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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

THE STOOGES / Ready To Die [2013]

Well over 40 years since their first album, The Stooges release their fifth full-length, 2013's Ready To Die with greater results than 2007's misfire The Weirdness.
While the most gnarled members of the band might be well into their sixties, The Stooges still manage to gracefully pull off primal, sleazy rock n' roll with an invincible sneer.  Apart from a few near ballads, they make no attempt to be any more than the crass group that spit Raw Power and Fun House at us many a year ago, and that should sit just fine with anyone fond of Iggy and the boys.

3½ large boobs out of 5

Songs Of Note: JobThe Departed

THE HIGHEST ORDER / If It's Real [2013]

I was crushed when One Hundred Dollars called it quits in 2012 because, quite frankly, I loved Simone Schmidt's vulnerable, yet toughened voice.  I was more than excited to hear she (and OHD guitarist Paul Mortimer) bounced back pretty quickly with The Highest Order and their 2013 debut If It's Real.
Taken the country vibe of her previous band, Schmidt and co. add in a curious touch of psychedelia making for what I can only describe as "cosmic country".  Heavy on eerie melodies doused with reverb, this is a broody, lonely album that somehow manages to be quite fun at the same time.  If the idea of a female Johnny Cash high on LSD sounds like good times to you then look no further than this gem of an album.

5  Gram Parsons out of 5

Songs Of Note: Sacred Team; Two Hundred Pounds

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Dead Bands Party: A Tribute To Oingo Boingo [2005]

Like every other tribute album, 2005's clumsily titled Dead Bands Party is a hit & miss collection of Oingo Boingo covers.
Gathering together a host of contemporary indie artists, the compilation has quite a few respectable takes on the originals giving it their own twist while remaining true to them as well.  However there's a few tracks on here that sound like the band heard the song a few times, rehearsed it twice and hit record.  Including such acts as Reel Big Fish, Finch, Plain White T's, The Aquabats seems comfortably fitting for such a record.   Even with a few questionable electronic pop bands on the bill as well, it's not quite as bad as it could be.

3 Willie Dixons out of 5

Songs Of Note: REEL BIG FISH / We Close Our EyesTHE AQUABATS / Controller

MATMOS / The Marriage Of True Minds [2013]

Electronic duo Matmos are guaranteed to always have an interesting concept behind each record and 2013's The Marriage Of True Minds is one helluva head trip.
For four years they conducted the parapsychological Ganzfeld experiment on willing volunteers and it resulted in inspiration and direct translations of the patient's reactions in audio form.  It's a bizarre collection of sounds that slither into your ears and tickle the insides of your brain in a most comforting fashion, that will make you twitch with disturbed glee if you have both the patience and open mind for such a notion.  With it's delicate attention to sound design, this albums begs you to sit alone in the dark with your headphone on to fully enjoy it.  It's guaranteed to divide listeners but love it or hate it, the brilliant creativity and thought put into it really can't be denied.

5 triangles out of 5

Songs Of Note: Mental Radio; Ross Transcript

BLEACHED / Ride Your Heart [2013]

Jennifer & Jessica Clavin (formerly of Mika Miko) make their debut as Bleached on 2013's Ride Your Heart.
Like their previous band, the Clavin sisters' roots are firmly planted in a Ramones-esque style of sing along chorusy pop punk now blending in a sugarsweet 60's girl group air to it.  As bubbly as it might sound, there's a certain flavor of cynicism buried deep into the sunny lo-fi mix to give it that modern kick.  It's all nice and friendly but nothing really stands out as particularly interesting or new.  I suspect they are a fantastic live act but lose that special something in the studio, so I can't completely write them off as nothing more than bland because they do what they do quite well.  

