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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE / Living With Ghosts (2016)

The version of The Black Parade included in the same package as this is no different from its original release.
Feel free to check the link below, if you’re curious about that masterstroke.

These rough mixes and live demos very blatantly contain the DNA of numerous songs on Parade and Conventional Weapons. That’s appropriate, as they were recorded during the sessions that birthed both of those albums. They’re all very sloppy, but that is admittedly part of their charm. I have to wonder if Gerard was intoxicated during some of these takes. It’s definitely possible. The best track isolates the most satisfying part of Welcome to the Black Parade; it’s as if they chose to crawl inside an orgasm and have a dance party there for four minutes. It consistently defies the lyrical expectations you’ve unknowingly held for over ten years and I adore every second of it.

I’d say if you’re only a Revenge and Parade kind of person, this is an easy pass. If you own and love at will.

Songs of Note: The Five of Us Are Dying [Rough Mix]; Not That Kind of Girl [Live Demo]

2 (Really Not So) Sad Motherfuckers out of 5

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

TOM PETTY / Full Moon Fever (1989)

After seven studio albums with The Heartbreakers, Tom made his first 'solo' album (that some of The Heartbreakers actually play on). It wasn't a big departure from what we were used to; it's largely the production that makes it sound different, a change that was no doubt heavily influenced by Jeff Lynne (of ELO fame, and a fellow Wilbury). Lynne's contribution to production lessened the traditional US Rock vibe of the band line-up and instead accentuated keyboards and sugary-ness. At times it even has a distinctly 1960s British pop influence.
It's a little too polished for my tastes these days, but once upon a time I adored it, granting it semi-permanent residence in my CD player for days at a time. Sadly, I never had it on vinyl; I suspect it would've sounded better on the format.

Songs of Note: Runnin' Down a Dream; The Apartment Song

4 valley vampires out of 5

Saturday, December 2, 2017

SINÉAD O'CONNOR / The Lion and the Cobra (1987)

Years before a media shit-storm (involving a torn photograph) thrust Sinéad into people's homes, her début album, released when she was just twenty-years-old, established her as a formidable force in the minds of people who were there for the music. Right from the get-go it attempts something greater than simple Pop/Rock songs, and, although oft-times hidden in the lyrical composition, a heartfelt honesty is nestled in each and every track. But it's her remarkable voice that gives them real power. Whether being soft and airy or tragic and yearning, it's the element that binds the shifting moods together and prevents them from fighting each other. Some of the music may sound dated today, but the conviction that drives them is something that won't ever be diminished by time.

Songs of Note: Jackie; Troy

5 ghostly tears out of 5

Thursday, November 30, 2017

JACKSON C. FRANK / Jackson C. Frank (1965)

It's heartbreaking to think that Jackson made just one album, and astonishing to learn that he reportedly recorded the entire thing in less than three hours. It's his masterpiece by default, but fully deserving of the accolade.
His talent is undeniable and every bit the equal of his more well-known folk music peers. His tragic life story (schizophrenia and depression, homeless and destitute, dead at 56 of pneumonia) adds a tearful footnote to the prodigious emotional current that characterises his works. Listening to the soft melancholy that he coaxes from his guitar strings breaks my heart every time, and also, somehow, consoles an unseen part of me that remembers what it was like to be lost.

Songs of Note: My Name is Carnival; Just Like Anything

5 tender skies out of 5

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

KATATONIA / The Fall of Hearts (2016)

If I was in need of the post-BMD Katatonia sound but for some reason didn't have any of the better albums to hand, then TFoH would do, but it would be something of a compromise on my part. To be fair, it does deliver the usual mournful, warm, emotional-bandaging that they've perfected, but I often find myself drifting away from its overly-polished charms instead of being carried along with them.
I genuinely like the soft, pastoral moments, but the bulk of the album sometimes feels like it adheres to the established template a little too much. And yet, there are elements within the shifting structures that are wholly unexpected, that exist to break the rules. It's an odd feeling being stirred but still left wanting; it's like eating a heart-shaped cake that sates your taste buds but not your appetite.

