Hole - Nobody's Daughter Review

Released: April 23, 2010
Label: CherryForever/Mercury/Island Def Jam

Nobody's Daughter, the fourth studio release by Hole in almost 12 years. Having been a fan of Live Through This and Celebrity Skin, I just had to check this album out and review it.

  1. Nobody's Daughter
  2. Skinny Little Bitch
  3. Honey
  4. Pacific Coast Highway
  5. Samantha
  6. Someone Else's Bed
  7. For Once In Your Life
  8. Letter To God
  9. Loser Dust
  10. How Dirty Girls Get Clean
  11. Never Go Hungry

Nobody's Daughter begins with the title track which is pretty mellow considering this is a Hole album. Clocking in at 5 mins and 19 seconds, Skinny Little Bitch brings some of the old, grungy attitude back to this album. Based on those two tracks, Courtney's voice seems a little more like an old lady's whine nowadays rather than the rugged, coarse voice that she was known for. So that's quite a downer, especially when Honey kicks in. Courtney's voice borders annoyance and shows the lack of range in her voice more than any other tracks in the album.

After Honey and Pacific Coast Highway, I was expecting a bunch of fillers in the later tracks. However, Samantha, Someone Else's Bed, Loser Dust and How Dirty Girls Get Clean are great listens. Someone Else's Bed, though a tad mellow manages to capture me with its catchy chorus and that sweet solo that goes on near the end of the track, definitely worth a listen.

Courtney Love
Overall, Nobody's Daughter lack the raw energy that Hole used to have and in place of that comes a mellow Courtney Love with a bunch of strings and songs written by external members. I wouldn't say the album is horrible cause I actually did enjoy certain tracks in the middle of the album tracklist, but it still doesn't help that most of the tracks in this album is mid-tempo and doesn't deserve the band name. Nobody's Daughter is not a brilliant Hole album, but it is a decent Courtney Love album.

4 out of 7 sins

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Sweethead - Sweethead Review

Released: November 02, 2009
Label: Strange Addiction / The End Records

From playing for Failure to A Perfect Circle to Queens of The Stone Age to creating side project, Enemy, Troy Van Leeuwen creates Sweethead, his second side project with up and coming vocalist, Serrina Sims and the rhythm section (Norm Block and Eddie Nappi) of the Mark Lanegan band. Sweethead can be regarded as the female equivalent to QoTSA with it's groovy basslines and drum sections, seductive vocals and trance-inducing guitar riffs. Saying that it is similar to QoTSA doesn't mean that Sweethead lack originality in its tracks, in fact, it is the other way around.

  1. The Sting
  2. Turned Our Backs
  3. P.I.G
  4. Amazing Vanishing Conquest
  5. Running Out
  6. Sinkhole International
  7. Remote Control Boys
  8. Meet In The Road
  9. Other Side
  10. The Great Disruptors
  11. A.W.O.L
  12. The Last Evening

Sweethead begins with The Sting, a catchy, dancey track that is laced with all the good stuff from Troy Van Leeuwen via a raunchy, fuzzy guitar solo and intertwining fills that seem to weave in an out of the thumping bassline. Next up, Turned Our Backs might trigger similarity accusation from fans of Nine Inch Nails that might mistake the drumbeat to be a complete duplication of Wish (Broken EP, 1992), but the track manages to be unique with Serrina's singing as well as the very distinct Troy guitar tone which is almost present in the whole album.

While Sweethead has loads of high-energy, personally I would say that the band really shines in its  down tempo and darker tracks. Amazing Vanishing Conquest, Running Out, Other Side and The Last Evening are a few of my personal favourites from the album. Serrina Sim's low and slightly coarse voice coupled with the great combination of guitars, bass and drums just makes each of those tracks have an almost dreamy ambience and you can't help but sway and hum to those tracks.

Serrina Sims & Troy Van Leeuwen
Sinkhole International and debut single, The Great Disruptors, manage to balance out the album's sound by bringing it back up to speed and maintaining the whole LA rock n' roll/stoner rock sound. But with all the praise I have for this album, some of the tracks (Remote Control Boys, A.W.O.L, Meet In The Road), though enjoyable to listen to on boring evenings, fails to leave a lasting effect.

