Express Milwaukee - Album Reviews Mon, 26 Jan 2015 00:00:00 EST en hourly 1 Old American Junk: Good To Be Alive Good To Be Alive, the Madison-Milwaukee band Old American Junk’s second five-song EP, proffers a chipper take on what might nowadays be described as Americana. But with bouncy melodic hooks that could easily become slowly insinuating earworms, and touches from harmonica and ]]> Gong: I See You (Madfish) After almost a half-century, the multinational band of freaks known as Gong keeps making noise. I See You sounds more cohesive and listenable than it deserves to—especially considering that co-founder, vocalist and chief lyricist Daevid Allen turned 77 years old in January and wrote the]]> Yagull: Kai (MoonJune) Yagull is a quiet duo recording for a New York label more associated with louder, often metallic, music on the cusp of prog and fusion. Some of Yagull’s original compositions have a rock texture; they even turn in lovely renditions of a pair of ’70s rock classics, Free’s “Wishing Well” and Deep ]]> Altered Five Blues Band: Cryin’ Mercy (OmniVibe) Guitarist Jeff Schroedl and keyboardist Raymond Tevich provide instrumental prowess for this Milwaukee blues band while vocalist Jeff Taylor’s seething, smoldering baritone is full of Southern soul. The incorporation of vintage Memphis and Muscle Shoals R&B influences—and an explicit melodic reference to one ]]> My Brother The Wind: Once There Was A Time When Time And Space Were One (Free Electric Sound) The nine songs on this third album from Sweden’s improvisational psychedelic rockers My Brother The Wind were recorded live in the studio on analog equipment and with no overdubs—all in one day. In fact, coming up with the album’s mouthful-of-a-title may have taken longer than the music-making process itself. Once ]]> Allegra Levy: Lonely City (SteepleChase Lookout) Allegra Levy’s Lonely City sounds a lot like one of those great jazz vocal albums from the 1950s—except that Levy wrote all the songs in the ’10s. The New York vocalist sets the emotional tone at cool, even slightly ironic, as she sings cleverly composed lyrics on romance and its discontents. Accompanied by a crack ]]> The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition (Polydor Universal) By the time the Velvet Underground recorded their eponymous third album, they had evolved from the Andy Warhol curiosity of their debut album to the visceral molten primacy of the follow up White Light/White Heat to record an introspective album that begged for a double take. It was ]]> Various Artists - The Only Folk Collection You’ll Ever Need (Shout Factory)
Andy Bey: Pages From an Imaginary Life (HighNote) Hearing Andy Bey is a bit like stumbling upon a man alone with his heavy heart, or perhaps praying softly. The sense of intimacy—the stark piano and exquisitely naked voice—might feel too close for some, but it’s their loss. The singer follows his Grammy-nominated album The World According ]]> Marvelous Mack: Give You More!! Milwaukee’s Marvelous Mack derives much of his inspiration from points south. That can be as near as his Chicago hometown, from which he cops some electric blues grind. Mack also takes from as far down the globe as Jamaica, as he gusts through bits of reggae patois. Mostly, though, Mack’s]]> Emma Donovan & The PutBacks: Dawn (HopeStreet Recordings) Emma Donovan could pass for a ’60s African American soul singer, but she’s an Australian Aborigine from the 2010s who grew up in a home with a great record collection. Dawn covers ground from soul music’s encounter with heavy psychedelic blues-rock through R&B at the cusp of funk and]]> Super Hi-Fi: Yule Analog, Vol. 1: A Very Dubby Christmas Jethro Tull: WarChild: The 40th Anniversary Theatre Edition (Parlophone) WarChild was Jethro Tull’s last great album, a return to songs after the band’s segue into overblown opuses. The 40th Anniversary Theatre Edition includes stereo mixes of the original LP plus a glut of additional material, including previously unreleased tracks from the 1974 era (some of them]]> Five Plus Six: Such Sweet Thunder (Shade Tree) Leonard Cohen: Live in Dublin (Sony Music/Columbia) Leonard Cohen turned 80 this fall, and thoughts inevitably turn to the end game: How long will he maintain his stamina on stage? Live in Dublin documents a particular night on his recent world tour, whose Milwaukee leg revealed a performer of dignity, grace and energy. He was likewise in ]]> Daniel Lanois: Flesh and Machine (Anti, Inc./Red Floor Records) Daniel Lanois is an aural painter with the recording studio as his palette and his instruments as brushes. Best known for producing U2, Peter Gabriel and Bob Dylan, and for collaborating with Brian Eno, the Canadian musician-engineer occasionally releases albums under his own name. Flesh and]]> TriBeCaStan: Coal, Again! (Evergreene Music) It’s easy to hear how much fun TriBeCaStan had recording this collection of holiday tunes. The New York band (featuring onetime Milwaukeean John Kruth) opens Coal, Again! with a hotel-lounge ska rendition of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” before moving on to a “Silver Bells” delivered with ]]> Tom & Barb Webber: Between You and Me (Fair Webber Music) Between You and Me. Tom’s gruffly friendly tone recalls local legend Larry Penn in resonance; he’s no slouch at the earnestness and reflection requisite for their artistry. Barb’s is an arguably richer]]> Jupiter in Velvet: Glitter On The Sun Christian Lopez Band: Pilot (Blaster Records) Pilot—five songs with a little Phillip]]> Captain Beefheart: Sun Zoom Spark: 1970 to 1972 (Rhino) Captain Beefheart had complete artistic control over his 1969 album, Trout Mask Replica, which brought rock to an edgy place long before “edgy” became a marketing cliché. The album was met with widespread incomprehension (but avid cult fascination) and reached the outer limits of ]]> Aurelio: Landini (Real World) Sam Llanas: The Whole Night Thru (Llanas Music) Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin IV, Houses of the Holy (Atlantic/Swan Song) The Incorruptibles: “White Alligator Shoes”/“Laugh Out Loud” Outhead: Send This Sound to the King (Chahatatadra Music) On their second album, the bi-coastal quartet Outhead takes the trail opened by the ’60s jazz avant-garde, but with a determination to hit audiences in the gut rather than sail over their heads. Rock elements echoing the sax-driven Morphine can be heard, along with enough melody in their ]]> Abelardo Barroso: Cha Cha Cha (World Circuit) Abelardo Barroso’s voice was a sophisticated instrument, powerful yet emotionally subtle, silken as a pop crooner but eager to slip into the soaring Moorish modes endowed to Cuba by Spanish rulers and the slaves they brought from West Africa. The singer made these recordings in the ]]> Marshall Allen presents Sun Ra and His Arkestra: In the Orbit of Ra (Strut Records) The Specials: The Best of The Specials (Parlophone) Ska was a subcultural phenomenon until the “2 Tone” movement swept the U.K. and spilled over into the U.S. by the end of the ’70s. The Specials led the way with bouncing rhythms and a sense of fun through their gangster poses and ’60s spy movie guitars. The Specials played party music capable of assuming urgency on ]]> Alma Afrobeat Ensemble: Life No Get Dublicate (Slow Walk Music) Amongst all the limp pop marketed as “world music,” a gem occasionally shines. Alma Afrobeat Ensemble is the real deal on many levels: The lineup is international, based in Barcelona and playing the propulsive West African music associated with Fela Kuti live and in real time. The energy is palpable on their]]>