Disc Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Bad Bad Hats - Walkman

Bad Bad Hats - Walkman

Bad Bad Hats

Album title: Walkman
By John Noyd
Posted: Aug 2021
Label: Don Giovanni
(110) Page Views

Walking the walk and talking the talk, the flawless, “Walkman,” strolls through solid bop crafted in cruise-controlled rock ‘n roll piloting fun-loving strums, coy voices and swift rhythmic snickering. Equally smart, sharp and laidback, Bad Bad Hats’ snappy happiness bubbles beneath the habit-forming album as the trio’s sheer joy assembling sweet tidbit riffs with indie-pop logic launch their songs into blissful trips shedding pampered banter for reimagined nostalgia packaged in devious glee-club chronicles. Parlaying casually savvy panache for mild guile, real zeal and smarmy karma, the band’s uncanny musical communication smooths tuneful grooves into loose jubilant amusements, calmly charming with one-hundred proof cool lit in sparkling jangle, flaunted harmonics and seamless teamwork.  A friendly energetic live act, BBD plays Madison’s High Noon Saloon December 2nd.

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Macie Stewart - Mouth Full of Glass

Macie Stewart - Mouth Full of Glass

Macie Stewart

Album title: Mouth Full of Glass
By John Noyd
Posted: Aug 2021
Label: Ordinal Records
(118) Page Views

Enchanting candor bathed in dainty arrangements, multi-instrumentalist Macie Stewart draws from her string arranger past to conjure serene evenings in chamber-folk gazebos, pristine dreams and sensitive reflections gently entertaining acoustic moods through compositional wit and graceful appraisal. A collaborative creature looking to find her own voice, “Glass,” highlights Stewart’s individual skills and lyrical talents with resourceful poise and gorgeous orchestration, exhibiting exceptional clarity in her creative impulses and affectionate charity in her choice of quality colleagues. Cornetist Ben Lamar Gray, cellist Lia Kohl and saxophone arrangements from Ayanna Woods and Sen Morimoto serve Stewart’s softly sophisticated tastes whose subtle leadership and tactful passions nurture through analysis. Bravely facing uncertain futures with merciful purpose, Macie’s glowing solo debut provides refuge for communal moods harboring solitary melancholy.

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Low - Hey What

Low - Hey What

Low

Album title: Hey What
By John Noyd
Posted: Aug 2021
Label: Sub Pop
(104) Page Views

The gritty electric hum running under, “Hey What,” wraps passive rapture in crumbling frequencies and plundering thunder, a collapsing purgatory releasing distorted angel choruses around scraping angles breaking; cathartic ardor pierces over-driven industry against alien canvases, painting humanity’s cultivated aches in nuts-and-bolts slowcore with wearily ethereal oscillations scouring powerful sonic landscapes. The album’s harsh carnage drops feedback as corrosive metronomes far removed from heartbeats, an expansive romance between ravaged havoc stalking evangelical elegance and Low’s trademark sensitivity to find beauty within hopeless moments. “Hey,” pushes against viscous evidence to fuse faith with ominous quantum topspin and splendid technological transcendence as our compassionate seekers’ metallic static reaches deep between rhythmless visions and pummeling crunches, vacillating in apocalyptic mists and naked razors, sizzling rinses and rain-making saviors.

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Supergrass - In It For The Money (Deluxe Edition)

Supergrass - In It For The Money (Deluxe Edition)

Supergrass

Album title: In It For The Money (Deluxe Edition)
By John Noyd
Posted: Aug 2021
Label: BMG
(104) Page Views

Earnest earthy exuberance drenched Supergrass’ rockin’ pop. Cheeky, mischievous, hearts on their sleeves, the British trio made a phenomenal debut that put them on the charts next to Blur and Oasis. More authentic than Blur’s music-hall posturing and cleverer than Oasis’ strong-arm rock, the band’s sophomore offering “We’re In It for the Money,” cemented their status while expanding their brand. Given the keys to the candy shop circa 1997, the Deluxe Edition’s remastered tracks show off the imaginative brats bright, biting and brassy choices. Razor-sharp after eighteen months of heavy touring behind their debut (including Madison’s Club DeWash) but slowed down by drummer Danny Coffey’s parallel project Lodger, the threesome added singer-guitarist Gaz Coomes’ brother Rob on keyboards and set up camp in England’s Sawmill Studios exploring new sounds and arrangements. Most of the songs for the album were written in the studio, making this Deluxe Edition’s demos particularly interesting to the fans. The band’s bigger sound was perfect for the bigger venues that followed in the album’s success. A slew of great live recordings cap off this three-disc Deluxe Edition, capturing a talented band’s game-changing maturity that uncannily retains the initial hooligan grooviness that endeared them to the public.

