Disc Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Fanoffbirdsafe - Fannoffbirdsafe

Fanoffbirdsafe - Fannoffbirdsafe

Fanoffbirdsafe

Album title: Fannoffbirdsafe
By Chris Fox
Posted: Apr 2009
Label: Self Released
(2892) Page Views

These Eau Claire natives bring out a whole new element of heavy. Unique minor melodies, and a few headbangers, combined with an extremely unique vocal sound that incorporates both singing and a rap/chant feel make FANOFFBIRDSAFE an upcoming local group to watch. The band really has the feel of a heavier MODEST MOUSE. This trio has a touch of punk and a very “in your face” attitude that is hard not to like. These guys have developed their sound well, and will certainly be a group to watch on the local circuits.

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Burn Halo - Burn Halo

Burn Halo - Burn Halo

Burn Halo

Album title: Burn Halo
By Cactus Joe
Posted: Apr 2009
Label: Rawkhead/Warner Bros.
(5994) Page Views

Burn Halo’s self-titled debut is the singular vision of West Coast rocker James Hart who spent nearly a decade touring and recording as the frontman of Orange County band 18 VISIONS. Yeah, I never heard of them either. But I suspect they rocked decently because this album is packed with edgy songs that hint of vintage 80s hard rock. Most of the songs are co-written by Hart and songwriter Zac Maloy.

The track to sample is the hard rocking “Dirty Little Girl,” which features AVENGED SEVENFOLD guitarist Synyster Gates. It’s probably the most hook-laden track on the album and may relegate Burn Halo to one hit wonder status, although most of the other material on the album rages in its own right. It’s also packed with session players, including NICKELBACK drummer Daniel Adair and former JANE’S ADDICTION bassist Chris Chaney.

Originally signed to Island/Def Jam, the label reneged on releasing the album and Hart had to scramble to release the album under manager Bret Bair’s Warner Music Group imprint label Rawkhead Rekords. The album hit record stores March 31 and Hart is touring behind the album through the end of May.

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Gomez - A New Tide

Gomez - A New Tide

Gomez

Album title: A New Tide
By John Noyd
Posted: Apr 2009
Label: ATO Records
(3011) Page Views

Skipping, skidding and hopping happily from Bo Diddley didigeroos to crashing flashes of psychedelic guitar, Gomez return to the rootsy musical experiments that started ten years ago with their DIY debut, “Bring It On.” Five studio releases and a few solo ventures later, “Tide,” overflows with chiming rhymes, electro-acoustic spookiness and shape-shifting rhythms. Slippery hippie daydreams revolve around salty licks and hillbilly riffs as music box foxtrots, devilishly boppy hopscotch rock and ricochet-flavored folk-tangos coalesce into hallucinogenic hootenannies colliding against gruff, rubbery blues.  With band members currently scattered across two continents one might expect a collection of sonic shards, but.”Tide,” pulls it together for a series of tunneling wonders, a cohesive banquet of rippling whispers, robust struts and magical mantras, stronger for their dynamic diversity.

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Speedfreaks - Survive

Speedfreaks - Survive

Speedfreaks

Album title: Survive
By Chris Fox
Posted: Feb 2009
Label: S/F Records
(2478) Page Views

This Milwaukee quartet churns out a whole new brand of punk rock with thirteen heavy tracks. They combine punk vocals with grinding riffs that pound like Motorhead, even the cover art resembles such. These guys glorify old school speed metal while staying true to their punk roots. The often absent bass lines in metal are remedied in songs like “View of Reality” and “Blitzkrieg” as the thumping record progresses. Epic album art, heavy guitar trends, and a message is what these veterans of the local scene bring to the table. This reunited group is definitely worth a second glance with their honest punk/hardcore release.

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Evenstar - Through The Seasons

Evenstar - Through The Seasons

Evenstar

Album title: Through The Seasons
By Chris Fox
Posted: Feb 2009
Label: Boxman Records
(2762) Page Views

Defining the sound of EVENSTAR is a complex task, given their punk and alternative rock influences. These Milwaukee natives deliver a seven song modern rock saga that will keep you interested. Masterful guitar work and well-constructed songs really force you to pay attention while surrounding you with symphonious sound. You won’t find any catchy choruses or defining guitar riffs, but the melding of all the important elements create great music. The intimate feel is different than that of most punk albums, and the true emotion of the music is incredibly apparent. Showing their diversity, these guys have a finite combination of fast and slow paced songs, but the feeling remains the same; upbeat and ready to give you a story.

