Nut Suite. Mini reviews of albums old and new. Minimum words. No fuss. No spoilers [?]. Occasional smugs.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


2014 saw the release of New Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem's fifth (and probably final) studio album, Get Hurt.
Written after considerable commercial success and a nasty divorce for frontman Brian Fallon, The Gaslights push towards a quieter, darker mid-tempo sound that is a bit of a departure from their previous records.  There's still traces of Springsteen but they bring in more influences into the mix that will reminds listeners of '70's stoner rock and other vinyl era rock acts.  The problem here is the music is so moody all the fun of their previous works has been sucked dry.  One can't deny the passion is still firmly intact but it's easy to hear a lack of interest within the member's chemistry would lead into a indefinite hiatus in 2015.

3 favorite songs in the dark out of 5

Songs of Note:  Break Your HeartHave Mercy

PRINCE / Batman [1989]

After a few albums of minor commercial and critical success funky R&B weirdo Prince was about ready for another hit on his hands.  1989's Batman album was the answer, with it's thematic inspirations coming from Tim Burton's massively popular blockbuster film, the album was a surefire hit.
Apparently it hasn't really survived the test of time but I was surprised to find it's not as excruciating as I thought it would be.  It sounds hastily written and cobbled together but the roughness is some of it's charms, no matter how much some songs never really sound fully realized.  At best it's a guilty pleasure most folks can shamefully enjoy and at it's worst...well...they created the "skip" button for this reason.

3 nods to Neal Hefti out of 5

Songs of Note: Electric Chair; Partyman

Sunday, August 28, 2016

ROGER WATERS / The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking [1984]

After receiving mixed reviews for Pink Floyd's The Final Cut, Roger Waters opted to record a solo album (and ditch Floyd a year later) which resulted in 1984's The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking.
The rest of Floyd chose The Wall over this album to record as their next opus in 1979 and it was probably a good idea career wise.  Critics and audiences weren't ready for Waters' bizarre sense of humor and only wanted him dark, melodramatic and cynical.  Still the story of a beaten down middle-aged man that dreams of fucking a hitchhiker he's picked up is still filled with plenty of anger, spit and melancholy as it dissects the human psyche.  Musically it isn't always up to par as it lacks any memorable hooks or melodies as it seems to jump all over the place as its searches for some common ground.  Maybe that's the point and it just requires the listener to dig deep to really find it's cold heart and soul.

3½ possible pasts out of 5

Songs of Note:  4:50 am (Go Fishing)4:58 am (Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin)

ANDREW JACKSON JIHAD / The Bible 2 [2016]

Andrew Jackson Jihad's (or AJJ as they like to be known as now) previous album Christmas Island was a nervous reinvention that wasn't quite right but thankfully they've worked out most of the kinks on 2015's The Bible 2.
Picking up exactly where Christmas Island's "Angel of Death" protagonist Cody left us, AJJ kicks right into hilarious misery and honest self-deprecation with "Cody's Theme".  There's only minor traces of the folk-punk detected, so instead the complete band relies on lo-fi guitars, booming drums and whiny synths to get the head a bopping to their trademark cheery sneers.  Heavy with frightening sincerity is what AJJ does best and thankfully they aren't watering down the uncomfortable lyrics with an ever-growing audience.

4 flaming mommies out of

Songs of Note:  American Garbage; No More Shame, No More Fear, No More Dread

RADICAL FACE / The Family Tree: The Leaves [2016]

2016's The Leaves completes Radical Face's Family Tree trilogy about the fictional supernatural Northcote family of yesteryear.
Still holding onto the same sparse instrumentations of the previous installments, Cooper merely layers on top of them with subtle strings sections, gentle electric guitar and humming synths.  The lyrics might supposed to be about the Northcotes but one can't help but feel the closer Cooper got to his characters the more his own trials & tribulations spilled into the mix.  It's clear The Family Tree was never a linear form of storytelling but more like snapshots of the all the important times in a lost soul's life.  The lyrics have a beautiful way of transporting the listener back to all the their good and bad times they've encountered and miraculously what they have yet to experience.

