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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

GBH / Midnight Madness and Beyond... (1986)

It looks like G.B.H, and it might even smell like G.B.H if you want to get up close and personal with it, but it doesn't have the power of G.B.H.
Twelve tracks of mostly boring, mid-tempo, fuzzy, empty, lifeless filler. Avoid this crap. Get City Baby Attacked by Rats (1982) instead.

Songs of Note: Limpwristed; Midnight Madness and Beyond

1½ boring skylines out of 5

Saturday, March 30, 2013

MONSTER MAGNET / Superjudge (1993)

In the simplest terms, if you mixed Black Sabbath with Hawkwind, then you'd get Monster Magnet. The spiralling, fuzzed-up, bass-heavy rhythms roll around like a buzz saw inside a tornado. When needed, they break to allow acoustic guitar and sitar to bleed in. Fans of spacey, sludgy, psychedelic Stoner Rock will be in spacey, sludgy, psychedelic stoner heaven. Crank up your volume knob until it hits maximum and let it wash you away.

Songs of Note: Twin Earth; Cage Around the Sun

4 little piggies out of 5

Thursday, March 28, 2013

PIGFACE / Welcome to Mexico... Asshole (1992)

The first proper Pigface live album sounds more like a bootleg and it's clearly cobbled together from different performances over different nights, but it has an energy and a schizophrenic appeal that makes it worthwhile.
Martin Atkins plays on most tracks. Chris Connelly and Bill Rieflin feature prominently. You also get Ogre, Trent Reznor, Paul Raven, Dave Ogilvie, etc. Everyone brings their own style and there didn't seem to be any limitation placed on improvisation, so it makes for an interesting listening experience.

Songs of Note: Blood and Sand; Weightless

3 wrong fucking centuries out of 5

PRIMUS / Antipop [1999]

1999's Antipop made it evident that Primus were aching from a lack of ambition. 
Maybe to ease the tension a bit, Primus enlisted the help of an army of folks to help out, including Tom Morello, James Hetfield, Jim Martin, Tom Waits, Fred Durst, Stewart Copeland, Martina Topley-Bird and even South Park co-creator Matt Stone.  The album is a dense wall of sound with Primus at their heaviest, which only proves louder doesn't necessarily make things better.  However it works really well when you can hear the genuine venom spitting bitterness in Les Claypool's usually cartoony voice on a few select tracks that make the album somewhat worthwhile.   

2½ hidden Hecklers out of 5

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

DIDO / Girl Who Got Away [2013]

5 years after her moody 2008 album Safe Trip Home, Dido returns with the more noticeably upbeat Girl Who Got Away.
Dido's sound subtly changes with each record but that sensually hushed voice over mid-tempo music lets us know it's unmistakably her.  This time around, she delicately layers a soft bed of electronics over her gentle pop songs, reminding me somewhat of Madonna's Ray Of Light album only not as forced.  Even with the addition of electronic flutterings and Kendrick LamarBrian Eno making guest spots, Dido can't escape that "overly vanilla" stamp she's been accused of but really, sometimes, it's exactly what the doctor ordered.  

3 survivors of success out of 5

Songs Of Note: No FreedomLoveless Hearts

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

OINGO BOINGO / Forbidden Zone [1982]

Oingo Boingo's frantic Forbidden Zone soundtrack to the even more frantic cult crap classic by Richard Elfman is notable for a few reasons.  
First off, it's frontman Danny Elfman's first dip into the world of composing for film and secondly it's Oingo Boingo's first album that saw their transition from a fucked up arthouse act to an off-kilter surf-pop band. It might be a little more listener friendly than their previous works but it's still far from anything even remotely normal.   If you can imagine what Cab Calloway would sound like if he were in an animated version of The Rocky Picture Horror Show composed by Mr. Bungle, then you might get an idea as to what it all sounds like.  It might lack the precision and quality of Elfman's later film compositions but the raw arrangements and surrealism is what shines here.  

4 moochers out of 5 

PHOSPHORESCENT / Muchacho [2013]

Songwriter Matthew Houck aka Phosphorescent crafts a finely textured album filled with haunting country indie-rock songs on 2013's Muchacho.
Carried by his fragile, yet powerful heart-achy voice the songs are sparse yet allowed to soar when Houck wisely places horns, strings and electronic ambience for an extra layer of sound, without ever sacrificing the quality and honesty of his songwriting.  The songs are deceivingly simple, until you start peeling away the layers in both lyrics and music to discover just how much thought went into every vibrant moment of gold.

