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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Matrix: Music From the Motion Picture (1999)

This is the antithesis of the film's score (as initially released at retail). Hard rock, electronic music (don't ask me to split hairs on genre terminology; I'm not equipped), metal, and nu-metal mingle to create a really listenable and exhilarating album. Alright, the nu-metal sucks, but it's the Deftones song I can tolerate the most, so I'll allow it. Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Rob Dougan, and Rage Against the Machine. Check, check, check, and motherfucking check.

Everything I need from a licensed Matrix release and a lot more, to be honest, as it captures--no, CREATES--the feel and atmosphere of much of the first movie.

Songs of Note: Mindfields; Wake Up

4 Windows All of Us Have Yet To Look Through out of 5

The Matrix: Original Motion Picture Score (1999)

Straight up, I own this for completion's sake. Nothing here is particularly meaty and in some places it's alternately Looney Tunes-esque and on-the-nose hokey, out of context as it is. I'm fishing for positive things to say, but I do like the subtle bongos/timpani drums at the outset of 'The Hotel Ambush,' before the usual clash, bombast, and drone set in. I'm willing to bet a longer version of this exists, but this release just isn't a pleasing listen, for me. I'd rather watch the movie.

1½ Disapproving Glares Over Being Forced to List the Main Theme As a Song of Note out of 5

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

COUNTING CROWS / Hard Candy (2002)

For me, the Crows have two absolute spires amongst the multitude of peaks comprising their discography. Hard Candy is every bit as beautiful as ...Satellites is dark and coarse. It isn’t delicate, however. There’s a genuine strength behind even the most exposed and gentile tracks herein. It’s a perfectly balanced effort that brings tears to my eyes but never once feels defeatist, even when addressing that mindset directly.

Lyrically, it’s their most stand-alone effort, so I’d recommend it the most for new listeners. If I was otherwise monikered, I’d probably consider this their masterwork.

Oh yeah, it's even got the version of Big Yellow Taxi where Vanessa Carlton ISN’T getting paid for singing 'Bop Bop Bop Bop!'

Songs of Note: Hard CandyMiami

5 Resplendent Alcohol-blurred Reveries out of 5

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

NINJA SEX PARTY / Attitude City (2015)

When I say this feels stronger than its predecessor, I may be repeating myself but it’s still the fucking truth. The majority of this was doled out piecemeal over the past two years, but complaining about an album made of universally awesome singles is a dick move, especially when the unreleased material includes a five part epic in the vein of Jesus of Suburbia and a song that I feel encapsulates the band moreso than any other. I’m even picking up on some serious thoughts shared covertly via these sex-driven emissions and all I can say is, I feel you guys. I FEEL YOU.

Songs of Note: Why I CryDragon Slayer

5 Shamelessly Manic Depressive Perverts out of 5

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

SKIN CHAMBER / Wound (1991)

Ugly, abrasive Industrial music that takes absolutely no prisoners as it overcomes your senses. It's the work of Chris Moriaty and Paul Lemos, who you may know from the more prolific and better-known Controlled Bleeding. They draw influences from a number of extreme genres, including Doom and Grindcore, and mesh them together into one gritty, poisonous whole. It's the kind of thing that'll appeal to fans of early Godflesh or the more unforgiving side of Swans.

Songs of Note: The Nails of Faith; Healing Time

4 flayed minds out of 5

Monday, June 29, 2015

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE / I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love (2002)

Astoundingly competent burnished brass tones sell this entire effort as the soundtrack to a Silent Hill game that sadly never was. If you know the history of the band well enough you’ll be aware of the concrete origins of some of these songs. This can result in three-fold meanings dancing before your eyes as you settle in for a listen. Some long-form song-craft is dabbled in and the best delivers a slowly decaying lament whose bitter-sweet beauty grows in equal measure to its desperate raggedness. Being pre-Revenge and out of print makes it a hidden gem by default, but the quality really does justify that label, handily.