3½ residual thoughts out of 5

Sunday, November 19, 2017

GREEN DAY / Greatest Hits: God's Favorite Band (2017)

This was originally a massive rant. But, that was dumb of me. Green Day make albums. Their (purely musical) Greatest Hits releases are an innately incongruous concept to the type of fan that I am. If you want to hear singles from (almost) across their entire career, by all means. Enjoy them in the way that works for you. I'm not pulling elitist hipster rank by relating the following, I'm simply giving thanks:

I've grown up with Green Day. I cannot imagine my life without them. It doesn't matter that Billie Hey-Ho's so much that I can no longer listen to (or experience) them live, anymore. It doesn't matter that I'll never be able to play like Mike. It does, however, matter that my friends and I are glorious perverts, cut from the same cloth as Mr. Tré Fucking Cool, himself. Whereas most of them prefer one era of their career to the other, I un-conflictingly adore them both. They're the only way I can comfortably engage with politics, because they always focus on the mental and emotional impact they have on those of us simply trying to make it day to day in this entirely fucked world.

I've edited the artwork to make a fully representative piece of visual iconography. And, I'm not even going to be giving a score. If I've learned anything from Green Day, it's that I can and should do whatever I want, while I can.

I suppose this is what unconditional love feels like.
This might be the first time god and I have something in common.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

JEFF WAYNE / Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds (1978)

While I don't personally regard every song on Jeff Wayne's début concept album to be perfect, when considered as a whole it's a masterpiece of adaptation, design (inc. artwork) and aural joy that I never tire of experiencing.
Richard Burton narrates the story, based on H. G. Wells' famous 1898 novel, the actor's euphonious baritones perfectly suited to the work. Completing the magic, a string and prog rock accompaniment create a sweeping aura that carries the listener on a stirring, emotional journey. The changes in tone and dramatic intensity move it seamlessly from ominous to propitious, from elation to woe, all the while able to satisfy people in search of storytelling just as much as people in search of music. It's a work of art that's rich in imagery, content and style.

Songs of Note: Forever Autumn; Thunder Child

5 plans against us out of 5

Sunday, June 18, 2017

FASTBALL / Step Into Light (2017)

I suppose the most accurate way to describe this is as a collection of brief, somewhat experimental, aural pastiches. Though, there are some slight, thematic lyrical consistencies present to ever-so-gently reign it in. There are auburn Tom Petty highlights running throughout and touches of Dick Dale. The echoes of early Beatles can be heard, as well as some guitar glint and vocal hum honoring their Rubber Soul/Revolver era.

Regardless of its quality, I absolutely cannot recommend this to a newcomer. If you’re well attuned to riding Miles and Tony’s pleasingly ever more eclectic groove, however, this is the organically scintillating next step. It feels like they’re doing exactly what they want and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Songs of Note: We're On Our WayJust Another Dream

 Rabbit Suits Quietly Shed in Room 1408 (or was it 302?) out of 5

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

ALL & DESCENDENTS / Live Plus One (2001)

I’m going to make a list of the most nerdy comparisons to this that I can muster. It’s like:
It’s Chad and Milo together at the same concert, and Milo sings back-up for Chad!!! Don’t worry, though, this is two discs and the second is an entire Descendents set. Wikipedia tells me the latter was a different concert. Whatever, man~ Milo even tries his hand at one of Chad’s songs, to great effect. I can’t hype this enough: Chad sings She’s My Ex!!!!!!!!!!!!


Songs of Note: She's My ExOriginal Me

5 Floors Strong Enough to Bear the Weight of Greatness out of 5

Monday, April 10, 2017

ALL / Mass Nerder (1998)

Most folks will know the majority of this band from their other incarnation: the Descendents. Regardless of who's in the driver's seat, Bill Stevenson is omnipresent musically and with his incredibly poignant and pointed lyrics. My favorite era of ALL is without question Chad Price's. He's a quintessential vocalist and his songs are some of the most eloquent and moving I've ever heard. The one below may possibly be my favorite of all time.