12th track, The Last Evening ends the album with low wailing guitar solos and fills, the seductive yet calm voice of Serrina Sims backed by the fuzzy bass tone and dark "reverbish" ambience. It almost made me feel like I was being cradled in a wall of sound and laid to bed with its short and sweet dosages of dreamy guitars. A great end to the album.

Overall, I would say Sweethead is a great album but loses points in some of its forgettable tracks. A balanced album throughout, I would recommend this album to whoever that enjoys QoTSA, Stoner Rock and everything Troy Van Leeuwen related.

5 out of 7 sins

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Grosse Freiheit - Unheilig Review

Released: February 19, 2010
Label: Vertigo Records (Universal)

For those Neue Deutsche Härte fans that only listen to Rammstein, they don’t know what they’ve been missing out on. Neue Deutsche Härte bands are getting better attention these days, and gone were the days of just grunting "Du Hast" to heavy, aggressive guitars. Unheilig brings forth a new beast with Grosse Freiheit and fans don’t even have to understand German to enjoy this amazing album.
1. "Das Meer" 3:39
2. "Seenot" 4:22
3. "Für immer" 3:22
4. "Geboren um zu Leben" 3:50
5. "Abwärts" 3:30
6. "Halt mich" 3:47
7. "Unter Feuer" 5:03
8. "Grosse Freiheit" 3:48
9. "Ich gehöre mir" 3:34
10. "Heimatstern" 4:10
11. "Sternbild" 4:28
12. "Unter deiner Flagge" 4:10
13. "Fernweh" 4:38
14. "Neuland" 4:31
Unheilig delivers an epic stage sound created by the sole member Der Graf (The Count). He tries in creating a more orchestrated and melodic approach to writing Grosse Freiheit (Great Freedom), as compared to 2008's Puppenspiel. Unheilig's direction in Grosse Freiheit seems to be leaning towards a dramatic and almost operatic sound with a theme about the seas. Breaking from the usual Industrial Metal structure doesn't mean the usual Industrial staples are absent in Grosse Freiheit as they are still abound in tracks such as Unter Feuer (Under Fire), Abwärts (Down) and Ich gehöre mir (I Belong To Me).
Der Graf
Opening track Das Meer (The Sea) projects the sounds of the shore and a ship with a gramophone playing a maritime melody in the background. As he chants the words “Come with me to the sea, to board on a ship, to see the world, to sail with the tide, to sail into the storm”, the orchestra joins in to begin a grand intro to the album. Next track, Seenot (Distress), begins with heavy guitars that is almost reminiscent of other Neue Deutsche Härte bands but with Unheilig, the vapid and aggressive nature of the intro riff is calmed down with the velvety vocals in the chorus. This is the main "pull" factor in Unheilig's music, the ability to mix heavy instrumentals with dynamic singing and beautiful string arrangements.
Für immer (Forever), Geboren um zu Leben (Born to Live), Halt Mich (Hold Me) and Heimatstern (Home Star) are the down-tempo ballads of the album. A bit more of a downside to me personally, but easier to promote as singles. A personal favourite, Sternbild (Constellation) amplifies itself with more string instrument parts and the chorus singing “do not forget me” and the accompanying "woahs" just drives this song to a higher level for me.
Finale track Neuland, an extended instrumental version of Das Meer takes you further into the whole emotion of being in the open seas conveyed in Grosse Freiheit. The intricate piano playing with matching guitar riffs replaces the vocals in the intro track. A solid end to a well crafted album.
Having been putting Grosse Freiheit on repeat for a very long time, I can safely say it leaves such a huge impact and the album doesn’t bore you from start to end. His vocals are strong enough to carry on his own music and it doesn’t shy away when it gets challenging. If you're speculating if he's really that good, wait till you hear him live. Der Graf is as good as any Industrial vocalist and musician gets, but you might just be turned off or find him amusing by the eccentric stage moves. Grosse Freiheit would be a great start if you're looking into discovering the unique sounds of Neue Deutsche Härte.

