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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

CRAIG ARMSTRONG / The Space Between Us [1998]

Craig Armstrong is known mostly for his film scores but he got his start working with trip-hop act Massive Attack, so naturally he'd explore that field quite a bit more on his 1998 solo debut The Space Between Us.
Heavy on the strings arrangements, giving it a strong cinematic feel and flourishing with seductive beats and solemn piano melodies, all making Space a mesmerizing journey indeed.  It's a lushly textured album that's best enjoyed with a glass of wine on a rainy day.  

3 Cocteau Twins out of 5

FAITH NO MORE / We Care A Lot [1985]

After ditching Courtney Love, California alt. rock band Faith No More went from a really shitty singer to just a shitty singer (Chuck Mosley) for the recording of their 1985 full-length debut We Care A Lot.
Blending metal and synthy dance music with a California punk rock attitude, early FNM showed signs of being a promising music act that would stand apart from the rest.  It's not just Mosley's snotty, monotonous vocals that hold the record back but the rest of the band haven't quite refined their writing skills just yet making for plenty of sloppy patches.  

2½ brain-eating daytime soaps out of 5

Saturday, May 26, 2012

NINE INCH NAILS / Year Zero (2007)

Year Zero is dark, like peering through a smoky looking glass. It’s also dense and overly-layered, making it almost impenetrable. Interestingly, it lacks the introspective musings that NIN usually offer up; instead, it's a concept album… religious/political nonsense… America…year 2022, etc. Boring. It's noisy and frustrating; you could argue that so was Broken (1992), but at least it was focussed and knew when to stop. YZ goes on forever, dragging me into a state of sensory ennui. Some rehashed riffs from The Fragile (1999) excite briefly before being lost in the maelstrom. A few tracks stand out like pillars of light from the flat landscape. It's a manifesto, and it's not something I can fall in love with.

Songs of Note: In This Twilight; Zero Sum

2½ (I'll push the goddamn button myself) out of 5

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

CARTER U.S.M / Doma Sportova... Live At Zagreb (1995)

If you were lucky enough to get the first edition of Worry Bomb, the one that had the live set from Zagreb (1994) included, then you'll already know how good it is. I'm giving it a separate entry because it absolutely deserves the attention. It's better than a 'bonus'; it deserved a standalone release with full liner notes.
Carter was one of the finest live acts I've ever seen. I even passed up a chance to see Carcass in order to see Carter a second time and have never regretted it!

Songs of Note: Re-educating Rita; The Only Living Boy in New Cross

4 scout masters out of 5

CARTER U.S.M / Worry Bomb (1995)

The worst album art in the history of Carter hides a collection of songs that aren't instantly likeable. It's a grower, though, like mildew on a student's windowsill. Half of the time it borders on Bubblegum Pop, while the other half has got its balls aggressively in your face. There's an overwhelming sense of lethargy creeping in on the slower tracks. If you hate it, try leaving it on your shelf for a year and then go back to it with fresh ears. It may surprise you then. It did, me.
Alas, it contains the worst song they ever recorded: Let's Get Tattoos. Despite my criticisms, it has enough of their usual attitude about it to keep me loving them.

Songs of Note: Cheap 'n' Cheesy; Senile Delinquent

3½ fully paid-up members out of 5

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Indiscreet Stereo Test Record CD (1995)

Noise: ambient. Noise: grating.
Soundscapes: dreamy. Soundscapes: nightmarish.
Chewing tape loops. And the aural assault that is Masami Akita.
It's hard to rate this one; it really is just noise and ambient distortion. If you're open to that kind of thing, it has some names you'll perhaps know (people better known as members of Godflesh, Napalm Death, Mr Bungle) and some you may not.
WARNING: When Merzbow appears, don't be sitting beside a speaker.

Songs of Note: Scanner/Cubic Field; Umbilical Limbo/Soundtrack to ...

2 maybe, or 1, or... hell, I don't know out of 5

BURZUM / Umskiptar (2012)

Damn it, Varg, you make it hard to care anymore. I understand you need to progress musically, but self-indulgent meandering musings does not make good Burzum. Put this shit out under a different name (like Quorthon had the good sense to do), stop with the pristine production and give us something raw again.