4 resurrected birds out of 5

Songs of Note:  The Ship in PortBad Blood

JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON / Sicario: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack [2015]

Icelandic composer  Jóhann Jóhannsson earned himself a great deal of respect amongst the film score community with his beautifully realized lush music in The Theory of Everything.
Naturally being the type of artist that he is, Jóhannsson took a complete opposite turn with the nerve-wrenching soundscapes in Denis Villeneuve's heart-pounding Mexican cartel thriller Sicario.  It's a anxiety throbbing percussive score filled with low-end ominous strings and a vast horn section that perfectly encapsulates the gritty subject matter on screen.  There's a beautiful mournful string theme buried within the brutality of the score but it offers no reassurance of safety or hope.  It's not often music makes my stomach-turn with nervousness like this but Sicario does so with such force it's clearly not a listen that sets out to be enjoyed.  Heavily armed with technical and creative brilliance, it certainly is a challenge to listen to but definitely rewarding should you take on the overly intense task.

4 heartbeats beneath the ground out of 5

Songs of Note: The BeastAlejandro's Song

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

JULEE CRUISE / Floating into the Night [1989]

After collaborating with director David Lynch & composer Angelo Badalamenti on a cut from the Blue Velvet soundtrack, singer Julee Cruise ending up recording a full album with the songwriting duo, resulting in 1989's dream-pop cult classic Floating into the Night.
Combining Badalamenti's dreamy contemporary jukebox jazz, Lynch's playful cliché lovesick lyrics with Cruise's ethereal falsetto voice creates a hauntingly soothing atmosphere.  5 of the 10 tracks would end up appearing in Lynch's TV series Twin Peaks so it could easily be considered an extended soundtrack to the show but on it's own it stands quite well, considering you have a taste for this sort of music.  It can't help but escape comparisons to The Cocteau Twins or This Mortal Coil, so in short it's one of the best albums record label 4AD never put out.

4 sad dreams blowing through trees out of 5

Songs of Note: Rockin' Back Inside My HeartThe World Spins

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM / The B-Sides [2014]

After The Gaslight Anthem parted ways with SideOneDummy records the label took it upon themselves to release one final album from the band, 2014's slapdash compilation The B-Sides.
It's exactly what the title suggests.  Mostly a collection of one "new" studio track, rough acoustic versions of past songs, live recordings and cover songs of Pearl Jam, The Rolling Stones and more.  Most of the material is between roughly okay to mildly decent but certainly not essential, so it makes it harder to excuse the shoddily arranged track listing that makes next to no sense.  The Gaslights wouldn't start producing great b-sides until they're move to Mercury records, which seeing as the band split ways in 2015 I wouldn't be surprised to see another collection in the near future which I know will be ultimately better than this.  

2½ Blackwater Surprises out of 5

Songs of Note: She Loves YouBoxer (acoustic)

GEOFF BARROW & BEN SALISBURY / Drokk: Music Inspired by Mega-City One [2012]

2012 was a busy year for Portishead's Geoff Barrow with his side-projects Beak> and Quakers releasing full-lengths I don't know where he found the time to work with composer Ben Salisbury as well. 
Drokk: Music inspired by Mega-City One is what I suspect Barrow & Salisbury intended to be the score for Pete Travis' Dredd film before Paul-Leonard Morgan took over composing duties.  Rather than acknowledging the film, the duo opted to draw inspiration from Mega-City One of the comic books with a cold-hearted John Carpenter-esque blanket of menacing synth cues.  Drokk does nothing to hide it's '80's darkwave influences and relies heavily on throbbing arpeggiators, fuzzy synth strikes and stroboscopic drones spiraling in and out laying down an immensely unsettling atmosphere that threatens to suffocate with paranoid claustrophobia.

3½ Escapes from drokking Mega-City out of 5

Songs of Note: Helmet Theme; Exhale

DR. DRE / The Chronic [1992]

After a very bitter split from West Coast gangsta rap pioneers N.W.A. head beat-master Dr. Dre broke new ground with his iconic 1992 solo debut The Chronic.
By combining the fat P-funk sounds of George Clinton with twisted slowed down hypnotic tempos and predominant portamento synth lines over frighteningly realistic themes of violence, Dre crafted the definitive gansta rap album that still has yet to be topped.  The lyrics are misogynistic, homophobic and unrelentlessly vicious but still with each lyricist's unique flow and mind-boggling lines to twist your tongue around it can't be anything but offensively creative.
Love it or leave it, you can't really deny that The Chronic is the most influential gangsta rap albums of all time.

5 introductions to Snoop Dogg out of 5

Songs of Note: The Day the Niggaz Took Over; Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang