Express Milwaukee - Album Reviews http://expressmilwaukee.com/articles.sec-204-1-album-reviews.html Fri, 01 Aug 2014 00:00:00 EDT en hourly 1 Greetings From The Imposter: Impressive Debut Release http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23708-greetings-from-the-imposter-impressive-debut-release.html  Dance music styles come and go and come around again by way of their recycling into a seemingly ever-flowing stream of new sub-genres. The dance-oriented rock of the ’80s seems to have been bypassed in that process of reconsideration, however. Remedying that dismissal is Saintpaul Brellis whose ’90s band

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Fred Hersch Trio: Floating (Palmetto) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23709-fred-hersch-trio-floating-%2528palmetto%2529.html  The award-winning pianist Fred Hersch returns with a new album of jazz a la Dave Brubeck. Intricately knotted melodies, angled sideways to the rhythms, are delivered with cool panache throughout Floating. Hersch focuses on his own compositions but includes a pair of standards and concludes the disc with Thelonious

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ZZ Top: The Very Baddest of ZZ Top (Warner Brothers) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23710-zz-top-the-very-baddest-of-zz-top-%2528warner-brothers%2529.html  Anyone looking for a ZZ Top CD culled from four decades of the trio’s career need look no farther than the two-disc Very Baddest. Early album tracks share space with hits from the “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Cheap Sunglasses” era as well as less-heard numbers from the 21st century. The Texans seldom strayed for long from

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Jethro Tull: A Passion Play: An Extended Performance (Chrysalis) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23704-jethro-tull-a-passion-play-an-extended-performance-%2528chrysalis%2529.html

 Among the score or more of wildly creative rock bands to emerge from Britain in the late ‘60s, Jethro Tull was among the most diverse in direction. Early albums included blues and proto-heavy metal, jazz, British folk and the brain-searing distortions of psychedelia. And then, in the early ‘70s, Tull

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Henry Butler & Steven Bernstein: Viper’s Drag (Impulse) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23671-henry-butler-steven-bernstein-viper%25E2%2580%2599s-drag-%2528impulse%2529.html  What’s old is new again, againespecially in Brooklyn. Amidst the borough’s prohibition-era cocktails, faux speakeasies and timeless sea of ’20s-ish clever caps and facial hair, lies Katrina refugee and New Orleans piano traditionalist Henry Butler. His latest effort finds him alongside New York

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9Bach: Tincian (Real World Records) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23672-9bach-tincian-%2528real-world-records%2529.html  Something magic clings to the gossamer notes heard on Tincian. 9Bach is all about its homeland. The lyrics are in Welsh and the album cover proudly proclaims: “Made in Wales.” And yet, Tincian is not another album of folk music or an ill-considered update of tradition, but a contemporary

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The Shoe: I’m Okay (Community Records) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23654-the-shoe-i%25E2%2580%2599m-okay-%2528community-records%2529.html  Among actorly forays into music, The Shoe is closer in spirit to She & Him than to Dogstar, and not just because Jena Malone is much less famous than Keanu Reeves

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Bryan Cherry: Black Holes http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23655-bryan-cherry-black-holes.html  Although Bryan Cherry shifted his billing from bandleader to soloist, his way of overlaying genres atop each other hasn’t changed a bit. The Milwaukee singer/guitarist

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Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III (Atlantic/Swan Song) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23630-led-zeppelin-led-zeppelin-led-zeppelin-ii-led-zeppelin-iii-%2528atlantic_swan-song%2529.html

 Rock was already getting heavier before Led Zeppelin emerged at the end of the ’60s, but their first LP, with the exploding Hindenburg cover, set the pace for the direction of

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Bucky Halker & Andy Dee: The Ghost of Woody Guthrie (Revolting Records) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23631-bucky-halker-andy-dee-the-ghost-of-woody-guthrie-%2528revolting-records%2529.html  Political activist, musician and music scholar Bucky Halker is a Wisconsin native back now in Racine. Working with another Badger musician, Andy Dee (formerly of the