3 girl fights out of 5

Songs Of Note: Next Stop; Waiting By The Telephone 

Monday, April 29, 2013

MATTHEW GOOD / Hospital Music [2007]

After experiencing a messy divorce, diagnosed with a mental illness and a drug addiction & overdose, alt-rocker Matthew Good's third solo album 2007's Hospital Music is drenched in a dark depression.
It's a deeply personal album that at times is a very difficult, yet rewarding listen with most of the songs heavily carried by Good's haunted warbly voice and eerie acoustic guitars.  As always, Good proves he's one of the best lyricists in the business and while his voice is an acquired taste, he gives it his all with each note he hits and that alone tells the story he intends to tell.  I can't always bring myself to listen to this album but when I do it's always a fulfilling experience.

4 dead kennedy's out of 5

Songs Of Note: Champions Of Nothing; 99% Of Us Is Failure

GHOST / Infestissumam [2013]

Swedish hard rock outfit Ghost's first album, Opus Eponymous, was a tight little package of simple and melodic Satan worshipping rock songs.
Taking after Black Sabbath and Mercyful Fate, the band wasn't technically very good but they knew how to whip out some great simple songs which all changes on 2013's Infestissumam.  The band decided to experiment with different styles and sounds, most of which are interesting ideas but are sloppily executed.  It's almost as if they bit off more than they can chew, resulting in a bit of an unfocused mess.  It's still a very enjoyable album and with a little more work on refining it, it might have been just as good as the first.

3 nameless ghouls and a priest out of 5

Songs Of Note: Secular HazeIdolatrine

CASSIE / Rockabyebaby [2013]

7 years after her last effort, R&B/hip-hop artist Cassie returns without the bubbly pop and reinvents herself into something slicker, smoother and sexier on her 2013 mixtape Rockabyebaby.
With the help of some beautifully polished urban production, Cassie's new work impresses with a dark seedy sound heavily inspired by the violent world in the 1991 crime drama New Jack City.  As impressive as the list of guests on this mixtape is, Cassie's icy, cold but sultry voice is never overshadowed because of it's strong presence and seamless transitions from singing to rhyming.  The only thing lacking is a song begging for the skip button, which makes me very hopeful for a proper album release from this reinvented artist.

4 inspirations from Keisha out of 5

Songs Of Note: Take Care Of Me [feat. Pusha T]Do My Dance [feat. Too $hort]

Sunday, April 28, 2013

PRIMUS / They Can't All Be Zingers [2006]

It's weird to think of a band as unusually abstract as Primus would have a "singles collection" album.  But lo and behold,  2006's compilation They Can't All Be Zingers collects 16 of Primus' "greatest hits".
While it's nice to have some of the older songs digitally remastered for maximum listening pleasure, Primus fans have absolutely nothing new here to make it worth picking up.  If you're not a Primus fan and are looking for their greatest hits, then just pick up Suck On ThisFrizzle FrySailing The Seas Of Cheese and Pork Soda.  They're all fantastic songs on this disc but they're even better on the albums they come from.

3 processed slices of funky goodness out of 5

Songs Of Note: Primus 

KACEY MUSGRAVES / Same Trailer Different Park [2013]

Country songwriter/singer Kacey Musgraves' 2013 major label debut Same Trailer Different Park is a breath of fresh air compared to the obvious comparison, whom I don't even want to name.
Her voice might not be incredibly strong but it's her natural lyrics and genuine musical compositions that shines here.  By inserting a strong sense of humour and wit into her lyrics, Musgraves' sugarsweet voice can be deceiving as she sings about smoking joints and whorin' around.  I'm curious to see if she stays as genuine as this in the future or will be sucked up into a media blitz and lifestyles by the end of the year.

4 "bees" & "trees" out of 5

Songs Of Note: My HouseStep Off

RICK SMITH & VARIOUS ARTISTS / Trance: Original Soundtrack [2013]

Director Danny Boyle always takes delicate care in choosing the music in his films and 2013's psychological thriller Trance is no exception.
With regular Boyle collaborator, Underworld's Rick Smith on score composing duties you're pretty much guaranteed something slick and pleasant to the ears.  Dropping his usual electronica dance beats, Smith explores a vast spectrum of sonic colors and textures to create something that's at times euphoric and then smoothly transcends into something driven by paranoia, very reminiscent of John Murphy's work on Sunshine & 28 Days Later.  The source tracks, including Moby & U.N.K.L.E., blend in quite well, making for a well-rounded album presentation.  

