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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

BAD RELIGION / True North [2013]

Well over 30 years into their career, punk rockers Bad Religion show no sign of slowing down on their 16th studio album, 2013's True North.
Still rattling on about the lumbering shitheap that is America, the unreliability of Christianity and all around social issues, Bad Religion rips it up with dense, fast-paced and catchy pop-punk melodies.  With the last few albums lacking that extra punch, the boys seem to have gained a third wind as they haven't sounded this good since 2002's The Process Of Belief.  They don't give a rat's ass if they aren't breaking any new barriers, as long as they're still churning out solid punk rock songs and sits just fine with me.

4 Sham 69 lines out of 5

Songs Of Note: True NorthNothing To Dismay

CULT OF LUNA / Vertikal [2013]

Swedish sludge metal act Cult Of Luna are still churning 'em out after a decade of releasing average quality work and slowly showing signs of improvement on 2013's Vertikal.
With traces of doom metal, post-rock and sloppily layered electronics, the group's eagerness to keep on pushing forward with creativity is admirable but needs some serious tweaking or more concentration on quality to fully gel together.  The album isn't bad by any means, in fact it's quite interesting  from a textural and innovative point of view but I just can't shake the feeling that they can do better.  Which can only mean one thing: the best is yet to come.

3 Metropolis' out of 5

Songs Of Note: I: The WeaponPassing Through

JJ DOOM / Key To The Kuffs [2012]

Alternative hip-hop artists MF DOOM and Jneiro Jarel colloborate under the moniker JJ DOOM on 2012's Key To The Kuffs
Like a love letter to Britain, DOOM and Jarel deliver lines making references to British culture using genuine cockney slang over creepy beats & rhythms that creak back & forth between sludgy dancehall crashers to abstract chillout vibes.  Enlisting the aid of Damon Albarn and Portishead's Beth Gibbons, I think I was expecting a bit more, considering the strength of DOOM's previous projects.  Instead I found it a bit of a disappointment with it's repetitive nature and lack of bringing anything new to the table.  Not to say it's bad, it's just considering it's DOOM, my expectations were raised a bit too high.

3 J. Jonah Jamesons out of 5

Songs Of Note: 'Bout The ShoesWinter Blues

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

ANTHRAX / Sound of White Noise (1993)

This was the band's sixth album but the first with vocalist John Bush.  His arrival coincided with a shift from the straight-up thrash sound of previous albums toward a more friendly melodic post-grunge sound.  Long time fans were appalled.  I was intrigued.
I find Bush to be a better vocalist that Belladonna.  His range is lower and admittedly less varied but it’s less harsh on the ears.
The album has aged better than much of the Anthrax discography.  It’s a powerful collection of songs, even if they aren't considered very ‘Anthrax’ by fans.

Songs of Note: Potter's Field, Black Lodge

3½ invisible friends out of 5

VENETIAN SNARES / Fool The Detector EP [2012]

Breakcore producer Aaron Funk (aka Venetian Snares) has a hilariously absurd sense of humor that seems to enjoy tormenting the listener's comfort.  His second EP of 2012, Fool The Detector does nothing to contradict that.  
It eases you in with soothing, haunting textures that teeter towards New Age/classical genres and then sonically assaults you with unnerving glitches and distorted sound palates that puts the brain into a blissful frenzy.  It's baffling to hear Funk blend slow, moody soundscapes with frenetic blurps & chirps and yet somehow make it all work.  It's not going to gain any new fans but will certainly leave the already initiated with a twitchy grin on their faces.

4 pyramids of thoughts out of 5

Songs Of Note: Fool The DetectorChriohn

BOOTH AND THE BAD ANGEL / Booth And The Bad Angel [1996]

Booth and the Bad Angel is an one off album from film composer Angelo Badalamenti and James lead singer Tim Booth.
It's a pretty simple sounding project that comes off sounding like a lite-pop Peter Gabriel/David Bowie hybrid.  It becomes pretty clear, without Julee Cruise's ethereal vocals, Badalamenti' pop music is really nothing special at all.  It's not particularly offensive or anything, in fact the production is quite nice as are Booth's moody lyrics.  An intriguing curio that might have been more effective in it's own era.

