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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Have Yourself a Meaty Little Christmas (2009)

Meatwad is somehow able to afford the studio time necessary to make a Christmas album and his perfect balance of naivety and inanity indeed makes for a savory flavor of Christmas subversion when paired with Master Shake’s outright blasphemy. Frylock doesn’t try particularly hard to reign them in and that’s all for the better. Boxxy Brown is the only cast member who gets to contribute outside of the main four and while disappointing it does lend focus when paired with the stated rationale for the endeavor.

This both turns the holiday on its ear and delivers about three episodes worth of the show’s delightfully absurdist content. It’s so much of what Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics isn’t.

4½ Elf Boogies out of 5

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics (1999)

I’m no great fan of Christmas and albums that go well out of their way to subvert it are unsurprisingly something I can get behind. Still, much like South Park itself, I’ve found myself liking this far less over the years. The price of hyper topicality is an abbreviated shelf life if that tightrope isn’t tread very carefully. I tend to enjoy the less pointed songs here, as a result.

Am I going soft? No. It’s simply that pitchfork waving isn’t enough on its own, anymore. I need there to be enjoyable substance related to the property in question when I look behind the torchlight.

2 Summer Sausages Eaten Like Henry VIII out of 5

Thursday, December 18, 2014

FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE / Welcome Interstate Managers (2003)

Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger are capable of writing lyrics that span the universe in terms of tone and focus. This is a gigantic melange of power pop that manages to phase rapidly between being heartfelt, heartbreaking, fist-pumping, lackadaisical, introspective, absurdist, nonsensical (yes there is a difference), and cheekily perverted. Is it any wonder one of them wrote and produced for Josie and the Pussycats?

Required listening for those who have a stomach for the genre and a sense of humor buoying their spirit.

5 Things Far More Valuable Than Corporate Conformity out of 5

Friday, December 12, 2014

DAVE MATTHEWS BAND / Everyday (2001)

Near the turn of the millennium, DMB scrapped a safer, more generic album’s worth of material in favor of this release and their fanbase essentially revolted, pressuring them into eventually releasing that more-of-the-same drivel. This is far leaner and funkier. More rewarding. There’s a perverse brazenness to the grooves and lyrics that even managed to attract the attention of the Wachowski Brothers. There is a dollop of hippie pap right at the end but it doesn’t dilute the sincere questioning and lamentation that the well-tread subject matter defining their collective agenda is afforded across the disc. I strangely think even Rorschach would approve. Indeed, this has always been a consistently surprising and engaging experience for me.

4 Exotically Percolating Realizations out of 5

Saturday, November 29, 2014

COUNTING CROWS / Somewhere Under Wonderland (2014)

Much akin to Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, Wonderland is a cornucopia of re-used (yet evolved) lyrics and allusions. The price of admission to this theme park is admittedly high, but it’s always worth it. Do your homework, kids. It’s as if we’re allowed intimate access to the Duritz’s head to watch as his experiences and emotions mush and meld together over time. This time he appears to have let Dan Vickrey and Dave Immergluck run entirely amok to mostly great effect. Their plucky shenanigans make this a pleasantly rollicking jaunt that’s alternately wistful and infectiously toe-tapping.

4 Barrows Full of Sex Toys in the Marketplace out of 5

Saturday, November 22, 2014

MICHIRU ŌSHIMA / ICO: Melody in the Mist (2002)

The ICO score is just over twenty-five minutes in length, but during that time it encapsulates almost as many different emotional states as the game itself gives rise to while playing. Some of the incidental music is so brief that it seems as if the lingering aspect you'd normally expect to have actually becomes the whole, but it's never cursory or perfunctory. Others are so perfect, so refined, that making them longer couldn't increase their beauty, it would just increase the duration.
As a whole, it's a gathering of moments ranging from serene, ethereal, forebodingly eerie and haunting to ultimately peaceful, filled with hope.
NOTE: Pentagon (Koichi Yamazaki and Mitsukuni Murayama) are also credited on tracks. Vocals on 'You Were There' are by Steven Geraghty.