4 Foolish (But Entirely Necessary) Escapes out of 5

Friday, June 26, 2015

VENETIAN SNARES / Rossz Csillag Alatt Született [2005]

2005's Rossz Csillag Alatt Született was my introduction to drill 'n bass artist Venetian Snares (aka Aaron Funk) and is still my favorite of his vast library of offbeat offerings.
Drenched in heavy melancholy, Funk does his best to break your brain with intensely abrasive electronic shifting and sonic manipulations over mostly string samples from a variety of Hungarian classical pieces.  Usually all over the map, here Funk follows a basic theme and mood to make for his most coherent listen to date which still doesn't make it particularly friendly to everyone's ear.  The meshing of classical music and the attack of skittish breakbeats sound like a potential disaster but somehow it works beautifully and even if it does overpower with despair one can't deny the dizzying brilliance of this album.

5 lonely pigeons out of 5

Songs of Note: Öngyilkos VasárnapHajnal

Friday, June 19, 2015

RICHARD WRIGHT / Broken China [1996]

Richard Wright's second solo studio album, 1996's Broken China, has Pink Floyd stamped all over it, beginning with it's textural mood then leading into it's structure and conceptual narratives.
 The keyboardist's final full-length studio outing, before his death in 2008, is drenched in a deep depression that makes for an unusual and disjointed listen compared to Wright's previous efforts.  Where, someone like Roger Waters who's sadness came out in anger, Wright's sadness mirrors his persona, gentle, dreary and somewhat mysterious.  It's a conceptual album stuck in it's era but still manages to conjure up some pretty interesting musical ideas complimented by some fascinating lyrics.  For the average listener it'll probably be lost but for a Floyd fan this is one of the better solo efforts.

3½ tributes to Mildred out of 5

Songs of Note: Night of a Thousand Furry ToysBreakthrough (feat. Sinéad O'Connor)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

OLIVIER DERIVIÉRE / Remember Me (Original Soundtrack) [2013]

Capcom's 2013 sci-fi-action game Remember Me suffers from a really great concept with a less-than-stellar execution but composer Olivier Derivière graces it with one of the best scores of the year.
It's a tale about a memory hunter who's ironically had all her memories wiped clean and Derivière paints the perfect sound for such a concept.  The main theme makes use of the London Philharmonia Orchestra with it's brass bombast and urgent string ostinatos that immediately reminded me of Don Davis' ominous main theme for The Matrix.  Here's where things get interesting: the orchestra was then digitally manipulated with an assault of glitches & skips that shouldn't work but with some time and care it's simply amazing.  The first few listens will cause the brain to hurt but once you get used to it, it feels nothing short of organic.  It's a seamless blend of old school orchestral work and digital synthesized scoring that many well-established composers don't have an easy time perfecting.

5 beautiful glitches out of 5

Songs of Note: Nilin The Memory HunterRise To The Light

THE LONE BELLOW / The Lone Bellow [2013]

Alt-folk gospel act The Lone Bellow's 2013 debut album makes it easy to draw comparisons to other acts but unlike their peers these guy's sound are fully established right from the get-go.
Through seamless male-to-female vocal harmonies and finely detailed country instrumentations, the trio make the best of their quiet verses and louder choruses with a sound that is perfect for a wide variety of genre radio stations.  The sound is big, bold and boiling over with passion that never goes overboard with melodrama.  My only real qualm with the act is that it's way too finely polished for my tastes, considering I like this sound to be a bit rough around the edges.  I can enjoy it but I'm willing to bet Mom and Dad will enjoy it more.

3½ hearts & duties out of 5

Songs of Note: Tree to GrowYou Can Be All Kinds of Emotional

Thursday, June 11, 2015

SAY ANYTHING / Hebrews (2014)

Max has a few things on his mind. Mostly, his new daughter and gaining weight. He also chastises those who want him to suffer in the service of writing better songs. Max, I’m not upset because you’re happy. I’m upset because for a decent chunk of this album I have NO. FUCKING. IDEA. what you’re even talking about.

Song of Note: …I thought there was a good one, but upon second thought, nah.

