All posts by Puppy

Smashing Pumpkins

Gish (1991)

I had almost completely forgotten about this album, just like ‘Siamese Dream’.  Unlike ‘Siamese Dream’, however, this one does let up a bit after the first two songs.  The rest is basically filler…very good filler, but filler nevertheless.  That being said, I can listen to the entire album without pain and without falling asleep.
(“I Am One”, “Siva”)

Grade: B

2012: Very good filler…hmmm…if it’s very good, how can I call it filler?  I can’t. 

Siamese Dream (1993)

Wow…I had almost completely forgotten about this group for a long time…I used to play this almost every day, but I grew sick of it, and my liking of it plummeted.  Listening to it now, I realize how good, nay great, an album this really was/is.  It begins with a flourish, and unlike ‘Gish’, it never lets up after that.
(“Today”, “Cherub Rock”, “Luna”)

Grade: A

Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness(1995)

A great album to impress your girlfriend with if you don’t have a “sensitive” side but want to pretend you do.  Or, the Luther Vandross of Alt-Rock.  Otherwise it’s spotty.

Grade: C+

2012: Two things…I ripped the riff from Tom Servo, and “1979” is very good.  Grade: B-

Adore (1998)

A promising beginning to the album, but the excitement of that quickly fades as the songs go on, sixteen of them total.  The “sound” of the Pumpkins is there, this is not a failed departure.  This is a failed Pumpkins album.  This would appear to be the end…a pity, because I believe from the sound of the album and all the usual layers of music that Billy Corgan really tried this time out.  D’Arcy and James Iha cannot be blamed for this failure, as Corgan goes to pains to label each and every song as his.  Note to Billy- when the album is weak, don’t prove it’s your fault of your own free will.

Grade: C

2012: “Perfect” is the ultimate ITune grab.  Grade: C-

Sonic Youth

Daydream Nation (1988)

A horrible, boring record.  Period.

Grade: F

Washing Machine (1995)

Up until the very end, an effort worthy of Daydream Nation’s complete and utter failure.  Then they hit you with a song that has riffs galore, intriguing vocals, and fascinating lyrics.  I’m shocked.
(“The Diamond Sea”)

Grade: D

Skinny Puppy

Rabies (1989)

This one captured my attention on a late night drive to a club with a then-friend of mine and his then-girlfriend.  I may have been drinking before listening to it.  I cannot justify its existence when I’m sober.

Grade: D

Skid Row

Slave To The Grind (1991)

As far as 80’s hair-metal bands went, I never really hated these guys even after their very brief musical reign was overthrown by Seattle.  The reason?  Because as is shown here, they can actually rock hard, even if their intent is far greater than their ability.  They also can write “Monkey Business”, a song that declared that they weren’t intending on fading away like the more balladish-pop-metal of Poison, Bon Jovi, Winger, etc etc.  Unfortunately for them, they did fade rather quickly, as former fans switched allegiance to their grunge band of choice.  And after listening to this entire album hoping for more “Monkey Business” type music, I discovered that while the rest did rock, it didn’t rock in a very catchy way.  At least they separated themselves slightly from the hair bands.  Even if this did only that, I suspect they would crack a tiny smile even as they bombed away.
(“Monkey Business”)

Grade: D+

Paul Simon

Negotiations And Love Songs (1988)

I’m not a fan.  If you are, you’ll probably enjoy this very much.  What I hear is a load of pop-ready singles that make no lasting impression and (with one exception) make me look forward to the next song.  Or next album.  By someone else.

Grade: C-


Frogstomp (1995)

Let me start off by saying I am truly embarassed to own this album, and I would probably toss it if it didn’t have some sentimental memory value.  Actually, that’s not completely fair.  It would be embarassing if I LIKED this album, but I don’t hate it.  After all, they’re just a bunch of teenagers.  And as far as stupid things go, making a cr@ppy album is very much on the harmless no-foul side.  And, ok, I admit it…a few of the hooks actually semi-hook me.

Grade: D

Simon and Garfunkel

Greatest Hits (1972)

There’s something about Paul Simon that just pisses me off.  I’m not sure exactly what, or why, but it brings down all these songs a notch or two.  Maybe I just hate his voice.  Then again, Art Garfunkel’s vocal contributions in general don’t do much for me either.  I’m confused, a little, but I know I’m probably never gonna play this whole album ever again.
(“Bridge Over Troubled Water”)

Grade: C

The Rolling Stones

Let It Bleed (1969)

Moments of genius, moments of stupidity.

Grade: B

Sticky Fingers (1971)

I was a bit excited to discover this album in a nearby library, so that I could check it out and listen to the entire thing, knowing all the time I was mainly just using it as a means to get my kiss-a$$ review of “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” in print.  It starts off with a signature riff, one of Keith’s best.  And when I say best, I’m putting it in “Satisfaction” territory.  It doesn’t stop there, though.  Richards plays some amazing guitar while Jagger comes up with some nice lyrics and even goes Led Zeppelin for a while with his perfectly timed recitals of the song’s name in conjunction with Richard’s riff work.  Ahhh…I feel better now.  On to the rest of the album.  Not a great album, but a good one.  Other songs you might find interesting include “Brown Sugar” (although I’m rather sick of it) and “Bitch” (Which I don’t think I’ll EVER get sick of).  Yes, there’s some cr@ppy filler and a cr@ppy-as-usual blues cover.  So it’s pretty much half of a great album.  Which is all you can really hope for these days.
(“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”, “Bitch”)

Grade: B

Hot Rocks(1964-1971) (1986)

This could easily be an A+ if it was just comprised of better selections.  As is, there’s loads of good music here, nothing truly revelatory but pretty d@mn good.  Only “Heart Of Stone” and “As Tears Go By” make me wince.
(“Gimme Shelter”, “Street Fighting Man”)

Grade: A

Flashpoint (1991)

Doesn’t sound that bad, and I usually think that live albums tend to suck.  Unfortunately, the song choices are somewhat suspect, and it IS a live one, so it’s not quite as good as it could be.  If you love the Stones, you’re gonna buy it anyways.  If you’re more of a casual fan, I’d recommend withholding purchase unless you spot it in a bargain bin in a few years.

Grade: C

Forty Licks (2002)

A very expansive greatest-hits package, this is separated into two cd’s worth of music.  The first disc is a wonderful collection of some of the Stones’ best early-to-middle period songs.  The second disc relies heavily on later material, and consequently suffers from the decline of the Stones in their later years.  If you want to buy one Stones album, ‘Hot Rocks’ is the way to go.  I’m sure there’s a later-period-only best-of out there somewhere that you could buy if you wanted a complete overview of their catalog.  I personally find a lot of their later material embarassing by their standards.
(“Street Fighting Man”, “Honky Tonk Women”)

Grade: B+

2010: (Chock-full of too much goodness to resist) Grade: A


Auscultate (1995)

I enjoyed “Bluster” very much from the first time I heard it on the radio.  So, guess what happened?  I bought the album!  Thinking there would be more good songs! (Well, “Honour Me” isn’t bad).

Grade: D+


Murmur (1982)

This is the world at large’s full-length introduction to Michael Stipe and company.  I find it a bit boppy and very non-threatening.  I don’t know what the hell Stipe is talking about, a pattern which would continue over their next few albums and, let’s be honest, their entire career.  The man seems to enjoy writing lyrics that make you think.  Which is a good thing, in general.  But when I put on my favorite artists, I want to KNOW what they’re talking about, and be able to just sink into a bubblebath with a contented sigh, and enjoy it.  Besides, I don’t think on command, thank you very much.  Unless this really is just a jambly mess of chaos.

Grade: C

2010: Stipe gets even more twitty in retrospect.  Grade: C-

Eponymous (1988)

They weren’t very good at all until ‘Document’.  Three of the good songs on this best-of-up-until-’88 are from ‘Document’.  And thus this album is elevated from mediocre to pretty good.
(“The One I Love”)

Grade: B

Out Of Time (1991)

“Losing My Religion”.  No.  I will not listen to that song ever again.  Michael Stipe has always been a pretentious twit, and here his music and lyrics combine to full twit-effect.  What about the rest?  Well, it’s not bad…better than I would have expected after the first single.
(“Texarkana”, “Belong”)