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Hamsa Lila - Live In Santa Cruz

Hamsa Lila - Live In Santa Cruz

Hamsa Lila

Album title: Live In Santa Cruz
By Greg Hatrumian
Posted: Feb 2009
Label: In The Pocket Records
(2624) Page Views

This generous double cd, from San Fransico-based Hamsa Lila, can rightfully claim “state of the art” status for digital recordings in both sound reproduction and live mixing. The resultant clarity of the instruments and voices, with faint echoes of audience and hall ambiance, are nothing short of stunning.

Echoes play prominently in the music of Hamsa Lila, a “trance” band delving largely into the musics of the middle east, hip-hop beats, and occasional rock rhythms for counterpoint. Coming several years on the heels of “The Gathering One,” this 2-CD set plays well over 2-1/2 hours in chronicling an evening in Santa Cruz.

The band’s name is a clue to their music: a Hamsa is an ancient amulet shared by both Arabic and Hebrew traditions used for greeting and magical protection of the five senses - in Sanskrit, it means “swan” and refers to “Divine Breath.” Lila is a night ritual of the Gnawa people of Morocco, a rich ceremony marked in the sensory realms of sound (music, song), sight (colors), smells (incense) and movement (dance).

This musical mix lets its participants enter a trance state of healing purification, and the performance of startling dances. There is no purpose in listing cd tracks, as they all flow into each other, despite rest stops in a larger gestalt picture.

The tablas, ouds, and drum kit propel the music and easily evoke images of another place and time.

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The Pale Figures - Memphis and Chicago

The Pale Figures - Memphis and Chicago

The Pale Figures

Album title: Memphis and Chicago
By Jeff Muendel
Posted: Jan 2009
Label: Peacefist Records
(3022) Page Views

The Pale Figures are a rock band featuring the song writing of Chicago-based musician Aaron Lindstrom , formerly of Madison band Cup O’ Joe, and New York-based singer/songwriter Cory Larson. Over a period of two years, Larson and Lindstrom traded music through the mail, writing music with the style and sound of Memphis music in mind. Eventually, given the historical rivalry between Chicago’s Chess Records and Memphis’s Sun Studio, The Pale Figures thought it would be interesting to contrast the Memphis sound with the Chicago sound. The result is a CD with two themes (or two sides if you’d like to revert back to the days of vinyl records) that is full of melodic, interesting songs. At times, the album is mellow even easy listening while at other times it’s quite heavy with overdriven guitars.  Yet, the album is well-balanced throughout and the metamorphosis from light to heavy is smooth. As the group is now based in Chicago, look for them to play near you throughout the Midwest.

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Pachyderm Recording Artists - So Large We Ran Out Of Room… Again

Pachyderm Recording Artists - So Large We Ran Out Of Room… Again

Pachyderm Recording Artists

Album title: So Large We Ran Out Of Room… Again
By Geert Driver
Posted: Jan 2009
Label: Self Released
(6328) Page Views

Minneapolis area Pachyderm Studio is releasing thier second compilation CD. The disc highlights the past 12 months of work done in the infamous studio since the release of its first effort in 2007. Included are bands from the entire Midwest region. Northern Room from Milwaukee opens the disc with “BlackLight”, a mainstream pop single.

Minneapolis based New Rebelution hits the Reggae button with “Grateful Dread” a thought-provoked example of how unspent potential can affect us. Mankato Jam Grass experts Useful Jenkins kick it hard with “outlaw” and The Rez represents Duluth with the hippie jam “Salvador Dali”. The compilation gets heavy with Madison’s Droids Attack, “The Cardinal and the Pachyderm” named in connection with two great regional venues.

Chicago is served up twice by Aaron Williams’ “Little Time for me” and record label considered Atypical Science’s “Seeing it everywhere”. And the journey rounds out with a track from HOME called “Long Time Ago”, a Denver based crew.