Songs of Note: Caste in the Mist; ICO – You Were There

5 shadows chased out of 5

Friday, November 21, 2014

VOIVOD / Angel Rat (1991)

The classic Voivod sound continued to soften and by album number six the chaotic structures were tamed, the bass was horribly defuzzed and the guys had skipped fancifully into Dimension Prog Rock. I'm not a follower of Prog, in general, and I've no idea how fans of the genre feel about it. Does it sound as off-the-wall to them as the earlier spacey-Metal Voivod albums do to me? I genuinely hope so, because then it wouldn't be a complete waste of time and air. Personally, I can listen to about a selective third of Angel Rat before I've to fight an urge to stomp all over the disc. File under: Damn, it's even more purple than usual!

Songs of Note: Angel Rat; Golem

2 halls of glass out of 5

Thursday, November 20, 2014

METALLICA / ...And Justice for All (1988)

Settle down, children. Once upon a time, while some of you were nothing but an unfertilised egg in your momma's womb, and your daddy wasn't playing around with hookers, a band named Metallica had the respect of everyone in the metal scene. Sure, there was that mouthy guy, but the music was good, so we could overlook that part. The band recovered from tragedy to release an album that was a bit dry and on the long side, but it blew the collective asses off the critics who said that they'd never recover. That's called a 'Fuck You'.
We can only speculate as to what went on in the studio. "Turn up the bass," said one. "No," said another. "You're new, so shut up. I'm the boss." Had they listened to what the new kid might have said, the album would've been even better.

Songs of Note: To Live is to Die; Dyers Eve

4½ long straws out of 5

Saturday, November 15, 2014

YELLO / One Second (1987)

It's interesting and a little frustrating that the best point of reference for a Yello album is to previous Yello albums. In that respect, the fifth release by the Swiss duo delivers a decent mix of unique Electro-pop and Latin-style rhythms. But when compared to those previous works it's somewhat bland, being neither as adventurous nor as diverse. It's notable, however, for featuring Billy Mackenzie and Shirley Bassey, the latter on vocals of the best track, The Rhythm Divine.
If you live in the US you get 'Oh Yeah' sandwiched between tracks 8 and 9. I don't know why, because it's supposed to be on Stella (1985).

Songs of Note: Le Secret Farida; The Rhythm Divine

3 European hotel rooms out of 5

Monday, November 10, 2014

SANCTUARY / Refuge Denied (1987)

I recently pulled Sanctuary's début from the archive (i.e. dusty shelf) and fell in love with it all over again. Vocalist Warrel Dane hits the kind of uterus-shuddering high notes that would give King Diamond a boner. It'll make many people cringe, but the lover of quality, straight-up, no-frills Heavy (er... Powerish) Metal or Thrash should be able to recognise the strengths. Although, you'll probably need to do some careful tinkering with whatever equalisers you have at your command in order to overcome a weak production job that doesn't hit as hard as it should. Refuge Denied deserves a full, proper, non-Mustaine remaster.

Songs of Note: Die for My Sins; Sanctuary

4 black plagues out of 5

Sunday, November 9, 2014

MEIKO KAJI / Zenkyoku Shu (2004)

If you live far from the shores of Japan, then getting your hands on any of Meiko Kaji's albums can entail paying up to three, or even four, times what you'd normally fork out for a CD. That's wallet-pain, right there. However, if a 'Best of' compilation will suffice, then Zenkyoku Shu (or Zenkyokushu) will fit the bill nicely. It has her most famous works; i.e. the themes to the Lady Snowblood and the Sasori (Scorpion) films, both of which you'll find linked below. The remainder of the tracks float on similar musical waters, so if those two appeal to your secret sensual side, or your inner-samurai, then start saving your pennies.

Songs of Note: Urami Bushi; Shura no Hana

4 flowers of carnage out of 5

Saturday, November 8, 2014

MERCYFUL FATE / In the Shadows (1993)

Mercyful Fate's reformation produced what was in reality only their third proper studio album. It wastes no time getting to the heart of what made them great back in the day, so much so that it's like they'd never been away. King's day job had enabled him to mature in lyric writing, so everything has a more story-like structure, and there's nothing much for nuns to get in a tizzy about. Everything is more polished, even beautiful in places, but it never drops the coffin or goes for the safe and friendly option. It's another MF classic.

Songs of Note: The Bell Witch; Is That You, Melissa?

4 trips to the underworld out of 5

Monday, November 3, 2014

NOCTURNO CULTO / The Misanthrope (2007)

The soundtrack to Nocturno Culto's experimental film of the same name (see HERE) is being described as an album by some sellers, but it's really only the length of an E.P. You also shouldn't expect anything like what he does with Darkthrone or Sarke; it's more closely related to Electronic Dark Ambient. It's enjoyable enough, but without the visual aspect it feels a little weightless and unfinished.
If you own the film in its original DVD packaging, then you already have the CD. If not, for less money the CD release comes with the film on a second disc. All in all, for a fiver it's good value, but it has limited appeal.

Songs of Note: Stay Away; The Will to Deny

2½ Dalek voices out of 5

Saturday, November 1, 2014

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Natural Born Killers (1994)

As you'd expect, NBK is a collection of songs from different artists. But unlike most film soundtracks, there's been some actual thought and care put into structuring them. Custom edits and audio clips from the film itself are used often to connect tracks into a more story-style structure than is usually the case.
It was compiled by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who referred to it as a "collage of sound," which I guess is as good a description as any. It's the kind of thing many of us used to do back when all we had was a double tapedeck and a VHS collection.
Don't judge it solely on my choice of songs (below), there are a variety of styles on offer from many different musical eras.

Songs of Note: Cowboy Junkies / Sweet Jane (Edit)Nine Inch Nails / Something I Can Never Have (Edited and Extended)

4½ warm, violent places out of 5

Friday, October 10, 2014

TESTAMENT / The New Order (1988)

Testament took sizeable creative steps on their second album but lost none of the power that had made their début so damn good. It's a prime example of the kind of heavy, melodic Thrash that was doing the rounds back then. But there was more mediocre Thrash bands in the late 80s than Disney had stereotypes, and while the output from many of them sounded like little more than surplus variations on a theme, Testament had Chuck Billy and that made all the difference. So what if it had an Aerosmith cover? They somehow made it work in their favour.

Songs of Note: Into the Pit; Disciples of the Watch

4 trials by fire out of 5

Friday, October 3, 2014

ROGER WATERS / Amused to Death (1992)

A concept album with a hugely ambitious scope that enables Waters to comment on the entirety of mankind's accomplishments and follies, as viewed from more than one unique perspective. Musically, it performs a similar function in relation to his illustrious career that fans of his input into Pink Floyd should appreciate on a deeper level. But it's not just Floyd 2.0, it's the poet and musician being intellectually engaging and musically diverse, reaching further afield than ever before into what it is that makes us human. I'm not ashamed to say that a part of it makes me tearful, and that's the highest praise I can conceivably give.

Songs of Note: What God Wants, Part I; Three Wishes

5 technical manuals out of 5

GODFLESH / Decline and Fall EP (2014)

If you imagine the Godflesh discography as a curved line, sound-wise the first E.P. from the reformed duo is a branch that splits off after Streetcleaner (1989) and intersects the curve again somewhere between Selfless (1994) and Songs of Love and Hate (1996). But you don't just have to deal in abstractions, check out the link below to get an understanding of what I mean. It's not a reinvention, thankfully, it's a re-invigoration and a tight return to the days of crunching, lo-fi heaviness.

Songs of Note: Decline and Fall (Full EP)

4 symbols of servitude out of 5

Thursday, September 25, 2014

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Silent Hill Downpour: Radio Songs (2012)

An unmistakeable trademark of the Silent Hill series is its ability to wrap every tiny nuance of a game around its protagonist. With Murphy Pendleton, this expands farther into the musical realm than for any of the others by way of the radios scattered along his path. Outlaw country and more contemporary indie-country allude to his geographic past and cast the light of meaning on the locations he must visit before reaching the town proper. Less mainstream endeavors evoke his tumultuous relationships, especially those by Anna Ternheim. Save one example, this collection organically conveys specific information that enriches Murphy as a character and Downpour as a game.

It magnificently excels where Jonathan Davis utterly fails on the main soundtrack.

The complete playlist can be viewed here.

4½ Truths to Set You Free out of 5

DANIEL LICHT / Silent Hill Downpour (Original Soundtrack) [2012]

This is not Akira Yamaoka and while some of these songs do smack of him, the best contain personal flourishes from Licht, like the staccato percussive elements akin to Juno Reactor’s work on the Matrix films. Some exquisitely transition between claustrophobic, subdued movements and moments where everything will expand into freeform aural bouquets or, at the very least, fall into unexpectedly welcome melodies. Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and the other voices are only used ethereally but this is effective in the face of Jonathan Davis’s singular lyrics, which accomplish nothing beyond painting a generic picture of what the series probably appears like to dismissive outsiders.

