lot in synch with the “Ramones rules” of keeping it sincere, simple, and snorkin’. Like I was saying, this is rock ‘n roll, baby! It’s not calculus.

The Rotten Tommys play out often because that’s what they love to do, and you should take the opportunity to experience the party. The RTs will be at Maybash this year on May 28, so, hey, you could even party naked at that one if you want! Also July 9 at The High Dive in Milwaukee with The HullMen and Northside Creeps.

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Security Project - Live 1

Security Project - Live 1

Security Project

Album title: Live 1
By Sal Serio
Posted: May 2016
Label: 7D Media
(2550) Page Views

The “Tribute Band” concept can sometimes wear thin, especially here in the Madison market, but, the big stages on the touring circuit occasionally see more interesting and fully-realized concepts come through, particularly in the prog rock realm. The Security Project is one of the more spellbinding tribute productions currently in existence.

To sum this group up, they are performing the early material of Peter Gabriel, with a strong emphasis on his 3rd and 4th album songs. If you only know of Gabriel via his overly saturated radio/video hits “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time”, then this is probably not for you. If you appreciate the inventiveness of “Biko” and “No Self Control”, then you’ll get it.

What’s really amazing here are the vocals of Brian Cummins, who sounds almost more like Peter Gabriel than Gabriel himself nowadays. Famed rock drummer Jerry Marotta, who played on those Gabriel albums, brings some solid cred and those crucial polyrhythmic drum patterns to the proceedings. Trey Gunn’s 10-string touch guitar replicates the original Tony Levin bass parts admirably. And the song selection is truly inspired, spanning Genesis-era gems like “Back In NYC”, to the “Games Without Frontiers/Of These, Hope” (from ‘The Last Temptation Of Christ’) medley. Recommended.

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Jessy Lanza - Oh No

Jessy Lanza - Oh No

Jessy Lanza

Album title: Oh No
By John Noyd
Posted: May 2016
Label: Hyperdub
(2370) Page Views

Trilling thrills meet punctual funk as a divine amalgamation of raving party-favors and cantilevered diva squeaks flow, grow and glow in slippery contradictory bliss; “No,” is both lush and sparse, luxurious yet economical, subversively inserting tense, sensual layers into sanitized mechanics where flexible temptations move to tireless desires. Artfully employing whiplash panache to cybernetic confections, Lanza’s sophomore effort squeezes teasing sparks into a lip-smacking feast of sculpted beats whose micro-managed dance-production let the little things stand out while the soulful whole washes wonderfully over the senses. Perky chirps flirting in catty, bratty j-pop purrs while gentle waves of quirky work-outs slavishly sashay in mincing incisions cause the entire album to wriggle and squirm in blithe seismics, savagely dabbling between danger and delight, pleasure and plight.

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The Mascot Theory - Esperanto

The Mascot Theory - Esperanto

The Mascot Theory

Album title: Esperanto
By John Noyd
Posted: Apr 2016
Label: Stone After Stone Records
(2660) Page Views

Packing four originals and a live recording into the tasty new EP, “Esperanto,” The Mascot Theory prove reliably entertaining while appearing magically casual and quietly wise. Charming, chiming chords rouse story-teller spells; pithy rodeo fairytales to sweep you off your feet, placing you inside eager choruses with a racing heart and possibly a raised fist. Gentlemen and artisans, the individual talents of the quartet powers a united canvas highlighting lyrical parables delivered in aerodynamic stamina as quick-ripped riffs and tight-knit harmonics fit into descriptive fictions where hearts mend and character engage in intelligent dialogue, struggling at times but often rejoicing.  Catch them next headlining High Noon Saloon’s Third Annual Hullabrew May 14th along with Christopher Gold & The New Old Things and The Pine Barrens.

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Imarhan - Imarhan

Imarhan - Imarhan

Imarhan

Album title: Imarhan
By John Noyd
Posted: Apr 2016
Label: City Slang
(2093) Page Views

Grafting constant dodges and shifty pauses to nimble notes raining over beds of super-heated beats, North Africa’s sterling desert whirlwind Imarhan stretches edgy traditions into patient meditations and ecstatic raptures. Stark, thorny competitions melt into flickering, communal trance-jams as the inspired quintet keeps spirits active and feet second-guessing with arresting rhythms and enchanting incantations. Ranging from torrid to languid, their self-titled debut blooms in contagious guitar-tangled syncopations whose serpentine grooves circumvent language and defy logic; nomadic sadness acting as a leisurely transcendent catalyst. The international upstarts bring their restless brand of polyglot blues-rock to a ready America with a rare club tour that incredibly includes a stop in Madison’s The Frequency May 4th. Prepare for a bombastic night that includes Madison’s own Afrobeat sensation Immigré.

