With their grandiose 2006 debut, Towering the Sum, Cincinnati’s noctaluca set the bar incredibly high. Rather than fretting about how to top themselves, they’ve made a follow-up that unequivocally says, “Fuck it. Rock & Roll is not pole vaulting, so let’s just jam out and have a good time.”
The result is their Zeppelin III. Still the Wicked Rest is a rhythmically driven album with heaviness to spare, but still contains whimsical moments and several acoustic numbers. The production gloss of their last effort is largely absent, with the band instead opting for a relaxed, jeans-and-old-T-shirt approach. And the T is a V-neck that’s loose enough to give you a peak at the Soundgarden tattoo on their right breast. Coming together in months (instead of years like their last effort), Wicked is a testament to the lineup’s chemistry and ability to quickly spin riffs into memorable tracks.
The live sound of the album also seems to resonate with the enjoyment that they take from their work, making it as infectious as their shows. This beguiling quality combines with frontman Jason Ludwig’s trademark witty wordplay to balance the lyrical weight of the album, which is essentially a collection of politically charged diatribes. The singular, dismal focus can get tedious, but amusing side trips like the Rockabilly rave-up “Suitcase” and Aaron Almashay’s frequent, soaring guitar solos (including one in “You’re Not Alone” clocking in at over a minute!) keep things from bogging down. Plus, the move towards writing as a full band (bassist and drummer Donovan and Brandon Schlunt share writing credit on “Hegemaniacal,” the most recently produced track) sounds promising.
While Still the Wicked Rest doesn’t pack the stirring, start-to-finish, emotional experience of their last disc, it’s studded with understated gems and several tunes that are destined to become (or already are) live favorites.
— Ezra Waller