Trash that track, and check out the Radio Songs for accurate, subtle lyrical character development.

Songs of Note: Railcar Ride; Monastery Otherworld

3½ Rhythms in the Raindrops out of 5

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger Zenkyoku Shu Brave Finish (2014)

This isn’t as diverse as the Go-Busters’ omnibus album, but thankfully just as many cast members sing their own themes, here. Strangely, though, Kyoryu Red and Gold only appear on the team version of the movie’s keynote song. If this wasn’t two very full discs I’d question the decision to include five versions of the same song instead of theming the verses of a singular track. Expect lots of samba and rock, a little western flair, and a trace of Jim Croce. 

Oh, if you aren’t down with that sincerely glorious style of music I can only describe as super-sugary-KAWAII-DESU, there’s a song or tw….six you might need to skip, too…

4 Kamitsuke Changes Too Many out of 5

Monday, May 12, 2014

ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE / The Road to Rampton (2007)

It's not enough reason to want own it but it's worth pointing out that ANL's ability to place lyrical satire and disaffection alongside comedy and not have one overwhelm the other surfaces in places, albeit sporadically. If only the music wasn't so bloody weak, safe and predicable.
I'm listening to Rampton as I type and it's depressing me. I'll need to go back to the classic début album afterwards to ease my pain.

Songs of Note: Turn To Shit; My God's Bigger than Yours

1½ short, sharp, shocks out of 5

Saturday, May 10, 2014

THE ORB FEAT. DAVID GILMOUR / Metallic Spheres [2010]

It seems odd at first but if you really think about a collaboration between spacey techno act The Orb and Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour makes perfect sense.
2010's Metallic Spheres showcases the two acts in a tripped-out soothing haze that recalls the days of Floyd's Meddle and The Orb's more significant era.  Gilmour doesn't really show off here, he simply compliments The Orb's roomy atmosphere with delicate precision that needn't be overanalyzed but rather begs the listener to relax and join them on their journey.   As it smoothly shifts from house music, dub and trip-hop, Spheres never really amazes but tranquilizes you as adequate background ambience.

3 3D60 albums out of 5

Songs Of Note:  There's only 2 lengthy tracks so it's best you seek it out if this collaboration interests you

GREEN DAY / Demolicious [2014]

After the commercial failure of their ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! trilogy, rockers Green Day curiously release an album of demos from those sessions to suck it dry of everything it was worth with 2014's Demolicious.
Bassist Mike Dirnt stated that the album is what Green Day would sound like if they were still with Lookout! Records today.  It's not entirely true, seeing as the demos sound sonically better than most indie-act records.  Apart from that, the fun that the band is having is made very apparent giving the songs a life that seemed all too absent from the finished products.  The songs are rough around the edges, occasionally sloppy and unrefined but that's what makes them come alive.  Instead of striving for commercial studio perfection, you can hear the boys are just in it for the pure rock & roll.

3½ Tom Neely album covers out of 5

Songs Of Note: Stay The NightStray Heart

LINDI ORTEGA / Tin Star [2013]

Vampy Canadian country crooner Lindi Ortega finally breaks into the big time with her 2013 album Tin Star.
Ortega's sultry, honey-glazed voice is at her absolute best with a sorrowful yearning that is delicate, seductive and boiling over with confident sass.  Lyrically, she's not covering any new territory in the genre but it's spun with such devotion and love it can't be anything but authentic.  The songs bounce between slow-driving heartache & spitting floor-stompers and they all showcase her vocals and songwriting abilities with rough-roaded grace and perfection.
Easily one of the best albums of 2013.

5 dead folk in your bed out of 5

Songs Of Note:  I Want You; This Is Not Surreal

SUUNS / Images Du Futur [2013]

Montreal's electro-hipster-rock act Suuns returns with their second album 2013's Images Du Futur.
They make no attempt to hide the fact that they think they're Clinic and mid-era Radiohead, only without the same sonic impact or thoughtful intensity of their English idols.   A blend of post-punk, art-rock and krautrock, Images Du Futur seems to run in one place never really melding together to create what should seem like a solid product.  Instead, even though it all sounds sleepily similar to each other, each song doesn't seem to have a place with the next one.   Like Ben Shemie's vocals, everything just sounds bored, uninspired and perfect for the snotty 20-somethings that drink Pabst Blue Ribbon in their Urban Outfitter's get-up.

