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

Monday, July 30, 2012

EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN / Tabula Rasa (1993)

Despite losing the hammering and pneumatic drill sounds, and upping the ambient experimentation, this album is still very much Ein Neu.  It’s imbued with a taught, pensive emotion, and a strange kind of hypnotic, exotic beauty that gets deep under my skin.  The bass is used sparingly but makes a huge impact when it arrives, naked and purposeful.  It’s largely musically magniloquent, like an arty-farty sculpture cut from sound.   On the album’s longest track, Headcleaner, Blixa Bargeld reminds us how we got to this point.  Evolution is always frightening.  If you like your music challenging, you’ll eventually end up at Tabula Rasa.

Songs of Note: Die Interimsliebenden; Blume

5 epistemological theories out of 5

Sunday, July 29, 2012

KING DIAMOND / Conspiracy (1989)

Continuing the story of Them (1988) but less haunting and more psychological.  It's also a little friendlier on the ears, musically at least because King’s vocals are still occasionally ear-splitting.  King returns to the House of Amon after 18 years of being … elsewhere.  It doesn't take long before the voices start talking to him.
It’s theatrical like you’d expect but also technically complex, perhaps overly as the music shifts to fit the lyrics and the story not the other way around.  I’m okay with that; I love storytelling.  Andy La Rocque is an amazingly talented musician and he proves it time and again here.  I can’t give the songs I’d like because it’s a concept album so have the two opening tracks:

Songs of Note: At The Graves; Sleepless Nights

5 voices killing the pain out of 5

KING DIAMOND / Them (1988)

A concept album about a young King, three generations of women, a house called Amon, and the mysterious, invisible Them.  It’s classic 80’s metal full of chunky riffs, dozens of guitar solos, powerful choruses and King’s trademark falsetto shrieks that make squirrels cower.  The haunting concept, the narrative and dialogue make it a cinematic experience lacking only visuals.  Andy LaRocque is on fire from beginning to end.  It’s cheesier than a barrel full of parmesan but that’s part of the appeal.  King albums are a unique kind of theatre.

Songs of Note: The Invisible Guests; Them

5 old gals dying for a cup of tea out of 5

Monday, July 23, 2012

THE BRAVERY / The Bravery (2005)

The Bravery is another of those new wave indie bands that tried to sound retro, as if the mics they used were unearthed from a 1980’s vault and dusted off.   They add some electronic pop elements to that era’s guitar sound, and a heavy, funky bass.  The song structures are full of repetition but most are catchy and lively enough to make it all seem passable.  You’ll hear some New Order in there, and some nods to The Cure.

Songs of Note: An Honest Mistake; Unconditional

3 stop, drop and roll out of 5

MOLOTOV / Apocalypshit [1999]

It was the year 1999, Rage Against The Machine was beginning to wear out it's welcome, Limp Bizkit wasn't quite a household name while Mexico's Latin rap-metal act Molotov snuck through the back door with Apocalypshit.
It might not have the brilliant guitar textures or production of RATM but it manages to throw in a crazed sense of humor and aggressive playfulness to it that makes it that much more appealing.  There aren't a lot of rap-metal acts that get it right, so when something like Molotov comes around it's worth a chance.

3½ latino mother-fuckers out of 5

Songs Of Note: ApocalypshitParasito

STATES / Room To Run [2011]

Risen from the ashes of frienly indie-rock act Copeland comes the friendlier indie-pop act States and their 2011 debut album Room To Run.
Fronted by former Lydia keyboardist Mindy White gives the band a Paramore/Lights feel to it.  Only States are better songwriters than Paramore and not as bubbly as Lights.  The fuzzy guitars, upbeat busy drums and strong vocals give the record a strong presence but the songs never really progress into anything too memorable. Even though it's simply not my type of music, it's easy to tell with a little work States is on their way to something special.