This ping-pongs between hyper-brief blasts and more melodic romps. The band's strength (both as ALL and the Descendents) is that the former aren't always silly and instead often use their abbreviated run times to address things undeniably worth pondering. They've always been both thoughtful and heartfelt and if you aren't familiar with both incarnations, you're doing yourself a disservice.

Songs of Note: Until I Say So; Silly Me

5 Albums That Actually Know How To Make the Most of Thirty Minutes out of 5

WEEZER / Weezer (Green; 2001)

There’s nothing overtly wrong with Green, it’s just that it’s very generic. It’s entirely encircled by monumental albums, which absolutely doesn’t help its case. Thankfully, nothing here is remotely as artificial as Beverly Hills. You won’t suffer by throwing this on, on a lazy afternoon half hour while you’re doing something else that actually requires your attention. But, should you really? No. Hash Pipe exists as a prototype or prequel to Dope Nose, which is neat. Around the time that this was being promoted Scott Shriner joined the band and I just love that guy 😄

Songs of Note: No, not really, unfortunately.

1½….Wait, did he say “I got my ass wiped?” out of 5

Saturday, April 8, 2017

WEEZER / Make Believe (2005)

We're starting with this one? Yes. Yes, we fucking are. I hate Beverly Hills. It's single-bait gimmickry and it can G.T.F.O. Cut it off the same as Jonathan Davis's song on the Downpour soundtrack. The resultant album is as perfect as anything that's not Pinkerton (or Maladroit) can be. In some ways, it seems like Rivers was trying to take a basic approach like he did with Green, but accidentally fell into startlingly stirring sincerity without any undue effort. I'd personally argue that some pieces here rival Pinkerton's unabashed starkness.

Songs of Note: Damage in Your Heart; The Other Way

4½ Guys Actually Self-Aware Enough to Know What They Are out of 5

FALL OUT BOY / Infinity On High (2007)

"I love you in the same way there's a chapel in a hospital: one foot in your bedroom and one foot out the door,
sometimes we take chances, sometimes we take pills, I could write it better than you ever felt it."

That's a definite contender for my favorite verse of all time. It's not alone, here. Some of Pete's strongest couplets call this offering home. I'm even going to spot it the two bonus tracks, because I love them both. While I have to admit that there is a sloggy, schmaltzy number to contend with, this is a generally punchy and pleasing affair. If F.U.C.T. is the blue-collar workhorse, Infinity is the swaggering, faux-tipsy jaunt through No-Man's Land in deliberately rumpled tuxes.

I'm compelled to say that I sincerely wish Pete would scream longer parts more often. Don't look at me like that. You know I adore MCR.

Songs of Note: Hum Hallelujah; Bang the Doldrums

4, Because of the Flawless Extra Credit out of 5
I painted myself into a corner in the Folie nut. I'm tramping the fuck out of it. We can team up and kick Past-Neg's ass.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

FALL OUT BOY / Take This To Your Grave (2003)

💞 "Pete and I attacked the laws of Astoria with promise and precision and a mess of youthful innocence 
And, I read about the afterlife, but I never really lived more than an hour" 💞

I'd have to say that this is almost assuredly the only album capable of finding me singing along even when I'm not intoxicated. That's a feat and a half. It's melodic and eviscerating. Elvis Costello, as always, is very proud. You thought his presence on Folie à Deux was random? Heh~ I would say it's an early classic of the genre but that'd open a can of worms I couldn't give less of a fuck about. It's goddamn good. End of story.

Songs of Note: Tell That Mick He Just Made My List of Things to Do Today; Grand Theft Autumn / Where Is Your Boy

3½ Adamant Refusals to Use the Actual Covers out of 5

PANIC! AT THE DISCO / A Fever You Can't Sweat Out (2005)

I remember loving this. At the time, it was the Fall Out Boy album that Fall Out Boy didn't make. Now I find it...wait for it... annoyingly inconsistent. More inconsistent than FOB themselves. I see you there waiting to say that that's fitting. I. SEE. YOU. They're capable of staying above 50%. I'd now argue that Brendon manages the upper teens, AT BEST. At least he knows how to pick singles. Someday there'll be a greatest hits album worth owning. Some of these songs are just way too camp-clever for their own good. It's tiresome to hear him wax about Victorian-Era-Behind-The-Curtains nonsense at length. Small doses.

