Disc Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Tinariwen - Emmaar

Tinariwen - Emmaar

Tinariwen

Album title: Emmaar
By John Noyd
Posted: Mar 2014
Label: Anti-
(1471) Page Views

The magic nomadic Tinariwen chose America’s Mojave desert to record their sixth album and as in their previous efforts a barren landscape inspires fruitful music. A primordial coil of transcendent chemistry, “Emmaar,” feverishly teeters between electric shaman trance-rock and acoustic tribal-blues grooves; knotted labyrinths twisted around hallucinogenic tensions drawing numerous luminous traditions to unleash waves upon waves of shimmering synergy. This six-piece band’s steady meditations erupt in ecstatic flashes as thin whirlwind rhythms conjure hypnotics beats beneath murmuring prayers and snake-charmer guitar; Formed in an Algerian refugee camp thirty-five years ago, the band has literally fought to create their music, uniting a brotherhood that transcends political and cultural boundaries. In what will surely be a mind-altering performance, Mali’s finest play Madison’s Majestic Theater April 8th.

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The German Art Students - Time Machine

The German Art Students - Time Machine

The German Art Students

Album title: Time Machine
By John Noyd
Posted: Mar 2014
Label: Autobahn Music
(2121) Page Views

Rollicking and frolicking with solid dollops of crushing smugness lining deadpan stanzas and whip-smart guitar parts kick-starting tongue-in-cheek peeks into deluded consumers, GAS’ indomitable spirit has flaunted convention and taunted pretensions for fifteen wonderfully spiky years. Recently reduced to a trio, the streamlined version remains a reliable source of rib-tickling quips and punchy fun jet-propelled by bristling riffs and pep-rally sass. A perfect antidote to modern life’s relentless oppression, “Time Machine,” find the band knee-deep in B-movie ironies; reveling in nuclear family melt-downs, rusted robots and twisted tales of love, GAS patches surf-guitar punk to New Wave spunk towards a weirdly workable purpose. Sorting through the ruins of an increasingly absurd world, Madison’s rock rascals still find reason not only to carry on, but rejoice.

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Yip Deceiver - Medallius

Yip Deceiver - Medallius

Yip Deceiver

Album title: Medallius
By John Noyd
Posted: Feb 2014
Label: New West Records
(1550) Page Views

Commanding randy analogue fantasies whose booty-shaking party-bots lay down slippery Minneapolis-style funk, Yip Deceiver’s contagious and outrageous dance-floor get-downs crack wise, play hard and groove up a storm. Possessing a devoted eighties-weighted R & B soul gated, shaded and retro-plated in New Wave neon and ironic synth-pop electronics, the colorful collaboration between Athens Georgia’s Davey Pierce and Nicholas Dobbratz happily freaks with phat beats and tongue-in-cheek chic; hip-swiveling fun served in bristling squiggles, sunny vibes and salacious grinds. A secret treaty between guilty pleasures and half-forgotten treasures, “Medallius,” loots history’s toy-box to assemble a sharp salute to golden baby-boomer goofs. In what promises to be an evening of riotous revelry, YD opens for the fabulously radical Electric Six March 21st at Madison’s High Noon Saloon.

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Warpaint - Warpaint

Warpaint - Warpaint

Warpaint

Album title: Warpaint
By John Noyd
Posted: Feb 2014
Label: Rough Trade
(1584) Page Views

Swimming in lingering images layered in dark flavors, attractive distractions and simmering rhythms, the swirling underworld sounds inside Warpaint’s sophomore effort conjures a velvet-wrapped casket; impenetrably menacing while irresistibly beckoning, the hushed harmonies, spooked-out electronics and sultry bass cultivate an aloof beauty that is strangely intoxicating and deeply intriguing. Masked in brooding grooves of nomadic pneumatics, the moody yet direct, obscure but self-assured, “Warpaint,” circles its curious black widow stealth in seething dreaminess, pensive tension and prowling beats for a suspenseful monsoon in a cocoon effect that floats, emotes and provokes without ever overplaying its hand or understating its cause. Kittenish ninjas armed with bewitching fits of seductive luster, L.A.‘s narco-pop sirens visit Madison’s High Noon Saloon March 30th for their only scheduled Wisconsin appearance.