0 Tom DeLonge Appearances Next Time, Please out of 5

Thursday, June 4, 2015

NIGHTWISH / Endless Forms Most Beautiful [2015]

Finnish symphonic metal act Nightwish's 8th LP, 2015's Endless Forms Most Beautiful is their first studio outing with ReVamp vocalist Floor Jansen.
With their previous album, Imaginaerum, being a full-blown concept album (and film), this most recent one still follows a loose theme, based on Charles Darwin's optimistic look on the evolution of life, existence and it's often-puzzling reasoning.  I loved former vocalist Anette Olzon's operatic pipes, so when I heard Jansen wouldn't be exploring that sound so much, I was a little apprehensive at first.  Fortunately Tuomas Holopainen's more intimate songwriting on this album doesn't call for a lot of that style and Jansen fits in like a glove.  Instead of going with a smug all-out guns a blazing powerhouse of an album, Nightwish wisely opts for more of a standard symphonic, rather than metal sound which might deter fans of their earlier works but if you're in for the imaginative worlds they transport you to then this will suit you just fine.

3 origins of species out of 5

Songs of Note: ÉlanEdema Ruh

MÖNGÖL HÖRDE / Möngöl Hörde [2014]

Known best for his folky-punk songs, nice guy Frank Turner takes some time off from his busy schedule to have a laugh while returning to his harsher punk-rock roots with the 2014 self-titled album, Möngöl Hörde.
The three-piece act are as loud and aggressive as The Refused but never once do they sound like they're taking themselves too seriously.  Yes, it sounds pissed off (and probably is) but it's more of shit-eating grin "fuck you" than an overly mundane "you're all mindless sheep" fuck you.  The lyrical subject matter for the most part is pretty light on substance but when it does make a clever point, it sneaks up on you and smacks you square in the face.  It might just be a one-off album but the song-writing is solid and the playing it tight enough to make one hopeful for more material in the future.

3½ tapeworms in Natalie Portman out of 5

Songs of Note: Make WayStaff to the Refund Counter

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

ZEE / Identity [1984]

Kudos to Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright for trying out something different while away from his prog-rock outfit and dip into the new wave sound with synth-duo Zee's first and thankfully only album, 1984's Identity.
Synth-pop act Fashion's Dee Harris on vocals makes this is very much a product of the early '80's with it's clunky drum-machines, tired keyboards and overly dry Fairlight synthesizers.  As a Floyd enthusiast, this is like finding out your favorite great uncle, as a wee lad, used to make late night visits to the local petting zoo and fondle the livestock for sexual pleasure.  With a thorough search, one might find some mildly interesting moments hidden beneath the coked-up shit you're fed but it really isn't worth the trying work.

1½  light things out of 5

Songs of Note: Strange RhythmBy Touching

EMILIE AUTUMN / Fight Like a Girl [2012]

Inspired by her time spent in a psychiatric ward, theatrical violinist Emilie Autumn came up with the idea for the 2012 musical concept album, Fight Like a Girl.
Scaling back the presence of the violin, Autumn focuses more on the glam rock and Victorian cabaret aspects of her music, giving it a full-blown Goth rock opera feel.  The song-writing itself is finely tuned, with the exception of a few weak lyrics scattered about but it's obvious Autumn is feeling very confident with what she out's to prove.  Snuggling in traces of crunchy industrial drones and jittery harpsichord plucks over Autumn's frantic vocals make for a pretty entertaining listen.  Individually the songs don't really work, so if you have the time and patience the album is best heard in it's complete form.

4 asylums for wayward Victorian girls out of 5

Songs of Note: Girls! Girls! GirlsWhat Will I Remember?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

JOHN MORRIS / The Elephant Man: Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture [1980]

After the nightmarishly puzzling Eraserhead, director David Lynch took more of a conventional approach with his sophomore follow-up both in film narrative and music with 1980's The Elephant Man.
Instead of scoring the film himself a second time, Lynch turned to Young Frankenstein composer John Morris and the results suit the surreal black & white heart-break of the film to a tee.  For the main theme, Morris channels the same sort of somber Eastern European off-kilter carnival tones Danny Elfman would relate to early in his career.  The tickling xylophones, twinkling chimes and swaying organ of the main theme counteract with the heart-wrenching strings and crying woodwinds of a secondary theme that harkens back to some of Bernard Herrmann's more dramatic scores.  It's all very simple composing and orchestrations but it's easy on the ears and works with the film so perfectly it's nothing short of a success both on-screen and on it's own.

