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Album Reviews
Monday, March 22, 2010


High-school buddies Ray Luokka and Brian Noonan had all but given up on becoming rock stars. But years later, in little ol’ Jackson, Wis., the guitarist and drummer found a vocalist with wide range and a serious bassist, and decided to give it one more shot. Wise move. Rise is a progressive-metal...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010

Visionary (The Laser’s Edge)

Eloy should be a familiar name to progressive-rock fans of a certain age. And now, thanks to the outstanding reunion album Visionary—the German band’s first studio record since 1998 and released to coincide with Eloy’s 40th anniversary—a whole new generation of listeners can hear what all the fuss was...
Album Reviews
Monday, Feb. 8, 2010

Natural Selection (Daystorm Music)

Gary Tanin’s name might not ring a bell with all local rock fans. But as a veteran producer, he’s worked with some of the city’s finest and best-known musicians—including the BoDeans’ Sam Llanas, the Violent Femmes’ Victor DeLorenzo and Genesis’ Daryl Stuermer. Natural Selection gathers 18 songs from...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010

Odd (KW Enterprises)

On his latest studio album, Odd, veteran one-man band Keller Williams sounds perpetually stoned—just the way his fans like him. Williams receives minimal accompaniment on these dozen tracks, and he keeps the arrangements sparse enough that he’ll be able to handle them just fine at his whimsical solo gigs...
Album Reviews
Monday, Dec. 21, 2009

The Calm Before…

Dimension X—one of the freshest progressive-metal bands to come out of Milwaukee in recent years—may be no more, but members of that outfit have teamed up with Sun Prairie-based vocalist John Swenson (Cherry Pie) to form HEDDA. The Calm Before…, a four-song EP loosely based on a concept...
Album Reviews
Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009

Topless at the Arco Arena (Rock Ridge Music)

Following Radiohead’s lead, Wonderlick—a little-known California pop duo featuring former members of ’90s alterna-poppers Too Much Joy—asked fans to preorder their second full-length CD, Topless at the Arco Arena, and pay whatever they wanted for it. Little did Wonderlick realize that individuals would shell...
Album Reviews
Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009

Wishful Thinking (Gold Strike/Thirty Tigers)

The members of veteran Western swing/pop trio Hot Club of Cowtown don’t sound like they’re coming off of a mid-decade hiatus. Wishful Thinking finds vocalist/fiddler Elana James, vocalist/guitarist Whit Smith and upright bassist Jake Erwin together again—seven years after their last studio...
Album Reviews
Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009

Schizophrenic (Magnatude Records)

Israeli electric guitarist Oz Noy must realize that not even serious musicians (like himself) can listen to mindless shredding all of the time. That would explain why he injected Schizophrenic, his third all-instrumental CD, with enough quirky attitude and ego-free chops to make the disc a refreshing...
Album Reviews
Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009

Release (Rock Ridge Music)

On Release, Sister Hazel’s ninth CD this decade, the Florida-based jangle rockers decided to make the songwriting process more democratic. Rather than have lead vocalist/acoustic guitarist Ken Block do most of the heavy lifting, each of the five members penned at least two tunes. The result is an...
Album Reviews
Monday, Aug. 24, 2009


On Catharsis, StrangeLand's third album, the local progressive-metal trio shows why it deserves to finally break free of regional status. Original drummer Brad Klotz has returned to the fold, joining guitarist Sean Gill and lead vocalist, bassist and keyboardist Chad Novell on an album rich with more melodies, vocal harmonies and musical adventure than the band's previous discs. Heavy crunchers "Asinine (Nothing Better)" and...