4 dreams out of 5

Friday, April 26, 2013

ARLO GUTHRIE / Alice's Restaurant (1967)

Arlo, son of Woody, carved his own deep niche in the folk pantheon with a blend of poignant observations on life and liberty, anti-establishment anecdotes and a laid back sense of humour. The superb 18+ minute title track tends to overshadow the other songs on his début album, but they all deserve attention. Split into two parts like it is means you get two sides of Arlo's personality, both of which feed and inform each other in their own unique way.

Songs of Note: Alice's Restaurant Massacree; The Motorcycle Song

5 friendlies on the bench out of 5

THE STROKES / Comedown Machine [2013]

After vocalist Julian Casablancas admitted The Strokes got back together after a 5 year hiatus purely for the money, it still leaves me cautious going into a new album, especially after the complete failure of their previous album 2011's Angles.
2013's Comedown Machine might be a little more cohesive but it still never quite gels together as a solid listen.  It sounds like the group is aiming to try out different styles and textures but never reach their limits and simply settle with "that's good enough".  It's filled with plenty of catchy new wave-esque hooks and melodies but it all comes off as half-baked with the exception of a few glimmers of gold.

2 assholes driving a Lotus out of 5

Songs Of Note: Tap Out; One Way Trigger

Thursday, April 25, 2013

OINGO BOINGO / Anthology [1999]

1999's Anthology, the third of four Oingo Boingo compilations is really the only one you need if you're looking for a proper career retrospective of the off-kilter party rockers.  
Starting with their 1979 EP and leading right up to their 1995 double disc live album, the collection covers each era of the band with only a few minor misses (all of which will differ with each dedicated fan).  It doesn't really feature any rarities or b-sides and misses out on releasing the few live recordings unavailable on the Farewell disc, all of which makes it easy for longtime fans to pass on .  Minor quips aside, this is the definitive compilation to seek out for the uninitiated, seeing as it covers all 4 "versions" of the groups sound.  

4 mystic knights out of 5

Songs Of Note: Oingo Boingo

THE BLACK ANGELS / Indigo Meadow [2013]

Psychedelic rockers The Black Angels, scaled down to a four-piece, drop most of the trippy intervals for more of a standard rock album with 2013's Indigo Meadow.
While still sounding like the tripped out love child of Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and Barrett-era Floyd, the group have lightened up quite a bit.  They don't sound as dreadfully paranoid as before, which I actually liked quite a bit more than this.  It's still as fuzzy, hypnotizing and loud as before but it misses the mark that made the first 3 albums so great.  As a modern rock album it's still pretty decent compared to most of the crap shovelled at us, as an Angels album it falls a bit short.

3 kids with guns out of 5

Songs Of Note: Holland; War On Holiday

FRANK TURNER / Tape Deck Heart [2013]

After a 3 years of sold out concert halls and massive festivals, it wouldn't be right for English folk-rocker Frank Turner to keep singing about struggling to make rent and riding the bus on 2013's major label debut Tape Deck Heart.
Instead he opts for a broken heart record about self-evaluation, change, ageing and staying sincere to the love of music.  Like fellow folk-rocker Billy Bragg, Turner's vocals and songwriting flourish with passion, anger and loneliness while keeping positively grounded in honest reality.  Adding in some mandolin, honky-tonk piano and multiple overdubs makes for a more polished record far from the acoustic folk of his early days but never once does you feel as if he's doing it to sell records.  Turner once again proves he's an artist that is really hard to dislike.

4 odes to punk rock out of 5

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Tribute Of The Year: A Tribute To Faith No More [2002]

Tribute albums are always a mess of carbon copies of the original and hugely unrecognizable reworkings all of which can occasionally be quite interesting. 
With Faith No More almost always kicking ass at covering other people's songs, I was eager to hear what others would do with their songs on the 2002 tribute album, Tribute Of The Year.  With the exception of Tub Ring, Bile and Hate Dept., I wasn't really familiar with any of the other independent acts featured here.  Sadly most of the 2 disc set is an awful jumble of crap sloppily thrown together that at times seems more like a lazy insult than a proper tribute.  
The dust will collect nicely on this one.

