Reviews

THESE ARE REVIEWS OF T MAX SHOWS and PRODUCTS

T MAX
T Max’s Vegetable Tour
Jamaica Plain Farmers Market/ Watertown Farmers Market/ etc.
5/28/16 – 8/4/16

How does he do it?  What are his secret energetic ingredients?  Who’s his agent?  In a never-ending quest to be among the “people,” T Max has turned into a modern day Woody Guthrie, a troubadour roaming the land to bring his music, his whimsy, and artistic inspiration to the area’s local farmer’s markets. Starting in Jamaica Plain, he has already touched down in Gloucester, Norwood, Waltham, Newton, Chelmsford, Stoneham, Haverhill, and Watertown, and will continue onto South Boston, Revere, Salem, Cambridge, Melrose, Ipswich, Dorchester, Everett, Topsfield, and Lynn before the harvests set in. That’s a feast of entertainment to swallow.
I’ve seen him twice on his current tour, and today he starts with a few originals, a plethora of covers (today’s theme: ’60s girl groups a la The Ronettes, The Crystals, The Angels, Betty Everett, etc.) before segueing into creative, impromptu tunes focused on the products in the surrounding stalls. Always in the moment, T makes personal contact with the shoppers and the vendors, and they are usually beguiled. When he tosses his percussion bucket into the crowd, little children scamper up to take part in the festivity, playing along with his hit song, “Chop Chop Chop.” Immediately everyone is smiling. He quickly adds two more song written by a member of one of his former groups, TCD,  called “Think Up a Dream” and “Holy Moley,” and then keeps pulling more surprises out of his musical hat. That’s an immense amount of non-stop talent and effort for a solo performer with a guitar and some processing stomp boxes. Fun fun fun until the cows come home! (Harry C. Tuniese)

T MAX
Dove Records
Hole in My Shoe
13-song CD
If music is medicine for the soul, then here is another superb effort from a man who has espoused this philosophy for his entire career. As editor/publisher of this long esteemed fanzine called The Noise, he has championed the glory and values of the local Boston music scene for almost 35 years. (Where would I/ we be without this venerable effort!)
 As a sideline to this endeavor, Mr. Max would occasionally contribute with a musical project. Past groups like The Machines, TCD, Art Yard, The Borg, Max, Urban Caravan, and his work with Boston Rock Opera helped establish his talents for conceptual compositions. When he formed Dreamers Wanted in 2007, he hit a high note with his anthem “End War Now” that brought together dozens of local celebs to denounce war in all forms. This morphed into Sgt. Maxwell’s Peace Chorus, which toured for a couple of years, fitting in comfortably at benefits, marches, rallies, and anti-war gatherings. The past several years has seen him become a roving minstrel working local coffeehouses and regional farmer’s markets, turning his charm on the vendors, shoppers, passer-bys, and little children milling around.
  His latest album, Hole in My Shoe, mixes a few tunes from earlier projects (“Sometimes Smart Phone,” “Turn to a Song,” “I’m a Loser”) with his current burgeoning songbook. The aura of inventive production makes me giddy, with small joyous pop nuances creeping through every song. Kudos to his co-producer, Greg Dann, for contributing a plethora of instrumental and recording embellishments. They make a great team (sorta like Bowie & Visconti).
 The intro tune, “Hole in My Shoe,” is portrayed as a scratchy ole record, sorta like a devil-may-care hike through Mayberry, replete with trombone and strings. “Be Kind” is a personal fave – with its Morphine-esque bongo-jazz groove, evolving coloration (very cool Jimmy Smith-esque organ solo), and humane theme (“You don’t need to be right/ Choose to be kind… it works every time/ You don’t need to be rich to be wealthy/ You don’t need to be sick to be unhealthy!”)  Back to back, “Fly” and “Danny Boy” glisten with the processed vocals of the spacious Max-choir. There are also a few humorous tracks: “Bless You” – with his gruff sermon voice and gospel “soul-misters” cooing in the background; “I Bark” – featuring horny dogs, of course; “Trip Around the Sun” – a quick rocket-blast of birthday wishes; and “Life is Cheap”,  which exhorts the positive spin of living-within-your means.] And then, there is the masterpiece, “Giles Corey” – a complex, Salem farmer’s tale of murder, retribution, accusations, witchcraft, pain and deliverance. (“More weight – more weight/ Press me down!”). An intricate, long-winding story worthy of Bob Dylan or Richard Thompson or Procol Harum, its length is majestic and moving. Absolutely riveting!
I have always appreciated T’s music and the way he ch-ch-changes and re-makes/re-models a crafty combo of Anglo-pop and alternative-Americana. He’s a fascinating “mensch” with music that’s thoughtful and inventive. He’s everything that’s right about being a performer – varied, accommodating, friendly, inclusive, and totally in the moment. All the songs are delivered with a high level of focus, craft, talent, and heart-on-sleeve, which just completes his overall compassion. T Max knows who he is and I’m grateful… just say yes – ride the dove!  (Harry C. Tuniese)