Grade: B-

2011: He does mean well in a lot of ways…and True Believers are hard to find.  Grade: B

Automatic For The People (1992)

“Everybody Hurts” has achieved the same status as Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven”, both as a prom song and a song that has been played continuously and mercilessly since its release.  It’s a very good song, but how many times can we keep playing the d@mn thing and still enjoy it?  With that noted, my two favorites here do NOT include that song.  Btw, Andy Kaufman stinks.
(“Ignoreland”, “Drive”)

Grade: B-

8/20/12: Not to be morbid, but he certainly does by now.  Oh shut up, he’d say it himself if he wasn’t dead.  Grade: B

Monster (1994)

Nice hardish rock guitar throughout on this album, beginning with the killer riffs on “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”.  Most of this rocks pretty hard…there’s certainly filler but it’s more tolerable than it could be.
(“What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”, “Star 69”)

Grade: B

8/20/12: All the meaning in the world didn’t save any of their other albums from being worse than this, and all the meaning in the world doesn’t make this any better than it is.  Perhaps they should, with some exceptions, find another medium with which to bore the life out of their clientele.  Thank you, Diane.
Grade: B+

New Adventures In Hi-Fi (1996)

Slow I don’t mind, pretty I don’t mind, mournful I don’t mind.  But put them all together and add a dose of poor songwriting and it makes for a dismal bit of filler, broken up occasionally by a decent song.  Is it worth your money?  I don’t think so.
(“E-Bow The Letter”)

Grade: C

2011: Moving away from both rock and pop is very dangerous for your career.  This does both.  It’s intentionally obscure and minimalist in the same way as ‘Murmur’, except here you can actually understand what the heck they’re talking about.  Not their best album by a long shot, but in some ways this is their triumph…Peace, Love, and Community over Money.  For once, I applaud.
Grade: B-

Reveal (2001)

REM goes easy listening/cocktail lounge act.  At least on parts of it.  It’s laughable, because you expect at least a stab at innovation from them each time out.  And because Stipe has to be the frontman for this occasionally annoying, horrible synth-sound album.  He’s always been a bit full of himself, but he seems to be losing it.  Where the hell is Peter Buck and his bag of riffs?  I guess Michael decided he WANTED to actually make a semi-easy-listening, mostly hookless quiet album.  I hope he likes it, because I sure the hell don’t, and thankfully the album-buying public seems to agree with me to a certain extent.  Stop with the synth moves, guys.  You have no clue what to do with them.  Either get back to GOOD pop music, or (my preference) straight out rock, e.g. ‘Monster’.
Grade: D

2011: “Any sort of commerciality” and “Doing whatever the fck we want” went to war…they raised the stakes, forcing the other side to, forcing the other side to, and so on…they won.  Grade: D+

In Time: The Best Of R.E.M. 1988-2003 (2003)

It’s a good thing that 1988 was when they started to rise above persistently meaningless mediocrity.  It’s a bad thing that they didn’t take all the good sh1t and put it here.
(What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”, “Orange Crush”)

Grade: B

Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine (1992)

I’ve always liked good rock with meaning more than good rock without.  So that’s not a problem here.  And I enjoy Zach De La Rocha’s lyrics and performance.  The backup from his musical mates is impressive as well.  All that being said, I’d love to love this album, but the songwriting just doesn’t hold up throughout.  A solid effort, though, and worthy of a follow-up.
(“Killing In The Name”, “Bullet In The Head”)

Grade: B

The Battle Of Los Angeles (1999)

The synth attempt on track eleven is silly and sad.  They have one method of delivery, and frankly sound really boring/annoying/silly when they try to “branch out”.  On another note, “Born Of A Broken Man” is a completely obvious(and sad, there’s that word again) ripoff of Jesus Jones’ “Right Here, Right Now”.  It actually brought back some memories that left me humming inside my head.  The rest(“Guerilla Radio” excepted) is so formulaic and repetitive on this, their third album featuring the same music (hello, AC/DC) that I have no choice but to say that this year’s model is easily the worst of the triplets.  I see why they broke up.  Quite frankly, I’m sick of them and am glad that the band (except Zach, maybe?) made the right decision.

Grade: C-

Red Hot Chili Peppers

BloodSugarSexMagik (1991)

Lots of songs here.  Going through them all, I found a few keepers.  But something about the Peppers just rubs me the wrong way, and even the keepers don’t do all that much for me anymore.  The filler is torture.
(“Under The Bridge”)

Grade: C

What Hits!? (1992)

A collection of music one track more than ‘BloodSugarSexMagik’, it boasts one less interesting song.  If only grading was always this easy.
(“Higher Ground”)

Grade: C-

2010: (I’m overcome by their average-ness) Grade: C


The Bends (1995)

I never thought they’d do it, but they did.  They actually came back with an album that wasn’t horrid after the one-shot “Creep”.  Soft, melodic, and pretty at its high points, this album may take a while to kick in, but it’s not bad if you give it half a chance.  Don’t get excited or anything, but maybe crack a LITTLE smile.

Grade: C+

OK Computer (1997)

First half is worthy of an A.  Second half has to scratch and claw to achieve mediocrity.  It’s supposedly a breakthrough, hands-down classic according to some.  It’s a good album, and it’s worth buying.  But it’s not going to change your life or change music as a whole.
(“Karma Police”)

Grade: B

Kid A (2000)

Very atmospheric.  But the atmosphere is rarely backed up by good music.

Grade: C-

2010: (Kid Average) Grade: C

Amnesiac (2001)

Them boys do enjoy indulging themselves, don’t they?

Grade: D-

Hail To The Thief (2003)

“Sail To The Moon” is a beautiful song that represents their peak in that area.  “Myxomatosis” is some good solid noise-plus-vocals music, perfect for when you just want to listen and not have to think.  A couple other songs are pretty good.  There is no big deal with this band.  It’s fair quality (art?) rock, nothing more.  A few good songs don’t make a great album, let alone a great career.
(“Myxomatosis”, “Sail To The Moon”)

Grade: B-

Primitive Radio Gods

Rocket (1996)

Most certainly a one-shot album(and possibly career), this is mediocre noise and lyrics that rise to respectability only during “Chain Reaction” and the Hit.
(“Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand”)

Grade: D+

The Police

Every Breath You Take: The Classics (1995)

I’ve always liked The Police (except when “Roxanne” is played on the radio and I have to comfort myself in the knowledge that it will be over in 3:12, Hallelujah!).  I’ve just never really liked them QUITE enough to buy any single album of theirs.  Behold, the answer to my prayers.  A great album without doubt, it makes me a little sad that they broke up at their peak.
(“King Of Pain”, “Every Breath You Take”, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”)

Grade: A+

The Police (2007)

Everything you could possibly want by The Police (Therefore better than ‘The Classics’) and, unfortunately, more (Therefore worse than ‘The Classics’).  For the dedicated fan.
(“Can’t Stand Losing You”, “So Lonely”, “Synchronicity I”)

Grade: A

The Pretenders

The Singles (1987)

Even their good songs always struck me as a bit lacking in one area or another.  Actually, to be honest, I just don’t like them for some reason.  Some of their songs I recognize as quality songs that I SHOULD like, but I don’t.  I find them dull, boring, and occasionally annoying, even when I know in my head that they aren’t.  At least, not ALL the time.  That being said, there’s a lot of (to me) boring sections here, and I’ve never liked Chrissie Hynde’s vocals.  Oh well…sometimes your best just isn’t good enough.

Grade: C

The Pixies

Come On Pilgrim (1987)

No hooks (except maybe on “Vamos”), lots of stupid lyrics (including “Vamos”) and Black Francis’ sometimes annoying voice lead to a total clunker.

Grade: D-

Surfer Rosa (1988)

Solid, solid.  The decent songs just keep on coming, with only minor setbacks (what the hell were they thinking with “Tony’s Theme”??).  Definitely worth owning, it’s got some great rock guitar in it.  Just don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics.
(“River Euphrates”, “Where Is My Mind?”)

