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  • Disc Reviews

    by Max Ink Staff Writers


    Teenage Fanclub - Here

    Teenage Fanclub - Here

    Teenage Fanclub

    Album title: Here
    By John Noyd
    Posted: Sep 2016
    Label: Merge
    (2309) 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.

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    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
    (2132) 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.

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    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
    (3055) 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.

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    Tin Can Diamonds - Tin Can Diamonds

    Tin Can Diamonds - Tin Can Diamonds

    Tin Can Diamonds

    Album title: Tin Can Diamonds
    By John Noyd
    Posted: May 2016
    Label: self-release
    (4330) Page Views

    Conjuring family bonds through candid jamborees, a friendly strength pervades Madison’s Tin Can Diamonds’ self-titled debut. Whether whipping up road-trip bliss or drowning in rootless heartache, TCD slips socially conscious mischief into sad tall tales and rousing good-time tunes for a swinging education in interpersonal dynamics, subliminal consumerism and corporate control that never sacrifices a catchy melody for heavy-handed pedantics. Folk-blues grooves meet sweet bohemian dreams as Aarushi Agni’s old soul vocals coax robust moments tinged in sinful whimsy. Ben Strohbeen’s happy-go-lucky bass dances alongside Dave Janus’ shuffling drums for slinky honky-tonk rhythms inside chugging struts while guitarist Mitch Johnson lends a keen ear to restless riffs and back-up vocals. Catch TCD opening up for ferocious folk-rocker Adia Victoria June 16th at Madison’s The Frequency

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    Julianna Barwick - Will

    Julianna Barwick - Will

    Julianna Barwick

    Album title: Will
    By John Noyd
    Posted: May 2016
    Label: Dead Oceans
    (2824) 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
    (2942) 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
    (2659) 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
    (2508) 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
    (2832) 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
    (2224) 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
    (2106) 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
    (1534) 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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