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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

Catharsis

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...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009

Black Clouds & Silver Linings (Roadrunner Records)

Dream Theater ranks among America's most consistent metal bands, both in terms of output and critical acclaim/reproach. Black Clouds & Silver Linings continues that trend. The group's 10th studio release in 20 years contains such signature Dream Theater elements as long, overworked songs (six songs in 75 minutes); muscular and complex musicianship; technical albeit catchy arrangements; repetition of musical motifs; and James LaBrie's...
Album Reviews
Monday, Aug. 3, 2009

The Show Is on the Road (Ramseur Records)

The Show Is on the Road serves as a love letter to both the longtime New York City home of anti-folk pioneer Paleface and his new dwelling space in Concord, N.C., where he sought refuge after nearly dying from alcohol abuse. In a voice both raw and intimate, with accompaniment only from an acoustic guitar and occasional...
Album Reviews
Monday, July 27, 2009

Dreaming in Neon

Many electric guitarists feel the need to get all self-indulgent when recording instrumental albums, but Peter Mac is above that. Perhaps it's because the ax slinger for the Milwaukee Bucks' house band, Streetlife, isn't just adept on the frets. Mac plays guitar, keys and sometimes bass on most of the 11 tracks on Dreaming in Neon...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Latest (Cheap Trick Unlimited)

Cheap Trick has been around forever, or so it seems. Actually, it's been 35 years since the four lads from Rockford, Ill., formed the band that would become a cornerstone of power-pop, and 20 million albums later-some much better than others-the band is still going strong with The Latest, a cleverly titled follow-up to 2006's consistently effective Rockford...

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