Grade: B+

2011: (I still hate “Tony’s Theme”, which I could have written in about 3.2 seconds, but every other song is decent.  Which is good and bad.  “Where Is My Mind?” is the only one that REALLY sticks, and in today’s age, that’s dangerous.  Luckily it already sold oodles of copies) Grade: A-

Doolittle (1989)

Solid ALL the way through for fifteen songs is quite some achievement.  Unfortunately, only “Monkey Gone To Heaven” even hints at anthem status.  They try to make up for good-but not-great quality with mass quantity.  If you like to be moderately interested in an album uninterrupted by filler or failure, you’ll love this.  If you want killer tracks, not so much.
(“Monkey Gone To Heaven”)

Grade: B+

2011: (Take ‘Surfer Rosa’, scramble it around, and VOILA!) Grade: A-

Bossanova (1990)

I used to absolutely ADORE this band, and especially this album.  The love affair has fallen off, though, and I believe I can grade them impartially.  The music is almost always interesting here, but (as with all Pixies releases) the lyrics are sometimes just plain stupid, and a nice instrumental becomes a tolerable bit of noise.  One of the worst lyricists that I actually LIKE (because he can write catchy tunes), Black Francis enjoys indulging himself far more than he enjoys pandering to his audience.  Fair enough, but don’t expect anyone to stay for the words once the music starts to fade.
(“Rock Music”, “The Happening”)

Grade: A-

2011: (Space-Age Prog-Rockish Mysticism livens things up a bit) Grade: A

Trompe Le Monde (1991)

The dropoff is obvious, and this is their worst album since ‘Come On Pilgrim’.  That said, it’s still pretty good (all their albums after ‘Come On Pilgrim’ are at least pretty good).  I’m just begging Kim Deal to start writing more of the lyrics.  When given enough good musical backup, Black Francis’ subpar lyrics achieve a semi-mystical quality.  Otherwise they’re there to be focused on and laughed at.
(“Alec Eiffel”, “Space (I Believe In)”)

Grade: B

2010: (Spacey) Grade: B+

Death To The Pixies (1997)

LOTS of music here, good and bad.  It doesn’t get all their best songs, and dismissing “The Happening” in favor of the utterly f’n ridiculous “Tony’s Theme” is beyond my comprehension.  But, as written previously, there IS a lot of good music here, easily outweighing the bad.  Their “Greatest Hits” could have been so much better.  But hey, you take what you can get.
(“Monkey Gone To Heaven”, “Rock Music”)

Grade: A-


Missundaztood (2001)

I put this album on fully expecting to either hate it or find it dreadfully boring and/or sappy.  Then I heard the first song…not bad.  Then the second…hey, I’ve heard this one before.  Then the third…ummm, this is getting scary.  Then the fourth…alright, alright d@mnit.  I was wrong.  It does not suck.  It’s pure pop, which I often loathe, and it’s GOOD.  D@mn thing is actually good.  But not great.  After all, I didn’t stop at track four.

Grade: B

Pink Floyd

Meddle (1971)

The composition on side two has its moments.  Not enough for 23 minutes of your time, but decent background music.  The songs on side one include a very moving “Fearless” (with some help from “You’ll Never Walk Alone”) and a scary/funny/very bass-heavy “One of These Days”.  So they go 3-for-6, with a single, a double, and an inside-the-park home run.  Not bad.

Grade: B

Obscured By Clouds (1972)

Thoroughly relaxing and potentially sleep-inducing most of the time, this album mainly serves to illustrate how much Roger Waters and Company eventually improved from as writers.  It’s not horrid, it’s not even bad, really…just nothing special, nothing of particular interest with the possible exception of “Free Four”.

Grade: C-

Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)

I’m not sure exactly what the concept here is, but all the guitar noise and bass and synth hooks and strange, unexpected sound effects merge together quite nicely, thank you very much.  Since it’s made to all blend and work together, single songs maybe don’t have as much chance to stand out from the rest quite as well as one might like.  But I’ve heard this album a million times, and I can still get into some songs more than others, either disregarding or enjoying the effects around the tune.
(“Time”, “Money”)

Grade: A-

Wish You Were Here (1975)