2 songs that Save the album out of 5

Songs Of Note:  Minor WorkBambi

CRADLE OF FILTH / Vempire (or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein) (1996)

Is it V Empire or Vempire?  Fuck knows, but it sits nicely between the raw aggression of The Principle of Evil Made Flesh (1994) and the technical polish of Dusk... and Her Embrace (1996), and thus will likely appeal to fans of both eras.
Dani's 'cat with balls trapped in cat flap' screech is perfectly contrasted by the deeper, ghoulish narration that elevates the level of cheesy but effectively dramatic theatrics at opportune moments.
It's the first appearance of Sarah Jezebel Diva, who provides some spoken word and additional backing atmosphere.

Songs of Note: Queen of Winter, Throned; Nocturnal Supremacy

4 whispering forests out of 5

TRENT REZNOR AND ATTICUS ROSS / The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

If ever proof was needed that film/music awards are nothing but public masturbation for the artists and industry, then this is it. It's a 173 min 34 sec soundtrack to a 158 min film and I felt every second of that running time go by.
The film was unnecessary. The score is almost unlistenable. Not because it's ambient or drone, I generally like that kind of thing, but because it's uninspired and monotonous. Upping the volume helps to hide the inherent emptiness, but the tedium is inescapable. Some of the track titles sum up the listening experience perfectly: I Can't Take it Anymore; The Same as the Others; The Sound of Forgetting; and the best one of all, The Seconds Drag.

Songs of Note: You're Here; Great Bird of Prey

1 urge to toss it out the window out of 5

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE / The Black Parade (2006)

The immense power of this album stems from the paradoxically simple conceit that the process whereby life is mulled over, mourned, and punished on the deathbed of those afforded such a contemplative time is directly parallel to being brave enough to engage in a life of self-examination and change. You don’t need to be imminently dying to gaze across your own personal abyss and finally take on the weight of your mistakes—address your regrets head on. The crutch can be thrown away and seen as motivation instead of an easy escape.

"I've no right to be called by that name."

Songs of Note: DisenchantedFamous Last Words

5 Confident Marches Into The Unknown out of 5

Sunday, March 30, 2014

SMASH MOUTH / Fush Yu Mang (1997)

My fashion sense derives almost entirely from 90s Steve Harwell. No, no, don’t walk away. It’s relevant. As hard driving and 4th-wave ska as this debut album can get in places, there’s ultimately a well-practiced, laid-back swagger running throughout. It’s a touch of the Rat Pack, a dash of self-admitted influence Louis Prima, and a lot of their own unique ability to make you think without dragging you too far down. The flavor of reckless abandon they preach is strangely responsible and there’s always something bigger on their minds that they aren’t afraid to share. A balancing act this classy never goes out of style. Neither will khakis and black shirts.

3½ Hawaiian Shirts Also Welcome out of 5

Saturday, March 29, 2014

COUNTING CROWS / Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings (2008)

This is the Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back of the Crows’ proper discography. It rests on musical cues, hooks, and lyrical refrains from a multitude of songs that came before, but it still has something unique to say much like Blood and Chocolate compared to its spiritual predecessor, This Years’ Model, as stated by Costello himself. That message is often a fair bit more brusque than what the Duritz et al. mustered on their two previous efforts, making for an almost--but not quite--return to the depths of Satellites. If you’re a long time Crows fan, this is required listening, unlike the ever growing glut of live albums. If you're a've got four albums worth of homework. Enjoy~

Songs of Note: CowboysYou Can't Count on Me

4 Long Dead Loves out of 5

Saturday, February 22, 2014

DARKTHRONE / Panzerfaust (1995)

Album the fifth kicks the ass but confuses the head while doing so. It starts with a typically Norwegian sound, as you'd expect, but then slows down and begins to sound like Celtic Frost without Tom G. I love me some early CF, don’t misunderstand, but the repeating change from one to the other makes for a choppy listening experience, especially if you've been bathing in the 'Unholy Trinity' just prior to Panzerfaust. To put it plainly, there's some excellent tracks but very little coherence; it feels more like a compilation.

