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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

FAITH NO MORE / Introduce Yourself [1987]

Faith No More's 1987 sophomore album Introduce Yourself is strangely considered their debut, even by the band members themselves.
It might be for a reason, as their first album suffered from sloppy production and musicianship, while this album is tighter and a more complete continuation of their already established dance metal sound.  The songwriting is impressively stronger, memorable and more professional but is unfortunately held back a bit from Chuck Mosley's monotonous vocals.  Thankfully Mosley's suckage is remedied shortly after the release of this album.

3 bus rejections out of 5


LIARS / Drum's Not Dead [2006]

Percussive dance-rock act Liars seemed to get more challenging with each album.  Their third album 2006's conceptual Drum's Not Dead is no exception.
It's what can be best described as a cyber-pagan ritual carried by primal percussion, droning guitars and menacing falsetto vocals that may or not be a eunuch's war cry.  The dueling drums are the stars here but don't let the dreamy textures and use of textured space go unnoticed.  An interesting creative achievement that offers something new with each listen.

4 states of being out of 5

THE HORRIBLE CROWES / Elsie [2011]

Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem and his guitar tech Ian Perkins (aks The Horrible Crowes) scale back their Springsteen influence on Elsie and bring their Tom Waits, Neil Young & Nick Cave love into the forefront.  Fallon's rugged vocals teeter between passionate screaming and hushed smoky whispers which compliments the intimate musicianship.  Fallon's knack for writing sad, yet hopeful songs is astounding as it's just so damned hard to do without sounding like a complete pussy.  It might be a bit too soft for Gaslight fans but give it a chance and you have yourself a great soundtrack to the broken heart that never gives up.

3½ holes in armor out of 5

KATE BUSH / The Kick Inside (1978)

When I'm unhappy, Kate makes me happy again. She's one of the most dynamic, talented, and certainly kookiest female vocalists of all time. Her début is a good example of her working method: deeply poignant ballads mixed with insightful Pop tunes (no, it's not an oxymoron after all). Reliant on piano much of the time, she still finds time to fit in the occasional Reggae or Jazz moment. Kate doesn't follow trends; her eccentricity makes her incapable of doing so, and while many have tried to replicate her genius, they rarely come even close. It's Pop music for the intellectual. Sincerely, Kate's music makes my life better, and The Kick Inside is one of the ten best albums that I own.

Songs of Note: Wuthering Heights; The Man With the Child in His Eyes

5 beautiful literary hauntings out of 5

Saturday, June 23, 2012

KATATONIA / Night is the New Day (2009)

The atmosphere that Katatonia create on Night is the New Day is essentially the same as they always do. but it's harder to pin down, it seems to be constantly shifting. The comforting darkness and encompassing melancholy is both cold and warm, which makes little sense in words but musically is as clear as crystal. The dissonant guitars alongside the soft and dreary lullabies of vocalist Jonas Renkse work beautifully. There's a very slight shift into a more progressive sound; at times it even sounds like their good friends, Opeth. But I hope they don't go as far down that silly road as Opeth did.

Songs of Note: Idle BloodDay and then the Shade

4 long years of deceit (dangerously close to being emo) out of 5

Friday, June 22, 2012

SUZANNE VEGA / Suzanne Vega (1985)

Listening to Suzanne's début is akin to opening a treasured book of short stories, being enveloped by the experience, and then falling deep into the pages. It's built around traditional Folk music structures, acoustic guitar and simple harmonies, but channelled through Suzanne's story-telling voice it becomes something beautiful, introspective and uniquely intimate. She was only twenty-six when she made it; the lyrical content suggests she's one of those individuals that's born old and stumbles upon wisdom sooner than the rest of us. It's a perfect album from a beautiful voice in what's an often stagnant genre.

Songs of Note: Some Journey; The Queen and the Soldier

5 small blue things in the danger zone out of 5

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA / Pandora's Piñata [2012]

After two successfully executed albums I was afraid Diablo Swing Orchestra might start to wear thin in the creative department but still excel in musicianship.  I was wrong.
2012's Pandora's Piñata is by far their best album to date.  They've perfected the balance of creativity and technicality while still remaining gracefully melodic and catchy.  The colorful tapestry of tones and textures on this album are simply outstanding compared to previous efforts.  A truly amazing album that's got something different around each corner turned.

5 electrical phenomenons in the sky out of 5


Sunday, June 17, 2012

DIAMANDA GALÁS / Saint of the Pit (1986)

Part two of Galás' Masque of the Red Death Trilogy gives her an opportunity to let her voice soar to unconstrained levels. Not only does it make your ears wince, it somehow manages to fill the hollow spaces in your bones and make them shiver. I've said it before but it's equally true here: her music can induce nightmares. It's less overtly avant-garde and more traditionally structured than part one, but just as eerie. Someone needs to make a Kubrick-esque sci-fi film with Galás scoring it.