3 +seven out of 5

Songs Of Note: Captivating MeRight Or Not


THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM / Handwritten [2012]

After three solid albums, Brian Fallon felt he bled himself dry of The Gaslight Anthem and turned to The Horrible Crowes.  Thankfully, that gave him some time to refuel and get back to raw, soulful rock n' roll for 2012's Handwritten.
The guitars are denser, the songwriting more up-tempo, each lyric is worded with perfection and Fallon's husky vocals toss in some flavors of Petty, Cobain and Dylan into the already powerful Springsteen, Waits, Vedder and Strummer mix.  
It's nice to see such a strong band grow completely into their own, after much praised, yet weighted comparisons to other acts of the past.  It's solid fearless songwriting at some of it's best. 

5 flip sides out of 5

Songs Of Note: Howl; National Anthem

Saturday, July 21, 2012

PANOPTICON / Kentucky (2012)

Panopticon is Austin Lunn’s one-man project.  It’s melodic Black Metal with Kentucky bluegrass interludes.  Unfortunately there’s only one instance where the two differing styles are brought together.  Elsewhere they stand very much apart, each taking their turn, one after another without ever forming a cohesive union.  A more elaborate attempt to fuse them would’ve offered a more interesting listening experience.  Despite that it's still good fun.  Lunn's technical ability and passion shine through.  An audience might be hard to find, though.

Songs of Note: Bernheim Forest In SpringBodies Under the Falls

3 coal miners covered in black out of 5

NINE INCH NAILS / Further Down The Spiral (1995)

FDTS is a remix album featuring songs from The Downward Spiral in various guises and states of deconstruction.  Some are chaotic, resembling the original with extra layers of electronic distortion and intensity, while others get wedded to dance beats that aren't as lazy or awful as it sounds in words.  If you're familiar with TDS you’ll be picking out recognisable moments, and engaging or scratching your head at new ones.  It’s a hypnotic deluge of fractured emotions that’s impossible for me to define accurately.  The US version has a number of different tracks than the rest of the world, and vice versa.  I own both but prefer the non-US version.

Songs of Note: Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now); Hurt (Live)

3½ experiments in self-destruction out of 5

Thursday, July 19, 2012

KUSTODIAN / Dusted Emperor (2012)

Kustodian is bag of spanners heavy.  It fits into the Industrial genre but every now and again it bursts out of it, offering something exciting, unexpected and unsettling.  If you can imagine Fudge Tunnel crossed with the sledge of the first Godflesh E.P you'd be close to the Kustodian sound.  Fans of both those bands should definitely get a kick out of it.  You can grab a copy FREE from bandcamp. (Link Below)  It’s a one man project but you'd never know it.  Go on, give him your support.  You know you want to.

Songs of Note: Commuters; Dusted Emperor

4 journeys to angryland of 5

Get it here: http://kustodian.bandcamp.com/

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

PROCOSMIAN FANNYFIDDLERS / Interference Number 9 (2012)

Avant-garde Norwegian 'burlesque' prog with folk and medieval influences isn’t exactly top of my list of favourite things; in fact, it’s never even been on my list of things, but Interference Number 9 managed to entertain briefly.  Most prog rock bores the tits off me but the album is so bat-shit crazy in places that I can’t hate it, but nor can I love it, so it flits about somewhere between the two states.  If King Crimson played songs about lingerie, hookers, space shuttles and primary schools they might’ve sounded like the Fannyfiddlers.  Maybe.  Probably not.

Songs of Note: Captain Mystique; Lingerie

2½ what the hell is she singing about? out of 5

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

ELECTRIC PRESIDENT / The Violent Blue [2010]

Ben Cooper and Alex Kane aka Electric President's third album The Violent Blue is their first solid album.  Not to say their previous records weren't great but TVB is where they seem to be confident and organically comfortable in what they're attempting to do.  Heated with warm electronic textures and light strumming guitars floating through the mix, TVB is a pleasantly dreamy record that showcases a great deal of growth in musicianship with the duo.

