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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

TIM HECKER / Virgins (2013)

I've had Virgins on repeat for days and each time the experience has been different. The most magical was while lying in bed after a night of no sleep. The sounds of the waking world through the open window seemed to be coming from far enough away that they took on a kind of rhythmic, musical ambience. That reservoir of early morning audio formed a symbiotic relationship with the ebb and flow of the spatial environment created by the album. I'm positive the woodwind and piano were Heckler's but the barking dogs in the distance… real or disc?
Listening during waking hours casts a different kind of spell. Some songs sound taller, more open; some more ambitious; and some make me think it's what being inside a storm cloud formation would sound like. Take from that what you will.

Songs of Note: You need all of it to get the full experience.

5 fugue states out of 5

Monday, October 28, 2013

THE WONDER STUFF / The Eight Legged Groove Machine (1988)

If Eight Legged was the only album that I'd ever heard by The Wonder Stuff, I'd be inclined to dismiss them as a Bubblegum-pop/Rock outfit with one or two great songs and some interesting lyrical content elsewhere, and then likely never have bothered with them again. But, luckily, I heard Eight Legged after having heard its follow-up, Hup (1989), or I might never have experienced the joys of Hup.
If you want to hear the band at their best, it might be a good idea to go via the same route as I did. I've known a few indie-kids with floppy hair that really liked this album but… well… they were indie-kids with floppy hair. 'Nuff said.

Songs of Note: Rue the Day; Some Sad Someone

1½ merry-go rounds out of 5

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

AMERICAN IDIOT ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST / American Idiot (2010)


If this show had simply gone for Brave Series-level Symmetrical Docking when combining Idiot and Breakdown it would have only been the sum of its parts. Instead, they went for full-on Great Go-Buster levels of integration: they incorporated verses of other songs, combined songs outright, included b-sides and their contribution to Rock Against Bush, and added an entirely new song to the mix. On top of that, the new, fresh voices, including those of several women, serve to completely reinvigorate these songs. I love the boys and Idiot is on the very short list of contenders for my favorite album but even still this breathes an entirely new life into this era of their career and is completely indispensable.

Songs of Note: Letterbomb; Too Much Too Soon

5 Favorite Sons and Daughters out of 5

Nutted by Neg (who never lacks a better word)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS / Southern Accents (1985)

I don't expect I'll ever meet anyone who claims it's Petty's best work, but I don't think it deserves to be overlooked as much as it is. It used the traditional Petty / Heartbreakers sound as a base and added some experimentalism to it. It's not in your face, and it doesn't change the band's sound too much, but it's there and it speaks for itself. There are strings, a horn section, keyboards and even some sitar.
It's not an album that will grab you by the lapels on first listen, so give it some time before you decide if you like it or hate it. Expect some filler but nothing that offends the ears with blandness.

Songs of Note: Don't Come Around Here No More; Southern Accents

3½ rebellious dogs out of 5

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

KATE BUSH / 50 Words for Snow (2011)

It took me a couple of years of on-and-off listening and a life-changing event to fully appreciate parts of Aerial (2005), so maybe 50 Words for Snow will be the same. Kate's voice is still bewitching, and I love that each song is a little story connected thematically to all the other stories, and I love the eerie sadness dancing between the complex silences, but like the snowflake of the opening track, when I try to grasp onto it, it melts away. Perhaps I'm not yet ready to accept the depth of relaxed maturity that's on offer herein. Maybe someday it'll click with me. I hope so, because I get the feeling it has a lot to offer the correct mindset.

Songs of Note: SnowflakeAmong Angels

3 wet sheets out of 5

Sunday, October 13, 2013

PALE SKETCHER / Warm Sunday | Mogadon (2013)

Pale Sketcher will be a name that sounds familiar to fans of Jesu, because Justin K Broadrick released a Jesu album named Pale Sketches (2007). This is him again, in another of his many guises, but it's lighter in tone than most of his other works. It has things in common with Jesu material but is stripped-back and deconstructed, replacing guitar with dreamlike quality synth. Broadrick is prolific with his music but he never puts out crap, so you can buy with confidence. It's a Name Your Price at Bandcamp. Go HERE.