Songs of Note: Εξελόυμε; L'Héautontimorouménos

5 screaming blind men out of 5

SKYCLAD / A Burnt Offering for the Bone Idol (1992)

Lacking the wealth of memorable riffs that its predecessor had, but still sounding like a Folksy Sabbat thanks to Martin Walkyier's presence, Skyclad continued to progress in a genre they invented. The violin is used a lot more, sometimes beautifully but occasionally clumsily. Some of the lighter jigs still make me chuckle in places, but that's okay, it's part of the charm. Lyrically it's as sharp as ever. At time of writing it's still strangely out of print, so if you see it lurking in a second hand store, that may be your only chance to snap it up.

Songs of Note: Salt on the Earth; R'Vannith

3 moonlit ley lines out of 5

GEORGE BARNETT / 17 Days [2012]

As the first full length release for UK musician George Barnett, 17 Days is quite impressive. Beside the occasional special guest, all instruments and vocals are recorded by Barnett in various bedrooms and bathrooms and was initially released for free as a "fuck you" to copywriters as he owns all his masters and in his own words "can do whatever the fuck I want with them". Despite that it still sounds very professional and well put together. The tracklist covers various moods from happy go lucky pop to mournful introspection. While not all were my cup of tea they all felt good and best of all fresh which alone makes it worth some time.

Songs of Note: Superhero In A BallAbraham

4½ Talented people make me feel inadequate out of 5

Nutted by: Impudent Urinal

Saturday, June 16, 2012

OFF! ‎/ OFF! (2012)

OFF! have a typical American hardcore punk sound. There's nothing new here, but it's so much frantic fun that I didn't care. The production is terrible, which makes me love it even more than I usually would. Fuzzy guitars and fuzzy vocals sound like a blown speaker. They have Keith Morris on vocals, who you may know from the wonderfully entertaining Circle Jerks. It's sixteen tracks in less than sixteen minutes. Recorded in just three days. Hell yes!

Songs of Note: I Got News for You; Borrow And Bomb

3½ giant monkeys out of 5

LEONARD COHEN / Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)

Leonard sings the things we all want to be able to feel. Folk songs that initially appear to function as snippets of a life mundane are really poems filled with simplistic beauty and a humble longing for truth. His voice leads, the soft guitar reinforces and the melody soars. If you're old enough (even in spirit, if not in years) to appreciate the work, then you'll know that it's one of the finest début albums ever made. It captured everything that he was and would become. His voice is calming but his words are stirring. It's perfection.

Songs of Note: Suzanne; Sisters of Mercy

5 among the garbage and flowers out of 5

OPIUM JUKEBOX / Music to Download Pornography By (2000)

Martin Atkins is no slacker. He's been a part of PiL, Ministry, Pigface, Killing Joke, The Damage Manual, and Murder Inc, among others. He's one of the finest drummers you'll ever hear, which makes Opium Jukebox even more bizarre.
It's not the percussion-heavy experience you'd expect. Instead, he takes existing songs by other artists and turns them into weird Dub/Bhagra/Electronic/WTF? style chill-out tunes. It doesn't really matter if you loved or hated the original versions, because they're so far removed from the original vibe/intent that they sound completely new. Part of the fun is not looking at the track list and trying to figure out what the hell you're hearing.

Songs of Note: Head Like a Hole; Cars

3 sitar is the new guitar out of 5

Friday, June 15, 2012

BURZUM / Det Som Engang Var (1993)

Creeping desolate darkness is what Black Metal does best. There was a time Burzum did it better than most. Det Som Engang Var is the proof. The production is raw but much more refined than on Aske (1993). It's also doomier at times but no less aggressive. Varg's layering of guitar tracks is almost perfect. The repetitive drone sinks into your psyche and drags you deep into his world. The vocals are pained screeches that sound inhuman. For me this is the real sound that accompanied the birthing of the Dark Lord's denizens on Middle Earth. Howard Shore would probably shit himself if he heard the power of it.

Songs of Note: Lost Wisdom; Han Som Reiste

4 keys to the gates of Moria out of 5

ALICE COOPER / Hey Stoopid (1991)

The phrase 'big gay stadium rock' applies to Hey Stoopid. Female Alice fans loved it. So did guys with perms. The rock star pomp is broken up with the occasional big gay ballad. I don't why but I kinda like Alice's big gay ballads.
The highlight of the album is the final song, which feels out of place alongside the rest. It has some Alice madness lurking under its plastic skin.
But nothing I can say will ever make the album art any less eye-bleeding.