4 suns going up & down out of 5

Songs Of Note: Song For Zula; Muchacho's Tune 

DEPECHE MODE / Delta Machine [2013]

Depeche Mode's 13th studio album, 2013's Delta Machine is probably their strongest work since 1993's Songs Of Faith & Devotion.  
Flood's back at the mixing board after 20 long years of being apart, so you're guaranteed a minimalistic, yet strangely busy, wall of sleek electronic textures & melodies with slithering bluesy guitars swaying back & forth into the mix.  It's all very familiar, which almost sounds like the band is purposely attempting to recreate the sounds of their glory days, which at times makes me question the authenticity of their intentions here.  Negative points aside, it's a solid album that sets up an excellent atmosphere and tone that's fully engaging from start to finish.

3½ blessings or curses? out of 5

Songs Of Note: AngelSoothe My Soul

Monday, March 25, 2013

OVERKILL / Horrorscope (1991)

Green cover with orangey bits? It must be an Overkill album. That same sense of familiarity extends to the music. too. There are a few surprises, such as the addition of a second guitarist and the unexpected intro, but mostly it's what you'd expect. There are some hits, some misses and some maybes.
I've scored it higher than The Years of Decay (1989) simply because I feel it works slightly better as a listening experience from beginning to end. I skip fewer tracks on Horrorscope but also freely admit that there's nothing on it that tops the power of my Songs of Note choices from the previous album.

Songs of Note: Bare Bones; Nice Day...For a Funeral

3½ baptisms in fields of fire out of 5

MARTINA TOPLEY-BIRD / Quixotic [2003]

After years of appearing as a guest vocalist for Massive Attack, Primus, Tricky & Gorillaz, singer Martina Topley-Bird released her first solo album, Quixotic.  
A nice mix of trip-hop, rockand electronica gives off a Garbage sort of vibe, only with a little bit more of soul and blues sprinkled into the mix.  As wonderful as Topley-Bird's sultry voice is, her music plays it a little bit too safe to really be nothing more than a paint-by-numbers PJ Harvey clone released 5 or 6 years too late.  With folks like Josh Homme, Mark Lanegan, Tricky & score composer David Arnold lending their talents to the album I expected a bit more creativity.  It's decent music but nothing you haven't heard before done with more ingenuity.

3 Intros turned to Outros out of 5

WOODKID / The Golden Age [2013]

With music videos from Taylor Swift & Katy Perry under his director's belt, I had low expectations from Yoann "Woodkid" Lemoine's debut album The Golden Age.
Much to my delight, the album is nothing like the bubblegum crap videos that he's famous for.  Each song holds a bold & busy cinematic power that lends itself to generic visuals quite easily, so I would think by the end of the year they'll all be in Zooey Deschanel's TV sitcom or an iPod commercial.  Lemoine's voice is pleasant enough but it really doesn't do a whole lot of exploration.  While the ambitious songwriting and production is admirable, Lemoine throws it all at you too early in the songs and they never really progress from there.  

3 lives out of 5

Songs Of Note: Run Boy RunIron

Sunday, March 24, 2013

FANTOMAS / The Director's Cut [2001]

When most bands these days are doing covers of shitty '80's songs, it's nice to hear avant-garde super metal group Fantômas do something a bit different.
2001's The Director's Cut is a hilariously disturbing collection of cover tunes of cult classic horror & thriller film themes, including Ennio Morricone, John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard Herrmann and many more.  Featuring members from Mr. Bungle, The Melvins and Slayer you can pretty much expect it to be an abrasive, distorted journey into the vastly weird.  It mixes death metal, sludgecore, jazz and eerie soundscapes all usually in just one track.  Film score nerds will find it to be unfaithfully offensive.  Metal fans won't know how to make heads or tails of it.  Freaked out rabid lunatics having a mental breakdown will feel right at home.  

5 seconds of nothing out of 5

Friday, March 22, 2013

PRIMUS / Rhinoplasty [1998]

Like Primus' previous EP, Miscellaneous Debris, 1998's Rhinoplasty is a bizarre jumble of cover songs, plus a "remix" and 2 live recordings added to emphasize a bit more on the word "jumble".
This time around the gonzo funksters are adding their own twist to Peter Gabriel, XTC, The Police, Metallica and more with mixed results.  The boys are quite clearly having a lot more fun than they did on Brown Album, making for a rough, yet entertaining listen that isn't fantastic but reassuring to fans.  It's plain and simple fun with no bitter after-taste.