4 adagio for strings out of 5

Songs of Note: The Elephan Man ThemeRecapitulation

PRIMUS / ...& The Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble [2014]

I suppose if someone were to successfully re-imagine Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse's bizarre soundtrack from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, it'd be psycho-funky weirdo's Primus.
 With Tim Alexander back on drums, in his first full-lenth since 1995, Primus are in fine form and prove their creepy quirkiness and spaced-out playfulness is perfect for the light-hearted darkness of the world of Willy Wonka and all his sinful delights.  Aided by a cellist & mallet percussion, the band manages to re-arrange the songs into their own style without losing a lot of the orchestrations of it's source material.  It's certainly an ambitious project that doesn't always hit the mark but when it does it leaves the most demented grin on one's face.  Clearly Primus are doing whatever the hell they want and that's why, for a fan anyway, this album works.

4 freaky-ass boat rides out of 5

Songs of Note: Golden TicketOompa TV

Monday, June 1, 2015

GIN WIGMORE / Holy Smoke [2009]

Upon first listen to New Zealand singer-songwriter Gin Wigmore's 2009 full-length debut, Holy Smoke, it's pretty obvious she's a talent to be reckoned with.
Like Amy Winehouse before her, Wigmore packs a mighty soulful voice that's aged well beyond her youthful years that's instantly likeable and obviously the center-point of the album.  Her raspy sass is complimented by a tightly wound rock back-drop, courtesy of Ryan Adams' former band The Cardinals but as strong as they are, something doesn't quite gel together on a majority of the songs.  It never takes away from the enjoyability of this thoroughly entertaining album but one can't help but constantly thinking "she's really good now but once she's tuned in a bit more she'll be fantastic".

3½ roads to redemption out of 5

Songs of Note: Hey HoI Do

Saturday, May 23, 2015

RICHARD WRIGHT / Wet Dream [1978]

With Pink Floyd well on it's way into complete self-destruction after 1977's Animals, the band went on a brief  hiatus to gather their bearings and possibly release a solo record or two.
1978's Wet Dream was keyboardist Richard Wright's leisurely offering.
It's a serene dreamlike trip with contemplative soothing vocals gently layered over smooth jazzy keyboards and lite-bluesy guitar riffs.  Like Wright, it's fairly inoffensive, peaceful and almost buries itself in the background making sure it never wears out it's welcome.  To sum it up, it sounds like Dark Side outtakes without the passion of David Gilmour's guitar playing and that's just fine with me.  I just simply enjoy it as a calming ambience every once in a blue moon.

3 pleas for time to breathe out of 5

Songs of Note: Summer ElegyDrop In From The Top

RUN THE JEWELS / Run The Jewels [2013]

After a successful co-headlining tour together, veteran hip-hoppers El-P & Killer Mike decided to collaborate under the name Run The Jewels and release their 2013 eponymous album.
Clocking in at an all too short 33 minutes, the duo make damned sure it's all killer, no filler with El's fast-talking paranoid Philip K. Dick-ian wordplay complimenting Mike's aggressively punchy deliveries.  The electronic-infused backbeats are flavored with some fuzzy 808 synth-lines and bassy retro drum-tracks that tickle the eardrums.  As heavy as some of the subject matter gets, the album never feels too preachy and it's easy to hear the fun the two buddies are having together.  It doesn't have the even flow of a proper album but it certainly has more coherency than a mixtape.  Whatever it might be, it's obvious these guys are in their proper element and demands immediate replay.

4 puddles of cat piss out of 5

Songs of Note: DDFHTwin Hype Back

Friday, May 22, 2015

PINK FLOYD / The Endless River [2014]

By sifting through over 20 hours of unused material from their Division Bell sessions, David Gilmour & Nick Mason set out to create Pink Floyd's swan song with 2014's The Endless River.
Made up of mostly instrumentals, with only a handful of them clocking in at over 3 minutes, the album is broken up into 4 distinct parts all of which thrive on that classic Floyd sound, which is a bit dated in this day and age.  Gilmour's bluesy guitars still ring out like stark teardrops, Wrights new-age keyboards swirl with warmth and heart while Mason's drumming is still heavy but subtle enough to never overpower the relaxed ambience.  It's got all the ingredients of a great Floyd album but instead it mostly feels like the echoes of noodling around, like sleepwalking backwards into time.  It's literally the best of Floyd and the worst of Floyd rolled into a comforting nostalgic yawn.