T MAX
Dove Records
The Portal’s Rhyme: Undoing The Secret Of Time
6-song CD

Love T’s music! This CD is no exception. Only six tracks, but he fits a lot of diverse coolness into it.

The music is still T, only better. The same sound fans love, only a fuller, matured feel. Familiar songs sound richer and new songs, surprising. “The Magician” is reminiscent of early Bowie. There are background noises sounding a lot like… sea gulls in spaceships. Completely unexpected!

T’s gritty cover of The Beatles’ “I’m a Loser” lends a heartfelt vibe to it that I’d never sensed before, making me feel that this is the way this song should be sung, given its lyrics. There’s a Tom Waits sound to it which works remarkably well.

“Danny Boy” is quite simply, beautiful. T’s voice fits this beloved classic so well. A sentimental song and his voice works magic with it.

“Rhythmatic Addicts” is at the opposite end of the spectrum. A fun, sexy, song (love the line,”My baby rubs gasoline down the nape of her neck.”). Again, that awesome Tom Waits’ grit. Nice sax and slick keys compliment it perfectly.

“Sometimes Smart Phone” just didn’t work for me. What really did work for me, is “Turn To A Song.” Blues tinged, with a killer bass. Meant to make people feel good, this song delivers. I’m loving the quality of T’s voice on this gem of a CD.   The Portal’s Rhyme: Undoing The Secret Of Time is a winner and he knocks it out of the park.  (R.J. Ouellette)

T MAX
Dove Records
Fill ’Er Up

11-song CD

I like that T Max sent this my way. It’s like he’s baiting me to give it a classic Sleazegrinder lambasting, like he wants me to burn both of our careers down to the ground in one final cleansing fire of piled-up adjectives. Well, as much as that appeals to my self-destruct trigger, I can’t. The record’s good. Mostly. I can do without the infuriating, nursery rhyme-y “Chop Chop Chop” (Chop those vegetables up!), but otherwise, T (who plays everything himself, incidentally) vacillates pleasantly betwixt slinky, tongue-in-cheek blues, Beatles-esque pop, and champagne-bubble crooning. Vintage, classic, whimsical, slightly pervy. It’s exactly like hanging out with him, really.  (Sleazegrinder)

T MAX
Dove Records
Shake: An Earth Tale
6-song CD

T Max is no stranger to the concept of a concept album. He co-founded Boston Rock Opera, and founded both the Borg and Max. He also organized a “We Are the World”-style anti-war protest single titled “End War Now” (which ranked number seven on Neil Young’s Living With War website) that featured a wide array of Boston notables. Since then he has staged Why Do We Go to War?, a one-man rock opera, before releasing these two CDs. Living in Gloucester, he has now tapped into that vast musical and art community and created some cool concept albums, to boot.
Shake was produced in 2011 and is an environmental cautionary tale. The songs, written and performed by T Max, are sparsely arranged guitar and vocal ditties, vaguely reminiscent of Harry Nilsson, the Pretty Things, The Beatles, and The Kinks, with narration by Claire Paulsen. This is a story of environmental awareness and harmony designed for all ages, urging humanity to make a pact with loving the earth which nurtures us all and could easily be made into a children’s’ book or ABC made for TV cartoon movie, much like Really Rosie or Free To Be You And Me. It’s totally in that vein. (Joel Simches)