3 reasons to put the EP in your disc drive out of 5

Thursday, March 21, 2013

MATTHEW GOOD / Vancouver [2009]

Matthew Good has never been one to mince words, so it's no surprise that 2009's Vancouver is not a flattering love letter to the "great" Canadian city he lives in.
A commentary on the worldwide known nightmare that is the Downtown Eastside, Good spits with venom and genuine confusion as to how a city can be so ignorant & cold towards such an important issue.  His lyrics are always thoughtfully beautiful and well composed, however it's the music here that suffers a bit.  Good resorts to standard rock structures, which might just be him recuperating from the deeply personal and disturbing album before this.  Still as rock goes, it's a lot more solid and smart compared to some of the other acts trying to be half as good as this is.  Consider this an honest travel brochure that'll bite your head off.

3½ invisible ghettos of privilege and grief out of 5

Songs Of Note: Volcanoes; A Silent Army In Trees

LUDOVICO EINAUDI / Una Mattina [2004]

There's a fine line drawn between "calming" and "boring". 
Italian contemporary pianist Ludovico Einaudi teeters back & forth between the two on 2004's Una Mattina.  With each track you pretty much get where it's going within 45 seconds but I suppose that's minimalism for you.  Here we focus more on whether or not Einaudi can convincingly pull of the impact or emotion through each polyphonic melody and arpeggio he plucks away at.  For the most part, he succeeds in allowing the listener to get lost in tranquil thought, however it occasionally comes off as contrived and predictably bland.  The highlights are when a subtle cello comes in serving as a backbone to the composition allowing the piano to stop and breathe for brief moments with intoxicating results. 

3½ mornings out of 5

Songs Of Note: Dietro CasaDNA

VARIOUS ARTISTS / The Walking Dead: Original Soundtrack - Volume 1 [2013]

My initial reaction to seeing the tracklisting on the 8 song soundtrack to the AMC television series The Walking Dead was "what a crock of shit".
1st: only 8 songs after 3 seasons?  Surely they could have included Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Chopin, Tom Waits and the legions of other great songs they used.  
2nd:  the only music from composer Bear McCreary is a dull remix of the theme.  
3rd: why are they only using songs from the third season?
After getting over the disappointment of everything that was wrong with the album, I came to find I'm actually really fond of 7 of the 8 tracks offered.  A organic, gritty collection of earthy songs that serve as wonderful sonic wallpaper to the apocalyptic zombie visuals onscreen.   

3½ parting songs out of 5

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

KILLING JOKE / The Courtauld Talks (1989)

A recording of a lecture that Jaz Coleman gave two years previous, offering an insight into his motivations for recording the Outside the Gate (1988) album.
It's largely spoken word, but when Geordie Walker starts up with a repetitive acoustic riff, Jaz's delivery begins to resemble a lyric structure.
It would've been a fascinating experience to witness live, but I'm not sure it needed a separate release; a bundled second disc with the OtG album would've been more relevant. It's hard to apply a rating, because enjoyment is solely dependent on your feelings for Jaz and his system of beliefs, but I'll try:

Songs of Note: It's one track lasting 66 mins.

3 Lovecrafts out of 5

FILTER / Short Bus (1995)

The first track kicks ass.* Unfortunately, the remainder is less impressive, being somewhat bland and samey. There's anger in the distorted guitars and lyrics but it lacks the kind of vehemence that would take it to the next level. It's a safe kind of MTV anger, not the crippling kind that eats you up from the inside.
The potential is squandered on trying to capture a feeling that was already being done better by NIN. Altough, Trent must've been listening, because he stole some of that sound back years later for The Fragile (1999).
Short Bus is a decent album that might've benefited from a different production, one that picked out and enhanced strengths instead of burying them in the mix.

