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Local CD Reviews

| June 28, 2007

Doug Bistrow’s sly upright bass on Akasha‘s self-titled EP stands out as the quartet’s key ingredient. “Sideways” combines the band’s reggae/blues influences with a touch of INXS, while “In Defining” runs along the blueprint laid out by Bob Marley. Lead singer Cosmos Ray sounds vaguely reminiscent of Shaggy sidekick Rayvon, especially on “Affliction.” The record’s best track, “Follow The Sun,” seems out of place; a singer-songwriter ditty set adrift amongst the Jamaican rhythms. The only downside: the lyrics get too touchy feely. (
– Janine Schaults

Animate Objects are the latest hip-hop-rooted band to utilize live instrumentation, and on their debut, Riding In Fast Cars With Your Mom, they often succeed in going the “organic” route. Sure, jazzy cuts like “Slow” sound a little too familiar, but these guys prove they are finding their own groove – notably on the funky, feel-good finale, “El Dorado.” (
– Max Herman

On Arctic Sleep‘s demo, Mare Vaporum, these shoegazers’ rock couldn’t get much more sluggish. Despite the blatant lack of energy on ultra-slow tracks like “We’ve Got A Bleeder,” frontman Keith D and his four-man band’s sound isn’t quite static. On the epic, nearly 20-minute opener, “Over The Antifreeze Rainbow,” they transition from heavy guitar thrash to the most minimal strums and then back again. But all along they don’t seem to want to shake that damn drowsy tempo. (
– Max Herman

Avichi‘s The Divine Tragedy is an intriguing mixture of insanely fast black metal and nimble metal instrumentals. The destructive aural onslaught of the relentless “Messianic Deliverance” and “Purification Within The Eighth Sphere” rival the obscene speed and horrid vocal style of Satryicon. Ambient, darkly textured instrumentals (“Entrance To God,” “Prayer For Release”) provide momentary relief while sustaining the power and feverish intensity. (
– Patrick Conlan

Pete Berwick‘s Ain’t No Train Outta Nashville was in label purgatory for more than a decade before Berwick acquired the masters and rehabed, remastered, and refreshed them. Though his voice sounds a bit thin compared to live, Ain’t No Train is easily his best album. With elements of early alt-country bands like Rank And File as a blueprint, Berwick rips through the title track and a re-worked version of the Dylan-esque “Only Bleeding” and shows a valid, though well-worn, disdain for commercial country on “Rebels & Cadillacs.” Yet, despite his tough-guy demeanor, he shows a twangy and tender side on “The Years We Left Behind.” (
– David Gedge

Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Michael Ray Cain and his self-named Reckoning give us their latest release, Aztec GTO And Other Boss Sounds, and while Cain isn’t the most technically brilliant singer, there is a certain charm here. He is most effective on the title track, which has a cool Wall Of Voodoo-meets-Timbuk 3 vibe that is instantly attractive. Cain is interesting and unique in a rough-hewn way, and it would be nice to see his music gain purchase and grow a career. (
– Mike O’Cull

It’s a shame Casados‘ latest, Passages, is only five songs because it’s likely to leave any acoustic/alt-country listener begging for more. “Panama” evokes the sweeping organics of early Wilco, “Unraveling” merges the softer side of Whiskeytown with Iron & Wine, and “Letting Go” adapts the navel-gazing indie rock approach of Sufjan Stevens. Throughout the whole project, Nic and Heather Dillon (married) weave entrancing harmonies with their eyes locked on artistry. (
– Andy Argyrakis

Bryan Cherry Band would be Milwaukee’s second-rate Dave Matthews Band if not for Jimi Hendrix. In the margins of Be Just Fine, lead singer/guitarist Bryan Cherry honors the voice and six-string virtuosity of his obvious idol. It’s a work best heard in-person, as “Leave Me Tomorrow” indicates. Recorded during a radio appearance, the live track benefits from a warmth that only musicians playing feet apart can spark. When tight-knit blues steps into psychedelia, a gentle reverb sustains the appeal. Unfortunately, studio and genre sterility inhibit the rest. (
– Mike Meyer

The Dirty Rooks are a four-piece rock and blues outfit heavily steeped in the old ways. Their vibe is Stones/Faces with just an occasional hint of Doors thrown in to grind it up a bit. Their self-titled CD is a good time, especially the third track, “No Mercy,” which recalls Mick and Keith at their best. Most satisfying, though, is the sound of the blues in young hands that, rather than treating the music as a museum piece, twist it to fit the moment. (
– Mike O’Cull

Fans of new age music will no doubt embrace the instrumental tunes on classically trained guitarist Marcus Dunleavy‘s third CD, Emerge. The selection includes Dunleavy’s own three-part title track as well as the works of other composers. Those not into new age might think the tracks sound too similar, although Dunleavy does crank up the energy on Leo Brouwer’s “Elogio de La Danza.” (
– Terrence Flamm

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Category: Around Hear, Columns, Monthly

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