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The Ghosts of Laura Palmer - Livin’ For The Soul, Dyin’ For The Funk

The Ghosts of Laura Palmer - Livin’ For The Soul, Dyin’ For The Funk

The Ghosts of Laura Palmer

Album title: Livin’ For The Soul, Dyin’ For The Funk
By Geert Driver
Posted: Apr 2016
Label: SFP Recordings
(1967) Page Views

Back in 2010, a new DJ duo hit the Milwaukee music scene. That duo called itself, The Ghosts of Laura Palmer—comprised of Andy Gulotta and Mario R. Martin. This is where the story begins…

Soon after forming, the Ghosts amassed a great deal of attention. Some of it welcomed, some of it not so welcomed. But bring the music to the people they did. According to The Onion, The Ghosts essentially “infiltrated nearly every level of the city’s culture with their rock and soul whirlpool mixes.” Each set bringing “a different vibe and pastiche of decades worth of grooves, all exclusively mixed in analog.” This is all true. Then “Blackbird” happened.

According to OnMilwaukee.com, “Blackbird” is a “masterful mix of vintage sounds from the likes of Joe Tex, James Brown, Bogis Chimes, Bill Coday and others.” The release of “Blackbird,” named for The Ghosts’ defacto home, Bay View’s Blackbird Bar, was timed to coincide with the duo’s first foray into larger audiences. The duo was asked to lend music to Sojourner Family Peace Center’s annual fashion show fundraiser at the Harley-Davidson Museum in 2011. Since then, The Ghosts would see Gulotta’s departure (while staying on as a creative consultant), more sets in more locations and a few shorter form mixes like “Back To The Front”—but nothing has stood out like the two-hour mix “Blackbird” boasted. This isn’t to say “Back To The Front” wasn’t well received. According to Rocksposure.com, “Back To The Front” is the Ghosts’ “most high energy mix to date,” as [the Ghosts] “specialize in assembling amazingly well-crafted mixes of 70’s funk that feel as genuine as Travolta in a set of bell bottoms.” This was of course thanks to Will It Burn’s EightZero at the producer’s chair…but that last effort was back in 2012. So what the hell has Martin been doing since 2012? Plenty.

Since Martin last took the Ghosts “back to the front,” he has been more selective about his sets. He’s been calculating and collaborating with DJ Justin Carloni while experimenting with other genres of music. He’s delved into electronica, one of his favorite genres, and he’s worked on the proper sophomore follow up to “Blackbird.” A menagerie of records collected from around the world, countless sequences, and hours upon hours of digitizing and mastering original vinyl made Martin put his brainchild on hold, only reviving it when the time was right, and turned his attention to writing.

Martin spent years planning, outlining and writing a book entitled “Growing Up Analog,” that spans a music history of sorts from 1976 to 1998, detailing his experiences as a publicist in the music industry and growing up outside the digital age. But despite his itch for producing pulp, he was [surprisingly] working on the follow up to “Blackbird,” which [not so surprisingly] coincides to release at, you guessed it, the Sojourner Family Peace Center’s fashion show. If we play Ghosts by the numbers, it would look something like this: Formed in 2010. Release critically acclaimed debut, “Blackbird” in 2011 and play Harley-Davidson Museum. Play Harley-Davidson Museum three (3) more times from 2012 to 2015. In 2016, the fifth (5th) year performing at Harley-Davidson Museum while releasing follow up to “Blackbird” five (5) years after debut. This is the Ghosts in fives.

Now, what does the sonic landscape have in store for a follow up that has been five years in the making? Without further ado, April 7, 2016, The Ghosts of Laura Palmer release “Livin’ For The Soul, Dyin’ For The Funk.” Produced by Steve Comeau at Splice Studios, the Ghosts follow up “Blackbird” with a mix that rides the line of over-production, yet sounds more stripped down than its predecessor. “This is exactly the mix I wanted to make,” says Martin. “Steve [Comeau] and I spent so much time in the studio to ensure each track sounded as close to its original 7” source. He knew exactly what the vision was and completely embraced it—I would never have been able to bring this to life without him.”

We’ve come to expect the unexpected from Martin and The Ghosts of Laura Palmer. And now, the long-awaited sophomore effort, “Livin’ For The Soul, Dyin’ For The Funk,” is here. The wait is over.

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Skizzwhores - Insomnia Mania

Skizzwhores - Insomnia Mania

Skizzwhores

Album title: Insomnia Mania
By Laura Sorensen
Posted: Apr 2016
Label: Gears N Cogs Media
(1428) Page Views

There are those bands that need more members to produce more sound. Then there are bands like Skizzwhores that need only three members to produce a lot of sound. Their second release and full length CD “Insomnia Mania” is rich with strong instrumentals generating from a single guitarist, bassist and drummer. Combined with the raw, straightforward vocals, using a unique blend of Grunge-Smear and Punk Rock, Skizzwhores produces a mix of music that ranges in style from old school B-52’s to rap style rock like Limp Bizkit, and various other artists such as Distillers, Sonic Youth and The Germs. With intriguing song titles like “Non Conforming Conformist Ate My Brain” and “Sex & Politics” one is drawn to find out more about the music this not so subtle three piece ensemble produces. Lyrics such as “Rise and rally in the streets,” “Same old shit,” and “Millions of hairs stand on end like standing at the edge of hell,” give one cause to believe this group is not only serious about their music but also about their message.  Each track is inevitably upbeat and inspiring.  The Madison based band Skizzwhores is quickly building a reputation, so while new shows may be in the works they will definitely be playing Pride Fest in Milwaukee, WI on June 10, 2016.