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Steve Gunn - Other You

Steve Gunn - Other You

Steve Gunn

Album title: Other You
By John Noyd
Posted: Jul 2021
Label: Matador
(228) Page Views

It’s hard not to notice the bright, sunshine vibe to Steve Gunn’s sixth album knowing, “Other You,” came from two recording sessions in Los Angeles. Gunn’s strong, sensible tendencies filter into rambling dynamics where polished confidence conveys ageless arrangements and glimmering riffs casually skip over an airtight rhythm-section, connecting leisure greased-lightning sleight-of-hand hovering over sweet euphoric chords to songs subtly avoiding complacency without sacrificing comfort. Contributions from Juliana Barwick, Mary Lattimore and Bill MacKay add rich, vibrant dimensions to the sultry, “Other You,” highlighting a beguiling side to a familiar talent. Prosperous and economic, the album seeps into the brain through measured refrains containing easy-going emotions; exciting the senses in playful, layered waves and grounding the electric textures with rock-steady resilience and calm, disarming brilliance.

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KUNZITE - VISUALS

KUNZITE - VISUALS

KUNZITE

Album title: VISUALS
By John Noyd
Posted: Jul 2021
Label: Lowly
(217) Page Views

Stuttered contrapuntal funk lunges between classical pasts and dancefloor futures as Kunzite’s dreamy zip-lock beats frolic in psychotronic wonderlands, fantastic slack-key sweeps lifting antsy programmed pantheons into feverish auto-tuned orgies toying with blessed decadence grounded in technical education and music theory. Compulsive polyrhythmic visions blaze throughout the clever leveraged, “Visuals,” with phat bass, mechanical ska, Bach architecture and bright synthesized orchestras colliding in cyber-tropical collages, cut-and-paste party-jams planting cannabis mantras into footloose robo-powered marching-band anthems saluting, exuding and noodling. Chopped, cropped, workshopped and flip-flopped, the studio duo’s barracuda grooves move through logical options and seductive toppings, concocting sweet cerebral treats that go straight to the hips through sticky digital trickery tickling meticulous rhythms with hard-swinging invitations promising sunshine dubstep raves covered in hungry vampire cool.

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GreenblacK - Consumption Overkill

GreenblacK - Consumption Overkill

GreenblacK

Album title: Consumption Overkill
By Xiola Schneiderman
Posted: Jul 2021
Label:
(262) Page Views

Fresh out of quarantine: Yohai Portal’s new band GreenblacK has been in the process of making new music. The upcoming band is making its way into the music scene officially on Wednesday, July 28th, with their debut single, “Consumption Overkill.” The single is different from what Yohai has produced in the past and this new beat is the perfect song for an electrifying summer jam. Yohai shares that his inspiration behind this song, and other new music yet to release, is from artists that have inspired his sound throughout the years. Yohai has teamed up with Daniel Jakubovic on this single, and is overjoyed with the experience since he has looked up to Daniel in the music world. Yohai has never been shy to share his creative projects with the world before since he grew up in an Israeli household that encouraged dancing, painting, and music. Wanting to take a step back from being the guitarist, Yohai has taken the title of lead vocalist in GreenblacK to switch things up. He is excited for people everywhere to hear his first single as a member of GreenblacK and also as a lead vocalist. This single will heat up the charts this summer on Wednesday, July 28th, and you don’t want to miss the return of Yohai Portal.

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Eric Hagen & Red River Revival - Crossroads Motel

Eric Hagen & Red River Revival - Crossroads Motel

Eric Hagen & Red River Revival

Album title: Crossroads Motel
By Xiola Schneiderman
Posted: Jun 2021
Label: Eric Hagen Music
(268) Page Views

Eric Hagen originated his unique blend of Americana music with flares of blues, rock, and country in Door County, Wisconsin. Growing up with his parents, he listened to music such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Bob Dylan, which have influenced his music style today along with newer artists, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton. Eric has transformed his craft into something much more than music throughout 2020 when the pandemic hit. It became more about writing and having an emphasis on the vocals to get Eric’s true message across in his songs. The art of storytelling is close to his heart, which is apparent in his latest EP, “Crossroads Motel” performed with Red River Revival. The EP is now available, and can be listened to on Spotify and Amazon Music. Eric Hagen will be traveling across the state to perform the new EP to Wisconsinites in select cities. Be sure to experience the art of storytelling and his stellar performance in Madison at The Bur Oak on August 28th.