2 Bernard Butlers out of 5

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

VARIOUS ARTISTS / West Of Memphis: Voices Of Justice [2013]

West of Memphis: Voices For Justice is not really a soundtrack to the documentary film but more a companion album to help raise awareness of the legal system that still clamps a firm grasp on the 3 even though they've been released in the scummiest of American ways.
The album is effectively bookended with Henry Rollins & Johnny Depp reading Damien Echols' deathrow letters over Nick Cave & Warren Ellis' bleak underscore.  Other artists who lend their voices to the cause are Bob Dylan, Eddie Vedder, Marilyn Manson, Patti Smith & Natalie Maines.  It's angry, hopeful, sad and most of all haunting, all of which reflects upon the film itself.  

4 bleak glimmers of hope out of 5

Saturday, February 23, 2013

JOCELYN POOK / Flood [1999]

"New Age" artist Jocelyn Pook's 1997 debut album Deluge was rearranged and repackaged as 1999's Flood at the request of director Stanley Kubrick for his final film, Eyes Wide Shut
It's a haunting mixture of textured strings, pulsating piano-work and religious like wordless vocals to create a relaxing and rich vibe that makes me think of Dead Can Dance accepting the apocalypse.  Like hymns of death, this gorgeous record soothes the violent soul while it quietly slips an uneasy tension through the back door.  It broods, dreams and pushes the imagination into places I find both beautiful and unsettling.

4 backwards priests out of 5

Songs Of Note: Masked BallGoya's Nightmare

MOGWAI / Les Revenants: Original Television Soundtrack [2013]

Post-rockers Mogwai have worked on some interesting film scores with great results in the past, so it's always a treat to hear what they'll come up next.  Naturally, I flipped when I heard they were scoring the French TV series Les Revenants, based on the amazing film of the same name.
Known mostly for their busy walls of sound and feedback, it's impressive to hear them approach the project with a delicate sense of self-control and restraint throughout the entire album.  It's an intimate and reserved sounding score, sprinkled with piano, guitar and brush drums leaving fragile open spaces for lonely ambience and melancholy to drift into the air.  This is Mogwai feeling their most confident with film score work and it really shows.

4 things going on in Heaven today out of 5

Songs Of Note: Fridge MagicWizard Motor

Friday, February 22, 2013

DARKTHRONE / Under a Funeral Moon (1993)

Darkthrone's transformation into pure Norwegian Black Metal was achieved on this third album.  It’s brutally stark, focussed, and surprisingly diverse.
I've known people who attempted to ‘correct’ the abysmal lo-fi production by tinkering with the bass equalizer on their amp.  They only succeeded in burying the coldness under a monotonous booming drone.  It’s supposed to sound like it does, so accept it.  Strangely, the drop in production made the recording sound less hurried, and enabled the individual parts to be more easily picked out.

Songs of Note: The Dance of Eternal Shadows; To Walk the Infernal Fields

4 (This one’s for you, JB. RIP) out of 5

PRIMUS / Miscellaneous Debris EP [1992]

Stoner funkheads Primus quietly released a 5 song EP of cover songs in 1992 aptly titled Miscellaneous Debris.
It might sound like Primus but they're restricted to staying semi-normal due to the arrangements of someone else's music, which makes for a great way to ease into them for the uninitiated.  Sort of.  There's still the frightenly weird Residents cover that might turn off some or the faithful cover of Pink Floyd, gonzoed up by Les Claypool's nasally haunting vocals. Without all the bizarre noodling like on their original compositions, the EP showcases Primus' technical brilliance and exposes some of their eccentric roots.