Songs of Note: *Hey Man, Nice Shot; Stuck In Here

3 breached spaces out of 5

THE RESIDENTS / Not Available [1978]

Released in 1978, avant-garde multimedia artists The Residents' Not Available is a surreal 4 part "rock opera" with a history that's surrounded in bizarre mystery.  
It's a swirling, spooky musical trip that only Tom Waits and Frank Zappa would find on the worst of acid trips.  Through all the haunted jazz, piano pounding and delightfully unpleasant synth plodding, there's moments of musical coherency to go with a lyrical narrative that makes sense in the kind of way that doesn't.  Most folks will brush it off as pure nonsensical noise but with each listen you begin to piece things together making the purpose all the more clearer and brilliant.  Whether or not that's a good thing is for you to decide.

4 theories of obscurity out of 5

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE / The 20/20 Experience [2013]

Neo-soul artist turned actor Justin Timberlake returns to his music career, after a 7 year hiatus, with the first of two 2013 releases, The 20/20 Experience.  
More confident with his music, Timberlake opts for an experimental journey into textures, a wide variety of vamps, abrupt rhythm & key changes sprawled over lengthy spaced-out songs unsuitable for the short attention span of the radio.  With all but one song well over 5 minutes in length, the 10 songs album clocks in at 70 minutes, which might lose a lot of listeners after the weakness of the first two songs.  However it's worth it from track 3 and onwards, as Timberlake charismatically smothers it with his sly, seductive cool cat attitude.  

4 songs you can see out of 5

Songs Of Note: Don't Hold The WallLet The Groove Get In

MARNIE STERN / The Chronicles Of Marnia [2013]

2013's The Chronicles Of Marnia is Marnie Stern's first album without drummer Zach Hill, who opted to work with psycho hip-hop act Death Grips instead, and it softens her sound a bit but doesn't take away from the quality.
Marnia is a high-spirted, playful record filled with optimistic melody with a slight lyrical self-doubt Stern seems to be facing as she gets closer and closer to the ripe ol' age of 40.  She might be a mighty fine guitarist (one of the better ones out today) but her unique Karen-O-esque vocal style and rhythms shouldn't go unnoticed.  Even without Hill, Stern proves she's can rock out with thoughtful playfullness without ever looking back.  

3½  hesitations ignored out of 5

Songs Of Note: East Side Glory; Hell Yes

THE MAGNETIC FIELDS / Distortion [2008]

2008's Distortion, the 2nd album in The Magnetic Fields' No Synth trilogy, is like Stephin Merritt's distorted love letter to The Jesus And Mary Chain's Psychocandy.
Buried underneath a gentle yet powerful distortion, is Merritt's taste for 60's pop meshed with sunny goth syrup complimented with absolutely twisted lyrics which all makes for an interesting and oddly pleasant listen.  As strong a presence as Merritt has, it's Shirley Simm's voice that steals the show when she's allowed to come to the forefront.  Now a little more confident without their trademark synths, Distortion makes for even more of a solid listen than their previous effort.

4 sober prisons out of 5

OINGO BOINGO / Farewell: Live from the Universal Amphitheatre [1995]

After nearly 25 years as an act, forming in 1972, off-kilter surf nerd group Oingo Boingo decided to call it quits.
Instead of withering away, the band celebrated one last time with a near 3 hour Farewell set one Halloween night in 1995 and recorded it for DVD & CD.  Hopping around their entire discography (excluding the dismal Dark At The End Of The Tunnel) the setlist has something for every generation of fans, including some brand new songs written for the show.  With their Klezmer meets jazzy African rhythms, wallpapered over intricate yet subtle orchestrations and unconventional scales, then slapped with a heavy new wave/punk vibe, it's easy for the finer details to get lost in the murky sound recording but that's all right considering the high energy of the show.

4 clowns of death out of 5

Songs Of Note: No One Lives ForeverWho Do You Want To Be

MAZZY STAR / So Tonight That I Might See (1993)

My introduction to Mazzy Star's vocalist, Hope Sandoval, was on a Jesus & Mary Chain album. Her voice held a strange melancholic allure, so I sought out some Mazzy. Hope's vocal range is limited to mostly hushed whispers filled with languid emotion, but the music complements it beautifully, so it all works.
There's a Velvet Underground influence throughout, but it's less concerned with lifting you up and hurrying you away to some place new than it is with laying you down and comforting you with soft contradictions. It's a dreamy album for late nights when you don't care if the world outside your window ceases to exist, because you're in your comfort zone, and no one can take it away.