4 non-violent red records out of 5

Songs Of Note: FeathersThe Violent Blue

OINGO BOINGO / Nothing To Fear [1982]

California's nerd wave group Oingo Boingo ironed out the kinks in their sound on their second album, 1982's Nothing To Fear.
Making use of a vast array of bizarre instruments (some of which the band created and built themselves) makes for a unique sound that fits well with frontman Danny Elfman's erratic mood swings and sometimes offensive opinions.  The musical confidence is apparent in Elfman's cocky vocal delivery but it's fine considering the 8-piece band that he's juggling.  
Widely trashed by critics yet universally acclaimed by artists of all sorts, Nothing To Fear is a career highlight for Boingo.

4 rumba-phones out of 5

Songs Of Note: Grey MatterReptiles & Samurai

Monday, July 16, 2012

KILLER MIKE / R.A.P. Music [2012]

Hip hop artist Killer Mike's 2012 album, R.A.P. Music is another great addition to his all ready strong discography.  Part of that strength could be credited to El-P's dense n' dirty production on the record.
Mike & El-P seem like a match made in heaven with angry lyrical deliveries colliding with angry synth heavy beats and samples.  Mike's stingy style and poetic personality seem to echo that of the Ice Cube of yesteryear, before he went all family friendly film star.  
Without a doubt, this is one of the essential hip-hop albums of 2012.

4½ hollow presidential puppets out of 5

Songs Of Note: Go!Don't Die


DODECAHEDRON / Dodecahedron [2012]

Hailing from The Netherlands, Dodecahedron's 2012 self-titled debut album leaves a physically sick feeling in your stomach that you'll either cherish or detest.  Either way, the black metal band did their job well.
Utilizing the 12 tone jazz method (more than likely where they got their name), Dodecahedron sounds more like a Mr. Bungle from Hell than it does Deathspell Omega.  It's heavy on atmosphere and light on soul, which may or may not be intentional.  In the end it causes extreme discomfort and that's just fine with me.

3½ volcanic trilogies out of 5

Songs Of Note: Allfather; I, Chronocrator 

SAUL WILLIAMS / The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! [2007]

After numerous remixes of each other's music, it was inevitable that alt. hip-hop poet Saul Williams and Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor would work on an original project together. The result is Williams' 2007 album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!
Williams' heavy beats & off-kilter vocal style and Reznor's unmistakable ambient wall of noise compliment each other perfectly, making it one of Reznor's most focused projects in several years.  The distorted sound is so dense and raw it reminiscent of the Bomb Squad's production with Public Enemy back in the day.
It's a bizarre album that is difficult to pinpoint what sort of audience it was aiming for but nonetheless an experimental success. 

5 Dead Emcee Scrolls out of 5

Songs Of Note: Tr(n)iggerThe Ritual

ROCKET JUICE & THE MOON / Rocket Juice & The Moon [2012]

Rocket Juice & The Moon consists of Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Nigerian funk drummer Tony Allen and a host of guest vocalists including Erykah Badu, Thundercat & M.anifest. 
Their self-titled 2012 album is a blend of dub, afro-funk and hip-hop in which neither member really takes center stage and instead organically plays off each other sounding like a relaxed jam album.  It does get a little too noodly after awhile and had they cut it down to an EP it would been easily been a 5 star.  Nevertheless it still make an awesome patio party album.

3 Another Honest Jon's Chop Up! out of 5

FAITH NO MORE / The Real Thing [1989]

After falling asleep on stage during a live performance, vocalist Chuck Mosley was thankfully given the boot from Faith No More making way for Mr. Bungle frontman Mike Patton to bring something new to the table.
1989's genre-bending The Real Thing rocketed FNM into the mainstream.  Patton's nasally vocals, raps and growls were complimented with Martin's crunchy metal-ish guitar solos and classical finger picking.
Power-pop metal at heart, the album is a catchy, energetic time capsule classic riddled with bizarre, disturbing characters explored within the song lyrics.

4 old nu-metal bands out of 5


OF MONSTERS AND MEN / My Head Is An Animal [2012]

Like their fellow Icelander music acts, Sigur rós, Biggi Hilmars & Jóhann Jóhannsson, the folk group Of Monsters And Men retain that dreamy distant sound but manage to uplift in a nostalgic, melancholy manner rather than brood and contemplate suicide.
2012's My Head Is An Animal is full of enthusiastic male/female vocal harmonization and alternating duets layered over reverberated glockenspiels, accordions and horn sections.  It might run a bit long and never break any new barriers but after all is said and done, you have a charming and captivating debut album.

