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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

GREEN DAY / International Superhits [2001]


While on a much needed hiatus after hating each other's guts to the point of punching one another out, Green Day released the obligatory greatest hits package aptly titled International Superhits.
Packaging all of the Berkley pop-punker's 19 radio singles plus 2 unreleased songs seems like it's acknowledging the end of an era. Without any remastering (most noticeable on the Dookie singles here), any imagination in the track orders and the absence of anything from their first 2 albums makes Superhits a bit of a miss for any dedicated Green Day fan that all ready owns all the albums but a great compilation for housewives and little girls to sing along to.

2 lazy asses out of 5

Songs Of Note: Maria; Poprocks & Coke

PINK FLOYD / Obscured By Clouds "Music From The Film La Vallée" [1972]


Written and recorded in 2 weeks, Pink Floyd worked with More director Barbet Schroeder once again to score his film La Vallée. This resulted in the tie-in album Obscured By Clouds, Floyd's 7th studio album which would be nearly buried in the sands of time had it not been for remasters and re-issues in box sets.
The 2 weeks they spent on it really shows. It feels rushed, yet hushed and floats around with no real purpose other than to entertain those folks who just want to smoke a joint and watch the clouds go by.

2½ Men in trees out of 5

Songs Of Note: The Gold It's In The...; Free Four

Sunday, February 26, 2012

SINÉAD O'CONNOR / How About I Be Me (and you be you) (2012)

There’s always been a duality of strength and vulnerability in Sinéad’s work. It’s still apparent here, but there’s a lot of beauty, too, even when she’s being her bat-shit crazy, angry, bipolar self. If you ignore the awful lyrics and religious ranting and instead let the music wash over you then it’s an oddly uplifting experience; it sounds almost hopeful. The melodies are back on equal footing with her voice, and when the quiet reflective moments elevate into powerful pop songs full of emotion it’s clear that she's delivered perhaps her best original album in years.

Songs of Note: Take Off Your Shoes; The Wolf Is Getting Married

4 sips of piss and coffee out of 5

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CARTER U.S.M / Post Historic Monsters (1993)

This is the sound of a band bored with pop music and unafraid to criticise the genre in which they exist.  Much of PHM sounds tired, jaded and angry.  There is a lot of rehashed material from the glory days but it’s too layered, it’s cranked louder and it blends together into noise.  The lyrics are still poetically criticising commercialism and the underlying problems of society in an entertaining way but they are too often buried under the fuzz of the guitars.  It’s a side of Carter that we hadn't heard before.

Songs of Note: Lean on Me, I Won't Fall Over; Travis

3 we know who Lenny and Terrence really are out of 5

Sunday, February 19, 2012

THE KILLERS - Sam's Town [2006]


Brandon Flowers cannot control what comes out of his gloriously bitchy mouth. This is for the best, because between the cattiness and bravado a grandiose, yet justified, maelstrom of nostalgia, melancholy, regret, and resolve effortlessly escapes, reminding us just how talented the little cunt is. He walks us along emotional avenues we scarcely visit and have been avoiding for longer than we could have ever imagined. Truly a masterful sophomore album from a band who previously delivered an inconsistent, if interesting, effort that alternated between bursts of cheekiness and premature sketches of what was to come. Don’t be afraid to be swept away into a sea of bitter-sweet tears. Brandon et al. aren’t satisfied with leaving you adrift. You’re brought back to shore and lifted up before you’re sent on your way.

 5 Needlessly Counted Days out of 5

Songs Of Note: This River Is Wild; Why Do I Keep Counting?

Nutted by NEG

ALICE COOPER / Zipper Catches Skin (1982)

I’d walk any distance, with no shoes, over glass to see Alice in concert but I wouldn’t walk across the street in my comfy slippers to see him if he was to just play this album in its entirety.  Alice claims to have no memory of recording it, suffering from an alcoholism haze at the time.  It’s not entirely awful.  His vocals are okay but the music is lazy, uninspired, the production is flat and the melodies utterly forgettable.  It’s still better than Trash (1989).

Songs of least fail: Tag, You're It; I'm Alive

1 dead pet back from the dead saving your life out of 5

THEATRES DES VAMPIRES / Anima Noir (2008)

This is that electro/goth stuff that I know nothing about other than to say it sounds kind of like Inkubus Sukkubus with a dance beat and pagan references replaced with vamps and a love of the red nectar.  Who knew Goths had a subculture that liked to hang out in dark rooms and listen to dance music?  I bet they have their own dating site.  If Sea Captains can have one, anyone can.  It has some catchy moments but mostly it's safe and repetitive.  The Cult cover (Rain) is the highlight for me.