82% unholy

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Diamond Eyes - Deftones Review

Released: May 4, 2010
Label: Reprise/Warner

It has been more than a year since Chi Cheng’s car accident that landed him in a coma. Since then, he has been semi-conscious and undergoing treatments. Amidst the unfortunate event, the remaining members of Deftones recruited former Quicksand bassist, Sergio Vega as a substitute for their sixth full-length album, Diamond Eyes.
Radio single and title song Diamond Eyes sent me into a daze on my first listening. I know I had to hear more from the new album. It certainly serves as a good start to another outstanding accomplishment. The chorus shows a concept from White Pony (2000) and a listen to the whole album will make you agree on that. They recorded without using Pro Tools and it adds a raw feel to it.
1. "Diamond Eyes" 3:08
2. "Royal" 3:32
3. "CMND/CTRL" 2:25
4. "You've Seen the Butcher" 3:31
5. "Beauty School" 4:47
6. "Prince" 3:36
7. "Rocket Skates" 4:14
8. "Sextape" 4:01
9. "Risk" 3:38
10. "976–EVIL" 4:32
11. "This Place Is Death" 3:48
Cunningham, Delgado, Moreno, Vega and Carpenter
Rocket Skates was initially the band’s first single. It was made available for free download through their MySpace page earlier in February. There are many memorable tunes in here, like You’ve Seen the Butcher, Beauty School, Sextape, Risk etc. Each of those songs gives a strong feeling of gloom though it does give away kind of steamy sensation with Chino Moreno’s croon buttered throughout Diamond Eyes. There isn’t much aggression and hate to complain about and Moreno mentioned in an interview, “The songs on the album do not feature songs about complaining, hurting, or how life sucks".

This is one of their best releases since 2000. Buy or steal, I highly recommend you to listen. Perhaps you might feel a bit empty and lost without Cheng in it. It is a brave move to continue without him. For the first time their line-up changed. Nonetheless, I can see hope in Cheng waking up again. He is after all progressing well towards recovery. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see the light of Eros sooner than later.

6 out of 7 sins

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Geneva - Russian Circles Review

Released: October 20, 2009
Label: Suicide Squeeze/Sargent House (Vinyl release)

After just a year from Station, the chicago post-rock trio returns with Geneva. This time around, the music returns to its dark and intense origins as compared to the rather mellow Station. Eventhough Geneva is a solid release for an album that is released in just a year, fans of the debut album(Enter) will be satisfied by what is delivered in Geneva.

  1. Fathom
  2. Geneva
  3. Melee
  4. Hexed All
  5. Malko
  6. When The Mountains Come To Muhammad
  7. Philos
Geneva opens with a mash of string instruments sustained into creating a wall of sound behind the thumping of the drums in Fathom which later gives way to an awesome bassline around the 2.20min mark and closes with the liberating sounds of Philos, the soft-to-loud final track in Geneva. Russian Circles proves that they're not just a one-trick pony with the amazingly beautiful Hexed All that mixes string instruments with the light plucking of guitar and bass and even lighter drumming that seems to be just right to carry forth the emotions.

Just about when you think that Geneva has gone mellow, Malko is brought in straight after Hexed All with its intertwining guitar riff that lifts off the sadness created from Hexed All. Further into the album,  a little bit of steam is lost in When The Mountain Comes To Muhammad, but that is only apparent in the earlier part of the track as when its nearing the end, the track picks up its pace and slams into gear another sonic bash to your eardrums.

Personally, I would say the bass work in this album is phenomenal. The basslines are killer, so keep an ear out to capture those brief but amazing moments of musicianship from Brian Cook.

Brian Cook, Mike Sullivan, Dave Turncrantz
No other instrumental band or post-rock band I've listened to have managed to reach the level of musicianship as Russian Circles, and I'm not referring to the technicalities in instrumentation, but mainly on their ability to create music that sticks to you without being over-pretentious. You will realise that Russian Circles do not aim to impress with complexity and technicality, but with melody and composition.
Overall, Geneva is a great big step ahead as compared to their sophomore effort, Station and is nearly as mind-blowing as their debut back in 2006. Geneva manages to balance the lush serenades introduced in Station along with Enter's aggression and dark ambience. It doesn't fail to deliver, and if you've listened to the first two Russian Circles releases then Geneva is a must-have/must-listen.

6 out of 7 sins

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