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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Wig Out at Jagbags

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Wig Out at Jagbags

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Album title: Wig Out at Jagbags
By John Noyd
Posted: Jan 2014
Label: Matador Records
(1642) Page Views

Vivid and slippery, the ever-irreverent Malkmus’ infernal journaling and coded motives makes for evasive persuasions doused in literate innocence and Styrofoam ironies. Soldered with cosmic epoxy, foxy pop melts into self-mocking slacker-rock as careening feedback attracts brassy magpie zig-zags for a loopy stupor of musical voodoo; boyishly charming in its splintered whimsy and outlandishly disarming in its expansive banter, vexing subtext and casual genius. A hoovering coolness exhumed from street-wise muses, “Wig,” dishes a hot mess of unmuzzled puzzles with cultural potshots seasoned in sturdy absurdity; a groovy, goofy goulash mashing classic indie appetizers into a strange deranged banquet. Witness the internal combustion that is Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks when they play their only Wisconsin appearance at Madison’s High Noon Saloon on February 19th.

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Robert Ellis - The Lights from the Chemical Plant

Robert Ellis - The Lights from the Chemical Plant

Robert Ellis

Album title: The Lights from the Chemical Plant
By John Noyd
Posted: Jan 2014
Label: New West
(1616) Page Views

While swimming in pedal steel, bluegrass tapestries and Ellis’ Texas drawl it would be a mistake to call, “Lights,” a country album; at its core the album’s beautiful narratives owe as much to their dreamy pop influences and rich jazz side-trips as their waltzing twang-sanctioned insights and plain-spoken poetry. A tender blend of hope and regrets, hindsight and longing, Ellis nestles life’s poignant revelations in a well-crafted batch of contemporary parables where sympathetic heroes trapped in everyday struggles gain wisdom and redemptive perspective. Steeped in tradition and colored with subtle adventures, “Chemical,” delivers cozy easy-going introspection, bolstering hard-luck with a steely determination to uncover silver linings in simple pleasures. Opening for Jason Isbell, this Nashville-based story-teller and ace six-string guitar-slinger plays Madison’s Barrymore Feb 7th.

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Camper Van Beethoven - Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart

Camper Van Beethoven - Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart

Camper Van Beethoven

Album title: Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart
By John Noyd
Posted: Jan 2014
Label: Omnivore Recordings
(1602) Page Views

Twenty-five years ago the major labels looked to indie-rock for the next big thing. Fostering a healthy dose of jaded joy and mischievous cynicism, Camper Van Beethoven may have seemed an unusual choice for the executives at Virgin Records, but against all odds, fashioned a landmark album that impressed long-time fans and catapulted their skewed visions to an international audience. A curious mix of smarmy styles hiding snide smiles, “Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart,” gleefully rocked out with odes to Death, Patti Hearst and cowboys on acid; mastering a strange brew of gypsy-folk, gonzo-rock and college-pop. The freshly minted reissue brings a sharper sound along with heaps of bonuses, from unreleased songs to live recordings, for an invigorating return to the days when old empires were falling and fresh ideas were taking hold. Along with, “Beloved,” Omnivore Records also has triumphed in remastering CVB’s follow-up, the equally ingenious, “Key Lime Pie.”

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The Hidden Cameras - Age

The Hidden Cameras - Age

The Hidden Cameras

Album title: Age
By John Noyd
Posted: Jan 2014
Label: Evil Evil
(1481) Page Views

Reggae beats, medieval harmonies and pointed lyrics trapped inside propulsive pop-rock melodies, Canada’s The Hidden Cameras have produced a wonderfully cohesive album despite an eclectic intellect drawing from disparate temperaments. Dark, sharp and moody, “Age,” simmers in quick-witted shifts, artfully navigating between earnest concerns and droll chic with a splash of party-crashing panache and chattering satire. The collective’s first full-length effort since 2009, singer, writer and mastermind Joel Gibb’s malevolent magic has matured into a leathery bellwether grafting defiant dissection onto alluring affection, deconstructing dysfunction while sculpting slick, vigorous tidbits of lubricated grooves whose devilish relish and bittersweet beats cruise, sooth and seduce. Divisive, conflicted, yet brilliantly insistent, the suave, shadowy, “Age,” conveys a swift riveting gift for polishing post-modern gloss from complicated sexual politics.