3 sculptures by Snap out of 5

Thursday, February 21, 2013

GROUPER / The Man Who Died In His Boat [2013]


Liz Harris aka Grouper has really found herself being lost in that ethereal poppy ambience on 2013's The Man Who Died In His Boat.
It's a strange dreamy death vibe that feels like tranquility in being buried alive, which as morbid as it sounds is actually quite soothing to the lonely soul.  It has an emotional vulnerability to it that is mysterious and alluring, like, lack of a better description, an angel mindlessly babbling over an acoustic guitar & a FX board.  It all starts to feel the same but if you like what you hear then it won't really matter as you daydream it all away.

3½ songs called STS out of 5

Songs Of Note: VitalCover The Long Way

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

THE ALMIGHTY / Blood, Fire and Love (1989)

I discovered Blood, Fire and Love when I was sixteen and I thought it was great, believing it was the sound that would destroy hair metal. I thought it was the perfect soundtrack to a night of necking cheap cider and trying to get laid.
Hearing it again after so many years have passed made me smile guiltily and somewhat shamefully. It sounds like 1989.
In retrospect, I now know that cider is evil devil's piss (whisky is better) and that getting laid has nothing to do with The Almighty.

Songs of Note: Blood, Fire & Love; Full Force Lovin' Machine

2½ wild and (not quite as) wonderful choruses out of 5

NINE INCH NAILS / [WITH_TEETH] (2005)

With Teeth is the most accessible, radio-friendly album Reznor has made yet.
Lyrically it takes the familiar dip into self-loathing existentialism but on the surface it’s bright and airy, with happy drums and inoffensive distortion.
After repeated spins a large part of it gets tiresome to listen to but there are just enough moments of beauty and strength rising above the safety net to make a purchase worthwhile.  It's like a NIN starter kit for the kids.

Songs of Note: Every Day is Exactly the Same; Sunspots

3 elaborate dreams out of 5

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

PISSED JEANS / Honeys [2013]

Chances are if you liked The Jesus Lizard or Flipper, noise-punk rockers Pissed Jeans will appeal to you.  
On their fourth LP 2013's Honeys, the band continue their special brand of hilarious loser lyrics in the most agressively tongue-in-cheek of ways.  As angry as the lyrics get it's always very apparent that frontman Matt Korvette is fully aware how minute his first world problems are compared to the bigger picture in life.  The songs have a real in the moment sludgy energy to them that offers nothing really memorable after their done.  It's not a bad thing, because the songs definitely stir up something inside, they just fail to linger for long.  

3½ dancefloor touches out of 5

OINGO BOINGO / Boi-Ngo [1987]

New Wave Nerd Rockers Oingo Boingo continue down the slippery slope of commercially friendly pop music on 1987's Boi-Ngo.   
It might be poppier but songwriter Danny Elfman manages to throw in some warped textures & rhythms to keep things...well...Elfman.  Being the first album since he started scoring films, it seems a bit too professional and serious for a stage act that used to chase each other around with giant fish & half-naked girls.  Some of my favorite Boingo songs are on here and ones I loathe most as well.  
Who would have guessed Elfman's classic Beetlejuice score would surface less than a year later?

3 more helpings of nervous energy out of 5

Songs Of Note: New Generation; We Close Our Eyes

FAITH NO MORE / Who Cares A Lot? [1998]

Greatest Hits?  Faith No More?  Maybe in some tiny little village in Germany.  
With only one genuine hit single song (The Real Thing's Epic) you almost wonder if it's meant to be a tongue in cheek joke or some way to fill contractual obligations after the band broke up a year before this 1998 compilation...or both.
Who Cares A Lot? is pretty much an uninspired collection of their promotional singles and a handful of rarities that will interest hardcore fans.  Some artists' "greatest hits" albums are listener friendly ways to introduce folks to their works and some are better left collecting dust while you seek out the original albums.  This one is a bit of both.  
You be the judge, you fat bastards.