3 high hopes out of 5

Songs Of Note: It's What We DoCalling

Thursday, May 21, 2015

DAVID LYNCH & ALAN R. SPLET / Eraserhead: Original Soundtrack Recording [2012]

The soundtrack album to director David Lynch's 1977 black & white cult classic Eraserhead is literally a sound track album in every way.
Instead of being a collection of songs or score cues, it's a nightmarish mural of decaying soundscapes & awkward dialogues lifted directly from the movie, sounding something like a field recording from a mildly humorous industrial Hell dimension.  It roars and rumbles while unsettling soundclips of disturbed sexual frustration and a creepy-ass cries out from the shadows and every now & then a haunted organ flutters in, courtesy of Fats Waller, and as the rotten cherry on top, the Lady in the Radiator chimes in with her disfigured beauty.  A terrifying symphony of noise, David Lynch & Alan R. Splet's sound design isn't for everybody but if this is your kind of thing then bathe in it's dark ambience.

4 regular chickens out of 5

Songs Of Note: In HeavenPete's Boogie

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

THE KILLERS / Day & Age (2008)

This is a well-executed album that assuredly means something to plenty of people. People who aren’t me. I personally find that this treads the exact same ground as Sam’s Town, to the point of having the same types of songs dutifully accounted for. When someone comes to this album, or the small nuances and lyrical variations, can make all the difference. Brandon et al. are as funky, creative, and acutely poignant as ever and I’m happy for those who found this outing first, or simply find it preferable to its predecessor.

Song of Note: Spaceman

3 Infectiously Charming Greys out of 5

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Gyakuten Saiban Sound Box (2012)

This omnibus release collects the original in-game audio of the Phoenix Arc into three concise discs. When presented as such, it’s clear to see that there are strict checklists in place for each game: trial prologues, variations on the courtroom standard ‘Pursuit,’ character themes, and somber recollection pieces for when the true murderers are revealed. The special releases previously covered on this blog are especially fitting as many of these tracks are either comfortable jazz murmurs or as faux-orchestrated as the sound-chips of Nintendo’s handhelds can manage. And yet, somehow this near-singular, formulaic approach does little to detract when you’re familiar with the personalities associated with each strain and melody.

Does your heart often tire of racing, breaking, and soaring? Mine usually doesn’t.

“4 Games in a Trilogy? Hey, it Worked for DNA.” out of 5

FASTBALL / Little White Lies (2009)

I implore any potential listeners to give this outing more than a single spin, as I rather disliked it on my initial go-round. It struck me as strangely grating and off-kilter. Miles and Tony sing simultaneously more than they ever have previously and are content to be pretty brazen in their just-enough experimentation. They even indulge in some effective meta-musings of the sort the Crows and Fall Out Boy have previously delivered. It took some self-adjustment, but once I was familiar with how to traverse these alternate avenues I found an experience that was as satisfying as it was different. Hopefully others will as well.

3½ Mariachi Cadillacs out of 5

Monday, April 6, 2015

FALL OUT BOY / American Beauty/American Psycho (2015)

The years since Save Rock and Roll released have been remarkably kind, canonizing it as slick, muscled perfection. Early in the game though it may be, Psycho gives it an exhilarating run for its money, violently demarcating this new era of the boys' career, even if they’ve always been on an upward trajectory, in my eyes. It continually comes back to this, but I think it really is the fact that their musical prowess is finally keeping pace with Pete’s ever more stylishly eviscerating lyrics. An arms race being resoundingly won.

Their very own Resident Evil 4 out of 5

Saturday, April 4, 2015

KATATONIA / Sanctitude (2015)

It's basically the Dethroned and Uncrowned (2013) concept extended to include more of the band's back catalogue, as far back as Brave Murder Day (1996).
The reworking means the mood is changed but it's not compromised; the result is no less beautiful. Their being unplugged could just as easily be described as being uncaged; there's an airy freedom under the dark wings, carrying them to less cloudy climes. Katatonia's evolution has been slower and less extreme than Anathema's, but in this instance they're travelling under similar skies.
Silje Wergeland (The Gathering) joins the sausage factory for a memorable rendition of The One You Are Looking For is Not Here.