Songs of Least fail: JólnHit helga Tré

1 painfully monotonous opus out of 5

GOLDFRAPP / Supernature (2005)

Electro-pop that has almost nothing original inherent in its composition but still manages to be pretty damn awesome at high volume on a sunny day. There's a 70s Disco/Glam vibe throughout, but it's one that's been dragged into a contemporary setting. It's hard not to like it. It has some filler, but that's what the skip button's for. Oddly, my brain says an Electro/Metal collaboration between Alison Goldfrapp and Marilyn Manson would be sexy time. I often pair up such acts in my head, but they never happen in real life. I'd buy it.

Songs of Note: Ooh La La; Ride A White Horse

4 rhymes with good fap out of 5

TENNIS / Cape Dory [2011]

The husband/wife group Tennis is like one big time-warp.  With a band name and album cover that wouldn't be out of place in the '80's and their 2011 debut record Cape Dory capturing the innocent sound of the late '50's girl group pop.
As dreamy and catchy as the music is, the album start to wear thin by the half-way mark.  The production is muddy (I'm not sure if it's done on purpose for era authenticity) and there isn't a whole lot of emotion put into the songwriting or performance.  It's cute but not enough to warrant a high recommendation.

2½ Lisa Hartman "Hold On"s out of 5

Songs Of Note: MarathonPigeon

Monday, May 21, 2012

OINGO BOINGO / Only A Lad [1981]

With folks like Mr. Bungle, Nirvana, Joss Whedon, blink-182, Seth MacFarlane, No Doubt, Primus and even Sir Patrick Stewart speaking highly of Oingo Boingo it's a wonder why they were never that popular.  
Well praised through the artistic crowd, the dance pop band blended ska, new wave, punk and even chamber music to create the unique sound  frontman Danny Elfman would later on embellish with his film scores.  Their debut album (as a rock band) 1981's Only A Lad was filled with touchy lyrical subjects such as pedophilia and masturbation all put to catchy nerd rock.  The Boingo haven't quite established their sound on this album and are still lingering on their theatrical style from before but it's a great start.

3½ Kinks out of 5

Songs Of Note: Only A LadNasty Habits

Sunday, May 20, 2012

WOVEN HAND / Mosaic [2006]

With 16 Horsepower six feet under, David Eugene Edwards could finally give his all to the Woven Hand project.  2006's Mosaic showcases that effort and dedication.  
Mostly stepping away from the folk country roots and leaning towards an Eastern European flavor, Edwards seems to be channeling Peter Gabriel's Passion score.  His music conjures up images of the apocalypse while his lyrics and voice are so intense I'll bet he could drive me into the corner crying like a little bitch with his insane spiritual death ramblings and threats.  

5 hurdy gurdy monkeys dancing in the flames out of 5

A WHISPER IN THE NOISE / As The Bluebird Sings [2006]

On his 2006 sophomore album As The Bluebird Sings, West Dylan Thordson (aka A Whisper In The Noise) wrote and recorded everything from his house (an abandoned elementary school) in a forgotten town populated by only 365 people.  The haunting and empty atmosphere that surrounded him are made very apparent on the album.  His music sounds like a cross between Danny Elfman, Devotchka and Sigur Ros, with small hints of Roger Waters thrown in for good measure.  It's intriguing, weird and quite often brilliant but unfortunately he spreads his lengthy daydreams a bit too much for his own good.

3 glad hands for Boo Wilbury out of 5

CHILDREN OF BODOM / Hate Crew Deathroll (2003)

A mix of speedy Iron Maiden riffs, classic Swedish Death metal and dramatic (sometimes irritating) keyboards are what CoB do best. Let's not forget the occasional tongues wedged in cheeks, with song titles like Lil' Bloodred Ridin' Hood, and Bodom Beach Terror. There's nothing new here, it's CoB by numbers, but it's all knocked out with such technical proficiency that it's easy to forgive such failings. They have the potential to produce a real five-star release someday, so let's hope they manage it.

Songs of Note: Chokehold; Triple Corpse Hammerblow

3 best not to push them out of 5

Saturday, May 19, 2012

CHRIS REA / God's Great Banana Skin (1992)

Rea delivers his usual brand of slick, moody guitar, soft piano, blues rock on GGBS. Coupled with his distinctive dusky vocals, it'll either sate you with old-man tranquillity or quickly induce a comatose state. If you're in the former camp, there are some quality tracks - the kind that would fit comfortably on a supermarket Best of... compilation. It's half great and half boring (hooray for the >| button), but the title track alone will make it worth a purchase for many folks.

Note: Album is not available for purchase in the USA. Some tracks made it on the US version of Espresso Logic (1993) though.