2 hits? out of 5

PUSCIFER / Donkey Punch The Night EP [2013]

After the straight-faced release of Conditions Of My Parole, it's nice to see Puscifer have a laugh with their 2013 8-song EP Donkey Punch The Night.
It showcases 2 pointless covers and 2 new original songs, then remixes of all 4.  The covers are what they referred to as itches that needed scratching and they've faithfully recreated with only some minor changes.  With remixes from SONOIO & Drumcell and the 2 spacey original songs, Donkey Punch is a bit of a mess front to back but the songs stand well separately.  It ain't great but it's fun enough to occasionally enjoy or to scratch that itch.  

3 pillow fights out of 5  

Songs Of Note:  Bohemian Rhapsody [Queen cover]; Dear Brother [Denton Rework]

NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS / Push The Sky Away [2013]

It's been 5 years since The Bad Seeds' abrasively fantastic Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!  Now after a few film scores and heavy concentration on the defunct Grinderman project, The Seeds are finally back with 2013's Push The Sky Away.
Capturing the beauty and subtle moods of their film scores, Cave & Ellis tone it down quite a bit given it a haunted cinematic feeling that might not sit well with some fans.  With Mick Harvey out of the picture, the song arrangements are noticeably different but not once does it hurt the songs, especially with a notable return from Barry Adamson.  It's a beautiful and moody album and as a fan of Cave & Ellis' similar film score works, this couldn't have come at a better time.

4 limitless directions out of 5

Songs Of Note: Wide Lovely EyesWe Real Cool

Monday, February 18, 2013

KATE BUSH / The Dreaming (1982)

The Dreaming album is impossible to pigeonhole, which makes reviewing it a problem.  It also makes listening to it an unbridled joy.
Even if you attempt to prepare yourself for musical performance art that incorporates cockney, opera, waltz, pop and much more, you’ll still be ill-equipped to completely assimilate the themes that it explores.
There’s a lot of layered avant-garde weirdness going on beneath the surface if you care to listen for it.  Kate called it her ‘mad’ album.  I shouldn't have attempted a review, and instead just written:  Her.  Mad.  Album.

Songs of Note: Suspended In Gaffa; The Dreaming

4½ signals given out of 5

Sunday, February 17, 2013

TOM PETTY / Wildflowers (1994)

The sound on Tom’s second solo album took me by surprise; it was closer to Neil Young than the Heartbreakers.  A quick scan of the liner notes revealed that master knob-twiddler Rick Rubin had replaced producer Jeff Lyne, and things began to make sense.  After repeated listens it began to make a lot of sense.
Its greatest strength is in its simplicity, and while there are a few tracks that fade into the background, 90% of it sounds as fresh today as it did on day of release.
Lyrically it’s Petty through and through, just more refined, and as I get older I connect with them more and more.

Songs of Note: You Don't Know How It Feels; Honey Bee

4 long ways from home out of 5

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE / Conventional Weapons (Number One-Five) (2012-2013)


Releasing songs monthly on vinyl sort of pisses me off. These are supposedly the link between The Black Parade and Danger Days, but the only truth to that is a shared lyrical refrain in a vaguely Days-ish song. Otherwise, these are front-packed with kick-ass songs that hearken more to the Revenge era than anything. There’s a bland track or two but they don’t bring down what is on all other accounts a fun collection with miles more meaning and verve than Days pretended to muster. These might get a CD release, and as good as they are, probably aren't worth buying twice. Wait, or burn (legally).

Songs of Note: Boy Division; Ambulance

3 Expertly Tailored Coffins out of 5

Nutted by NEG

Sunday, February 3, 2013

GODFLESH / Slavestate (1991)

Sampling Humanoid's acid house track 'Stakker Humanoid' was a bold move by Godflesh, but it resulted in an exciting hybrid of nihilistic heaviness and dance floor distortion that's hypnotically engaging in the right environment.
Some fans hated it, and still do… can't please everyone~.
For those of you willing to give it a try, the CD re-issue added the 'Slavestate Remixes' single, and both new tracks from the 'Slateman/Wound '91' single, giving you three separate releases on one shiny disc. Win!

Songs of Note: Slavestate; Someone Somewhere Scorned

4 burning minds out of 5