3½ lives & loves out of 5

Songs Of Note: Little TalksLove Love Love

WOVEN HAND / Ten Stones [2008]

2008's Ten Stones marks the first album in which Woven Hand wrote and recorded as a proper functioning group rather than Dave Edwards doing it all himself.
There is a noticeable change in style but it works for the better.  Edwards' furiously menacing vocals and deeply woven textures are still there but with a lighter touch to it that breathes new life into the fabric the band uses to spin it's musical tales of prophetic doom.
It's almost like starting over again, which makes for a few bumps but is a strong indication of great things to come.

3½ curious Jobim's out of 5

Songs Of Note: Not One Stone; Cohawkin Road

Sunday, July 15, 2012

EL-P / Cancer 4 Cure [2012]


New York's abrasive hip-hop artist El-P returns to his solo career, after a 5 year hiatus, on 2012's  Cancer 4 Cure.
El-P spits out furiously paranoid, yet intellectual lyrics bordering along the lines of obscure sci-fi, over distorted synth-heavy loops that sound more like something out of a robotic weapons factory.  It's noticeably different in texture and sound from his previous solo efforts but it still can't be mistaken for anybody else.  
It growls, rumbles and slaps the shit-eating grin off your face.

4 Groucho Marx's out of 5

Saturday, July 14, 2012

OCTOBER TIDE / Rain Without End (1997)

October Tide is a side-project of two members of Swedish metal band Katatonia, Jonas Renkse (vocals / drums) and Fred Norrman (guitar / bass). Musically it feels like it fits snugly between For Funerals to Come (1995) and Brave Murder Day (1996). It mixes the brutal power of the former with the mournful melodies of the latter and contains some of the last growls that Renkse performed before he cleaned up his vocals to become the voice of modern Gothic Doom. Production is similar to BMD but the guitars are heavier, more forceful. It's a classic of the genre that was criminally overlooked at time of release. Fans of that early Katatonia sound should definitely seek this one out. The Reissue had different cover art.

Songs of Note: Ephemeral; Blue Gallery

4½ rainy tomorrows out of 5

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

THE YOUNG GODS / Everybody Knows (2010)

The Swiss ambient / industrialists are a hard sell to anyone not already familiar with their working method.  They use samples as instruments, with live drums and multilingual vocals.  Song structures and complex landscapes wherein atmosphere is all important.  This release adds some interesting acoustic guitar alongside the familiar samples and keyboards.  They actually got a fourth member in to do that part.  It’s surprisingly upbeat in places.  As usual, the longer tracks are the highlights.  A CD of one epic track is my dream from these guys; they do lengthy tracks better than anyone else.

Songs of Note: Mister Sunshine; Miles Away

4 experimental knob-twiddlers out of 5

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

SWANS / Children of God (1987)

The gristle in the meat you had for lunch is Swans. The pain of a fractured wrist is Swans. The elation of a morphine injection is also Swans. Held together by the grit of Gira and the quietude of Jarboe, Children of God is intense. With dissonant droning guitars and pounding drums, it exudes tension in every turn. It almost feels like it wants you to suffer as you listen. If the apocalypse were to come tomorrow, it would be the soundtrack to the end of days. And yet, it has moments of beauty that I find intoxicating. If you hadn't guessed already, it leaves me confused and conflicted. Not for the faint of heart.

Songs of Note: Beautiful Child; Blackmail

5 funeral litanies to love and life out of 5

PUBLIC IMAGE LTD / This is PiL (2012)

This is PiL, literally.  Lydon has assembled a band tighter than he’s had for decades. It's percussion heavy, meandering but focussed, has the dub reggae style arrangements, the political stance, the bass, the chimes, the nostalgia, the spoken word, etc.  It’s all like it should be.  The first half is flawless.  The second half takes a little more time to drop into the consciousness.  In my opinion this is the best PiL release since Album (1986), and if it turns out to be the last thing Lydon ever releases under the PiL name then it’s a hell of a worthy swansong.