Songs of Note: A Darkness Coming; Day

5 memories of things out 5

Thursday, April 2, 2015

KATATONIA / Kocytean (2014)

A Record Store Day exclusive E.P. released on 12" vinyl and limited to just 2000 copies. The six tracks on offer were previously available elsewhere, on hard to find E.P.s or as single B-Sides, but they'd never been collected together in such an easily accessible manner before. It's perfect for when you just want a short burst of the bitter-sweet emotion that is the band's forte.
Collectors will enjoy it for its rarity. Fans will enjoy it for its music. Both will benefit because vinyl is, was, and always will be sexier than CD. True story.

Songs of Note:  Why not have it all?

5 gravitations out of 5

Saturday, March 28, 2015

PRIMORDIAL / Spirit the Earth Aflame (2000)

StEA taps the same vein as A Journey's End (1998) did before it, a vein that connects with and feeds from the lifeblood of nature itself. The result is a flowing, pulsing musical intention capable of supporting the aggressive mourning that manifests in Nemtheanga's transition from clean vocals to screechy rasps; as he sings of bygone days, we share in the affecting pangs of loss.
The Black Metal influences are never far from the surface but they've been made to fit Primordial's template, not the other way around.

Songs of Note: Gods to the Godless; The Burning Season

4½ glorious dawns out of 5

Friday, March 27, 2015

VARIOUS ARTISTS / The Matrix Revolutions: Music from the Motion Picture (2003)

Akin to its predecessor’s album, Revolutions’ stand-alone musical offering opens well, with rapid-fire, churning percussive elements that crest from quieter idylls, hitting in scintillating fits and swells. Without the pacing provided by the film proper, however, the center’s more generic stretch unfortunately becomes somewhat shrill. The final quarter of the track listening is where things get exciting, with Smith and Neo’s own take on Sephiroth’s One Winged Angel, and a roiling, expansive suite-unto-itself, which incorporates that track’s forceful chants as well as Indian vocals and scripture, over bubbling electronic undertones. Ultimately, though, while I’d argue this is a more tidy listen than Reloaded’s fractured smorgasbord, I can really only recommend this particular release to completist fans.

Songs of Note: Tetsujin; Navras

NOTE: A 2-disc, limited edition version was released last year.

3 Nodes on a Larger Circle out of 5

ARCTURUS / La Masquerade Infernale (1997)

Listening to La Masquerade Infernale conjures images of a theatrical, costumed ball taking place during a lunar eclipse, populated with people in grotesque animal masks who indulge in all kinds of icky vices at the drop of a hat. It's an almost vaudevillian exploration of what 'metal' can be. In plainer terms, the words 'avant-garde' and 'Norway' will tell you some of what you need to know.
The dissonance and daring semi-operatic vocal style will alienate many hardcore fans, but those that connect to the madness will likely still love it even after they see through the veil and become more familiar with its inner workings.

Songs of Note: Master of Disguise; La Masquerade Infernale

4 painted horrors out of 5

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ALAN MOORE + TIM PERKINS / Snakes and Ladders (2003)

With spoken word performances it's natural to give your full attention to the first listen, but there's a different, no less valid appreciation attained from repeated listens; such it is with Snakes and Ladders. When the mind drifts or loses focus, or when words lose their distinctiveness and become hypnotic triggers, there's a semi-unconscious feeling that what's being spoken is deeply poignant, magickal and filled with enduring mystery. Eventually, stand out words, sure to be different for each listener, will inevitably draw you back in, but the musings that were birthed in the interim will hopefully have served their purpose.
Moore never falters, letting up only when it suits. In those instances the music of Tim Perkins takes centre stage whilst never betraying its primary supporting role of providing an aural chalice within which the words reverberate.