Songs of Note: En Vínd Av Sorg; The Hordes Of Nebulah

4 tyrant marks out of 5

Sunday, February 16, 2014

JIM BOB / Day Job EP (2013)

One half of the original Carter USM line up (the other half can be found HERE), Jim Bob sticks close to what he knows, which, happily, is also what he does best. It has the same kind of pissed-off Pop melodies that characterised a lot of Carter songs, and the same kind of winding-down feelings that speak to the common man.
If it had been released under the Carter name, I don't think many people would've known the difference.

Songs of Note: The Tesco RiotsThe Ghost of Christmas Boring

3 bits of that out of 5

Thursday, February 13, 2014

THE ATARIS / So Long, Astoria (2003)

I was pretty obsessed with this album because of a certain someone. How does it fare a decade removed from that time? Not as bad as I imagined. Kris Roe deals in (what he desires to be) philosophically minded emo-rock. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he doesn’t. Thankfully, the missteps here aren’t nearly as damning as they are on the ridiculously pretentious follow-up. It isn’t an eye-roll free experience but there’s some nice sentiments expressed, especially when you have the context for the more schlocky-seeming among them. Between now and then I’ve heard far worse and far better.

2½ Mantras for Mutsuki out of 5

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Paul Leonard-Morgan's score is evocative of the gritty, dirty underbelly of Dredd's violent world. In that respect, it's a roaring success; but a repetitive, noisy and abrasive electronic punch in the face that flirts with dark ambient and industrial soundscapes will alienate many casual listeners.
There's an occasional frail, textured wave of hope attempting to break through the overabundant distortion, but the thick bass keeps it cruelly subdued. The timing seems a little haphazard in places, almost as if it was made by a bedroom musician dabbling in Cubase. I'm going to assume that was intentional.

Songs of Note: The Plan; Taking Over Peach Trees

3 lockdowns out of 5

Monday, February 3, 2014

MARDUK / Fuck Me Jesus (1995)

Wrapped in what's surely a strong contender for cover art of the Century, this early, brutal release from the "most blasphemous band in the world" is a hell of a lot better than I'd anticipated it would be. It's an interesting blend of down-tuned Black and Death metal with a cluster of unexpected tempo changes that keep things fresh. There's even some creeping Doom influences in there.
It was originally released on cassette in '91, but the version you're likely to find if you go shopping will be the '95 Osmose reissue. It included an additional three tracks, two of which are Bathory covers, because everyone loves Bathory!

Songs of Note: Departure from the Mortals; The Black...

4 licks for Pazuzu out of 5

Friday, January 31, 2014

KING DIAMOND / The Spider's Lullabye (1995)

Unlike most of King's albums, Lullabye isn't one long tale. It's more akin to a collection of short horror stories, followed by a creepy novella. Lyrical themes include a haunting, sleepless nights, live burials (with a cameo from Missy!), eyeless children and, in the multi-part story, the dangers of succumbing to a phobia. There's plenty of drama and hilarity to please fans.
A few of the tracks sound like they were constructed from leftover parts of earlier albums, but even King's leftovers are of a high standard.
It's fair to say that most of it doesn't stray from the usual musical formula too much, but, really, would you want it to? He's the best at what he does.

Songs of Note: Six Feet Under; The Spider's Lullabye

3½ cold hands in the night out of 5

Monday, January 27, 2014

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Josie and the Pussycats: Music from the Motion Picture (2001)

It’s unfathomable how the stars aligned to make this possible. Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds was executive producer, Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne produced and wrote, and even the goddamn Duritz himself got a writing credit. Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo brings Josie to effervescent life on tracks that offer empowerment without being self-righteous or needlessly heavy-handed. There’s an exquisite ballad but most of this is nothing more than unashamed power-pop. The covers make sense in context and the Du Jour tracks are priceless. Just as the movie itself was unafraid to dabble in intentional pussy humor, the fictional boy band brilliantly deliver a blatant ode to anal-penetration. 

A success on every level, even those exclusive to perverts like me.