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Patty Griffin - American Kid

Patty Griffin - American Kid

Patty Griffin

Album title: American Kid
By John Noyd
Posted: Dec 2013
Label: New West Records
(1705) Page Views

A banner year for Griffin, 2013 saw back-to-back releases from this talented story-teller whose root-infused grooves draw from Appalachian folk to Delta blues and mountain gospel. Featuring several songs other artists have already made famous, “Silver Bells,” was originally recorded thirteen years ago but only just got officially released on the heels of Patty’s tribute to her late father and first album of original material in six years, “American Kid.” Well worth the wait, “Kid,” delivers brawling honky-tonk waltzes, torch-song prayers and tender country confessions with little more than a guitar or piano; terse first-person worries conjure wandering promises as vagabond songs and evangelic recollections become living relics of hard-won lives. Griffin plays Madison’s High Noon Saloon along with cerebral folk-singer Anais Mitchell January 29th.

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Califone - Stitches

Califone - Stitches

Califone

Album title: Stitches
By John Noyd
Posted: Dec 2013
Label: Dead Oceans
(1503) Page Views

Sporting a post-rapture appetite for cinematic atmospheres, Califone’s astute musing and rugged conundrums coax desert-born folk-rock into an addictively wicked picture chock full of Lost Boys charm, hitch-hiker calm and buzzing electric head-trips. Laced with hobo haikus, alt-country rumbles and mesmerizing pining, “Stitches,” dishes funeral crooning alongside chain-link twang; incandescent sentences transcending roots-riddled genres accentuated in sad brass and draped in rusted dreams. Standing defiantly between desperate eloquence, heart-felt experiments and artful charges, Chicago’s own navigates a no-man’s land of suspended amends and dissolving resolve, doling out woeful indie-rock majesty smeared in weary theories and steely abstractions. Califone plays Madison’s High Noon Saloon January 23rd with ambidextrous Lambchop guitarist WILLIAM TYLER, whose breezy, breath-taking tapestry, “Impossible Truth,” topped many a best of lists last year.

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Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana

Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana

Speedy Ortiz

Album title: Major Arcana
By John Noyd
Posted: Dec 2013
Label: Carpark Records
(1639) Page Views

Charming carnal marvels twisted into guyville-styled spitfire guile, guitar-powered indie-rockers Speedy Ortiz pit slowly growing dynamos against prickly riffs whose throbbing combination of short-fused barracuda grooves, fast-pitched conniptions and faltering stock-car waltzes hurtle topsy-turvy curve-ball logic down crooked nooks of jagged attacks reveling in savage see-saw fragments. Spring-loaded front-woman Sadie Dupuis balances tough and tender challenges in staggering pageantry wrapped in savvy re-imagining. Sparking land-shark smarts prowling corrugated mazes, “Major Arcana,” hosts potent broken cobras slithering in blistering gifts for roaring disjointed portraits which stand among the cunning rubble of prime nineties icons like Pavement, Liz Phair and Helium. Opening for The Breeders’ Last Splash 25th anniversary tour, Sadie and company hit Madison’s High Noon Saloon December 13th in a double-fisted twist of torch-passing passion.

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Kyle Henderson - Brand New Chance

Kyle Henderson - Brand New Chance

Kyle Henderson

Album title: Brand New Chance
By Sal Serio
Posted: Nov 2013
Label: Kyle Henderson
(1647) Page Views

Reinventing one’s self is oft-traveled territory for musicians that refuse to quit, and in this instance, ‘Brand New Chance’ is quite an apropos title for singer/guitarist/songwriter Kyle Henderson, of The Producers fame. Henderson has taken the lessons learned from the power pop years and his more recent soul leanings, and applied them effectively to a red-hot electric blues format.

Employing excellent back-up musicians most certainly does not hurt, so lead guitarist Michael Ripp and drummer Chris Sandoval provide Henderson’s new material a razor-sharp and in-the-pocket groove throughout this new CD’s eleven tight compositions. Occasional keyboards by Jimmy Voegeli also toss some pepper in to the gumbo, and keep the music jumping and bopping along, at times invoking a feeling like the final incarnation of the Stevie Ray Vaughan Band met the iconic Stax/Volt studio group in a South-side Chicago juke joint.

While this release goes down very smoothly as a total experience, there are a few tracks that I especially gravitated toward, mainly due to blistering leads by guitarist Ripp. “Walkin’ Shoes”, “Better To Roll How You Roll”, and “Good People” are obvious stand outs.

Saturday, December 14, the Kyle Henderson Band will perform at the Brink Lounge in Madison, for the Brink’s Holiday Extravaganza.

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