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

Monday, January 21, 2013

DOWN / Down IV: Part I - The Purple E.P (2012)


DOWN return to their roots for this 6 track EP.  The 'Part I' refers to their plan to release IV in a series of E.Ps over the next few years.
It's concrete heavy as you'd expect, with the same kind of slab heavy blues / doom / sludge riffs they’re known for; you know the ones that aren't a million miles away from a good Black Sabbath album.  Amongst all the clones it's the high level of musicianship that raises this one high in the air.  They aren't called a supergroup for nothing.

Songs of Note: Witchtripper; Misfortune Teller

3½ morals be damned out of 5

Saturday, January 19, 2013

JESU / Heart Ache E.P (2004)

The first Jesu release is an EP that contains just two tracks, but it's no lazy money spinner. The two tracks combined clock in at almost 40 mins; that's longer than some bands manage to put on a full album.
I had no idea prior to hearing Heart Ache that Justin K Broadrick's voice was so well suited to the kind of melodies offered here. Some unexpected piano punctuates and then supports the down-tuned guitars with lush softness, helping it achieve the near impossible: atmospheric, ambient drone that's typically hypnotic but also really quite beautiful.

Songs of Note: Heart Ache; Ruined

4 (empty) pots of gold out of 5

THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT / Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1976) (1987)

I usually detest prog rock but I make an exception for the work of Alan Parsons; his compositions rarely descend into the self-indulgent wankery the genre is notorious for.
This début album features retellings of some of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous tales.  They fail to capture the sense of haunted majesty and madness that Poe penned, so I find it best to forget the inspiration and instead drift away with the mesmerizing and picturesque music.
The 1987 remaster added some Orson Welles spoken word, which is always an acceptable thing to do.

Songs of Note: A Dream Within A Dream; The Raven

4 shadows of shadows out of 5

NINE INCH NAILS / Year Zero Remixed (2007)

A collection of remixed tracks from the Year Zero album, which was released just 7 months prior.  It fulfilled contractual commitments NIN had to Interscope Records.  They wanted another album and they got it.  He gave them a turd.  If I hated my record label I’d probably want to do the same, but that doesn't make me cringe any less when hearing it.  It offers an even less enjoyable listening experience than the original album, and lacks any kind of cohesive flow.

Songs of Note: The Great Destroyer (remixed by Modwheelmood); Another Version of the Truth (remixed by Kronos Quartet & Enrique Gonzalez Müller)

1 shiny beer mat out of 5

JESUS JONES / Perverse (1993)

Early 90’s friendly techno / pop / rock crossover that was regularly heard at parties held by indie kids, skaters and edgy sociology students.
If not on the stereo then you'd often find it placed next to Ned’s Atomic Dustbin on the shelf.  True story.

Songs of Note: Zeroes and Ones; The Right Decision

2½ things what they are out of 5

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

KILLING JOKE / Night Time (1985)

Night Time was a brief return to form for the Joke.  It’s an album that’s both upbeat and cynical, as is the English way.  Jaz’s insanity is still there but it’s more focussed; he had an agenda that he didn’t lose sight of, nor did it manifest in every track sounding the same which was something the previous album suffered from.
It didn’t break new ground musically but earned them a lot of new (wave) fans, and reminded long-time fans why they had been seduced at the beginning.

Songs of Note: Love Like Blood; Eighties

3½ voices calling, calling out of 5

Monday, January 14, 2013

NEW ORDER / Lost Sirens (2013)

Lost Sirens is a collection of unreleased tracks originally written during the Waiting for the Sirens' Call (2005) recording session.  It’s not surprising then that it sounds very similar to that album.  There are some old hooks played in new ways but once again it’s the choruses that really shine on each track.  However, there's nothing on here that will convince you to like them if you didn't before.
As much as I enjoy the modern New Order sound, I can’t shake the feeling that it’s all too safe.  It needs more danger.  It needs a kick up the ass.