Songs of Note: Warm Sunday; Mogadon

3½ non-interference projects out of 5

Thursday, October 10, 2013

DAVE PORTER / Breaking Bad: Score Album - Vol. 2 [2013]

Breaking Bad fans were lucky enough to get one album of score cues from Dave Porter so it's nothing short of a miracle to find there's a 2nd volume of his anxiety inducing haunted soundscapes released in 2013 to coincide with the last season.
While the first volume focused mostly on the first four seasons, this second album is almost exclusively dedicated to the increasingly darker and almost too intense final 16 episodes.  It's quite apparent Porter has grown as an artist over the past 6 years, as has he become quite comfortable with noises and textures that evoke feelings of paranoia and dread, much like earlier Trent Reznor works.
This album deserves a listen in the dark with a pair of good headphones to really get the heart racing and skipping beats for mind-twisting pleasure.

4 train jobs out of 5

Songs Of Note: Gas Can Rage; We're A Family

DAVID GILMOUR / About Face [1984]

Shortly after Pink Floyd bassist/songwriter Roger Waters called it quits, guitarist David Gilmour went ahead with his second solo album, 1984's About Face.
Without having to soar as large as Floyd, Gilmour was given the chance to write for himself and focus on his pop-writing sensibilities a bit more.  It's unfortunate he felt he had to write big for Floyd later on because this album is some of the most honest and emotionally intimate writing he's done up to this very day.  Sure some of it outdates itself but it remains a fairly solid, friendly sounding record that will please fans who wanted to forget Floyd's later years.  Sure there's a few clunkers tossed in the middle but I think it's something one would come to expect from Gilmour as a musician.

3½ requiems for The Walrus out of 5

Songs Of Note: MurderNear The End

DAVID LYNCH / The Big Dream [2013]

On David Lynch's second solo album, 2013's The Big Dream, he goes a lot more bluesier than his previous solo effort, 2011's Crazy Clown Time but it's still obviously run through a Lynchian filter of reverb and drowsy swagger.  
It's very apparent Lynch feels more confident with his musical abilities this time around and doesn't hide it behind the stark weirdness of his first album.  He might be using fairly generic chord progressions but it's made interesting by splashes of sonic textures and a dreamy twang that screams of crackling neon lights outside a sleepy gas station found on the Lost Highway on a warm summer's night.

3 icky foreign beers out of 5

Songs Of Note: Cold Wind Blowin'Are You Sure

INSPECTAH DECK, 7L & ESOTERIC / Czarface [2013]


Wu-Tang Clan's Inspectah Deck and hip-hop duo 7L & Esoteric join forces to form the superhero inspired  2013 concept album Czarface.
Heavily inspired by the gritty, menacing '90's East Coast sound, Czarface can't be taken seriously with it's large use of cheesy cartoon samples and nerdy comic book references galore.  7L's production is bouncy, clean and shining with confidence whereas Deck & Esoteric's vocals, while good, don't really differentiate from each other from song to song and eventually gets a little too samesy after 6 or 7 tracks.
A solid and fun album with just a few minor quips that shouldn't take away from the listening enjoyment.

3½ activated Wonder Twin powers out of 5

Songs Of Note: Cement 3's [feat. Roc Marciano]Savagely Attack [feat. Ghostface Killah]

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

KATE BUSH / Director’s Cut (2011)

If we must have an album of reworked Kate Bush songs, then who better than Kate herself to do it? There's a valid reason for the genesis of the idea that I don't have room to explain, so you'll need to google it if you're interested.
The result is less appalling and pointless than most of the other re-recordings by other artists that I've heard over the years; that's not bias talking.
The songs, taken from The Sensual World (1989) and The Red Shoes (1993) are all great songs, and Kate's lower key gives many of them a significantly different feeling, as does the new arrangements on some, but in most cases the originals are still superior; that may well be bias talking, because it's difficult not to directly compare them when you're in love with the originals as much as I am.