1 too many copies of the same song out of 5

ONEREPUBLIC / Native [2013]

Poppy dance rock act OneRepublic's 2013 album Native is one of those albums I'm surprised I enjoy as much as I do.  
It oozes with generic soaring pop sensibilities that channels an easily digestible mixture of  fun., U2 and Prince resulting in a well-rounded friendly listen.  The only problem is Ryan Tedder's vocals, as well composed and strong as they are, they lack any sort of defining character that leaves much to desire after a few songs.  It might not bring anything new to the table at all but it sets out to entertain and does a fine job at it.  

3 burning bridges out of 5

Songs Of Note: Au RevoirSomething I Need

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

COLD WAR KIDS / Dear Miss Lonelyhearts [2013]

After the unbalanced misfire of Mine Is Yours it's nice to hear indie-rock act Cold War Kids return to fine form on their fourth album, 2013's Dear Miss Lonelyhearts.
Recruiting former Modest Mouse guitarist Dann Gallucci to replace Jonnie Russell gives the band a noticeably more broader sound that unfolds into a bold spacey vibe. Tuning into their inner New Order/David Bowie, the Kids teeter on stadium rock while retaining that indie sound which doesn't sit well with many but I find it's part of their charm.  It's simply a fine little record that will probably go unnoticed by most but will be thoroughly enjoyed by the few.

4 advice columnists out of 5

Songs Of Note: TuxedosBottled Affection

PRIMUS / Animals Should Not Try To Act Like People EP [2003]

Primus' 2003 five song EP Animals Should Not Try To Act Like People is drummer Tim Alexander's return to the group after being absent for 7 years.  
With the superb career spanning DVD being the main star of this set, the EP is a bit of an afterthought with Primus still heavy on the jamming and funky psychedelia.  It might not be their strongest work but they sound like they're comfortable with what they are doing and could care less what anyone else thinks unlike the two previous albums.  Still, it's worth the purchase for the 5 star DVD material.

3 laments for an ice cube out of 5

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

FALL OUT BOY / Save Rock and Roll (2013)

"You are what you love, not who loves you."

Fall Out Boy return with a pair of singles that’d make you think they’ve finally figured it out, that they've made their best album.  They may very well have. Even if I eventually decide otherwise, this’ll still stand unparalleled as their most consistent effort.  Patrick has managed to sprinkle Pete’s best nuggets across all of these tracks, even in the face of a couple superfluous guest appearances. More than anything this is a sonically ambitious album that has brought more joy with each passing listen.

Wait, this was an experiment? It’s a smashing success, boys.

Songs of Note: The Phoenix; Miss Missing You

3½ “I’ll look down and scream no.”s out of 5
2017 Neg, here. Hi! It's a 5, now.

Nutted by Neg

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

PIGFACE / Easy Listening for Difficult Fuckheads (2003)

If you're familiar with the kind of experimental weirdness that Pigface usually deliver on their studio albums, then you'll probably notice that Easy Listening... is more accessible than most. It sounds like a band effort, as opposed to a clash of different personalities. That's both a good and bad thing: good in that it's more cohesive, but bad in that the creativity of individual participants is stifled and somewhat lost under the industrial assault.
Contributors this time include members of Moby, Public Image Limited, The Clash, Ministry, Tweaker, Revolting Cocks, Nine Inch Nails, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Nitzer Ebb, and more that I don't have room to give credit to.

Songs of Note: SweetmeatMind Your Own Business

3½ squirrel nuts out of 5

Sunday, April 14, 2013

IRON MAIDEN / Powerslave (1984)

Powerslave opens with all guns firing, and ends even stronger. In-between are some classics and some lesser known tracks that don't make it onto Best of... compilations but are nevertheless constructed with the same love and care as the hits that do. The production is astonishing; it sounds as good today as it did in '84.
The album is most notable for having the ambitious 13+ minute track, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a retelling of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem of the same name. It takes the listener on a journey of shifting moods and poetical allusions. If you're really lucky. they'll play it live the next time you see them.