Songs of Note: Bells Ring; So Tonight That I Might See

4 true breaths out of 5

LYNYRD SKYNYRD / (Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd) (1973)

It's hard to believe that Pronounced... was Lynyrd Skynyrd's début album; the teething problems that usually litter a début are nowhere to be found. Most bands would trade their souls to make something as good as it over the course of their entire career; to get it so right on your first try is almost unheard of.
They're best known for their nine-minute long Freebird track, which closes the album. Love it or loathe it, you can't deny the enduring magnificence of it.
There's no rule that says you have to grow a beard and order a bottle of bourbon to enjoy Southern Rock, but it sure does help.~

Songs of Note: Tuesday's Gone; Freebird

5 trains out of 5

PRIMUS / Brown Album [1997]

Bizarro funk metal act Primus replace their original drummer Tim Alexander with a guy simply known as Brain on 1997's Brown Album.
The basic sound of Primus isn't drastically changed with the slight line-up change however it's uninspired writing and dry mix heavily detracts from the enjoyment.  The whole album sounds like Robert Crumb leading some sort of military march down Sesame Street, which should normally be great but for some reason it never gels together.  Maybe they were just tired after extensive touring and promotion after the huge success of their previous album.

2 albums not white or black out of 5

Songs Of Note: Puddin' Taine; Coddingtown

Monday, March 18, 2013

BURZUM / Hvis Lyset Tar Oss (1994)

Hvis Lyset Tar Oss (If the Light Takes Us) is the reason I love Burzum. Forget the political ideology. Forget the media whoring. Come instead for the music because it's a fucking masterpiece.
What separated Burzum from other bands in the Norwegian scene was the atmosphere. It wasn't just about playing your instrument as fast as possible, it had to mean something and it had to represent something. The darkness isn't the enemy. The lo-fi production isn't a barrier. The aesthetic isn't merely an afterthought. It's all part of something larger.

Songs of Note: Det Som En Gang Var; Inn I Slottet Fra Drǿmmen

5 castles out of 5

Sunday, March 17, 2013

NURSE WITH WOUND / A Handjob from the Laughing Policeman (2006)

Handjob is a one track release (forty-four minutes) from the 'purveyors of sinister whimsy to the wretched,' NWW. It has Stephen Stapleton joined by Colin Potter, who together offer up a kind of remix of 'Shipwrecked Radio' outtakes, with various oddities from their past collaborations. It starts slow but gathers momentum with a great loop based tribal rhythm. The latter half slows down once more to a familiar kind of ambient drone. It was limited to 300 copies, but you can bag it from the official bandcamp page in exchange for some currency. With over eighty albums in the NWW discography, it can be hard to know which, if any, are worth your time. This isn't their best work, but not their worst either.

Song of Note: A Handjob from the Laughing Policeman

3 void echoes out of 5

CURRENT 93 / Faust (2000)

Faust is a 35 minute track that'll appeal to a very limited number of people. It's designed to give musical accompaniment to a reading of Count Eric Stenbock's text of the same name (included with the release), but because people read at different speeds, the experiment is problematic and flawed before it even begins.
When stood apart from the text, is the music any good? Yes. Except it's not music in the traditional sense. It's a haunting growl layered with mostly unintelligible scratching whispers, howls and hypnotic chiming bells. It's eerie.

Song of Note: Faust

4 heavy tolls out of 5

Saturday, March 16, 2013

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Sound City: Real To Reel [2013]

Musician Dave Grohl purchased the mixing console from Sound City Studios after it went out of business and made a documentary film about it's history and a musician's love for it.
Sound City: Real To Reel is the companion album to that film that acts like a celebration recording by Grohl & friends.  Including members of Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Paul McCartney, Joshua Homme, Rick Springfield, Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor & more, the album is bound to be bouncing all over the map with musical styles. The songs are pretty rough around the edges, given it more a jam session feel, which warmly reveals the love and enthusiasm each player on the album had for it.  It's not a very smooth listen front to back but you can clearly hear they're doing it because they love it and that's what sells it.

3  Beatles in Nirvana out of 5

KILLING JOKE / Outside the Gate (1988)

Surely Brighter Than a Thousand Suns (1986) was the Joke's nadir, right? Wrong. I'm fucking weeping inside. The only positive thing I can say about OtG is that it wasn't supposed to be a Killing Joke album. It was originally a Jaz Coleman solo album, but got jumped on by a greedy record label with no morals. It's like stamping a Rolling Stones label on a Mick Jagger album. No one wants that shit.
Bass player Paul Raven and drummer Paul Ferguson quit the band to get away from the awfulness. Guitarist Geordie Walker remained but he plays second to some weak synth. Even if they repackaged it with free bank notes in place of liner notes, it wouldn't be worth buying.