Songs of Note: SugarcaneCalifornian Grass

2½ cold, cold worlds out of 5

FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM / Ceromonies (Ad Mortem Ad Vitam) (2012)

A career-spanning double live album from the arcane moodsters recorded over two nights at Shepherd’s Bush Empire (London) in July 2008.  (No shepherds were harmed during the making of the album.)  As the title suggests, it’s a kind of death and rebirth for the band; they wanted to capture what Fields of the Nephilim (and the short-lived Nefilim) had been up to that point in time, before they began to sculpt their future.  Carl McCoy’s voice is as dusty as his coattails but that’s all part of the mystical charm.

Songs of Note: Penetration; Moonchild

3½ crescent moons out of 5

Sunday, January 13, 2013

GODFLESH / Love and Hate in Dub (1997)

Love and Hate in Dub is considered an EP, but with 12 tracks and a running time of 71 minutes I'd call it an album. Either way, it's a collection of remixed tracks from the similarly named Songs of Love and Hate (1996). It deconstructs and rebuilds them as ambient, dub, drum 'n bass, and even breakbeat versions. Some are much more interesting than their source, while others are meandering and go on far too long. It divided fans, and I've yet to meet anyone that likes all of it.

Songs of Note: Wake (Break Mix); Frail (Now Broken)

3 angels by your side out of 5

YELLO / Solid Pleasure (1980)

Yello's début album is just as odd as the cover art implies.  Their blend of musical chairs and art house ideals is damn near impossible to put into words without resorting to a list of synonyms for weird.  They share Kraftwerk's love of avant-garde blips and squeaks but not the minimalism; Yello compositions are more multi-layered   I don’t know why they weren't huge because they are one of the most interesting things to come out of that awful 80’s synth pop scene.

Songs of Note: BostichNight Flanger

3½ lights turned on out of 5

WHITE ZOMBIE / La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1 (1992)

This album was the soundtrack to my time in art school.  Being inspired by Van Gogh, Hieronymus Bosch, and White Zombie was an exhilarating experience.
Musically it’s dominated by psychedelic, sludgy, almost stoner groove riffs that are undeniably catchy.  The aesthetic is helped along by a plethora of audio samples which capture the feeling of living inside a Horror B-Movie, which I imagine was the idea.  If it didn't fall into sameness in the last third it’d be perfect.
Rob Zombie never topped this album, either musically nor conceptually.

Songs of Note: Thunderkiss 65; Black Sunshine

4½ hip cats and dead girls out of 5

WRATHCHILD AMERICA / Climbin' the Walls (1989)

It saddens me to admit it but in truth there’s nothing spectacular about Climbin' the Walls.  It’s a decent late 80’s metal album with solid drumming, some respectable Iron Maiden moments, and thrash elements that serve their purpose but never manage to drag the songs out of the mediocre pit.  Despite its failings I really like it.  There is a faithful (if uninspired) cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Time’ which is what first brought it to my attention a long long time ago.

Songs of Note: No Deposit, No Return; London After Midnight

2½ pieces of candy out of 5

Saturday, January 12, 2013

GODFLESH / Songs of Love and Hate (1996)

The Godflesh machine added a real live drummer for their fourth album, which coincided with a significant musical shift. The inclusion of some of Justin K Broadrick's other interests lessens the stark industrial sound even further than the previous album; there's hip hop blood in the veins of this one. It has moments that capture the early sonic assault, but mostly it's tamed, which is not to say it's lightweight, rather that it's less like a ton of gravel on your face and more like a ton of soil. Yes, a ton is still a ton, but if I had a choice I'd choose the gravel.

Songs of Note: Wake; Angel Domain

3½ frail fears out of 5

THE YOUNG GODS / The Young Gods (1987)

The eponymous début album from the Swiss industrial trio is an early experimental, sample based smorgasbord that is the harshest and most visceral the band have ever been; there are moments when it reminds me of Einstürzende Neubauten.  Vocals are mostly in Swedish so I have no clue what Mr Treichler is singing about but it really doesn't matter.
It’s not an album that will win you over on first listen, it requires the right environment and the right kind of emotional state to fully appreciate.