Songs of Note: Rain; Two Seconds

2 oh no, I’ve chipped a nail out of 5

Saturday, February 18, 2012

JOHN LYDON / Psycho's Path (1997)

After the less than interesting final few PiL albums I was hesitant to get this.  I can happily say it’s good!  It’s like old PiL in places played in a more electronic style.  The groove and textures may surprise long-time Lydon fans but the level of innovation is exciting.  There are some less than stellar tracks, though, and some very dance-friendly tracks that don’t really go anywhere, but most of it is worth attention.  Lydon was forced by Virgin to add some crappy remixes by Leftfield and The Chemical Brothers among others.  I thought Virgin would have known better after the Sex Pistols.

Songs of Note: Grave Ride; Dog

3½ it's not a real world out of 5

PINK FLOYD - Meddle [1971]


After the departure of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd released a series of great, but directionless, albums. Everything changed in 1971.
1971's Meddle showcases Floyd's new songwriting maturity with a strong sense of purpose and confidence. Instead of allowing the atmospherics to lead the music, they finally learn it's best to allow the music itself to be put in the foreground and the effects to merely compliment the compositions.
If you're looking for pre-Dark Side Floyd then this masterpiece and The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn are the best places to start.

5 Returns of the Son of Nothings out of 5

Songs Of Note: One Of These Days; Echoes

Friday, February 17, 2012

PINK FLOYD - Relics [1971]


Pink Floyd's 1971 compilation Relics is a bit of an odd one. As it says on one of the multiple album covers, "A bizarre collection of antiques & curios".
Compiled of non-album singles, b-sides, rarities and some "best of" cuts from their earlier albums, Relics is a wonderfully solid sampler of Floyd's earlier works for anyone curious to see what they were all about in their early days or the collector seeking out songs only available on this disc.

4 Nick Mason's wonderful whatthehellisthatthing out of 5

Songs Of Note: Julia Dream; Biding My Time

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

GREEN DAY / Warning [2000]


With blink-182 threatening to take the pop-punk crown away from them, Green Day played by their own rules and released an album that sounded like they didn't give a damn about their genre stature or what their ADHD mall-punk fans would think.
2000's Warning is a brave move by the band, blending acoustic ballads, Tom Waits styled polkas and channeling Bob Dylan & Bruce Springsteen instead of The Ramones or Twisted Sister.
With tracks that are easily some of the best written songs in their career, the fanboy in me wants to give the album a solid 5 but unfortunately the album comes with quite a few throw away songs as well.

3½ punk rock mandolins out of 5

Songs Of Note: Misery; Macy's Day Parade

PINK FLOYD / Atom Heart Mother [1970]


Nearly disowned by the band members themselves, Pink Floyd's highly experimental 1970 LP Atom Heart Mother isn't as bad as they make it out to be.
It's not all that great either.
The title track is muddy 23 minute long opus that shows shades of brilliant experimentation but they get lumped together and lead us down aimless roads offering no real conclusion. The songs on "Side B" do pretty much the same thing but are much more cohesive and enjoyable as separate listens.
A bit of a dip in The Floyd's career but is forgiven seeing as what is to come in the following decade.

2½ Clockwork Oranges cameos out of 5

Songs Of Note: If; Fat Old Sun

Monday, February 13, 2012

ALICE COOPER / Billion Dollar Babies (1973)

BDB is the album on which the Alice Cooper band first achieved perfection.  It’s rock n roll Alice style, with theatrical guitars and some classic solos; the piano is never far away and there is cowbell!  Alice's vocals play games with the listener, a technique that he would use many times thereafter.  It’s also the album that really exposed the sick side of his brain, something that had been touched upon in previous albums.  Songs about the apocalypse, dentistry and loving necrophilia have never been so much fun.