T MAX
Dove Records
On British TV
11-song CD
On British TV is a collection of songs loosely connected by an underlying theme. It is unclear what this album is trying to say. It starts with a dramatic version of a Beatles classic, “No Reply,” followed by a cosmic tale of greed and strip mining the solar system, a tale of morality, a song of empowerment. It’s hard to understand why it’s called On British TV, when the album contains only one British band, some originals, and inventive reinterpretations of rock classics by the likes Sly Stone and Sonny Bono who aren’t even remotely British. There is a picture of T Max on the cover looking vaguely British and I am drinking Earl Grey as I write this, so does that count? Musically, T Max has an intimate, honest approach. The songs are genuine and heartfelt, with so many different stylistic shifts—psychedelic, gospel, back-porch blues, and even vaudeville. The arrangements are truly inventive and show off an unabashed and varied array of instrumental and vocal talents. Buy this CD and tell T I sent you! (Joel Simches)

T MAX  
Dove Records
Why Do We Go to War? A Moral Dilemma
15-song CD
I’m a Nam vet.  During a tour as an infantry medic I saw my share of fear chaos and killing and what comes afterward.  I had a tough time listening to T Max’s album Why Do We Go to War? though not for reason’s one might expect.  It’s clear that much time and effort and love went into its production.  However I found the story line and lyrics somewhat stereotypical.  The annunciatory “Why Do We Go to War” gave the impression the music that followed might be ideologically driven.  That seems the case.  Intervals of great musicianship were often diluted by overly theatrical singing and less than stellar lyrics.  The individual songs, each describing a part of a soldier’s life in wars unruly cycle were simply not convincing to one who has direct experience of it.  And perhaps that is the heart of the matter.  This well intentioned album is not borne of down and dirty hard won suffering and even harder won redemption, but by their imagined twins.  No bones and blood or terror filled eyes or final glances from final faces occur in studio sessions.  No sudden ambushes, no slumping bodies, no glissando agonies fill the heated air.  No haunting losses, no drinking binges or drug-fueled reveries duel with murderous rage. That’s not possible.  And yet successful war protest songs or albums that wed the personal and the political and rise above it have been written and how that is done I do not know.  What I do know is this: The numerous voices and their messages in Why Do We Go to War are at a critical distance from the real; in essence they are well meant but less than compelling and impress as artificial.  No doubt there will be an audience for this uneven (for when the music is good it is very good) but well-intentioned album whose words and story are discomforting yet safe and knowable.  But for this combat vet there is no genuine voice that has directly or somehow indirectly walked the dark valley of the living nightmare and lived to tell and wisely protest it. (Marc “Doc” Levy – D 1/7 Cav ’70, Vietnam/Cambodia)

T MAX  
Dove Records
Why Do We Go to War? A Moral Dilemma
15-song CD
T Max’s peace musical, Why Do We Go To War?, has sections that can raise the hair on the back of your neck… The songs are haunting, ominous, and heartbreaking.
– Sally Applegate, Georgetown Record

T MAX  
Dove Records
Thinkin’ Up a Dream
11-song CD

The man who defined Boston’s music scene for over three decades, T Max, encourages you all to Think Up A Dream. His live sets are now filled with stories and songs that leave his audience feeling up lifted. “Mungo Jerry, the Kinks, Bob Dylan… Groovy Americana.”  (Francis DiMenno)


Contact T Max:
tmax@thenoise-boston.com
on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tee.max.3

 


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