Songs of Note: The Irritum Boys; Envoye

3½ carved nomenclatures out of 5

ZION TRAIN / State Of Mind (2011)

Dub reggae is instantly recognisable. It’s also amazingly versatile, lending itself to crossovers easily and often successfully. State Of Mind is pure crossover dub, adding a brass section, keyboards, samples and (too much) electronic dance beats to the existing dub sound. The result is an eclectic mix of good and bad that sometimes transitions beautifully from track to track, while at other times is so jarring that it seems as if the disc skipped. Perhaps I'm missing the point and that was the intention, but I feel that more thought put into the arrangement would've made the album a more enjoyable experience.

Songs of Note: State of MindGreat Leap Forward

3 paint it black riffs out of 5

Friday, January 11, 2013

SINÉAD O'CONNOR / Throw Down Your Arms (2005)

It may seem odd that a pasty-white Irish girl recorded an album of reggae covers, but when you consider it's Sinéad O'Connor it begins to make a sliver of sense because songs of freedom from oppression aren't new for her.
Featuring tracks originally recorded by Burning Spear, The Abyssinians, Peter Tosh, and Bob Marley and The Wailers, among others, it’s a slickly produced album that's genuine reggae at heart, not watered-down pop versions of reggae.
Overall, it’s a mostly successful endeavour that recognises that Jah or God, Kingston or Dublin, here or there or anywhere, is all the same in a relative way.

Songs of Note: Vampire; Y Mas Gan

4 dreadless wonderlands out of 5

NEWSTED / Metal E.P (2013)

Metal is the first release from Newsted, formed and fronted by Jason Newsted (the ex-Metallica bassist, and the only one who managed to keep his dignity).  It’s old school bass heavy rock with a Sabbathy vibe throughout.  Jason’s vocals have been drawing comparisons with Chuck Billy of Testament; I'd agree but also add that his raspy delivery fits the heavy groove-filled music well.
I predict it working magnificently in a live environment but on record it's a little unimaginative, although certainly played with passion.  It's good enough to make me keep an ear out for the next release.

Songs of Note: Godsnake; Skyscraper

3 headless dead out of 5

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

THE ROLLING STONES / Stripped (1995)

Like the title suggests, this is the Strolling Bones stripped of their stadium rock star personas in favour of smaller, more intimate venues; there are also a few live studio sessions with no overdubs.  It’s a clever way to earn some cash without having to write an entire album but all cynicism aside it’s a welcome release that adds some new tracks alongside acoustic versions of older, quieter tracks that don’t often get attention on the more bombastic live releases.  It's not perfect but it filled a hole adequately.

Songs of Note: Angie; Wild Horses

3½ clothed rockers out of 5

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

PRIMUS / Sailing The Seas Of Cheese [1991]

1991 saw gonzo funksters Primus make their major label debut and receive some sort of widespread recognition with Sailing The Seas Of Cheese.
Toning down the frantic jamming sound of Frizzle Fry and grounding themselves as well as they can, Primus still can't be mistaken for anybody else.  Claypool hops around the bass, while he's deceivingly humorous vocals sputter songs about depression, death and troubled times over Larry LaLonde's slithery and noodly guitars & Herb's animated but precise drum playing.  With guest spots from Tom Waits, samples from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 & The Young Ones and oversexed pussycats,  Cheese is vintage Primus.  

4 steers & queers out of 5

Sunday, January 6, 2013

KMFDM / WTF?! (2011)

The KMFDM sound hasn't changed much in a very long time. They dabble with the formula occasionally, but it’s still primarily an over-abundance of electronic dance loops, industrial style guitars and prominent drumbeats. This seveteenth studio album is no different.

Songs of Note: Rebels In Kontrol; Vive La Mort!

2½ dead men's hands out of 5

Saturday, January 5, 2013

OVERKILL / !!!Fuck You!!! (1987)

An EP containing a studio recording of a song originally recorded by The Subhumans and an additional five live Overkill tracks. As such, it won't win any new fans but will perhaps win some new haters. That's just as satisfying.

