Disc Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Sarah Neufeld - Detritus

Sarah Neufeld - Detritus

Sarah Neufeld

Album title: Detritus
By John Noyd
Posted: May 2021
Label: Paper Bag Records
(47) Page Views

Plagued by vague layers from simmering violins, plummeting percussion and ghostly vocals, Neufeld’s evocative compositions slice icy waves from tonal oceans, tireless fireflies flitting in velvety darkness. Centerless melodies sway and fade while turbulent forms absorb shadowy passages whose thick pitches and churning surges connect swarming storms to lifeboat solos, “Detritus,” proves victoriously buoyant combatting placid symphonic patterns with mesmerizing finesse, glorious voyages navigating safe havens among rocky shores exploring transient ambience with curious fury and piercing fierceness. Whether solemn soliloquies meditating upon the vast cavernous beyond or cumulative movements exploring torrid flourishes, the brooding, inconclusive, “Detritus,” grows, flows and erodes, taming the brazen in sustaining arrangements and creating corporeal sonority from sensuous energies swirling in nervous searching urgency, chasing the unattainable into immeasurable depths.

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black midi - Cavalcade

black midi - Cavalcade

black midi

Album title: Cavalcade
By John Noyd
Posted: Apr 2021
Label: Rough Trade Records
(66) Page Views

Packed in oblique retreats, angular assaults and meteoric metamorphosis, black midi’s flamboyant frenzy explodes in furious blurs brewed in condensed chemistry, tactical magic and blossoming velocity. The band’s jet-propelled melting-pots gel from brisk sprints to halting jogs, dodgeball prog buzzing in microtonal metronomes, a lean machine exacting compact actions through cool attention-grabbing pageantry. Manicured in manic swirls, immaculate hairpin spins and lunging tungsten punctuality, “Cavalcade,” paves panicked dynamics beneath meticulous friction, disenfranchised geysers rising with fervent reverence into orchestrated adventures.  Shiny stomp-box romps fuse dueling staccato intrusions through kinetic mathematics and posh geometry while jazz-scorched flourishes roar past starched anarchy, braying brass blasts rhythmic logistics and sophisticated mayhem blooms in fractal collapse. A powerful live band, Britain’s black midi plays Milwaukee’s Turner Hall October 12th.

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Bachelor - Doomin’ Sun

Bachelor - Doomin’ Sun

Bachelor

Album title: Doomin’ Sun
By John Noyd
Posted: Apr 2021
Label: Polyvinyl
(42) Page Views

Deliberate big-picture pop tossed alongside impulsive indie-rock muscle craving flavorful chaos; Bachelor’s glamourous lo-fi clamor blissfully shifts from flash to funk to folk. Dreamy bedroom melodies dishing suspicious wishes, frank statements and taunting confidences inside haunted love-songs, stormy stories and smiling lullabies, Jay Som and Palehound’s songwriter’s skills, eclectic perspectives and potent emotions bolster each other’s best selves, balancing fragile sadness with unbendable strength, instrumental whimsy and lyrical wisdom woven around ominous caution and adamant transparency. Matched in collaborative passions, the fun, cheeky, “Sun,” glows in beautifully mutual alliances where clever effervescence meets intimate sympathies and authentic intent greets open secrets. Merged personalities committed to servicing their art, Bachelor is a marriage made in heaven, fueled by friendship and united in honest attempts to self-express.

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Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victime

Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victime

Mdou Moctar

Album title: Afrique Victime
By John Noyd
Posted: Apr 2021
Label: Matador
(43) Page Views

Running downhill catching the wind, Nigerian guitar phenomena Modou Moctar bolts from the starting gate, setting the world on fire in sacred, shape-shifting psychedelia feeding screaming electric blues. A cosmic oasis fusing truly communal moods with family ambient vocals, “Afrique Victime,” simmers in brittle nimble acoustics and writhing amplified vibes, blending cohesive heat into rampant trance wired to palpitating rhythms whose steady meditations pits vigorous Tuareg traditions against blazing improvisation. Fleeting stampedes recede beneath crowded beats for lush headrushes whose galloping talents yield tangled textures through relentless cleansing tempests. Confronting a colonial past and a third-world present, Moctar’s sophomore effort channels angry pain and insufferable struggles into searing spirituality and liberating solidarity; embracing nature’s impatience with ecstatic mastery and unwavering faith in music’s transformative importance.

