Maximum Ames’ biggest strengths also the biggest knock against the label: It encourages everyone, so you never really know what you’re going to get. Some of it is really good, really interesting music; some of it is navel gazing and ego masturbation. “Papoose,” for the most part, falls into the first category. Some of it is a lot of fun: “The Phoenix” is a light, two-tone-infused, pop-punk ditty that makes for a great introduction to the album, while “The Balloon” is a dreamy, Beatles-esque ballad. After “A Love Forgotten,” the album shifts gears and bogs down for 10 minutes or so but comes out of it again with “The Divorce” and moves on from there. At its best, “Papoose” is reminiscent of Squirrel Nut Zippers, or some of the White Stripes’ filler tracks. Harmsen is a clever songwriter, and the wide range of influences the album exhibits makes “Papoose” a conversation piece, if nothing else. CV
“Papoose” listening party is at Mars Café on Thursday, April 25 at 7 p.m.
Dead Horse Trauma
“Vi-Ops” is a snarling, seething, unrelenting masterpiece of an album. That this is the best sounding local metal album I’ve heard is impressive enough, but “Vi-Ops” happens to be one of the best sounding local albums I’ve ever heard, regardless of genre. After tinkering and expanding its sound for the better part of six years, this is Dead Horse Trauma fully realized: melodic, powerful and expansive. The band’s use of Taylor Made’s sampling work is extremely effective — see openers “The Murder of Crows” and “The Head of the Snake” — but front man Eric Davidson’s vocals are what really set the band and the album apart. Davidson’s work on “Vi-Ops” is some of the most mature and nuanced of the band’s career, and the result is a surprising range of emotion and an unexpected level of diversity in sound for an album as heavy as this. CV
“Vi-Ops” release party is at Wooly’s on Saturday, April 20 at 5 p.m.