Songs of Note: Fuck You, Rotten to the Core (live)

3 universal greetings out of 5

THE CLASH / London Calling (1979)

LC is a vibrant mix of differing styles and surprising influences.  It blended liberal doses of ska, reggae, funk, pop, jazz, and old fashioned rockabilly into the usual Clash rock sound, which resulted in a more mature album both musically and lyrically.  I'll spare you any further boring deconstruction and just say that this is the only Clash album you’ll ever need.  Emphasis on the 'need.'  It's essential.

Songs of Note: London Calling; The Guns of Brixton

5 crude and feckless wake-up calls out of 5

CUCKOO'S TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2012

After covering only a handful of albums released in 2011, The Nut Suite stepped it up a notch and wiped our nuts on over 150 albums from 2012.  
With more albums to choose from, I found it even more difficult to narrow it down to favorites for my Top 10 Of The Year, as there were so many great albums in a large variety of genres that I had the pleasure of exploring.  Within all the good stuff, I stumbled upon some real stinkers that baffle me as to how they received so much critical & commercial acclaim...not to mention the first "frisbee" rated album for the Suite I had the displeasure of hearing.
Enough babbling, let's get on with it:

(click on the names for mini-reviews)












Some honorable mentions go to:

With maybe 40 or so more albums I could gush about, that painfully sums it up.

Agree?  Disagree?  Did we miss your favorite? What were yours?

NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE / Psychedelic Pill [2012]

After the crapfest that was Americana from earlier in the year, Neil Young & Crazy Horse release their 2nd album of 2012, the 2-CD opus Psychedelic Pill with far better results. 
A sober trip back into mildly sour nostalgia and bittersweet memoirs, through swampy textures and tingles of distorted guitars that flow with ease through many tracks that are laid back jam sessions.  Bouncing back and forth between a variety of moods, Pill is Neil Young & Crazy Horse in the comfort zone, that maybe American helped them get into to record a quality album of this size.

3½ MP3 rants out of 5


SPIRITUALIZED / Sweet Heart Sweet Light [2012]

Jason Pierce (aka J. Spacemen) mixes in a poppier tempo for space rock act, Spiritualized's 7th studio album, 2012's Sweet Heart Sweet Light.
The album has all the ingredients to make a classic Spiritualized album, reverby guitars, dense atmopshere, grandeur choirs and arrangments yet something is missing right off the bat.  That void gets bigger and bigger with each song, almost as if Pierce ordered the songs from best to worst on purpose.  Hopefully if it's just a hiccup in what is a pretty solid discography.

2 reactions to liver disease meds out of 5

Songs Of Note: Hey JaneToo Late

VARIOUS ARTISTS / The Man With The Iron Fists: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack [2012]

Wu-Tang Clan's RZA gathers together a host of all-stars for his 2012 directorial debut, a homage to campy martial arts films, The Man With The Iron Fists.
Having produced and scored films for the past decade, RZA is wise choosing cinematic flavored music for the film.  The possibility of hip-hop music distracting from the ancient Chinese visuals and mood was a huge risk yet RZA picks just the right songs for the right moments as not to impose on the film's narrative. Surprisingly enough, the album is cohesive compilation that works just as well on it's own as it does in the film.  

4 themes for bad men out of 5

THE LUYAS / Animator [2012]

Normally chirpy Canadian indie-pop act The Luyas take a darker turn on their third effort, 2012's Animator.
Written in response to the death of a close friend, the album creaks and haunts over dreamy beds of abstract bass pulses, twinkling guitar strums and rumbling synth & drum rhythms all complimented with some stark piano and string arrangements.  Unfortunately the emotions being to grow stagnant due to vocalist Jessie Stein's one-note voice and the songs tease us with going somewhere bigger but never quite dive into the dramatic crescendos we're expecting.  