Songs of Note: Flower of the Mountain; Deeper Understanding

3½ analogue hugs out of 5

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

PIGFACE / A New High in Low (1997)

ANHiL is a double album. Given its extra length (easy, tiger), it would be natural to assume that it contains even more collaborations than usual, but the opposite is true, it has very few contributors. It almost seems more like a Martin Atkins solo work (with a handful of guests) than a typical Pigface release.
The first disc has twelve tracks spread over fifty+ minutes. There are some half-decent efforts, but overall it's not up to the usual standard.
The second disc is either more interesting or less bearable, depending on your opinion of professional boundary-breaker Genesis P-Orridge, because it's the work of just s/he and Atkins. It's seventy+ minutes of meandering musical self-indulgence that's split over just three tracks.

Songs of Note: Nutopia (w/ Meg Lee Chin); Methylated (w/ The Girl Bros)

3 grotesque attenuations out of 5

Monday, October 7, 2013

JESU / Jesu (2005)

The eponymous release was the first full length album from Jesu, released a year after the d├ębut E.P., Heart Ache. It took the crushing industrial drone that Broadrick is known for and hollowed it out. It's a slow process, but once achieved he was free to fill the gap with something new. Over the course of the album he changed the nature of what industrial music had to offer, opening it up to the beginnings of something that—dare I say it—resembles a kind of uplifting optimism.
It's well known that there’s beauty in darkness; Jesu fans know also that there's beauty in distortion, in minimalism and in purposeful drone.

Songs of Note: Tired of Me; We All Faulter

4 paths to divinity out of 5

SUZANNE VEGA / Days of Open Hand (1990)

The Folk beginnings can still be heard as influences in Suzanne's third album but the singer/songwriter has moved onto new plateaus musically; not necessarily higher or lower, just different. It's not Folk, Rock or Pop, it's simply music from the heart played in an understated way. I can well imagine it being someone's favourite SV album for that reason alone.
The obvious singles will likely be the thing that entice many people in, but the beautifully serene and occasionally mysterious poetry on the quieter tracks will keep them there; it may take longer to appreciate that aspect of the work, but for my money it's where the album's true strengths lie.

Songs of Note: Tired of Sleeping; Book of Dreams

3½ magic markers out of 5

Saturday, October 5, 2013

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Go-Busters Complete Song File (2013)


Few things in this world turn my heart to jelly like toku actors singing their own theme songs. Here, the effect is increased exponentially as the entire team perform duets with their associated robotic partners. The main villains and the heroes’ sentient mecha even get in on the action. The range of styles here is beyond impressive: j-pop, rock, swing, salsa, ska, circus music and even some very surface-level hip-hop and electronic sensibilities. There are some tv-sized versions of insert music to deal with and the Red Senshi’s sister bizarrely gets a song, but that fat can easily be trimmed from a collection this big.

Songs of Note: Blue Banana Moon; Perfection

4 Perfect Imperfections out of 5

Nutted by NEG (while Morphin and Movin!)

Friday, October 4, 2013

CARCASS / Surgical Steel (2013)

They disbanded in 1996 but they're back! And look at the cover. Is it a sign of the Carcass we know and love? Yes, if you were a fan of Necroticism (1991) and Heartwork (1993) because, like every review written says, it sounds like a bridge between those two albums (which is another way of saying it's fucking awesome).
The first half serves up an aggressive dual guitar assault on a bloodstained platter that reminds us just how influential the guys were back in the day. The second half is more focussed on bone crunching mid-tempo riffs that are friendlier on the ear but still extreme enough to make my brain tingle with perverted joy.
It was mixed by Andy Sneap, so you know you're in good hands even before you slip the disc into your player.

Songs of Note: Thrasher's Abattoir; Captive Bolt Pistol

4 congealed blood clots out of 5

KATATONIA / Dethroned and Uncrowned (2013)

An interesting reworking of the previous year's Dead End Kings album. It's not a typical acoustic album, although there are acoustic guitars heard. Instead, it's an album designed to accentuate the ambient and percussion aspects of the band's sound. It strips away the heavy guitar and bass, but doesn't detract from the paradoxical warm/cold beauty of the originals. Some tracks are almost too close to their source, while others are like new works entirely. It's not as stripped-back and naked as I'd have liked, but it's still a hugely enjoyable experience that I'd be happy to see continued, preferably with material from some of the earlier albums, because the softness of Jonas' vocals is perfectly suited to this kind of thing.

Songs of Note: Hypnone; Buildings

4 songs that make the hours go out of 5