Songs of Note: One Drop; Terra-Gate

4 looking across the great divide out of 5

Saturday, July 7, 2012

TESTAMENT / The Legacy (1987)

I've never understood why this album didn’t achieve the same attentions as the early Metallica and Megadeth releases did critically.  It’s certainly got the power and the technical proficiency to keep it in the best of 80’s thrash lists.  The sound is a mix of early Metallica and Exodus, what is now the classic Bay Area thrash sound.  The production could be better but the enthusiasm and the urgency with which its delivered is faultless.  Testament matured and changed on subsequent albums but they never bettered this for pure in-your-face entertainment.

Songs of Note: Over The Wall; Burnt Offerings

4 shadow plays of grief and pain out of 5

Friday, July 6, 2012

THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN / Honey's Dead (1992)

Finding the perfect balance between their trademark feedback and some passionately delivered droning but catchy melodies helped the Mary Chain deliver an almost perfect album.  The addition of live drums gives it a more organic sound than they ever had before.  The only criticism you can throw at is the amount of repetition present.  You can argue it keeps the album firmly on track and the energy level high but it’s just as easy to call it lazy.  Still, a great song is a great song even if it does sound too much like another great song.

Songs of Note: Reverence; Almost Gold

4½ it's good for the soul out of 5

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

LADYTRON / Witching hour (2005)

Ladytron deliver a clever mix of sugary pop and moody electronic beats.  I can hear elements of Chemical Bros, Goldfrapp, Kraftwerk and even KMFDM in there.  I suspect there are many more influences in very different genres that I know nothing about.  The song structures are simple but effective, carried along by the dreamy vocals of Helena Marnie.  If you listen too closely it can get repetitive, so put it on while doing something (housework or naked vacuuming) and let it be your companion for a while.  It's catchy and covertly infectious.

Songs of Note: High Rise; International Dateline

3½ alarms and dust of 5

OVERKILL / 6 songs E.P (2012)

Sampler E.P containing two songs from the fantastic new album, The Electric Age (2012), and four older tracks recorded live at the Rock Hard Festival, Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 2011. Bobby and the guys are on fine form. I've not had the pleasure of witnessing the Overkill live machine, but I’d sell my family jewels to do so. I can't see the release winning many new fans, but for those of us that already know how awesome Overkill are it's a worthy addition to the shelf.

Songs of Note: Electric Rattlesnake (Studio); Bring Me The Night (Live)

4 fully charged reptiles out of 5

TERROR EMPIRE / Face The Terror (2012)

With cover art that resembles Morbid Angel’s seminal Altars of Madness (1989), I half expected this to sound similar but it doesn’t, it’s typical thrash metal that thrives on old school melodies and structures, with solos that give me nostalgia smirks.  Hailing from Portugal will inevitably draw comparisons with early Sepultura but they manage to surpass that barrier and remind us why early thrash was good times.  It was vibrant and designed to be played live.  These new guys could teach the jaded old guys a thing or two.

Songs of Note: Just go listen to it all HERE.

Alternatively, the EP is FREE so get your clicking fingers over to the Official Site and snatch it.

3½ like waking up in an early 90's squat out of 5

THE LEMONHEADS / Hotel Sessions (2011)

Evan said “I've always wanted to make an ‘Album’ for $53 - Walkman 50, tape 3 bucks.  Oh to record live to cassette, master it and put it out ... I have finally done it!”  Yes, he did it.  He really did.  Vinyl is sexy.  Tape hiss is not.  I piss on the grave of cassette tape.  An album of Evan alone with an acoustic in a hotel room sounds like gold to me.  Cheap demo recordings on a warbling $50 walkman is scraping the shittiest of barrels.  If it's a Fuck You to his record company, I applaud it.  Just don't expect anyone to listen to it.

Songs of Note:

0 stay at home out of 5