Songs of Note: Aces High; Rime of the Ancient Mariner

4 slain and risen out of 5

Thursday, April 4, 2013

SOL SEPPY / The Bells Of 1 2 [2006]

Former regular Sparklehorse collaborator Sol Seppy's first solo release, 2006's The Bells Of 1 2 is an ethereal trip into lonely hope.
While it's hard to tell, the swirling electronics and hazy soundscapes are based around Seppy's delicate piano compositions making for a dreamy and intimate experience.  I'm reminded a bit of  Lily Allen without as much attitude with hints of Soap&Skin and Sigur Rós, only not as absorbed into heavy depression but just as heartfelt.  It gets a little too samesy at times and the lyrics go a little overboard with melodramatic schmaltz but the sincerity in Seppy's vocal delivery is what sells it.  

3 girls named human out of 5

Songs Of Note: MoveEnter One

THE YOUNG GODS / Second Nature (2000)

The Young Gods are no strangers to genre blending; they'd been merging Ambient, Industrial, and Dance for years before this fifth album emerged. Song structures on most tracks are similar to what they've delivered before, but the Techno element (what I call Techno – I'm no expert on the subtleties of the genre) is much too overpowering for my liking. Consequently, the tracks that I feel stand out are the ones that go in the opposite direction to that, into more experimental territories, using sounds and contrasts that no one else is coming even close to.

Songs of Note: Attends; Love 2.7

2½ abstractions out of 5

ALKALINE TRIO / The Shame Is True [2013]

Serving as producer, The Descendants' Bill Stevenson gives Alkaline Trio's 2013 album My Shame Is True that extra pop-punk kick it rightfully deserves.
With an album title that's a tongue-in-cheek play on a certain Elvis Costello album it can only mean the Trio really has to lay on the punchy melodic hooks and angsty allegorical lyrics channelling the living ghost of Robert Smith to live up to it's name.  It's everything you'd expect from the Trio with some slick production to boot keeping them relevant in it's genre when most acts like it are drying up and fading away into obscurity. 

4 rise againsts out of 5

ALICE COOPER / Killer (1971)

The Alice Cooper band's second album of 1971 is even better than the previous one. They kept Bob Ezrin as producer, which was a smart move; all their best work has been with Ezrin. Half of the album still makes it into live shows.
Alice (the man) takes on a number of different roles, revelling in the theatrical aspects of being a performer, and the Hollywood silver screen influences become more prevalent. It's as good as its title suggests.
PS: parents, before you start spitting fury about the song titled Dead Babies, listen to the lyrics. You might just save yourself some embarrassment.

Songs of Note:  Desperado; Dead Babies

4½ ugly stories out of 5

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

ALICE COOPER / Love it to Death (1971)

Alice released two albums in 1971, of which LitD was the first. It was a pivotal album, introducing the sound that would go on to define them for many, many years: snide rock n roll, teenage rebellion anthems and lyrics that had something real to say. Track 04, Black Juju, is often cited as one of the band's worst tracks, but I can think of a lot worse; the similarity to Pink Floyd's Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun wins me over and I'll defend it even while sober. The highlight is undoubtedly track 08, the catchy Ballad of Dwight Fry; it’s so damn good.

Songs of Note: Is It My Body; Ballad of Dwight Fry

4 penis thumbs out of 5

BILLY BRAGG / Tooth & Nail [2013]

English folk songwriter with a punk rock heart, Billy Bragg releases his first solo record in over 5 years, a melancholy collection of cozy Americana flavored songs in 2013's Tooth & Nail.
Now Bragg is usually quite political in his songwriting but now 30 years into his career he opts for more of personal record here, exposing a soulful vulnerability that suits his voice like a glove.  Like a Woody Guthrie record, it's mostly carried by Bragg & his guitar, with some subtle session players inserted to compliment the already strong leading musicianship.  

4 bad deeds reaping rewards out of 5