Songs of note: I Love the Dead; Billion Dollar Babies

5 militant mothers and molotov milk bottles out of 5

Friday, February 10, 2012

PINK FLOYD / Ummagumma [1969]


Pink Floyd's first double LP, 1969's Ummagumma is a bit of a difficult album to give a firm rating to or condense in a tight little Nut, considering both LPs being so very different from each other.
The first portion of the album is a haunting live performance of 4 of Floyd's most popular songs at the time. They are incredible and vast in sound, with 2 out of the 4 songs putting the studio recordings to shame. The second portion of the album is made up of studio recordings broken up into 4 parts, each part a solo effort of sorts from each band member. It's a little fragmented at times and is made very apparent that the Floyd still don't know what to do with out the likes of Syd Barrett as their leader. However, with Roger Waters and David Gilmour's stronger submissions it shows who will be the duking it out for the throne in the future.
Ummagumma might not be a perfect album front to back but it's interesting to hear Floyd in their final moments of the transition into what they'll soon establish as the Pink Floyd sound.

4 mad rants of a pict out of 5

Songs Of Note: Careful With That Axe, Eugene [live]; The Narrow Way

Thursday, February 9, 2012

NEUROTIC OUTSIDERS / Neurotic Outsiders (1996)

It’s Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) Matt Sorum and Duff McKagan (Guns N' Roses) and John Taylor (Duran Duran) together, having fun.  Vocals are shared among the members.  The drums are heavy handed but impressive.  It occasionally sounds like Nirvana minus the grunge production, or Sex Pistols minus the attitude.  In short it’s rock n roll with power-punk overtones.

Songs of Note: Nasty HoSix Feet Under

3½ nods to old band mates out of 5

RYAN BINGHAM & THE DEAD HORSES / Junky Star [2010]


Americana singer-songwriter, Ryan Bingham returns with his whiskey n' cigarette gravelly voice on his third album Junky Star.
This time a little more mature and confident with his songwriting but still sounding like he's lived just as rough as Steve Earle or an alcoholic Bruce Springsteen. With his feet still firmly placed in country and roots rock, Bingham crafts some finely written lyrically timeless songs about worn-down folks born on the road of dusty depression.
A true musical storyteller, like Springsteen, Dylan or Cash, Bingham might be a little young in his career to stand amongst those mentioned but give him some time and he'll do just fine.

3½ murder ballads out of 5

Songs Of Note: Yesterday's Blues; Depression

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

EMINEM / The Marshall Mathers LP [2000]


After being dragged through the mud by the controversy surrounding his first major label album The Slim Shady LP, Eminem stepped out from behind his fictional character and unmasked himself as Marshall Mathers on his 2nd LP.
The Marshall Mathers LP blurred the lines between reality & fantasy, horror & comedy, satire and truth. With an angry smirk and quick wit, Mathers makes you chuckle and uncomfortable simultaneously with precise spitfire vocal performances over clever production and backbeats. It's morally wrong, shocking and tasteless but it's honest anger in it's purest form that unfortunately Mathers wouldn't repeat for another 10 years.
Love him or hate him, it can't be denied that The Marshall Mathers LP is one of the first true classic albums of the new millennium.

5 Marilyn Mansons out of 5

Songs Of Note: Bitch Please II [featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit & Nate Dogg]; Criminal

GREEN DAY / Nimrod [1997]


After going on a 2 year hiatus following the back to back releases of Dookie & Insomniac and over 2 straight years of touring the world, pop-punkers Green Day returned with 1997's experimental Nimrod.
Throwing strings, horns, harmonicas and ballads into the mix, Green Day appeared to be maturing in their songwriting and attitude. With the exception of a few crude songs scattered into the playlist, the album is a step into a different direction that was a bit much for a lot of fans who wanted more of same bouncy melodies related to masturbation and getting high.
Jam-packed with 18 songs, Nimrod is a bit much at times but with a few edits it could have been another near-perfect album.

3½ No Doubts out of 5

Songs Of Note: The Grouch; Uptight

LANA DEL REY / Born To Die (2012)

The Gangsta Nancy Sinatra tag she used to describe herself fits Lana well, if Nancy had grown up on Lynchian sleazy jazz and sipping from a cup of sadness and nostalgia.  She projects a kind of melancholy that drifts along and occasionally peaks in a Roy Orbison homage.  But that is only one aspect of it.  Elsewhere there are hip hop elements and some awkward cute high pitched voice that made me skip tracks.  There is a lot of repetition and it's apparent very quickly, however there is almost enough maturity and seduction to sustain the interest.   It’s not perfect but it has a certain slithery something that worked its way into my head.