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House Of Spirits: “Holding On/Keep Holding On” (Beats In Space Records 12-inch and digital single) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23632-house-of-spirits-%25E2%2580%259Cholding-on_keep-holding-on%25E2%2580%259D-%2528beats-in-space-records-12-inch-and-digital-single%2529.html If Milwaukee has produced any examples of soul-gospel-club music, it’s been a while. The city’s latest (or first?) comes courtesy of Tom Noble’s House of Spirits project

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Hank Williams: The Garden Spot Programs, 1950 (Omnivore Recordings) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23589-hank-williams-the-garden-spot-programs-1950-%2528omnivore-recordings%2529.html  Hank Williams was a country music star but he was also a comet, streaking across the horizon of American popular culture in the early 1950s. He recorded

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Ama-Dots: Ama-Dots (Rerun) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23590-ama-dots-ama-dots-%2528rerun%2529.html  Ama-Dots were a mainstay of the early 1980s Milwaukee alternative music scene, and are most often given the overly broad label “post-punk.” Perhaps that’s fitting, because post-punk was a term coined by a music press for bands that weren’t easily categorized and Ama-Dots’ strikingly

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Cascada de Flores: Radio Flor (Ita Music) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23591-cascada-de-flores-radio-flor-%2528ita-music%2529.html  The booming, cross-continental signals of the old Mexican radio stations have been celebrated by ZZ Top and Wall of Voodoo, but never with the loving nostalgia of California’s Cascada de Flores. On Radio Flor, this versatile ensemble evokes the Mexican radio shows from the 1930s and ’40s

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Modern Mod: Tunnels (Crasseaux Records) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23561-modern-mod-tunnels-%2528crasseaux-records%2529.html  Funny how the good intentions behind putting together different parts can create something wholly different than expected. The Madison high schoolers of Modern Mod claim as influences the sort of garage rock favored by Little Steven Van Zandt on “Underground Garage” and surf music

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Zvuloon Dub System: Anbessa Dub http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23562-zvuloon-dub-system-anbessa-dub.html An Ethiopian-Jewish reggae band based in Tel Aviv? Yes, it makes perfect sense if you understand the genesis of Rastafarianism. Zvuloon Dub System started as a roots-reggae band but began incorporating influences from the superb pop music of Ethiopia from the ’60s and ’70s before the

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NAWA: Ancient Sufi Invocations & Forgotten Songs from Aleppo (Lost Origins/Electric Cowbell) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23563-nawa-ancient-sufi-invocations-forgotten-songs-from-aleppo-%2528lost-origins_electric-cowbell%2529.html  Aleppo had always been Syria’s cultural center, a place where minority groups usually coexisted. The country’s civil war changed that, especially the depredations of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a jihadist group seeking to destroy anything out of sync with their own militant brand of Islam

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The Iguanas: Juarez (Piety Street) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23515-the-iguanas-juarez-%2528piety-street%2529.html  In the heartbreaking 2013 documentary Narco Cultura, Juarez, the Mexican border city, is painted in strokes just this side of hell, and spoken of in terms of “end of

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Volga: Kumushki Pjut (Asphalt Tango) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23516-volga-kumushki-pjut-%2528asphalt-tango%2529.html  It’s not just hyperbole: If Igor Stravinsky was young and alive today he might lead a band similar to Volga. Some of the savage Slavic polyrhythms actually conjure the spirit of The Rite of Spring in a setting of serrated

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I’m Not The Beatles: The John & Yoko Interviews with Howard Smith 1969-72 (MVD Entertainment) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23420-i%25E2%2580%2599m-not-the-beatles-the-john-yoko-interviews-with-howard-smith-1969-72-%2528mvd-entertainment%2529.html Cancerous Growth: Cancer Causing Agents: A Cancerous Growth Discography (Beer City) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23421-cancerous-growth-cancer-causing-agents-a-cancerous-growth-discography-%2528beer-city%2529.html   Bands more famous and musically distinct than Cancerous Growth emerged from Boston’s 1980s hardcore scene. The booklet essay accompanying Cancer Causing Agents makes that case. But a sense of feisty fun and intermittent willingness to experiment with studio technology inhabits the set’s