3 ghost writers out of 5

Songs Of Note: The Quiet WayEarth Turner

BILLY BRAGG & WILCO / Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions [2012]

In celebration of American folk music icon Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday in 2012, Billy Bragg & Wilco's two Mermaid Avenue albums were given the royal treatment with an extra disc of material and a DVD documenting the creation of the project.  Guthrie left hundreds of pages of completed lyrics behind him and in turn, his daughter passed them onto English folk-punker Billy Bragg to bring them to a new generation of music lovers, resulting in something passionate, respectful but not a direct impersonation of Guthrie's music.  Treating the lyrics to a variety of folk, blues, rock, county and soul, Mermaid Avenue is a must for any fan of Guthrie's poetical tongue or Bragg's expressive, yet understated, music and voice.  Sure first disc is the best of the bunch but 2 & 3 contain some real rough gems as well.  A definitive collection of this timeless project.

4 men in the sand out of 5

TENNIS / Young & Old [2012]

Oddly enough the title of the first song, "It All Feels The Same"on indie-pop duo,Tennis' 2nd album, 2012's Young & Old seems to sum up the entire album like shooting oneself in the foot.  
Their first album had a fuzzy, yet charming, '50's girl pop thing going for it but they never quite hit the mark to make much an impression.  So instead of trying again, Tennis opt to step into the next decade by dipping into sleepy bubblegum pop from the late '60's without much success.  They have the right voice and chemistry to create something great but never seem to meet their potential by repeating what they've already established over and over and over.

2 black keys out of 5

Songs Of Note: My Better SelfRobin

Friday, January 4, 2013

DINOSAUR JR. / I Bet On Sky [2012]

3 albums into their "reunion" Dinosaur Jr. show no signs of throwing in the towel, as they confidently display on 2012's near-melancholy I Bet On Sky.
They may have turned down the distortion a bit and took the tempos down a few notches on this album but not in the "aging pussies" sort of way.  Instead it's a graceful change of pace that showcases the groups knack for writing wonderful melodies and using grungy textures that could only be their own.  It probably won't win any new fans but the already established ones will be pleased with this record and the inevitable ones to follow.  

3½ searches for light out of 5

Songs Of Note: Almost FareRode

SOAP&SKIN / Narrow [2012]

In response to the sudden death of her father, Austria's Anja Plaschg (aka Soap&Skin) recorded her 2012 8-song mini-album, Narrow.
A thing of stark intimate beauty, the album flourishes with intense feelings of sadness and loss through Plaschg's bold, yet trembling, voice and strikingly emotional piano playing.  She might not always sing in English but her voice soars past language barriers with it's angry & confused passionate depth, while her piano playing goes back and forth between gentle chord progressions to powerful hammering of the keys over skittish industrial rhythms and textures.  A perfect album that's more awe-inspiring than entertaining,  Narrow is something to pull out on a rainy day and let it seep into your heart.

5 Desireless made desirable out of 5

Songs Of Note: DeathmentalWonder

SANTIGOLD / Master Of My Make-Believe [2012]

One minute into Santigold's 2012 sophomore album, Master Of My Make-Believe I realized if this same quality was upheld into the final minute of the album, it'd be a definite front-runner for a favorite of the year.
Luckily this was the case as Santigold's frenzied multi-cultural M.I.A.-esque mix of hip-hop and new wave with her snalry upbeat attitude is fuckin' deliciously addictive.  With help from Diplo, Q-tip, Karen-O, TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek, Santigold creates one of the most catchiest sonic walls of boom filled with unpredictable hooks and grooves that dares you to sit still.

5 naps while it all burns away out of 5

INGRID MICHAELSON / Human Again [2012]

Indie-pop songstress Ingrid Michaelson aims for a more mature sound on her fifth album, 2012's Human Again.
Pushing her trademark ukelele & acoustic guitar a little further back into the glossy mix, Michaelson allows the grand piano & lush string arrangements to carry her song's light weight this time around.   Still, it's her strength in vulnerability vocals that glue everything together into a neat little package.  She's not bad at all, she just needs to step it up a bit more to stick out in genre filled with more unique acts than herself. 