5 STS-Worthy Ladies out of 5

Sunday, January 26, 2014

EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN / Silence is Sexy (2000)

The cushion soft, bassy tones of Blixa Bargeld are instantly recognisable. When paired with the calculated and orchestrated perfection of the rest of Einstürzende Neubauten, magic happens. Together they traverse borders and boundaries, fuelled by catchy rhythms and stirring percussion that toys with the silly, the serious, the terrifying and the beautiful. I suspect they'd be equally at home on Sesame Street as they would be breaking bread and debating determinism with the great philosophers. Belief in their own ability makes them strong. An experimental approach to music makes them special.

Songs of Note: Die Befindlichkeit des Landes; Total Eclipse of the Sun

5 golden memories out of 5

Friday, January 24, 2014

REVOLTING COCKS / Big Sexy Land (1986)

The Cocks' début album sounds dated now, but when put it into context, of the scene during the mid 80s, it was definitely treading new ground. I revisit it from time to time but not nearly as often as subsequent albums.
It's dominated by a combination of bass lines, samples and repetition of synthesized beats, a mix that they'd eventually put to better use some years later. I wouldn't recommend Big Sexy Land to anyone who isn't interested in the history of Industrial Dance/EBM, because that's solely where its limited charms lie.
Resident Cocks were Luc Van Acker, Richard 23 and Al Jourgensen.

Songs of Note: We Shall Cleanse the World; No Devotion

2½ refrained refrains out of 5

Thursday, January 23, 2014

DIO / Lock Up the Wolves (1990)

I bought LUtW back in the day but sold it soon afterwards. I don't regret it, because it was on cassette, but the music disappointed almost as much as the format.
Being older now, hearing it again, I can appreciate the mature, retro thinking of RJD. He was attempting a departure, a move forward by looking back - not to his glory years, but to a bluesier, slower, heavy rock sound. There's nothing wrong with that ideal, but it didn't ignite my enthusiasm and it still doesn't today.
Ronnie's voice is as strong as ever, though. He could sing Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star and still sound like he belongs atop Mount Olympus.

Songs of Note: Lock Up The Wolves; My Eyes

3 cracks in the rainbow out of 5

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

FASTBALL / The Harsh Light of Day (1999)

The best one hit wonders are the ones who carry on as if nothing ever happened, confident in what they do, making no unnatural efforts to further garner fame. There’s a consistent, comfortable professionalism about Miles and Tony that has long sold their effortlessly thoughtful pop tunes. While I usually prefer Tony’s contributions to a notable degree, this album is heavy with Miles’ musings, which makes it all the more impressive in my eyes. Some songs are crafted to be obscenely catchy and impossible to ignore. Others are content to make you wistful or give you quiet pause. Even better than I remembered.

4 Deceptively Simple Pleasures out of 5

ALICE COOPER / School’s Out (1972)

The title track of the fifth studio album is one of Alice's best known anthems, appearing on dozens of those Best Ever Rock compilations that you find in people's cars.There's no denying its Rock and Roll credentials, but it's morally ambiguous, as is much of the remainder of the album. It's like a Broadway musical with James Dean in the lead, strutting his way through a school themed haze, a flick-knife in his back pocket and a sneer on his lips; fuck with him and he'll cut you, but let him pass and you can run home unharmed. Despite all its charm, it's not the AC album that I turn to when I want to be entertained.

Songs of Note: Luney Tune; My Stars

3 pairs of flammable undies out of 5

Sunday, January 19, 2014

THE OFFSPRING / Conspiracy of One (2000)

I don’t know how the Offspring fandom or society at large feel about this album. That’s for the best as you’re going to get a completely uninfluenced opinion. A chunk of these songs feel surprisingly philosophical without ever falling into pretentiousness, and blunt without being crude or superficial. There’s an overall sense of jauntiness and fun that has been absent from all I've heard from them since. On paper, I wouldn’t think all of this would gel, but it does. It’s only enhanced by the art direction which I find to be spot on and crucial. Alan Forbes, Sean Evans, you rock. 

This is the only Offspring album I’ve ever been able to enjoy from front to back. It’s been the only one in my collection for quite a while, as a result.

3 (Not So) Secret Desires For Suicide Girls out of 5

Thursday, January 16, 2014

SAY ANYTHING / Say Anything (2009)

Max has said aloud the darkest things I have ever thought. Not only on a few occasions, no, he brings them to light with almost every recorded breath. To say I’m embarrassed and ashamed of myself isn’t untrue but at the same time this is all undeniably part of who I was and consequently still am. Accepted, not embraced. This is Max’s most accomplished balancing act. Searing contempt meets harsh realizations. The most misogynistic song ever written stands literally beside the most sincere expression of love I have ever heard in song. Contradictions abound and last minute cries for mercy, release, reconciliation and understanding are issued repeatedly. This is me in album form.