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Pat Travers and Carmine Appice - The Balls Album

Pat Travers and Carmine Appice - The Balls Album

Pat Travers and Carmine Appice

Album title: The Balls Album
By Sal Serio
Posted: Mar 2016
Label: Purple Pyramid Records
(2182) Page Views

Pat Travers and Carmine Appice! Consider the accumulated years of touring and recording experience, and the full cast of characters that have collaborated with these two rockers. There is a whole novel of great stuff, right there! However, the task at hand and the bounty on the mantle is ‘The Balls Album’, which provides plenty of evidence that testicular fortitude is readily in abundance with these guys.

Sure, it’s a no-brainer that this audio document bursts with thunderous drumming and pyrotechnic lead guitar work… I mean, duh, right? But what smacked me squarely between the eyeBALLS was a combination of the varied, memorable, and emphatically solid songwriting displayed within, and, even more impressive is the crystalline quality of Travers’ vocal work. Surely Pat sounds equally as good as any of his classic 70s work, or perhaps even better.

So… quality? Check! In fact, check that one off several times over! But, let us talk quantity. How does 14 songs grab you? By the BALLS? That is oh so apropos. Not a tablespoon of filler lives here, and you get the soft with the hard, the bouncy with the bulging, and the smooth with the prickly. After all, THIS is the BALLS album.

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The Crookes - Lucky Ones

The Crookes - Lucky Ones

The Crookes

Album title: Lucky Ones
By John Noyd
Posted: Mar 2016
Label: Modern Outsider
(2208) Page Views

Cardiac satellites catapult submerged urges into prancing manic courtships as The Crookes’ promising romantic stamina kicks power-pop jaunts roasted in heart-racing impatience from rose-colored pub-rock propositions; slamming candied music-hall anthems from fidgety indie misfits. Suave hurrahs from Teddy Boy choirs steeped in radiant riffs and galvanized sighs, Sheffield’s schooled hooligans produce fuzzed-out shin-digs from thick six-string pillaging born beneath lovelorn vocals and strapped to dapper eighties keyboards. Open-hearted larks from cobblestoned Romeos, “Lucky,” spins the wheel and plays to win, a monument to spidery pride devising clever webs connecting lively vibes to slacker jackpots snatched from ghost-coated tremolo, unshakeable beats and skulking bass. Adopting a breezier countenance from their brooding beginnings, the British quartet visit Madison’s The Frequency April 9th along with modern-pop electro-philosopher Geographer.

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Haelos - Full Circle

Haelos - Full Circle

Haelos

Album title: Full Circle
By John Noyd
Posted: Mar 2016
Label: Matador Records
(2035) Page Views

Ravishing break-beat sass lavished in funky diamond grinds alternate between snake-charmer calm inclined towards dark carnal electro-soul and diva-shrieking sequences slipping into stormy trip-hop gospel. Assembling a massive sonic palette techno-geeking out with mood-enhancing slow-jams building into smoldering sideways-glance dance-grooves; the tantric London trio employ erotic electronics alongside three-part vocals roping consensual adventures into pulp fiction; fatalistic mystics tossing harmonic bon mots rinsed in cloudy synths, cobbled to clanging arrangements and polished in sleek percussive fevers. A cool goulash brewing ultra-smooth moods beneath dramatic buzzed-out attitude, “Circle,” orbits panoramic landscapes where gleaming antiseptic effects meet deep eclectic sets and exalted chill-pop operas turn lethal, conniving and irresistible. In a rare treat for Wisconsin, Haelos plays Milwaukee’s Back Room at Collectivo Coffee on Prospect April 8th

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Droids Attack - Sci-Fi or Die

Droids Attack - Sci-Fi or Die

Droids Attack

Album title: Sci-Fi or Die
By Sal Serio
Posted: Mar 2016
Label: Riff Reaper Records
(2070) Page Views

Unearthed at last is the ultimate Droids Attack document. The talisman. In the long run, has the Droids sound changed much since their first 2004 CD? Not really, except it’s tighter and the vision is more fully realized. The meaty chord-driven locomotive zephyr thrust of sledgehammer metal-punk has simply zeroed in on the target with pinpoint accuracy, and the result is one of blissful head-banging wonderment.

Nailing the concept of uber-product is the physical presentation of this music. I can’t recall the last time I was this awestruck by a local band’s CD artwork, and overall conceptual statement. The combination of Eli Quinn’s Moebius-like illustrations with Brad Van’s graphic art skill equals pure genius. While listening, I can’t help but gaze at the CD itself to get the full effect, which is sort of like a science-fantasy graphic novel and ancient cultures history lesson all rolled up into one big ball-busting enchilada.

An auspicious local offering such as this needs a CD release event that resembles a ritualistic feast of alchemists, aliens, and perverse party-goers. It would also likely resemble the drop of a hydrogen bomb. Will we sci-fi… or die? Find out on Thursday, March 10, at the High Noon Saloon, when the Droids Attack festivities will be preceded by sonic statements from Attalla and The Gran Fury.

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