Song of Least Fail: Outside the Gate

1 empty, empty place out of 5

MAYHEM / Freezing Moon | THE MEADS OF ASPHODEL / Jihad (2002)

A split release between one of Oslo's finest, Mayhem, and the less exotic locales of Hertfordshire's oddest, The Meads of Asphodel. It's a peculiar mix of styles. I can't imagine how it ever came to be; Black Metal purists may hate the experimental nature of The Meads (especially their Hawkwind cover). It's also uneven. TMoA added six tracks, while Mayhem added only two, both of which are classic-era live rehearsals from '91 with Dead on vocals.

Songs of Note: TMoA: The Grisly Din of Killing Steel / Mayhem: Freezing Moon

3½ oddities out of 5

METALLICA / The $5.98 E.P: Garage Days Re-Revisited (1987)

The BEST damn thing Metallica ever made, and it's all covers of other people's songs! Permission to chuckle: granted.
It was the first release to feature Jason Newsted, who had the almost impossible task of filling Cliff Burton's shoes. He brought his own shoes.

Songs of Note: The WaitLast Caress/Green Hell

5 crash courses out of 5

Friday, March 15, 2013

KILLING JOKE / Brighter Than a Thousand Suns (1986 / 2007)

I've been reviewing the Killing Joke studio albums in the order they were released, which means it's time for BTaTS. Jebus. Synth pop! Fans can defend it all they like, but it's an ear-turd. It's bad enough that I know it exists, actually putting it into the player is a trial only surpassed by listening to it.
But wait! A reissue (2007) gave us Chris Kimsey's mix. It's much more aggressive than Mendelsohn's piss poor effort. I can hear guitars! I can hear bass! I can hear... I can hear Jaz Coleman being bland. Aw, shit. It still sucks.

Songs of Least Fail: Adorations; Wintergardens

1½ salty tear falling, falling out of 5

LOOPFLESH | FLESHLOOP / Untitled (1991)

A hard to find split-release that featured Godflesh covering a Loop song, and Loop covering a Godflesh song. Loop's psychedelic drone makes the Godlfesh track sound like it's played at the wrong speed. It loses the crushing intensity but gains a deep melancholy. Godlfesh make the Loop track sound like a Godflesh demo, with extra cheap anarcho-punk style distortion. It only had two tracks, so here's both:

Songs of Note: LOOP: Like Rats; GODFLESH: Straight to Your Heart

3 splitsies out of 5

JOE HISAISHI / Kikujiro (1999)

Hisaishi's main tool is his piano, and his greatest strength is his ability to convey emotion via simplicity. Kikujiro is possibly the finest example of his working method to date. He can make you happy and sad at the same time; but the sad is a happy kind of sad. Trust me.
It might not sound like a lot, but there's only really three themes throughout, played with a slightly different arrangement each time, or accompanied by the violin. Each one is as beautiful as the one preceding it and the one following it.
If you haven't already, go watch the film, too. It's equally magnificent.

Songs of Note: Summer; Mother

5 roads travelled out of 5

Thursday, March 14, 2013

PRIMORDIAL / A Journey's End (1998)

Blending the technical guitar styles of Black Metal with elements of Irish Folk sounds like a ridiculous idea, but Primordial did it and they did it beautifully. By finding a balance between the two halves they gave a musical voice to Ireland's Pagan past, cementing it in a romantic lament to a time lost forever, except in song. Quiet moments break up the more extreme ones, like a lull in a battle.

Songs of Note: Graven IdolDark Song

5 lessons learned out of 5

THE WONDER STUFF / Never Loved Elvis (1991)

The 'Stuffies third album was the one that got them media attention in the UK, which is surprising, considering their previous album is arguably more accessible. Sure, NLE has some great Pop songs that deserved to be hits, but the record-buying public don't often embrace songs that contain fiddle, banjo, mandolin and accordion. Its success is a triumph for good songs from good songwriters!
In a similar way to how shots of bourbon complement the blues, half a dozen cold beers in a student bar increase my enjoyment of NLE.