Songs of Note: God's Great Banana Skin; Soft Top, Hard Shoulder

2½ fruit allegories out of 5

Friday, May 18, 2012

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM / The '59 Sound [2008]

In their tribute to The Day The Music Died, The Gaslight Anthem scale back the punk sound of their previous record and really lay down the good ol' Springsteen rock n' roll with passionate enthusiasm and nostalgia. 
2008's The '59 Sound joins the dirty rock sounds that Social Distortion and Alkaline Trio have perfected, only The Gaslights add in an airy lead guitar that sounds closer to The Cure.  It's pretty much straight up quiet-to-loud rock but there's so much soul and love in the songwriting I can't help but love it.

5 Mighty Mighty Bosstones out of 5

PROLETER / Curses Of Past Times [2011]

Based out of Toulese, France, producer ProleteR debuts his special brand of feel-good hip hop on 2011's Curses Of Past Times.
Fusing boom bap beats with old-timey chanson samples, sprinkled with fluttery acoustic guitars and floaty sheets of synths, it all makes Curses the perfect choice for waking up on a sunny morning.  Using live vocals sparingly, ProleteR focuses heavily on the music and that's all right, because it's so feckin' good.  

5 tip of the hats to Sinatra out of 5

Songs Of Note: U Can Get ItThe Misfit Song

Thursday, May 17, 2012

CONVERGE / Jane Doe [2001]

Hardcore punk band Converge got their big break with 2001's Jane Doe and rightfully so.
It's loud, abrasive and erratic enough that it will more than likely steer most folks away.  Layered with dense walls of chaotic guitar work, raw screeching vocals, bass mixed so low you can't hear it but can certainly feel it and insane polyrhythmic drum-work that highlights the album. These guys are so tight and skilled at their craft that it can't be denied by even someone who doesn't like what it sounds like.  

4 dissolving hearts out of 5

Songs Of Note: Hell To PayPhoenix In Flight

MOTÖRHEAD / Overkill (1979)

The classic Motörhead line-up gave us the classic Motörhead album. It opens with a drum track that would make Jesus weep, it's that good. Lemmy's bass kicks in after a few seconds and thunders along like Odin on a pub-crawl. Then the guitars break, shredding the air like the pains of Osiris slain. Motörhead ooze gritty talent, and the Gods pay attention. Lemmy rasps his way through punk-infused classic rock tunes that will never get old. I'll be listening to Overkill still when they drag me kicking, screaming and swearing, to the old folks home.

Songs of Note: (I Won't) Pay Your Price; I'll Be Your Sister

4 fingers in your eye out of 5

NATALIE IMBRUGLIA / Left Of The Middle [1997]

With explosive success of the single "Torn", Australian actress Natalie Imbruglia cemented herself a spot in the alterna-pop music genre side by side with the likes of Garbage and Alanis Morissette.  The only problem is the rest of her 1997 debut album Left Of The Middle isn't very good.  I realize I'm not the target audience here but it's fairly easy to pick out uninspired songwriting.  There's a small handful of great tracks but for the most part it's just filler.  Imbruglia's got a bold voice complimented with beauty & brains so it's nice to hear her improve in her later albums.

2 Neighbors out of 5

CATHEDRAL / The Guessing Game (2010)

You'd maybe think that after twenty years of being the best at what they do, Cathedral would have nothing new to offer their fans; but you'd be wrong. This double album is as good as some of their earlier Sabbath-esque works. In fact, I'm going to say it's actually better. The ratio of heavy and groove is polished to perfection. It’ll give your speakers an orgasm. The humour is there also, because not all doom is gloom. There are some weird musical shifts that throw you off balance when you least expect it, but after repeated listens they begin to make sense. Cathedral retain the crown; all pretenders go back to the drawing board.

Songs of Note:  Death of an Anarchist; Painting in the Dark

5 requiems for the voiceless cat lovers out of 5

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

DIAMANDA GALÁS / The Divine Punishment (1986)

Avant-garde Queen Galás can give grown men nightmares. Her vocal range is extraordinary. Her performance is unashamedly theatrical. Her subject matter often controversial. The Divine Punishment is the first part of her Masque of the Red Death Trilogy. It's only 2 songs, split into 9 parts. Listening to it in the dark gives the impression that the listener is being haunted by incensed spirits reading scripture, knowing full well that you'll never be able to forget their aural bouts of primal terror. They don't care. They want you to lose sleep. And you will.