Catch the CD release party at the Cardinal Bar in Madison on Saturday, January 17th with Droids Attack, New Rebelution and Aaron Williams. The proceeds from the disc all go to support the Pachyderm Preservation Project (projectpachyderm.org), an organization founded on the basis of sustaining Old Growth Forests in Minnesota.

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Kill Junior - Confusiotomy

Kill Junior - Confusiotomy

Kill Junior

Album title: Confusiotomy
By Chris Fox
Posted: Jan 2009
Label: Self Released
(3019) Page Views

These Madison locals have developed their sound into a heavy metal punk escapade that will keep you guessing through the entire album. With melodic vocals and overdriven guitars the sound gets progressively heavier until little antics like “Track Nine” throw you off and force you to really pay attention. The unique musings of vocalist Cory Kastner (10110, Angels Or Insects) with such a heavy accompaniment create a completely unique sound that will be remembered. These guys are clearly all about simply rocking out and letting the music do the talking. Call it punk, call it metal, this is KILL JUNIOR, and their music keep your head banging. 

Catch Kill Junior live January 10th at the Cherry Lanes in Sturgeon Bay with Dichotic, January 17th at the Cruise In in Wausau with Mindgraft and Downgrade, and in Madison on January 23rd at the Annex with The Zombeatles and Mad Trucker Gone Mad.

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Static X - Cannibal Killers Live DVD/CD

Static X - Cannibal Killers Live DVD/CD

Static X

Album title: Cannibal Killers Live DVD/CD
By Chris Fox
Posted: Jan 2009
Label: Warner Brothers
(2856) Page Views

STATIC-X turns up their intense electro-driven riffs with the release of their first DVD. The Cannibal Killers Tour proved to be one of the best for the band and it shows with the production of their entire set on film. Better live than any CD can do justice, STATIC-X has recreated the concert experience that will leave any metal fan wanting more. The disc also displays the diversity of the industrial metal outfit by presenting every music video the quartet has produced, as well as a second DVD with an equally intense older show from New Years Eve of ‘97. The final icing on the cake is the CD recording from the Cannibal Killers Tour. This package will excite any metal fan and encourage you to break out “Wisconsin Death Trip” to celebrate the entire catalog of industrial grinding.

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Anna Laube - Pool All The Love * Pool All The Knowledge

Anna Laube - Pool All The Love * Pool All The Knowledge

Anna Laube

Album title: Pool All The Love * Pool All The Knowledge
By John Noyd
Posted: Jan 2009
Label: Self Released
(3658) Page Views

Wisconsin native and California transplant Laube spins hippie bohemia into rootin’ tootin’ riverboat galleries moseying on down through spirited Delta blues, roadhouse honky-tonk and funky finger pickin’ folk. Turning fields plowed by Michelle Shocked and Gillian Welch, Laube has a light hand that eases into each eleven tracks revealing eleven different histories anchored in an authenticity that is friendly and forgiving. Anna’s slow-burn melancholy scrapes by as much as her confident shakedowns kick off sadness’s shackles. Lanky and coltish, pan-fried pride sizzles while fleshy sessions conjure toddlin’ minstrel jazz over Cajun gospel and East Village coffee shops circa 1959. Mixed and mastered at Madison’s DNA Studios. “Pool,” is brought to fruition through the intimate support from local musicians Nick Moran, Aaron Konkol, and Scott Beardsley.

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White Zombie - Let Sleeping Corpses Lie – Box Set

White Zombie - Let Sleeping Corpses Lie – Box Set

White Zombie

Album title: Let Sleeping Corpses Lie – Box Set
By Chris Fox
Posted: Dec 2008
Label: Geffen
(2370) Page Views

Take a step into the past and enjoy a hefty chunk of heavy metal history. This box set provides four amazing discs of WHITE ZOMBIE’s greatest hits and heaviest sounds. The set travels from early gems such as “Gentleman Junkie” to the thunderous wonder “More Human Than Human.” All four discs have their highlights but this set is certainly a must for any ZOMBIE fan as well as those who know very little about this cornerstone group. The exclusive DVD included is the icing on the cake featuring hours of live concert footage and every music video the band has made. If you have ever heard any song by these guys this box set is worth taking a look at.

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