MAXIMO PARK – Risk to Exist
THE GOOD: British indie rockers Maximo Park are back with their sixth.
THE BAD: Over the last couple of records, the band has softened some of their rough edges; the music becoming slightly less aggressive or jagged. Unfortunately, they’ve shed some of their uniqueness along the way, too.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Co-produced by Tom Schick (Wilco, Beck) and recorded in Wilco’s Chicago studio the Loft, “Risk To Exist” finds frontman Paul Smith and the lads giving us a tempered blend of Britpop and guitar rock; pretty standard Maximo Park stuff even though it’s not quite as hyper as the early albums.
Like a lot of their fellow countrymen post-Brexit, MP gets a tad political on “Risk.” Songs like the title track and “What Did We Do To You To Deserve This” tackle (or at least acknowledge) the ugly global political climate of 2017. And while some of the messages aren’t subtle, they never overshadow that standard Maximo groove we’ve grown accustomed to over the past decade-and-a half.
BUY IT?: Your call.

THE ORWELLS – Terrible Human Beings
THE GOOD: Chicago-area rockers the Orwells come back with a loud and raunchy third.
THE BAD: The record loses steam (and some much-needed hooks) across its second half.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Still barely in their twenties, the boys fill their songs with coarse harmonies, chunky guitar riffs, bad attitudes (the sarcasm dripping off those “Sha-la-la-la’s” during “Hippie Soldier”), direct and infectious melodies (the fast and furious “Buddy”) and lyrics meant to stir things up (you have to love a title like “They Put A Body in the Bayou”). They also score points for not exactly sounding British, but at least resembling some of the more plucky U.K. acts that have invaded our shores over the past two decades.
Now whether the lads are completely “genuine” or not doesn’t really matter two or three songs into “Human Beings.” You get swept up in the noise and reckless spirit of the whole affair. So, turn it way up, jump around and act the fool.
BUY IT?: Yeah.

COLONY HOUSE – Only the Lonely
THE GOOD: Tennessee alt-rockers Colony House dodge the sophomore slump on “Lonely.”
THE BAD: This is by-the-numbers modern rock. Slightly predictable, very safe. Thankfully though, the guys are a little less stale than Young the Giant and a little more like the infectious Fratellis. You may not be completely stimulated, but you won’t be bored, either.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The band was founded by brothers Caleb and Will Chapman, sons of contemporary Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman. However, Colony House’s music is at least 95 percent secular. These boys aren’t the second coming of Skillet.
And when everything falls into place, some of these tracks completely captivate, the way any decent pop song does. “Where Your Father’s Been” is blessed with high rising melodies. “Was It Me” rides a strong seamless rhythmic flow. “You Know It” brings classic surf to the party.
“Lonely” may lose some momentum across its final third, but the record never completely fizzles out. Decent stuff.
BUY IT?: Your choice.

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