Songs of Note: Welcome to the Cheap Seats; 38 Line Poem

4 mission drives out of 5

Monday, March 11, 2013


The Damage Manual's One (aka –>1) is an E.P. of ardent vocals, rhythmic distortion, a hammering pulse, and a second heartbeat keeping it all in sync, or to be more precise, Chris Connelly on vocals, Geordie Walker on guitar, Jah Wobble on bass, and stick man extraordinaire Martin Atkins on drums. It sounds similar to a lot of the other bands that those guys are a part of, such as Pigface, Murder Inc, etc, meaning it's more a variation on a theme than a brand new listening experience, but if you're a fan of either of them, then that's no bad thing.

Songs of Note: Sunset Gun; Damage Addict

4 midnight hits out of 5

PRIMUS / Tales From The Punchbowl [1995]

Primus are at their tightest and most precise yet on their most popular record to date, 1995's Tales From The Punchbowl.
Unfortunately it doesn't make for the magnificent album that it's set out to be.  It's actually quite predictable (well, as much as Primus can be), overly polished and seems like Claypool & the boys are set on auto-pilot for the better half of the album.  It starts out really, really strong and begins getting weaker with each song past the half-way mark, until you reach the light at the end of the grapevine.  As an introduction to the mainstream, it's pretty safe for the casual listener.  For a longtime Primus fan, it falls a bit short compared to previous records.

3 milkshake snorters out of 5

Songs Of Note: Southbound PachydermOver The Electric Grapevine

SYD BARRETT / The Madcap Laughs [1970]

2 years after being given the boot of out of Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett took it upon himself to record as a solo artist.  1970's The Madcap Laughs is the first effort.
Like an audio diary of his mental disintegration, Madcap is a deeply flawed album.  There's moments that are quite clearly salvaged by overdubs but Barrett's sloppy guitar playing and off-key vocals can't be hidden.  Bad musicianship aside, Barrett's magnificent lyrics are still firmly intact and shine most when you can hear the genius of Barrett occasionally fight off his mental suffering.  It's really more of an interesting character study than it is a pleasant listen.  Producer Malcolm Jones compared it to "hanging out your dirty laundry for everyone to see".  In a way, he's right. 

3 James Joyce poems out of 5

Songs Of Note: Love YouOctopus

FRIGHTENED RABBIT / Pedestrian Verse [2013]

For 2013's Pedestrian Verse, Frightened Rabbit composed as a complete band rather than frontman Scott Hutchison doing all the writing.  
Moody, mopey and melodic haven't been this much fun since early New Order and The Cure.  With Leo Abrahams at the soundboard, there are several warms tones explored throughout each song that are more than pleasant to the ear.  As downbeat as the lyrics are, you still get an anthemic feeling about them like it's about to explode with smug sarcasm.  It's a fantastic example of upbeat, self-deprecating music made by shy folk for shy folk 

4 knights in shitty armour out of 5

Songs Of Note: HolyBackyard Skulls

Sunday, March 10, 2013

OINGO BOINGO / Dark At The End Of The Tunnel [1990]

18 years after forming, Oingo Boingo are showing signs that it's clearly time to wrap things up with 1990's Dark At The End Of The Tunnel.
Maybe it's because Danny Elfman had composing duties on Edward Scissorhands, Darkman, Dick Tracy and Nightbreed the same year but this album is a far cry from the party time favorite of John Hughes films.  Gone are the angry goofs of their previous albums, here's some adult pop crap that is void of any sort of personality, interesting arrangements or originality instead.  Elfman's lyrics are still top-notch but his musical ambition has run dry here.  Hell, the band even completely ignored the album on their Farewell tour setlist.  Thankfully they popped out one last great album before calling it quits.  

1½  songs from Midian out of 5

Songs Of Note: SkinFlesh 'N Blood

FEN / Dustwalker [2013]

British black metal act Fen step further away from their roots and explore a little deeper into the post-rock sound on 2013's Dustwalker.
They've always been an ambitious band but never quite reach the heights you feel like they should.  Finally, on this album, you get the feeling they realize that and accept it which makes them appear as confident as ever  They generate some clear visuals of rolling hills, crows, bare-boned trees and all that pip-pip stuff, that at times made me think of Iron Maiden jamming with God Is An Astronaut.  In pieces, the album is full of great moments I'm awfully fond of but as a whole I find it difficult to fully grasp onto anything solid.  