Songs of Note: The Gates of Tears; Stars and Garters

5 trout skins out of 5

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ELVIS COSTELLO / Spike (1989)

Some of these songs are easily decipherable while others are opaque at best and completely bonkers at ‘worst.’ There exist official explanations for each but I have no need of them. My own interpretations are far more satisfying as I have no wish to lose the mystical fascination I’ve always had with this album. While Costello often contents himself with hiding sharp, biting declarations inside pop sensibilities shimmering enough to make your head spin, here he was completely unafraid to indulge his most outlandish and strangely compelling songwriting instincts. Honestly, where else can one find restrained diatribes against world leaders rubbing shoulders with the first-person musings of prominent after-life denizens?

5 Shamelessly Sticky Pairs of Pornographers’ Trousers out of 5

Monday, March 23, 2015

VARIOUS ARTISTS / The Matrix Reloaded: The Album (2003)

The first disc hits hard out of the gate and finishes strong. It’s the nu-metal filled chasm between Rob Dougan’s masterful, pseudo-symphonic cool and Rage Against the Machine’s grounding contribution that destroys any chance of this being an uninterrupted listen. I’m fairly incapable of separating the score from the visuals and concepts of the film itself and, consequently, while it's commercially presented as brief tracks and a singular suite, I’m still surprisingly content. Don Davis and Juno Reactor’s duels result in both terse and spacious interludes that sometimes build and sometimes jump between demanding of you subtle, DJ-worthy grooving and wide-grinned heart palpitations. Only slightly less gripping than the film, because what flies, soars, turds be damned.

3 Bands Who Think They Get It, But They Do Not out of 5

Saturday, March 21, 2015

PIGFACE / Washingmachine Mouth (1993)

You'll find WM classed as an album, E.P. or even a maxi-single, depending on where you shop, but whatever the truth, clocking in at almost 45 minutes means it doesn't exactly skimp on content, even if it is mostly just 'dicked around' remixes of songs from Fook (1992). After the intensity of that album, the surprise of quieter tracks that are distant, hypnotic cousins of something that might be Ambient Dub was a big surprise; but surprise is what Pigface did best in those days. It's difficult to categorise. It even confuses some CD players; I'm not even kidding.

Songs of Note: Satellite (Needle in the Groove)Prepare to Die (Go! Go! Go!)

3 garden varieties with evil intent out of 5

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

TOTO / Dune OST (1984)

The soundtrack to Lynch's Dune is as patterned and layered as the film itself: mournful thoughtfulness gives way to epic hero themes that—ironically, considering the setting—have the essence of giant waves crashing on distant shores. The most memorable motif is almost identical to part of Ronald Stein's The Haunted Palace (1963) score, but it works in both settings, so I'm able to forgive the 'coincidence'. The opposing factions and Houses are well-represented through varied use of percussion and there's even a romantic theme or two, should you feel the need for a dreamy accompaniment to the overwhelming heroism.
Track titles are super-spoilery, so, rather than pick what I consider the two best tracks, I'll instead showcase the first two on the album:

Songs of Note: Prologue-Main TitleGuild Report

5 waking dreams out of 5

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

EVERCLEAR / So Much For the Afterglow (1997)

To less discerning minds, Art Alexakis could be seen as a forebear of Max Bemis. While it is true that he’s more than adept at letting you know that everything’s not alright, he’s also infinitely more inclined to offering the type of optimism Max rarely affords himself. Tempered optimism. Everything’ll still be fucked up, but less so, and that’s the best we can ever expect. His lyrics are hyper specific to his own experiences but the moments when his voice catches and takes on that strange resonance reveal how universally affecting they truly are.

Songs of Note: Father of Mine; Sunflowers

5 Reasons Not to Let it All Go out of 5

Sunday, February 22, 2015

MAYHEM / De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)

Some folks hail Mayhem's first full-length album as the best thing since sliced bread, whereas others say it's overrated shit. I won't try to change minds. I'll say only that you're in a better position to appreciate the array of quality riffs on offer once you get past tittering at the unintentionally comical vocals.
Hellhammer's drumming is a heartbeat that slows and races but always keeps the momentum; how his arms don't fly clean off his shoulders is a mystery.
Vikernes' bass is often too low in the mix for my liking, and Euronymous' guitar too high, but it can be cited as evidence that when the two men weren't plotting to kill each other, they were capable of producing some truly groundbreaking work.

Songs of Note: Freezing Moon; Pagan Fears

4 blood-written pages out of 5