Songs of Note: Deliver Me From Mine Enemies

4 sitteth where he sat out of 5

SABBAT / Mourning Has Broken (1991)

I listened to MHB so you don't have to. Woe is me.

Songs of Note: ___________________

0 piece of shit out of 5

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM / Sink Or Swim [2007]

Imagine Bruce Springsteen with a mohawk and a heavy taste for The Clash, then you'll get an idea of what New Jersey's The Gaslight Anthem sound like.
2007's Sink Or Swim came charging into the crowd fists a flailing but sadly went unnoticed by most folks. Which is a shame because they really are one of the best rock bands to come out in a long time.  Rocking out catchy tunes filled with sincerity and soul is what these guys do best and they don't try to do anything otherwise. With a solid debut album, front to back, The Gaslight Anthem  proved they are off to a good start

4 Shout outs to the late great Joe Strummer out of 5

Songs Of Note: 1930Red At Night

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Written in 4 hours and recorded the next day in 2010, English folkster Frank Turner and alt-country Drag The River's frontman Jon Snodgrass' 10" EP Buddies is nothing but good fun.
Each silly little acoustic song is bookended by drunken banter showcasing good buddies doing what they love to do.  It's not great material but it's so much fun  and written & recorded in under 24 hours it can be forgiven.

3 sexy Victorian swim trunks out of 5

Songs Of Note: just grab the damn thing from iTunes and listen.   

Monday, May 14, 2012


Cornfed Iowa boy, William Elliott Whitmore is a man well in tune with the lands that surround him as he proves on his fifth album, 2011's Field Songs.
His gnarled gravely voice provides the backbone of the songwriting with plenty of soul and a sense of authenticity.  Using only a guitar and banjo (with the occasional barely audible footstomping) Whitmore scales back the lyrical heaviness of death and desperation as heard on his earlier records.  His message is simple: you gotta trudge through the shit to enjoy what you got.

5 chirping birds out of 5

Songs Of Note: Field SongEverything Gets Gone

Sunday, May 13, 2012

WOVEN HAND / Consider The Birds [2004]

Still part of 16 Horsepower, Dave Eugene Edwards' focus isn't all on his solo project Woven Hand but you would never know it when listening to 2004's Consider Them Birds.
Denser in sound and more tight in songwriting, Woven Hand's 2nd original album walks further down the Southern path of the damned.  Like a sermon for the dead, Consider Them Birds is a bleak road to travel but always decorated with passionate emotion.

4 Suffocating Old Testaments out of 5

Songs Of Note:  Off The CuffOil On Panel

NEW ORDER / Movement (1981)

A very transitional album. Released just one year after Joy Division had ended, it has the ghost of that band drifting in and out of every song. The production is often criticized for having a mournful sound, but it's those moments that I enjoy most. I can ignore the bits I don't like and be left with the sound of Post-punk in a state of flux. The bits I ignore introduce the Dance-friendly Pop that would become the soundtrack to many a pill-head's Saturday night in later years. Bernard Sumner took vocal duties only because no one else wanted to, and he did okay.

Songs of Note: Truth; ICB

4 senses in denial out of 5

Saturday, May 12, 2012

THE PINE BOX BOYS / Child Of Calamity [2008]

Everybody dies a horrible agonizing death in the world of the bluegrass horror group known as The Pine Box Boys.  
Following in the footsteps of their first two albums, 2008's Child Of Calamity follows the misadventures of hillbilly Willie, a troubled fellow with a taste for cannibalism, disembowelment, torture and other other lovely recreational activities.  The Boys don't change much from album to album, but they're so much damned good foot stompin' fun it doesn't really matter.  
Grab your banjo, a bottle of moonshine & a machete and get ready to yee-haw all the way to the grave.

4 Fraticidal maniacs out of 5

CRADLE OF FILTH / The Principle of Evil Made Flesh (1994)

The first CoF album took the Black Metal sound and warped it into something British. They gave it more rhythm, used cheap sounding symphonic keyboards and upped the occult references. They turned it from a nihilistic, cold wind into a theatrical, symphonic hybrid of new and old. People hated it. Black Metal that wasn't from Scandinavia, with marketable lyrics and gothic visuals was frowned upon. It only served to highlight the prejudices of the genre at the time.
The band tapped into the British love of Gothic Romantic writings and applied that to the lyrics, replacing the usual 'Satan Rules, bleh!' stuff. They were laughed at.
In retrospect, The Principle of Evil is the CoF album that I return to most.