3 crumbling moons out of 5

Songs Of Note: I'm ThroughPalm Of Your Hand

DRAGGED INTO SUNLIGHT / Widowmaker [2012]

After their well received 2009 debut album, UK metal act Dragged Into Sunlight decided to experiment a bit on their 2012 sophomore effort, Widowmaker.
While they still juggle every single extreme metal genre into their sound, the band took it upon themselves to break the entire album up into only three extended tracks of misery, fear and noise.  Using their standard instruments, the quartet throws in some screeching violins, meandering pianos and silly voice samples into the mix to accentuate the dread and hatred they're trying to spew forth.  They do bring some interesting textures and ideas to the table but they seem so fresh as a collective, experimenting like this sounds amateurish and should have been held off for another album or two.

2½ cute little balaclavas out of 5

Songs Of Note: Part 1Part 2

BLUR / Parklive [2012]


In celebration of Brit-pop act Blur's brief reunion, they released a colossal box set, a brand new single and performed a massive 2 hour concert with New Order in Hyde Park during the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics.
One day after the concert, they quickly released the 2-disc recording of that show called Parklive without so much as a hint of rushed quality.  Fingering through the entire career, including some rare b-sides, Blur are on the top of their game hardly missing a note and capture the crowd just as well as they did 20 years ago.  With some slight reworkings of older songs and crowd participation, Parklive is a show I will always regret not being able to see live, based on the companion DVD spectacle.  A must have  victorious live CD for any longtime fan of Blur.

4 even Phil Daniels was there out of 5

Songs Of Note: BeetlebumThe Universal

Thursday, January 3, 2013

MONO / For My Parents [2012]

Japan's instrumental act, MONO step further away from their post-rocks roots and closer into neo-classical music on 2012's For My Parents.
While they remain at heart a "rock band", the addition of cellos and violas allow the bittersweet drama of the music to flourish into an astonishingly cinematic vibe reminiscent of Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western scores.  Being the first album in many years without Steve Albini producing made me wonder if they'd achieve the same sonic wall of sound they're so good at and I'm happy to report it's firmly in place here.  What is missing is the strength in their dramatic crescendos and clever moments of thoughtfulness.   There's some good attempts of recreating it but it just isn't the same as their previous albums.  

3 constant feelings of love out of 5

Songs Of Note: LegendNostalgia

NORAH JONES / Little Broken Hearts [2012]

Norah Jones strays from her usual jazzy sound by working with producer Danger Mouse on her 5th record, 2012's moody break-up album, Little Broken Hearts
Normally Jones & DM wouldn't sound like a good mix but here they create a hauntingly beautiful cinematic sound both organic & spacey at the same time.  Normally, "break-up" albums get annoyingly mournful filled but Jones reamains hazily grounded and upbeat to prevent things from getting stale. 
The album isn't edgy enough for the indie-schmuck crowd nor is it friendly enough for the soccer mom crowd but will fit nicely on anyone's shelf that doesn't have a specific taste in good music.

4½ Russ Meyer posters out of 5

Songs Of Note: Little Broken HeartsMiriam

KENDRICK LAMAR / good kid, m.A.A.d. city [2012]

Using Compton as a narrative backdrop is nothing new to hip-hop, yet Kendrick Lamar's 2012 major label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d. city brings it a sense of character and depth unlike anyway it's been portrayed before.
It tells the story of Lamar's smooth-talking experiences growing up in the crime-riddled neighborhood, through smooth downbeat production, tingling piano notes, hallucinatory hooks and frantic, yet low-key, tripped out rhythms.  Like N.W.A., there is an obvious love for his hometown but like The Clash or Springsteen, he intelligently knows it's a terrible place to live as well.  Lamar's lyrical delivery isn't interested in sucker punches or witty punchlines but yearns to tell a story that needs to be told and that's what gives it heart, as rockhard as it is.