From all accounts that I’ve heard a tribute to former leader Syd Barrett, this is a good album bookended by “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” (Parts 1 and 2) and featuring a great guest vocal on the vitriolic “Have A Cigar”.  Roger Waters is taking over here, and thus the cynical and depressed will find a nice pleasant place to hang their hat.  He’s a bit of a downer, but the man can write.  And, more importantly, the other Floyd members can’t, unless you count the lessening and lessening contributions from lead guitarist David Gilmour.  Nothing here to knock your socks off…the peaks aren’t all that high, to be honest.  But the only real failure is “Welcome To The Machine”, which fails musically and as an album cut that fits well with the others.  I mean, I’m a big Roger Waters fan…and he always will be Pink Floyd to me.  But “Machine” makes no attempts at commerciality or even listenability.  Perhaps Roger just did it for himself.  If so, he has really bad taste.
(“Have A Cigar”)

Grade: B

2010: (Andy Kaufman was never anywhere near this entertaining when indulging his whims) Grade: B+

2011: “Machine” isn’t really all that bad…the sound effects are decent and the lyrics are good, I just don’t care much for the music.  But with subject matter as depressing as this, it’s not really a good idea to have a lot of catchy hooks, I suppose(?).  The whole album is sad, and besides “Machine”, it’s really good.  Sort of like ‘Animals’ except thankfully “Machine” doesn’t go on as long as “Dogs”, but without a “Sheep” to really push it over the edge.  Very borderline, but…Grade: A-

Animals (1977)

It was a bit difficult for me to grade this one.  I knew its approximate grade, I just had to decide exactly how much damage David Gilmour’s “Dogs” did to the overall proceedings.  In the end, though, I decided that even that song had its moments, and then my decision became clear.  Based loosely (I think) on George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, or at least an homage to it, it commands attention to the lyrics even as the hooks come out and grab you.
(“Sheep”, “Pigs On The Wing(Part Two)”)

Grade: A-

The Wall (1979)

I enjoy a fair amount of these songs, but Roger Waters sounds so pretentious and self-pitying that I’m turned off enough to skip a track unless interesting music accompanies said track.  I mean, I still think Waters thinks way too much of himself, but he does produce results the majority of the time (‘Animals’ and ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ both attesting to that).  So perhaps his pretentiousness is justified by his results…in the past, that is.  Here we see a sharp decline in the quality of his material…I never thought I’d say this, but here at least, David Gilmour is the best songwriter.  He’s got the first writing credit on no less than five of the best songs here.  Without him, this album sinks into a murky, bloated Roger Waters experiment.  Sad as it seems, Waters may have run out of material.  The decline here only hints at the poor quality of the next Floyd album and the subsequent splintering of the band.  From what I’ve read and heard, Waters doesn’t even approach a quality Floyd-ish album in the 25+ years since.  All that being said, this album has quite a few good tracks/moments on it that I can’t help but enjoy…I refuse to listen to the album all the way through, but I occasionally enjoy it in limited doses.
(“Run Like Hell”, “Comfortably Numb”)

Grade: B

2010: (Limited by concept, it exceeds the boundaries) Grade: B+

A Collection Of Great Dance Songs (1997)

The choices are good, if not perfect for me (I’ve found very little use for the Syd Barrett tribute song “Wish You Were Here”).  Even there, though, it has its moments, and there isn’t a bad section on the album.
(“Sheep”, “Another Brick In The Wall(Part Two)”)

Grade: A

Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd (2001)

What a waste.  What could have been an absolutely fantastic 2-part release is reduced to a pretty great one.  The reason?  The inclusion of Syd Barrett songs, most notably for their awfulness: “Jugband Blues” and the indescribably bad (or insane, you pick) “Bike”.  Most of the material is Roger Waters-era material, and is consequently quite good.  I hate to say this, but Barrett’s insanity may have been the best thing for this band.  The way he was leading them was most certainly not towards stardom, or even competence.  Anyways, with that said and my mind cleared from a rather pissed off state, this is a great Pink Floyd album to own if you only want one.  But don’t take the bait…go out and buy their individual albums from ‘Meddle’ up until ‘The Wall’, excluding ‘Obscured By Clouds’.  Then you’ll have all you really need, and have it in the correct context.
(“Sheep”, “Time”, “Money”)

Grade: A-


Billy Breathes (1996)

They’re not the next Grateful Dead.  The Grateful Dead, at least many years ago, could write some decent songs.  It’s hard to get into their famous twenty minute jams when they’re forced to go into the studio and actually pare them down to the trifles that they are.

Grade: D