Songs of Note: Eloise; Cemetery

5 Infected Band-Aids out of 5

SUGARCULT / Palm Trees and Power Lines (2004)

Natural Selection is a process that heartlessly and efficiently tidies up every sphere. This was released the same year as MCR’s Revenge and while I still find that album every bit as powerful as it originally was, I haven’t listened to this one in years. It’s clear that it’s repeatedly avoided the knife simply out of a sense of twisted nostalgia. I have been thoroughly reminded of just HOW insipid and deluded I was at the time. Tim and Marko are perfectly capable of punching out catchy clusters of power-chords and crooning with faux-sincerity when they absolutely have to, but I can’t abide these lyrics. No slick simile, no metaphor, I just cant.

Songs of Note: No.

0 Memories Worth Remembering out of 5

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE / Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2004)

Some people are never going to understand what Gerard Way et al. brought to the world. That isn’t an empty teenage retort. I’m over 30 for fucks sake. This was envisioned as a concept album but became fractured somewhere between thought and execution. The cracks were filled with raucous anthems and a smidgin of their own flavor of cabaret before being brought to life by impassioned screams. MCR were never content with delivering songs to keep you sobbing in the corner. They wanted you to rise up and kick life’s ass all the way across the ball room.

Those who get it know that it’s not just about what MCR brought to the world, but what they’ve kept in it.

4½ Forcibly Vacated Graves out of 5

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

FLUX OF PINK INDIANS / The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks (1984)

The title and art are both clearly meant to offend, but not in a juvenile way. It's a direct, if obtuse, method of raising awareness for one of the themes explored on the album: the kind of abuse that goes on behind closed doors. It's also a noisy, feedback-infused, hate-filled attack on the kind of society that allows such activity to happen. When I say 'noisy,' I mean it. Even fans of traditional anarcho-punk may find the tumultuous compositions challenging or even deplorable.

Songs of Note: Hard Sell; Love Song

3 aggressors out of 5

YELLO / Flag (1988)

The funky Cuban rhythms and Electro oddness that was once daring and imaginative teeters on the brink of self-parody. There are nine tracks and three of them are variations of the same song. That's too much repetition, guys, even if you are having a laugh at your own expense some of the time.
There are some stand out tracks that you'll likely skip to each time, but they only serve to highlight how lacklustre the remainder of the album really is.

Songs of Note: Of Course I'm Lying; The Race

2½ car commercials out of 5

Monday, January 13, 2014

HELLOWEEN / Unarmed – Best of 25th Anniversary (2009)

Helloween celebrated their 25th year by re-recording some of their classics in an acoustic/symphonic style. The addition of piano works nicely, but my initial reaction was that the majority of the arrangements weren't particularly well-suited to the change. That is until I got to the seventeen minute Keeper's Trilogy (a medley of  Halloween, Keeper of the Seven Keys, and The King for a 1000 Years), which is aided by a seventy-piece Prague Symphony Orchestra and choir. When the strings and percussion kick in for real, when the choir soar and the cymbals crash, I began to think that YES, it was a damn good idea after all. But it doesn't last. Things begin to slump again afterwards. Curses. Still, it was fun while it lasted.

Songs of Note: The Keeper's Trilogy; A Tale That Wasn't Right

2½ withered pumpkins out of 5

ANASTASIA VRONSKI AND RICARDO ALRUCINI / The Groom is Still Waiting for the Bride at the Altar (2011)

One track lasting 23 minutes that never once feels like it's gone on too long. It reminds me of music designed to give atmosphere to tabletop RPGs, except it has some haunting and creepy spoken word throughout documenting the opening of the 6th seal, from the Revelation of John the Apostle.
The instrumentation is equally as unsettling. There's rattling chains, creaking protestations from ancient wood and ritualistic drums.
When the sky splits apart and the land moves, it turns to noise. It feels then as if the horrors it's documenting are happening right at your feet and you better not look down unless you want to be a part of them.

Songs of Note: The Groom is Still Waiting for the Bride at the Altar

5 falling stars out of 5