4 short films out of 5

DEFTONES / Koi No Yokan [2012]

Over the years, nu-metal act Deftones have explored a heavier sound as well as going into an more experimental prog-rock sound and 2012's Koi No Yokan sort of comes up in the middle.
While they retain the aggressively heavy, yet beautifully harmonious sound, Deftones don't really seem to explore much in the way of anything new on this album and leaves much to be desired.  After hearing the risk-taking perfection they are capable of before, one can't help but be a little disappointed in them for staying in a danger-free comfort zone.  

3 inevitable love out of 5

Songs Of Note: LeathersTempest

MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS / Electra Heart [2012]

Marina Diamandis' (aka Marina And The Diamonds) second album, 2012's Electra Heart, is a concept album attempting to dissect American pop culture and it's need to destroy what it makes.  
Her music jumps between thumping New Wave pop songs and "genuine" bubbly pop crap, that makes me wonder about what exactly Diamandis was attempting.  While satirizing the American pop music scene, she's also recreating the real thing which wouldn't be out of place on the radio next to Katy Perry and that almost defeats the purpose.  I'll call that the Natural Born Killers syndrome and let it the kids squabble over that notion.  It's got ambition but ends up drowning in the same gene pool it was trying to break free from.

1 American Dream destroyed out of 5

Song Of Note: Bubblegum Bitch

METZ / Metz [2012]

Canadian noise punks Metz make their full-length debut on a 2012 self-titled record clocking in at barely 30 minutes.
While they are a fantastic live act to catch, the studio recordings don't do them justice.  It's still loud, noisy and abrasive but there's a finely polished tone to it that I just can't seem to shake.  You're going to hear a lot of comparisons to Nirvana's Bleach days and for good reason, there's a lot of similarities to that sound only this time around it's a harsher sonic assault to the ears.  Not to say Metz is a bad band, it's just without the frenzy of their live performance, you realize just much they are in need of diversity in their songwriting.  

3 fall downs out of 5

Songs Of Note: Knife In WaterThe Mule

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

LIARS / WIXIW [2012]

Alt-dance act Liars redefine their sound with each album without completely ostracizing their fanbase, so it's no surprise they eventually entered into the tripped-out electronic sound on 2012's curiously palindrome titled album WIXIW.
Swirling with eerie shimmering synth textures pulsating back and forth between splashes of soft base tones and bizarre percussive experimentation, the album somehow creates a surreal paranoid mood lost in a frantic slo-mo setting, with heavy hints of Radiohead thrown into the mix.  As new as they are to the electro sound, Liars sound as if they're vets in the genre as they perform it with such confident ease.

4 wish you's out of 5

Songs Of Note: OctagonBrats

PUBLIC ENEMY / The Evil Empire Of Everything [2012]

Released only a few months after their last album, Public Enemy's 2nd album of 2012, The Evil Empire Of Everything is noticeably angrier and more confident than their previous record.  
Right off the bat, PE aims to disturb and make you think, with a horrifying sound collage centered around the Trayvon Martin 911 calls and it only gets grittier & more politically charged with face-stomping rhythms, face-punching lyrical deliveries and the inevitable collaboration with Tom Morello & Henry Rollins.  Public Enemy prove they know how to age gracefully, without hanging onto the glory days or aiming to please the present day mainstream and only staying as strong as they've ever been.  

4 problems with rap music out of 5

Songs Of Note: 1 (PEace)Broke Diva

FRANK TURNER / Last Minutes & Lost Evenings [2012]

After a long string of shows with Social Distortion, Green Day & The Gaslight Anthem it's become quite apparent folk-punker Frank Turner is about to breakout in North America. So it would only make sense to release a compilation of his best songs, hand-picked by Turner himself, to introduce the uninitiated to his foot-stomping brand of upbeat, spitting folk rock.  
2012's Last Minutes & Lost Evenings is tight little package of fan favorites that showcases Turner's irresistible charms and witty songwriting.  For fans that already own all his albums, it comes with a fantastic DVD of a complete 26-song performance in Wembley Stadium that proves he is a born showman with the type of power and passion that will make the hairs on your neck stand up.  Now release the damn live show on CD for listening on the run.