Songs of Note: The Black Goddess RisesThe Principle of Evil Made Flesh

4 midnight movie screenings at the cemetery out of 5

Thursday, May 10, 2012

GARBAGE / Bleed Like Me [2005]

After the commercial flop of Garbage's 2001 album Beautiful, 2005's Bleed Like Me was destined to be a troubled record from the start for the alternative dance-pop group.  Dragged down by countless problems, some that nearly saw the record unfinished, Bleed Like Me is surprisingly still a solid effort.
Shirley Manson's perfected her sultry "don't fuck with me" vocals over top the melodic, yet sludgy music. This time around Garbage stripped away most of the electronic tweaking and went for a more standard grunge sound which works well but dates the music about 10 years too late from it's release date.

3½ Dave Grohl's out of 5

Songs Of Note: Why Do You Love MeHappy Home

WOVEN HAND / Blush Music [2003]

Within seconds of pressing play on 2003's Blush Music we are transported from the comfort of our homes and into Woven Hand's Southern Gothic world.
Blush Music is technically Woven Hand's first album reworked for a Belgian avant-garde dance company and that's all right.  Rearranged and given more room to breathe, the music seems more like a film score than a "rock" group album.   Painting images of buzzards circling over the dead and rusted weathercock's amplified squeaks over a ghost town, Blush Music is creaky, haunting and so musically visual I find it soars past the original album.

5 murder of crows out of 5

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Under the Influence of Alice: Music Inspired by the Classic Tale (2010)

Twelve songs that have Lewis Carroll's classic children's story as an influence. It turns out that's all they have in common. It flits from Indie to Folk to Pop to Alternative to Psychedelic and back again. Not everyone has such eclectic tastes, so it's a hard sell, even on paper. It's the kind of compilation only really good for introducing the listener to new artists. Once it's achieved that, or failed at the same, it becomes nothing but a box on a shelf collecting dust. Be a good chap and pass it on to someone else when you're done with it, eh?

Songs of Note: Jefferson Airplane: White Rabbit; The Incredible String Band: The Mad Hatter's Song

2 bunnies on 'shrooms out of 5

PUBLIC IMAGE LTD / One Drop E.P. (2012)

Age hasn't dulled Lydon's voice, literally nor politically, and he's once more tapped into his store of avant-garde attitude. He isn't bored anymore. Or he needs money again and is giving us something in return for taking ours. I can live with that. Split equal parts experimental and safe, the E.P. is hopefully a bite-sized taster of what's to come. I hope the forthcoming album is as daring.

Songs of Note: One Drop; The Room I Am In

3½ lollipops and chaos out of 5

Sunday, May 6, 2012

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA / The Butcher's Ballroom [2006]

It's not everyday a band like Sweden's Gothic avant-garde metal band, Diablo Swing Orchestra comes along and wakes you up with a swift kick in the ass.
On their 2006 debut album, The Butcher's Ballrom, the eclectic DSO seamlessly stitches together opera, swing, thrash, jazz and even flamenco.  At times their chamber style music is a little muddled up and fails to interest but for the most part this album is an entertaining, brilliantly executed wild ride following in the footsteps of Unexpect, Mr. Bungle and Ulver.

4 devilish didgeridoo's out of 5

Saturday, May 5, 2012

MARILYN MANSON / Born Villain [2012]

After 2 shit albums back-to-back, shock-rocker Marilyn Manson finally returns to fine form with 2012's Born Villain.  Instead of mucking through silly alcohol infused lyrics, Manson sounds refreshed and enthusiastic about his work once again.  The music is industrial-lite, Gothic glam rock with a nasty bite that echoes the Holy Wood days.  For the most part it's Manson on auto-pilot but still a welcome return to what once was.  It's not as good as Antichrist Superstar or Mechanical Animals but it holds it's own and that could be a good thing if they keep heading back in this direction.

3½ Shia & Depps out of 5

FLUX OF PINK INDIANS / Strive to Survive Causing Least Suffering Possible (1983)

If you like CRASS, then it's almost certain you'll feel similarly about Hertfordshire's Flux of Pink Indians, because they belt out the same kind of British anarcho/punk that's sadly dead these days. It's pissed-off, anti-establishment, rousing and raw emotion in the language of music. That's all you really need to know.
The reissue, with a different cover, added an earlier E.P. 1981's Neu Smell.

Songs of Note: Charity Hilarity; Progress

4 nothing's changed - they still lie, we still die out of 5