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-Greg’s Take-

Item 9 & The Mad Hatters have sold out.

You heard me.

The Iowa quintet has surged forward from where we left off (Old Style) with the release of The Chronic Illness: Freshly Baked. And there is no other way to put it, except for the fact they’ve sold out. They’ve sold out from “Meh” to “Awesomeness.”

The Chronic Illness: Freshly Baked had me questioning if we were even listening to the same lads that produced Old Style; which, if you recall, I enjoyed. But this latest endeavor is cohesive, finely tuned and all-around entertaining.

The nine track release is packed with a funkified rock, like a deep-track Faith No More meets Sublime in a haze-filled basement filled with black lights and lava lamps. From beginning to end we are still given enough smoking, belligerent rock to satisfy the party fans but Item 9 & The Mad Hatters reel in their talents to create a thoroughly entertaining record.

“The Queens” opens the album with the vibes we know the Hatters to lay down. It is a bold, mind-rocking track packed with forceful licks. As the album progresses, it slips into a high. Not a high like peak, but more of a bowl-packed/Simpsons-marathon-for-no-reason high. “It’s All Good” is a great little funk ditty with surprisingly fun vocals. “Downtrodden” had me wondering if the Hatters have gone soft; that is, before I got lost in the floating jam that consumes the last half of the six-and-a-half minute track. Solid as the record is, the song to take away from it all is easily “Phunk 4/20.” It is only the second track, but it in-and-of itself solidifies these guys in my mind as a must follow band.

Iowa bad boys Item 9 & The Mad Hatters have shifted from a sound that was hard to be restrained to a cohesion of great music. And in the process, they have not lost a thing. If anything, they have grown while staying perfectly true to themselves. If you want to follow a band that has a massive future, this is it.