Song of Note: Wind-Up Toy

2½ stalkers on the roof watching you out of 5

Thursday, June 14, 2012

NINE INCH NAILS / Pretty Hate Machine (2010 Remaster)

NIN’s debut (originally released in 1989) is all about mood. The simplistic construction can be torn apart very easily. It's built around minimalist synth, simplistic drum patterns, layered with electronic bass and occasional rock guitar. But that's semantics; the album is more than the sum of its parts. What really defines it is the dark angst that gains its strength from its stark honesty.
The 2010 remaster breathes new life into the ageing production. The bass gets a much-needed boost; it's louder and more purposeful; and the drums and synth have been rescued from the doldrums they were forced to exist in. I never liked how it sounded on CD (I owned it on vinyl) but now I do.

Songs of Note: Head Like a Hole; Terrible Lie

4½ whispered confessions out of 5

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

CLAMS CASINO / Instrumental Mixtape 2 [2012]


In a matter of a year, hip-hop producer Clams Casino went from being a kid producing instrumental beat tracks in his mom's basement to thean A-lister go-to-guy for psychedelic backbeats . It's not  really surprising considering how well his previous record was received by critics and artists alike.
2012's Instrumental Mixtape 2 continues the relaxing auditory journey into Clams' space like atmospheres and beautifully distorted textures.  This time around, things are a little more mysterious, denser and darker, making for an interesting conclusion to the first record.

4 cry little sisters out of 5

Note: Grab it for free off of Clam Casino's Official Facebook page.

Songs Of Note: PalaceBorn To Die (remix)

JK FLESH / Posthuman (2012)

JK Flesh is Justin K Broadrick, the brains behind Godflesh, Jesu, Techno Animal, Final, White Static Demon, etc. He's experimented for years with loop based hip-hop and heavy dub, infusing it with dreamy soundscapes or sledge-like distortion that demands much from the listener. Posthuman is something else entirely, but you can hear elements of all of his previous projects working together, creating a post-industrial/dubstep hybrid that a dozen others will try and imitate while Justin moves onto something else even more surreal. When you hear it, you'll understand why he issued it under yet another new name. Parts of it are too dance-heavy for my liking, and parts of it will be too Industrial-heavy for dance fans. It's a strange fish and impossible to categorise. I don't like half of it, but I can appreciate the immense power of all of it.

Songs of Note: Knuckledragger; Punchdrunk

3½ dreams of dissonance that will confuse many out of 5

PUBLIC IMAGE LTD / Plastic Box (1999)

If you already own the PiL albums, then you may have overlooked Plastic Box, thinking it a worthless Best Of… It kind of is(n't). It contains 4 discs, which is most of the first five albums minus half a dozen tracks (with some tracks from album number 2 replaced by the 1979 Peel Sessions - they're superb). The later PiL albums are less well-represented but they aren't very good anyhow. Elsewhere, you get some alternate 12" mixes, B-Sides, a few tracks culled from compilations and a film soundtrack, and finally the 1992 Mark Goodier Live Session. The early stuff is remastered and sounds fantastic. If you're new to PiL, it's the perfect place to start. If you're an existing fan, it'll have rarities throughout that'll make you very happy, but paying twice for stuff you already own is never fun.

5 enclosed walls out of 5

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

DANNY ELFMAN / Iris: Cirque Du Soleil [2012]

It seems like a natural progression for film composer Danny Elfman to bring his whimsical music to the bizarre and magical world of French-Canadian performance art company Cirque du Soleil.
IRIS tells the story of the history of cinema, allowing Elfman to explore all sorts of quirky styles and textures which harkens back to his classic Tim Burton film scores while retaining the creative maturity in his more recent work. IRIS is an emotionally beautiful rollercoaster ride that is guaranteed to please Elfman and Cirque du Soleil fans alike.

5 movie camera heads out of 5

Songs Of Note: Scarlett Balancing ; IRIS Finale & Bows

KILLING JOKE / Fire Dances (1983)

When the apocalypse didn't happen, Jaz Coleman came back home and Killing Joke underwent a small but significant change. Raven replaced Youth on bass and somehow managed to fit in beautifully. His bass alongside Big Paul's drums is a marriage made in Harlequin heaven. The tribal percussion that had always been present is pushed right to the front. Unfortunately, because of that, it lacks variety. The songs all sound similar. Forgive it that, however, and it becomes the perfect soundtrack for drunkenly dancing naked around an open fire in a darkened wood.
Note: Seek out the superior remaster, it's less muddy and more balanced.