3½ somebodies to love out of 5

AESOP ROCK / Skelethon [2012]

Seeing as Aesop Rock was at the forefront of the rise of underground hip-hop in the late '90's makes it an event, for anybody who's been following the scene, whenever he releases a new record.  
2012's Skelethon is an angry, lash back at at all the problems A-Rock faced over the past few years, which would explain the sudden lyrical obsession with death.  The production is heavy on riotous drum rhythms, fuzzy guitar work and industrial synth-drones possibly to counter-balance the exposed vulnerability A-Rock is feeling on this album.  Not his best album but still a confirmation that Aesop Rock remains one of the best in his genre.

4 walks into the light out of 5

Songs Of Note: Zero Dark ThirtyRuby '81

THE CRANBERRIES / Roses [2012]

2012 seemed to be the return of several bands from the early '90's so it would only makes sense to see The Cranberries jump into the mix with Roses, their first new album in over a decade.  
Returning a little less angry and somber with a stronger sense of confidence seems to hurt the once fragile, yet appealing, sound of The Cranberries.  It's no secret that Dolores O'Riordan's voice was the strongest thing about the band, so it's nice to hear that's still the same only now stripped of it's dream-like reverb effects, grounding the lovely airiness of that as well.  It's a lukewarm return that really wasn't necessary at all.

2 OBE's out of 5

Songs Of Note: ConductShow Me

SCOTT WALKER / Bish Bosch [2012]

Starting out as a surf pop teen idol in the '50's, it's quite apparent Scott Walker has come a LONG way since then based on 2012's Bish Bosch.
It's an extremely difficult listen, if not downright grating but after some time you'll find it's effects have haunted you and a need to return is inevitable.  Only then, will you begin peeling back the layers and take a finer look at the intricate details and see it for what it is.  Nearing 70 years in age, it's quite clear Walker is a batty old man with some pent up anger and despair to throw at you as he laughs like a maniac.  Utilizing everything but the kitchen sink to create the world that he wants us to visit, Walker disturbs, humours and challenges the listener while his baritone voice mocks you.

4 Christmas funerals out of 5

Songs Of Note: Just watch the trailer and take it from there.

HYBRYDS / Music for Rituals (1992)

Belgian ritualistic ambient music that’s very hard to describe in words because it’s not something that can be easily picked apart. It’s like a wave lapping a shore, if that wave carried within it the seeds of a story not yet written, and the shore was your subconscious. It’s designed to work on a specific part of your brain, making it a perfect accompaniment to the acts for which it's named, or, if you prefer, could be equally useful in aiding sleep.

Songs of Note: The Garden At The Sea; Ritual for Quetzalcoatl

4 drifting shadows out of 5

BATHORY / Blood Fire Death (1988)

Blood Fire Death is not just a collection of quality songs, it's a truly ground-breaking, momentous achievement, the importance of which can’t be stressed enough.  The use of acoustics, the Viking symbolism, the choirs, the thundering intro, the cleaner vocals, the pounding drums, the torturing wail of the guitars, the pure fucking Armageddon heaviness of it all was something that the world had never experienced before.  It changed the face of metal forever, and made Quorthon a living legend.

Songs of Note: Oden's Ride Over Nordland; A Fine Day to Die

5 horses for the Allfather out of 5

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

GREG LASWELL / Landline [2012]

5 albums without any radioplay or major chart hits for Greg Laswell is one of life's greater mysteries. His somber, piano ballads about broken souls & confused hearts are perfect for the soundtrack of the airwaves.
For 2012's Landline, Laswell quietly slips some hip-hop beats into his writing which makes for quite an effective impact that should grab the attention of anyone listening.  With the help of several female guest vocalists (including Sia and Ingrid Michaelson), Laswell continues his trend of catchy, yet not annoying pop ballads, with thoughtful lyrics, skilled yet simple production and arrangements and all complimented with his bold, yet delicate voice.  It's not original or jaw-dropping, but for what it is, it's pretty damned good.

4 songs with the wifey out of 5