3 dusty ghosties out of 5

Songs Of Note: Hands Of DustThe Black Sound

Saturday, March 9, 2013

THE UNDERACHIEVERS / Indigoism [2013]

Playing a huge part in the rising "Beast Coast" movement, hip-hop duo The Underachievers make their debut with the 2013 mixtape Indigoism.
Like a love letter to their old school roots, spirituality and the drugs they endure, the duo's lyrics are occasionally questionable but their rapid fire vocal deliveries are what sells it.  It's all complimented with a deliciously murky sounding production that picks apart it's psychedelic sound palate with a enduring cloudy smoothness and bizarre rhythm shifts.  Clocking in at nearly an hour, it's a bit much and some of the weaker tracks could easily have been dropped to create a solid listen from this act that you should keep your eyes on.

3½ Warriors out of 5

Songs Of Note: RevelationsHerb Shuttles


Lonesome Wyatt (of Those Poor Bastards) releases another album of great mournful, haunting beauty and the grotesque with 2013's Ghost Ballads.
Like a bad dream you don't want to wake up from, Wyatt seems to be channelling the tortured spirits of a different era with each song.  Deceivingly simple folk music creaks into your heart and soul with solemn dread that knows no time, like a Syd Barrett song from beyond the grave.  Eerie sound effects linger throughout the record making for a fantastic listen when you're giving it your undivided attention.  Do yourself a favor and mosey on over to their official site and pick yourself up a copy of this haunting little album.  

4 songs from Hotel Hell out of 5

Songs Of Note: The Golden RuleDream Of You

DAVID BOWIE / The Next Day [2013]

24 albums later and 10 years after his last one, at the ripe ol' age of 66 Old Man Bowie is at it again on 2013's The Next Day.
A bold, beautiful and poetic presentation that questions mortality in such classy ways only David Bowie could pull it off with such grace and fragile confidence.  Not a single song comes near the 5 minute mark so as they never wear out their welcome and leaving you wanting more.  Echoes of Bowie's Berlin and Tin Machine eras are sprinkled throughout the album with just slight hints of the drum n' bass of Earthling. This is Bowie stripped down without the benefit of hiding behind a fabricated persona and that makes for one of his strongest upbeat records in a long, long time.

4 masked "Heroes" out of 5

Songs Of Note: Dirty BoysDancing Out In Space

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

LINDSEY STIRLING / Lindsey Stirling [2012]

Violinist Lindsey Stirling is an America's Got Talent star turned YouTube sensation, which would normally have me running for the hills but alas, I was briefly persuaded by the fishnet stockings on the cover of her 2012 full-length debut.
Mixing her violin playing with hip-hop, dubstep, electronica and classical makes for a New Age/video game score sort of sound that pretty much screams gimmick.  While it is a uplifting pleasant listen, the interest fades pretty quickly. With a little more help on the production and backing tracks, Stirling could be great but in the end it's a pure flash in the pan.  Stick to Emilie Autumn if it's chicks playing weird violin music that's your thing.

2 mormons out of 5

PRIMUS / Pork Soda [1993]

Stoner funk-rockers, Primus dive deep into the darkness on 1993's Pork Soda.
Angrier, eerier and more surreal than their previous records, Primus gel together perfectly as a band on this album.  With songs about murder, suicide & depression, the boys still retain they're skittish bouncy sound, only now a little murkier, making it all sound like brain-damaged children's songs.  They noodle on quite a bit which is fine if that's your thing.  If not, do a Google image search of "flipping the bird", study your Floyd properly and take it from there, kids.  Sadly, Primus would never be this good again.  

4 cans of swine out of 5

Songs Of Note: Nature BoyMr. Krinkle

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

ATOMS FOR PEACE / Amok [2013]

Thom Yorke's new project Atoms For Peace's debut album Amok is a strange experiment in meshing humans and machines.  Songs will start off quite organic but somehwhere along the way they become fully electronic, without you even realizing when it happened.  The album flourishes with fascinating tiny details and alluring textures, along with Yorke's voice sounds like he's actually having a bit of fun for once.  Unfortunately it sounds they spent so much time on sound design and not enough on the actual songwriting.  There's some great songs on here but not enough for a full-length album.  A 5-song EP would have been a more suitable choice.  

3½  ??????'s out of 5

Songs Of Note: Before Your Very Eyes; Dropped