Item 9 & the Mad Hatters
Item 9 & The Mad Hatters was originally a cover band called Old Style, but in 2010 they added lead vocalist Adam Maxwell to the mix and made the transition to original tunes. The time spent honing their chops playing a variety of musical genres in Old Style paid off and is highlighted in the band’s newest album, III, a funky stew of seemingly every rock and roll ingredient.
The album is a sincere celebration of all of the music Item 9 clearly loves. It seems like a tribute, but at the same time it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek with ‘70s prog rock leanings and references to Poseidon, Lord of the Rings’ “Fall of Gondolin” and Alice in Wonderland.
On the album, Maxwell’s powerhouse rock vocals remind me of a cross between Bret Michaels of Poison and Mike Patton of Faith No More. At times, he even brings to mind Justin Hawkins’ over-the-top screams of The Darkness. On “Don’t Know Where to Go,” Maxwell takes on a rap-singing style that reminds me of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ loose and funky 1985 album Freaky Styley.
The energy that Item 9 & the Mad Hatters brings to their third album propels the elements of classic rock they’ve mined: The smudgy cloud of Sabbath guitars in “Poseidon’s Wrath” gives way to a lighter, mellow mood change that brings context to the seemingly-disparate styles.
At the end of the day, rock and roll is never served best when it takes itself too seriously. Item 9 & The Mad Hatters brings on the rock party and has the skill to keep delivering.