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The Doors: Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine (Rhino Elektra) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23422-the-doors-weird-scenes-inside-the-gold-mine-%2528rhino-elektra%2529.html   Originally released in 1972 in the aftermath of Jim Morrison’s death, Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine is a best-of plus a pair of B-sides. Reissued on CD, it remains a good survey of a band that packed a lot of music into a few short years. Weird Scenes includes some but not all peak moments

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Split Single: Fragmented World (Inside Outside Records) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23411-split-single-fragmented-world-%2528inside-outside-records%2529.html  Although Fragmented World is just over half an hour long, Split Single bandleader Jason Narducy enriches it with two kinds of experience: the kind he’s picked up working for Bob Mould, Robert Pollard and Superchunk, and the kind he’s picked up living

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The Sours: The Sours (ZoZe Music) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23412-the-sours-the-sours-%2528zoze-music%2529.html  New York’s The Sours is a two-acoustic-guitar duo fronted by singer Sarah Schrift, and accompanied by a pianist on a few numbers. The mood on most tracks is 3 a.m. melancholy with vocals just past the edge of resignation. Nick Drake looms as an inspiration, though occasionally the sky

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Sonar: Static Motion (Cuneiform Records) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23370-sonar-static-motion-%2528cuneiform-records%2529.html  The multinational instrumental quartet Sonar includes a mathematics professor, a software developer and a multimedia artist. In other words, not only can these guys play; they also have brains. On their second album, Static Motion, they rely on symmetry, aesthetics and precision to create as much

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The New Mastersounds: Therapy (Dumaine Records) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23371-the-new-mastersounds-therapy-%2528dumaine-records%2529.html  The name of Britain’s New Mastersounds is deceiving; they’re now in the 15th year of their career. For the past decade the quartet has performed regularly in the U.S. and this new release was recorded in Denver. Fans of Medeski, Martin and Wood, George Benson, Average White Band and

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The Lubricants: “Activated Energy”/“Transformation Vacation” (Rerun Records) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23372-the-lubricants-%25E2%2580%259Cactivated-energy%25E2%2580%259D_%25E2%2580%259Ctransformation-vacation%25E2%2580%259D-%2528rerun-records%2529.html  The Lubricants were the first Milwaukee band to self-consciously embrace “punk rock” as defined by the snotty, three-chord, leather-jacketed scenes emerging from NYC and London circa 1976. They were also among the best. The Lubricants’ sole release, a 1980 single, has been reissued on vinyl

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Cyndi Lauper: She’s So Unusual: A 30th Anniversary Celebration (Epic Legacy) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23373-cyndi-lauper-she%25E2%2580%2599s-so-unusual-a-30th-anniversary-celebration-%2528epic-legacy%2529.html   What’s surprising about She’s So Unusual is how enjoyable it remains. One of the biggest hits of 1984 endures not for its state-of-the-era production and tinny synthesizers, but on the strength of good songs delivered convincingly. “Money Changes Everything” is classic, hook-laden pop rock; “Girls

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The Bad Plus: The Rite of Spring (Masterworks) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23334-the-bad-plus-the-rite-of-spring-%2528masterworks%2529.html  Minneapolis’ muscular alt-jazz trio bravely delves into Igor Stravinsky’s transformative epic, yes, boiling it down; yet Ethan Iverson brilliantly funnels Stravinsky’s glittering, dissonant orchestration through his keyboard. Bass and drums stoke the suspense and ecstasy, the thunderous drama, the

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Various Artists: Radio Ready: Wisconsin—Lost Power Pop Hits 1979-1982 (Cheap Reward Records) http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-23335-various-artists-radio-ready-wisconsin%25E2%2580%2594lost-power-pop-hits-1979-1982-%2528cheap-reward-records%2529.html  In the late ’70s, power pop was the accessible face of new wave music. With roots in the British Invasion and influenced by bands such as Badfinger and Big Star, power pop’s bright melodies and more polished musicianship appealed, in part, to listeners sometimes put off by its less polite cousin

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