Songs of Note: Harlequin; Let's All Go (to the Fire Dances)

3 tumble tumble, the sun is shining out of 5

Monday, June 11, 2012

ELAQUENT / The Scenic Route [2012]

Dumping a high paying career and the belief of many friends & family members, well-established Ontario hip-hop producer, Elaquent opted to go down the more interesting road of record producing instead.  
The result is 2012's ever-changing rhythm heavy The Scenic Route.  A blend of sometimes smoothed-out laid back tracks and other times glitchy n' gritty sporadic assaults of video game blips n' blarps.  Filled with lush textures, intricate arrangements and such infectious grooves it'll be perfect for those warm summer nights.

3 routes less traveled out of 5 

Songs Of Note: Grey PouponBlack Magic

SEX PISTOLS / Spunk (1977)

Originally a bootleg leaked about a month prior to the slicker sounding Never Mind the Bollocks album, Spunk is a collection of demos that eventually received an official release itself in various forms over the years. It's not as frantic as NMtB, and the vocals are sadly lacking the stylistic Lydon sneer in places, but the rawness and lack of production is appealing to some Pistols fans. Plus, it still had Glen Matlock on bass. If you know NMtB well, you'll notice a few lyric changes had taken place before its eventual release. One for fans only.


3½ screwed up track titles out of 5

Sunday, June 10, 2012

SHEAVY / The Electric Sleep (1998)

The finest 1970s Ozzy-era Black Sabbath album that Black Sabbath never made.
I mean that in a complimentary way. The Electric Sleep is a quality release.

Songs of Note: Virtual Machine; The Electric Sleep

4 odes to your favourite porn star out of 5

Friday, June 8, 2012

GARBAGE / Not Your Kind Of People [2012]

Trip-pop grunge rockers Garbage return after a 8 year hiatus with 2012's Not Your Kind Of People.  This time without the strains of belonging to a record label, Shirley Manson & the boys do it their way.  Sounding more relaxed and enthusiastic about their work than they did in their previous 2 albums, Garbage update their sound while not sounding like a complete reinvention.  Loud crunchy guitars, thundering beats and distorted vocal effects are all in check.  People probably won't bring in many new fans but will certainly please the older ones.

4 Dylan Thomas posts out of 5

Songs Of Note: I Hate LoveSugar

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM / American Slang [2010]

Establishing themselves as a band that's going to stick around for awhile, The Gaslight Anthem really come into their own on 2010's American Slang.
The influences of Tom Waits, The Clash and Springsteen are still very evident but the Jersey boys give this record an organic growl of their own.  Good rock songs conjuring up images of broken hearts bleeding on the jukebox, making out in small town pub parking lots and pretty girls smiling just for you.  The Gaslights are as tight as ever, complimented with the "do what I want" attitude and a full complete sound.

4 Springsteen shuffles out of 5

Songs Of Note: The Diamond Church Street ChoirWe Did It When We Were Young

Thursday, June 7, 2012

WOVEN HAND / Purr [2006]


In an attempt to recreate the artistic success of 2003's Blush Music, Woven Hand returns to rearranging older songs for the avant-garde dance group, Ultima Vez.
While Blush created a creaky, haunting atmosphere, 2006's Puur is full of the creepy but fails to make much of a lasting impact.  It meanders around with withering feedback and crackling drones which quickly wears out it's welcome.  One might think WH knew it wasn't up to par and that's why it's only available out of Germany and for a HEFTY price.

2½ Sixteen Horsepowers out of 5

Songs Of Note: Low Estate; Dirty Blue

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA / Sing Along Songs For The Damned & Delirious [2009]

After the mass critical success of Diablo Swing Orchestra's 2006 debut album, the Swedish avant-garde band had a lot to live up to now that the element of WTF was no longer in their favor.  
The 2009 sophomore album Sing Along Songs For The Damned & Delirious meets all expectations and then some.  Like a headbanger's version of Squirrel Nut Zippers tattooed in candy colored pentagrams and sipping tea from clown skulls, DSO have tightened the loose screws in their outlandish cartoony sound. As eclectic as they are, they don't let gloaty musicianship get in the way of solid, melodic songwriting.

4½ Gangkrig's out of 5

Monday, June 4, 2012

KRISTOFFER NYSTROMS ORKESTER / Overlook Hotel (2011)

A side project of Peter Nystrom (Megaptera) and Kristoffer Oustad (V:28). The sound of Overlook Hotel is the sound your nerves make as you fumble around an empty, crumbling and genuinely haunted building in the dark; you walk through a doorway, and the ghost walks through you. Dark ambient soundscapes break occasionally into a hate-fuelled industrial nightmare similar to the music of Chu Ishikawa. Some spoken word sections stir up voices from the past that add an extra layer of eerie. The album is one of my absolute favourite sleep-sounds.

Songs of Note: they don't work out of context, try the Teaser instead.

4 night time/right time out of 5