Songs of Note: Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off; I Write Sins Not Tragedies

2 Sincere Wishes That This Is Gospel Had Been Written By Someone Else out of 5
Brilliant 😂

Sunday, April 2, 2017

FASTBALL / Make Your Mama Proud (1996)

I wonder how many people even know that this exists? As soon as I was on board with All The Pain Money Can Buy, I immediately tracked this down and was blown away by how incredibly different it is from everything else they've done. The majority of what's on display is very fast and somewhat abrasive. That's not to say that the lyrics are lacking. They aren't. They're just carried along by much faster time signatures.

This consequently holds a teenage sense of nostalgia for me that's still able to be married to my long-held standards in regards to songwriting. I've always not-so-secretly hoped that they'd do something like this again, someday. A VERY special record well worth exploring if the songs of note appeal.

Songs of Note: Make Your Mama Proud; Nothing

4 Verses Max Bemis Would Be Proud Of out of 5

FASTBALL / All the Pain Money Can Buy (1998)

For a long time now, I’ve viewed this as their least successful outing. Depending on how you see things, this could be considered strange or even ironic, as it kicks off with the one song for which everyone in the world knows them. To anyone who bought this and never listened to what followed, FUCKING. SHAME. ON. YOU. There are a lot of quality tracks here and with every listen (to each of their efforts) I appreciate Miles more and more.

When properly conceptualized, their collective output is honestly far better than any single objective score of any given album could ever convey. They are unassuming geniuses.

Songs of Note: Fire Escape; Better Than It Was

3½ Doses of Blissfully Painful Honesty out of 5

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

OUR LADY PEACE / Spiritual Machines (2000)

It’s funny how the most significant and lingering concepts in Kurzweil’s carefully-penned hybrid history/textbook/novel sprang from the tiny, off-hand responses of his fictional conversation partner, Molly. The consequences of both his predicted change in the nature of humanity, and the philosophical musings given rise in those conversations are rather ethereally expanded upon here, sonically and lyrically. Raine makes the endeavor more palatable, but honestly no less haunting, when all is said and done. The requisite shadowed side of the coin was ironically delivered by the person I’d least expect.

That’s probably why I love it so much.

Songs of Note: Made to Heal; Everyone's A Junkie

5 Attempts to Convince Yourself That It’ll All Be Okay out of 5

Friday, January 20, 2017

OUR LADY PEACE / Gravity (2002)

Assuming you were born prior to 2002, you've heard Somewhere Out There. You have. And, to be honest, if you liked it (before it was played into the ground, of course), then this is a really good place to start with Our Lady Peace. It's not as lyrically intricate as the albums that preceded it, but it is equally capable of being intensely emotionally resonant. There are some absolutely stellar songs about facing and attempting to overcome our innate fragility as human beings with the help of others. Raine is everything Bono thinks he is, but decidedly IS NOT.

You are not alone. Relinquish your pain unto him.

Songs of Note: Not Enough; A Story About a Girl (no, not that one.)

4½ Letters From the Lost Days out of 5

OUR LADY PEACE / Clumsy (1997)

If you’ve heard Superman’s Dead, you may hate Raine Maida’s voice. If you’re not a native Canadian, it’s very possible that you’ve only ever heard Somewhere Out There. Either way, I pity you. While Raine’s lyrics ultimately became more accessible, they’re still deliciously obtuse here and remained so for some time to come. Don’t bother with OLP if you’re looking for an easy listen, on any level. If you step onto this carousel, you’d better be ready to both ferret out and self-interpret the meaning buried herein. Raine’s voice is titillating (especially on Car Crash) and his cryptic missives mingle with the boys’ chunky riff-rock to deliver some of my favorite songs of all time. The simultaneously spine-chilling and eye-moistening variety.

Songs of Note: Carnival; 4am

5 Lonely, But Strangely Comforting Laundromat Visits out of 5