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Damon Locks and Black Monument Ensemble - Now

Damon Locks and Black Monument Ensemble - Now

Damon Locks and Black Monument Ensemble

Album title: Now
By John Noyd
Posted: Mar 2021
Label: International Anthem
(166) Page Views

Backed by nearly a dozen talented singers and musicians, Locks’ word salad acumen and compassionate activism inhabits rabble-rousing house-parties where spliced life bring live vibes to clever edits, micro-managed samples and intriguing social themes. A powerfully woke collage, “Now,” speaks truth to power, re-imagining reality through not-so-subtle cultural montage, hip snippets, communal grooves and fringe synergy intermingling with courtrooms, playgrounds, backstreets and neighborhoods. Musical mosaics engage angelic soul floating over free-jazz blow-outs, African rhythms weave between electronic concoctions while feverish beat-poet choirs spiral around assorted field-recordings, drum-circle furies and gospel-fostered jams. An immersive conversation one experiences rather than merely hears, the vibrant Black Monument Ensemble invites you to witness and absorb, assembling a contemporary sound documentary fortified by individual histories, collective messages and integrated legacies.

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Mark Mallman - Happiness

Mark Mallman - Happiness

Mark Mallman

Album title: Happiness
By John Noyd
Posted: Mar 2021
Label: self-release
(193) Page Views

Never one to go halfway, Minneapolis keyboard showman Mallman composes over-the-top pop from philosophical topics; candid stamina questioning, referencing and breathlessly testing restless definitions all while making tasty, sugar-coated raves. Mark’s first album in five years, the savvy, “Happiness,” blends funk-rock pleads, snarky tantrum anthems and epic power-pop romps with red-hot riffs, manic stanzas, earnest verses and dance-friendly hooks seeking peaceful equilibrium in a chaotic mosh-pit of emotional extravaganzas. A musical companion to Mallman’s uplifting memoir, “The Happiness Playlist: The True Story of Healing My Heart with Feel-Good Music,” the album’s theatrical passion is matched by solid thoughts, honest options and open hearts.  A relentless consent to whatever may come, “Happiness,” conquers crushing anxiety and deep grief with reassuring urgency, evangelical melodies and crackling gratitude.

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Bill MacKay and Nathan Bowles - Keys

Bill MacKay and Nathan Bowles - Keys

Bill MacKay and Nathan Bowles

Album title: Keys
By John Noyd
Posted: Mar 2021
Label: Drag City
(190) Page Views

Chicago guitarist Bill MacKay and Durham banjo player Nathan Bowles have long established careers as stellar sidemen, so it seems inevitable they would one day end up collaborating on a project together. The result of long-distant interactions after an initial encounter being booked as a duo became a steadfast friendship, “Keys,” grew from mutual influences, intuitive roots and technical respect. Drawing from a rich background in bluegrass, country-gospel and jazz improvisation, delicate investigations play with spaces between the sharp plucked notes and bittersweet cantilevered phrases; casually natural ballads swinging in fitful meditations as rustic percussive shuffles wash in thoughtful clockwork. Still waters run deep as each player’s tentative methods build passive tapestries whose inventive interventions and hesitant tensions resonate in lonesome emotions and soothing resolution.

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Karate, Guns & Tanning - Concrete Beach

Karate, Guns & Tanning - Concrete Beach

Karate, Guns & Tanning

Album title: Concrete Beach
By John Noyd
Posted: Feb 2021
Label: self-release
(347) Page Views

Molten commotion washed in corrosive six-stringed glitter, “Concrete Beach,” is hard pulverized fun from start to finish. Booming beats, funky solos and enraged mayhem steamroll over techno-squeaky riffs pitted against thundering synth-punk struts while snarling, chaotic robotics bolt cosmic breakdowns to well-stocked narcotic-rock caught inside dream-pop dreadlocks. Razorbacked ricochet shoegaze caves into clanging dangers from half-asleep machinery seething in steely doses of sonic implosions, the entire affair flirts with alert apocalyptic urges, teasing crushed industrial sludge bubbling beneath swampy grinds and reverb-drenched chants perfect for strobe-lit mosh-pits or intergalactic battlefields. Armed to the teeth, KG&T’s acid-washed arsenal plant sonic bombs and light cruise-missile fuses while lyrical nun-chucks debunk mind-numbing thunder, launching overloaded goading with heavy angsty energy bringing immense splatter-proof backdrops to backlit satellite cavalry.