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LUMP - Animal

LUMP - Animal

LUMP

Album title: Animal
By John Noyd
Posted: Jun 2021
Label: Partisan
(181) Page Views

A follow-up to their spooky 2018 debut, Laura Marling and Tunng’s Mike Lindsay’s collaborative side project LUMP retains the original’s sophisticated electro-pop zeitgeist, advancing a Twilight Zone persona with spellbound stealth, wishful mystery and jigsaw logic. The duo’s studio glitter whisks the listener into praying-mantis fantasies while improbable topics offer existential menace with twisted quips, decisive riffs and knowing winks swooning then blooming into sweet, upbeat ear-candy. Stripping tender social conventions down to streamlined feline dreams, “Animal,” nonetheless maintains a sane, contained restraint; Laura’s lovely mahogany voice injects stoic focus to Mike’s ghostly gizmo-pop pulling the ear into marvelously odd spots. A surreal collage matching magical thinking to computer grooves where cinematic abstractions package human confusion into alluring curiosity and woozy perusing into connected reflections.

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Half Waif - Mythopoetics

Half Waif - Mythopoetics

Half Waif

Album title: Mythopoetics
By John Noyd
Posted: Jun 2021
Label: ANTI-
(143) Page Views

Patient invitations raise hopes and soothe hurts as the inquisitive, wistful, “Mythopoetics,” grows from hushed cuddly lullabies into firm determined statements, daring transformations whose trade-wind layers take root in glowing interludes casting magnificent shadows between illuminating self-truths. Comfort and surprise greet each operatic song, sonic confidence romps alongside sensitive diary entries revealing deep feelings with fabulous tragedy, coy poise and shaded grace. Nuanced and nurturing, Half Waif welcomes careful examination, well-chosen proposals blossom in emerging percussive climaxes, swirling mercurial melodies and engaging arrangements balancing delicate treasures with heavenly vehemence. Dainty angst wilts beneath sunbeam chamber-pop programmed with pathos; sumptuous and simple as required for maximum impact, Nandi Rose’s third album as Half Waif refines an already primed style that manages to be real and sublime.

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Emma-Jean Thackray - Yellow

Emma-Jean Thackray - Yellow

Emma-Jean Thackray

Album title: Yellow
By John Noyd
Posted: Jun 2021
Label: Movementt
(140) Page Views

Bold rainbow soul folded into bright cosmic funk and ultra-smooth fusion, Thackray’s full-length debut binges on sinful rhythms swimming in grand big-band communion, enthralling polish topped in feverish divas possessed by astral passions, kickass brass and slick synth flash. Urgent words chase breathless reflexes as tunes zoom in groomed enthusiasm, vital unbridled energy floats over Fender Rhodes space-jazz as hard stops, sharp chops and big-hearted charts mount hip trips, jive dives and cool grooves in a rousing champagne campaign. Uniting and enlightening, “Yellow,” shines, pines, coos and caterwauls through coordinated joy voicing hospitable harmonics hosting appealing ideals, musical utopias where expressive celebrations liberate and captivate. Grounded in structure and forethought, Thackray attaches ecstatic chromatics to spiritual consciousness while brokering cozy flows for involuntary bodily responses.

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Ches Smith and We All Break - Path of Seven Colors

Ches Smith and We All Break - Path of Seven Colors

Ches Smith and We All Break

Album title: Path of Seven Colors
By John Noyd
Posted: Jun 2021
Label: Pyroclastic Records
(367) Page Views

A vivid poly-rhythmic village, the invigorating Smith and We All Break rise in pliable alliances and groove-beat treaties performing musical unions with bold diplomacy, cross-pollinating deep pockets in a dazzling modern-jazz coalition energized by effusive Vodou traditions. Led by percussionist, scholar and Diaspora explorer Smith, “Seven,” blends hips to hearts with jump-started brains fired in tireless experimental tendencies. Doubling the group’s size from its 2015 incarnation, the three-drummer octet convulses in bubbling impulses, basing their blazing improvisations of piano, sax, bass and vocals on classic Haitian songs. Sophisticated and passionate, joyful in movement and spirit, the incandescent band’s incessant frenzy rides winding lines where, “Path,” crafts hot thoughts from cool heads, absorbing abstract forms into willful pilgrimages, joining a multi-generational journey and digging the scenery.

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