ITEM 9 & THE MAD HATTERS Take “Center Stage” in their Own Genre of Music…

For all of you out there who like hardrock, but find yourself also into the alternative scene – how about checking out a band that ties all of it together…in a mash-up of Modern Vintage Rock???

ITEM 9 & THE MAD HATTERS are a fresh new band out of Iowa City, who have just released their 2nd studio album, & they are making waves that are being felt outside of the Midwest.  Their sound is so unique, you’ll ask yourself…“What in the hell am I really listening to?” It’s like a mesh of classic rock styled Rolling Stones, Joe Walsh, Joe Cocker, & The Black Crowes woven into a little Green Day, Phish, Offspring, & Sublime.  These guys bridge the gap between several different genres, & somehow manage to keep it together collectively.

Their first album “Old Style”, released in 2011, has ten solid tracks & spans just under 50 minutes.  The first thing you notice is how the lead singer, Adam Maxwell, stands out above the dual lead guitars & hammering drumline.  He has his own “rhythmic flow” that isn’t the same as the band, but it completely grooves right along with their pocket of anecdotal expression.  His vocal power can range from dirty grunge, like in their song Amerijuanica, to an almost melodic stroll – demonstrated in She Moves Like Rain.

The musical talent of this band IS rather remarkable.  It’s as though you’ve taken a blues rhythm guitar, a gritty hardrock lead guitar, funky bassist, & modern jazz drummer…thrown them onto a stage & said, “Play nicely together.”  In most instances, it would be a train wreck…but here, not so much.  Everyone’s own style feeds off each other – & IT WORKS.  Yes, there are some stereotypical drug references in most of the songs on “Old Style” that’ll definitely keep it from approaching the serious avenues of the music industry…but hey, we are now living in an American time of “legalized weed” – so they may just be tapping into the exterior albatross of modern society.  With the release of their second album, “The Chronic Illness: Freshly Baked” (December, 2012), they’ve caught some traction on their sound & are building momentum to launch themselves into the spotlight of club circuit touring.  The musical energy (& ability) grabs hold of you with first song, The Queens…& the album name leaves nothing to the imagination.  Directly on the heels of their debut, you can hear the bond forming between the members…& they sound more unified in their musical chemistry.  Nine tracks, in 43 minutes, is the perfect length for a CD – because you don’t space out & drift away from the funky rhythm.

I9&MH have decided to test the waters, & mix in an abundance of everything, just to keep you guessing.  By adding another flavor to their “modern combats vintage” repertoire, It’s All Good stomps through reggae & a little Snoop-style “Hip Hop” rhyming.  It’s as if they are trying to incorporate polar opposites in the music, but they don’t force the synergy & that is what makes them UNIQUE.  You just never know where you are being led, from song to song.  Every track is a new adventure! Out of our Heads takes a turn down the soulful road.  Imagine Kid Rock performing “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses – then Jay-Z steps in, laying it down over a Sublime ballad – then back to Kid Rock.  It is (by far) a confusing ride, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Ending the album on a “high note” (all pun intended), Mike E. Dangerously brings it all back to the funky blues/rock beat that we found on “Old Style”, but with more energy & depth.  Having just come off the road from a short tour this winter…that included stops along the Southwest, L.A., & in Vegas…the guys’ 2013 schedule is already filling up with local shows.  With strong musicianship at their back, Item 9 & The Mad Hatters have distinct potential globally…if they can match the quality of their lyrics to their ultra-definitive sound.


*** All photos courtesy of “Item 9 & The Mad Hatters”.

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Kelly Revelle – January, 2013

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