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

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

Sunday, January 12, 2014

THE BOMBS OF ENDURING FREEDOM / The Bombs Of Enduring Freedom (2007)

After James Fogarty (co-founder of TMoA) put a temporary end to Ewigkeit, he started TBoEF, a project that enabled him to focus his energies on creating politically charged industrial/electronic music that's both blackly humorous and paradoxically serious. This first album isn't musically groundbreaking, but it's full of life and highlights how important creative freedom is to the process. He has no one looking over his shoulder. And his distribution methods are the best there is: if all you want is a Digital D/L you can have all of Bombs' albums free from the wonderful Death To Music Productions.

Songs of Note: Beware the Bombs...; G.I. Jesus

3 cracks of the whip out of 5

Saturday, January 11, 2014

MINISTRY / The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste (1989)

The industrial genre owes a huge debt to Killing Joke, but Ministry really ought to owe them some royalties, too. They took everything that was good about KJ and turned it to max by adding extra aggression (borrowed from thrash) and some film samples, then fed that through a distorted sieve.
Allowing Chris Connelly to take primary vocal duties on some tracks helped immensely. Al's distorted diatribes are great in context, but Connelly's deranged ramblings are, for me, a highlight on an album by a band that in turn became as influential to others as KJ had been to them. It took Industrial to the masses.

Songs of Note: Thieves; Breathe

4½ hypocrites and bastards out of 5

Monday, January 6, 2014

THE JUSTIFIED ANCIENTS OF MU MU / 1987, What the Fuck is Going On? (1987)

The début album by The JAMs (later the KLF) will be hard to find in its original incarnation because every unsold copy was ordered destroyed by the MCPS; the reason being that the work is constructed from unauthorised samples from a large number of sources. THAT was the point. It was pushing "plagiarism to its absurd conclusion" in the best way possible, through musical and social juxtaposition.
It’s a collage of everything that was supposed to be good and everything that was genuinely bad about the era, and its existence brought that same focus to the fore in everyone that heard it and how they reacted to it.
The JAMs didn't care about profit, they cared about the JAMs, and in all probability they'd give you the album free if they could. But for now, YouTube it instead.

Songs of Note: Links are periodically obliterated. Do a YT search.

3 applecarts out of 5

Sunday, January 5, 2014

KATY PERRY / One of the Boys (2008)

I would love to say that this is simply an endlessly hypnotic pop album, but the fact is the majority of these songs have poignant, forceful, or (if nothing else) deliciously emo lyrics. Shit, even the surface novelty of I Kissed A Girl and Ur So Gay can’t bring this down. Katy is entirely adept at both exploring morose depths and soaring as high as her intermittent self-confidence and worth will allow. She’s not shy about cutting down chauvinistic and soulless men, either.

I can’t personally comment on her later, more popular work, but this is the truest definition of a gem completely hidden in plain sight.

Songs of Note: Thinking of You; Fingerprints

4½ Fucks Not Given out of 5

WHITE ZOMBIE / Astro-Creep: 2000 – Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head (1995)

WZ's most commercially successful album sold millions of copies, but it's not their best work. It's boring. Film samples in music are something I really enjoy when done correctly, there's a perfect balance that can be found between the two, but you won’t find it in Astro-Creep. Too many intros interrupt the flow, and when the music eventually does come it's uninspired. They peaked on the previous album and, unable to progress musically, simply go around in circles on this one.

Songs of Note: Creature of the Wheel; Blood, Milk and Sky

2½ bug parades out of 5

Saturday, January 4, 2014

BATHORY / Jubileum: Volume III (1998)

The third and final Jubileum collection begins with a track from one of the crap Bathory albums, but if you skip past it hurriedly you'll discover six previously unreleased tracks from as early as '84. Yay.
I'm repeating myself, but once again the running order is a disaster. Placing a track from Blood on Ice (1996) after the aggressive Satan My Master is a perfect example of what I mean. Of course we'll buy it for the rare stuff, but the gnomes at Black Mark need a damn good whipping for being so lazy.

Songs of note: In Nomine SatanasGods of Thunder, of Wind and of Rain

3 posthumous goats out of 5

Friday, January 3, 2014


Readers of science fiction will recognise the title of the album. It’s a conceptual work that was originally about Asimov's Robot Series but was later changed to be less specific. Lyrically it's still heavily influenced by the author's writings, but musically it's Parsons' and Woolfson's special blend of experimentation, prog guitars, futuristic synth, funk and the usual amount of timeless melodies.

Songs of Note: I Wouldn't Want to Be Like You; Don't Let it Show

4½ other places out of 5

Thursday, January 2, 2014

ASHLEE SIMPSON / Autobiography (2004)

Did Ashlee have help writing these songs? Yes. However, there’s enough charming, off-kilter wording to convince me that she was largely allowed to do exactly what she wanted. Those awkward turns of phrase and her various squeaks and off-key warbling would have been ironed out systematically if Joe and the record label were the guiding force behind this. Not every track hits the mark but the soul-bearing is nicely balanced with measured catchiness and sass. Perhaps best of all is the theme of embracing one’s flaws that’s loosely threaded throughout.

3 Girls Who Know They Like it Rough out of 5

Songs of Note: Autobiography; Love Me For Me

STARBOMB / Starbomb (2013)

Egoraptor and Ninja Sex Party rapping about video games. Yep.

I love Arin. I do. He even manages to flow to an amazingly competent degree. As slightly miffed as I may be about the errors he’s made regarding the lore of Mega Man and Final Fantasy VII, the biggest problem is that I don’t think half of these tracks hold up to repeated listens. I’ve listened to the NSP albums endlessly and the songcraft is infinitely stronger, insulating the gags from premature expiration. As a final complaint, it’s worth noting that even though I know Ninja Brian is behind the boards he feels depressingly absent because he isn’t spoken to directly and this normally highlights his reactions to Danny’s tomfoolery.

2½ Godawful Ends out of 5

FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM / Dawnrazor (1987)

The cover art looks like it promises a musical version of John Carpenter's The Fog, but the music within is 90% Sisters of Mercy and 10% Ennio Morricone. Plus, it has Carl McCoy being mysterious and emotionally pained - just like Andrew Eldritch does, yes. If any of that sounds like it'll float your goat, then you're all set.

Songs of Note: Vet for the Insane; Preacher Man

4 weeping flowers out of 5

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

DEAD CAN DANCE / Live Happenings I-V (2012)

The series of 5 live EPs self-released by DCD via their website is now available from the same place as one complete purchase consisting of 21 tracks.
Now is the part of the review where I attempt to describe the band's sound using existing genre labels and find that I'm completely unable to do so. Nothing I can say will come close to the Gothic beauty and ethereal purity of the work. It either speaks to you on a personal level or it doesn't. The media calls them neoclassical dark wave. That's as helpful as saying that Lisa Gerrard is a gal who can sing.

Songs of Note: The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove; How Fortunate the Man with None

5 beautiful journeys out of 5