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Anna Fox Rochinski - Cherry

Anna Fox Rochinski - Cherry

Anna Fox Rochinski

Album title: Cherry
By John Noyd
Posted: Feb 2021
Label: Don Giovanni Records
(290) Page Views

Tomorrow-pop propped in slinky riffs, sexy beats and savvy caveats, Rochinski coolly mixes the smooth and jagged in joyful proportions. Zany chicanery punctuates the lush production with casual sass as the strangely tangy, “Cherry,” maneuvers around obvious options into tasty aberrations; empowered beliefs stalking sensual relief between cyber-siren torch-songs and sneaky poly-rhythmic taunts. The multi-talented Quilt singer-songwriter shines in solid-state autonomy, conducting adventurous experiments framed in conventional templates, updated and refurbished with chrome-plated harmonies, spiced multi-track splices and enticing dynamics. Her mischievous glee laced among synchronized kinks provides sly desires fired in space-age bop, premeditated cravings igniting wicked initiatives. Punch-drunk hungers tucked under sultry covers, Rochinski is in her element, surrounded by studio accoutrements and her dazzling imagination, speaking her mind and unleashing her heart.

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New Bums - Last Time I Saw Grace

New Bums - Last Time I Saw Grace

New Bums

Album title: Last Time I Saw Grace
By John Noyd
Posted: Feb 2021
Label: Drag City
(316) Page Views

Naturally engineered, like falling leaves, rolling stones or mountain streams, Ben Chasny and Donovan Quinn’s collaborative magic spins nimble acoustic grooves into grinning roots-pop ruses, preordained refrains colored in sparkling spontaneity. Platonic, ironic and organic, the duo’s deft sophomore effort reaps polished modesty and breezy genius seven years after their test the waters debut, flushed in refreshing depth, thoughtful dodges, refined harmonies and crisp interactions. Stripped-down and living-room friendly, “Grace,” embraces earthy subversion, dressing traditions in subtle muscle, fleshed in pleasant cleverness and layered with mirthful mercy.  From sturdy country dirges to proto-folk woes, the New Bum’s two-guitar attack chases rock ‘n roll ghosts brimming in vigorous whimsy, genuine gusto, baroque overtures and rippling intuition. A tuneful testament to overlapping talents bonding over mutual influences.

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Julien Baker - Little Oblivions

Julien Baker - Little Oblivions

Julien Baker

Album title: Little Oblivions
By John Noyd
Posted: Jan 2021
Label: Matador
(293) Page Views

Focused on closure, flowing in exposure, Baker’s resounding lockdown response, “Little Oblivions,” sponsor bittersweet quandaries, brutal psychic wounds seeking palatable salvation. Shedding shame, pursuing renewal and targeting departures, Baker’s latest reflect her recent time off the road where she finished her degree and allowed herself some well-deserved self-care to absorb the past five years. A lot happened to Julien since her stark cathartic debut and the new album’s band-boosted ruminations shelter inside fog-bound synths, intricately varnished guitars and thick consistent rhythms; confiding shrines lit in critical thinking and set ablaze with heightened enlightenment. Scholarly apologies venting therapeutic sentences channeling even-handed self-examination; “Oblivions,” rises from personal turmoil to ponder, launder and conquer, bravely wading through lonely emotions accompanied by heady echo, freight-train refrains and supportive choruses.

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Psychedelic Porn Crumpets - SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets - SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets

Album title: SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound
By John Noyd
Posted: Jan 2021
Label: Marathon Artists
(268) Page Views

Zesty express-lane court jesters finessing delectable confections from joyous pedalboard orgies cavorting in prismatic flash, sizzling precision and fleeting stampedes, Australia’s excessively heavy, psychedelic prog-rockers launch ballistic mischief in riff-filled missiles. Flirting in immersive excursions, these teasing speed demons reek spectacular havoc beneath chomping at the bit stomps, edgy skyscraper shreds and paisley power-pop pomp. Vintage whimsy dosed in baroque-folk, gleaming daydreams and cosmic harmonics, “SHYGA!” layers eclectic tendencies into refreshing energy for cleansing mind-bending frolics as rug-cutting struts hustle space-rock boogie shaking in contagious rakish playfulness. Jet-propelled helter-skelter celebrating inebriated races down rainbow-coated rabbit holes, PPC’s earnest urgency, adventurous chemistry and liberated mayhem fuel unhampered fretwork fantasies packed in elastic lysergic lyrics; dare-devil heavens channeling frantic kickass antics with weaselly glee and booming grooves.

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