Songs of Note: Summertime Sadness; Blue Jeans

2½ bitch is off to the races out of 5

PINK FLOYD / Music From The Film "More" [1969]


The first full-length Floyd album recorded without Syd Barret, Music From The Film More is a bit of a bump in the road for the band and the direction they were heading.
More might have some really great jewels in the rough on here but it's also filled with too many overly simple throw away songs that serve as boring background score cues to the "hippy drug" film they were written for.
It's great for the hardcore Floyd fan but for a casual listener looking to explore their earlier efforts I'd go searching elsewhere.

3 EMI birdcalls out of 5

Songs Of Note: Cirrus Minor; Main Theme

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

GREEN DAY / Dookie [1994]


Breaking into the mainstream like nobody's business, Green Day's third album Dookie is easily one of the essential albums of the '90's. Their major label debut gives the drums more punch, the bass more bounce, multi-layered guitars for maximum crunch and the songwriting is tighter than ever. With no time between songs to catch your breath, Dookie is one melodic pop-punk hook directly after another.
With it's snotty, apathetic attitude and a middle finger up the nose, this album has been imitated on several occasions but has yet to be one-upped by anybody in the pop-punk world.

4 Bans from 924 Gilman Street out of 5

Songs Of Note: She; When I Come Around

THERAPY? / A Brief Crack Of Light (2012)

Therapy? have did it again.  They give an album of reinvention that sounds new but somehow remains unmistakably Therapy?  Beneath the experimentation is the jangly guitar, the infectious bass riff and ‘that’ drum sound that they are known for but it’s also bursting with outside influences.  Pop sensibilities work in tandem with post-punk ideals, not against it as you’d expect.  It's a bleak listen at times, surprisingly heavy in others, occasionally upbeat (Marlow sounds odd placed where it is in the running order) but is without a doubt a rewarding listen and a triumphant return to form.  I'm happy the guys are still belting stuff out.

Songs of Note: Living In The Shadow Of The Terrible Thing; Why Turbulance

4 dead hands and treacle feet out of 5

PINK FLOYD - A Saucerful Of Secrets [1968]


Recorded during the difficult transitional period of replacing troubled frontman Syd Barrett with David Gilmour, Pink Floyd still managed to put out a stellar album in the process.
1968's A Saucerful Of Secrets begins showing glimpses of the darkness that would shadow the Floyd for the rest of their career. Moody, spacey and terrifying at times, it's really the only Floyd album to have all 5 members playing on it. It's a psychedelic masterpiece that defines my high school years and the title track still makes my head dizzy, disturbed and emotional. Add this album to my desert island discs.

5 Chinese poems out of 5

Songs Of Note: A Saucerful Of Secrets; Jugband Blues

Saturday, February 4, 2012

HELLOWEEN / Pink Bubbles Go Ape (1991)

After the first two Keeper of the Seven Keys albums it seemed Helloween could do no wrong, and then they did this.  The absence of founding member and wizard guitar player Kai Hansen is painfully apparent.  He left to pastures new and the pumpkin rolled downhill.  For most of the album, the melodies are boring, the drumming is limp and the vocals are lazy.  When one of the comedy songs is one of the best tracks your album has to offer it's time to change tactics, again.

Songs of Note: Kids of the Century; Heavy Metal Hamsters

2 once bought, quickly regretted out of 5

TYPE O NEGATIVE / Bloody Kisses (1993)


This is the standard edition of the Bloody Kisses album which came out first. It has fourteen tracks whereas the Ltd Edition only has nine.  Although eight of them are also to be found here it has a different running order. The tracks that were later removed actually bring the album down a notch; they are either pointless and irritating interludes or much too fast and only serve to interrupt the flow of the better tracks.  It may sound odd, seeing as this album has almost the same tracks but I'm judging it as a whole, not as a collection of songs.  If I could only choose one, I'd choose the Ltd Edition over this.  It scores higher too.

Songs of Note: Same as the other version.

3½ deaths in the family out of 5

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

ALICE IN CHAINS / Black Gives Way to Blue (2009)

AIC without Layne.  I know what you’re thinking, I was too but it’s surprisingly good.  New vocalist William DuVall fits in well.  I’m not sure if he’s trying to replicate Layne or if he naturally sounds like him at times but his voice is a good fit with the pitch and tones of Jerry Cantrell’s guitar work.  The classic sludge / grunge sound is the same.  Cantrell can still produce some killer riffs that feel like a head full of drug.  Reminiscent of Dirt and even Jar of Flies on occasion, there are moments where it feels like they’d never gone away.

Songs of Note: Check My Brain; A Looking In View

3½ desperate plans out of 5