Category Archives: Puppy

My Bloody Valentine

Isn’t Anything (1988)

This is mood music, but it’s not good enough to immerse yourself into and go for a trip.  I find a couple of songs decent and worthy of existence, but most of them are either completely forgettable (moreso than normal, that is) or mildly annoying.  I can’t bring myself to truly dislike it…it’s so soft and gentle, and I would probably hate myself in the morning.

Grade: C-

Loveless (1991)

This is soft, pretty trance music for the most part.  Great for when you want something pleasant to wash over your ears.  It’s slightly hypnotic and lyrically indecipherable(to me at least, feel free to try…but the point isn’t in the words anyway, it’s in the music).  Adjust the grade accordingly if you need to hear the lyrics to enjoy a song.

Grade: B+

2010: (I mean, it’s flawless…but what IS it?) Grade: A-

Mudhoney

Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (1991)

Curse you again, Nirvana!  Curse you for opening the floodgates for this kind of cr@p!  I mean, did they have to release this album and have it land in ANY music store to fool passersby into thinking it might be worthwhile?  There’s virtually nothing here of any discernible interest.

Grade: D

2012: Really, this is the sort of tuneless, non-melodic noise that grunge started off as before Kurt Cobain decided to introduce something called a “hook”(vocal or musical).  Grade: F

Mother Love Bone

Mother Love Bone (1992)

EVERY-thing Seattle to the music stores at once!  Yes, they did it, Nirvana debuted on Headbangers’ Ball and delivered the killing blow to an already quite-ill collection of music dubbed “80’s hair pop/metal”!  Now let’s rush out and sign EVERY Seattle band we can get our hands on.  What’s that you say? MLB had Pearl Jam’s bassist AND lead guitarist??!!  Release it, you fool, release it NOW, before it’s too late!  No, there’s no need to listen to it first.  It’s certified gold upon release!

Grade: D-

3/5/13: Slight overreaction caused by HUGE disappointment.  As you can probably tell by all the caps.  I mean, I was expecting Pearl Jam, or Temple of the Dog…and no offense to the guy, I know all his friends loved him and all (and he did inspire some GREAT music) but Andrew Wood was no Eddie Vedder.  Or Chris Cornell.  When I’m in the right mood, though, “Stardog Champion” can blow me away given all the layers of historical context and the energy, gone with Andrew’s death.  Grade: D

Alanis Morissette

Jagged Little Pill (1995)

Q: How much of this did she write (music-wise) and how much was Glen Ballard?  Was she really a Mouseketeer(or something similar that’s not important enough to recall)?  Is there anything at all worthwhile after the juicy, biting kiss-off song?
A: I have no idea and my lack of interest in the artist makes it easy to remain ignorant.
A(part two): Yes!
A(part three): Well, sort of.  A couple more hard ones, some soft ones, and some half-and-half ones.  Listen to them all and you’ll probably find a coupla other songs you like.  At least, for a while.  Then they may seem dated or just plain stupid (e.g. “Ironic”).
(“You Oughta Know”)

Grade: C+

The Moody Blues

Greatest Hits/Legend Of A Band (1989/1990)

Addition by subtraction.  They later subtracted by adding.  (See Below)
(“Ride My See-Saw”, “The Story In Your Eyes”)

Grade: A-

The Best Of The Moody Blues (1997)

I’ve never heard a single one of their albums straight through in entirety, and from what I gather I’m not any worse off for it.  However, unlike those who despise the Blues and their drenched-in-syrup ballads and rockers, I happen to enjoy their vocals, occasionally beautiful harmonies and often intriguing music.  In limited doses, of course.  And like a pile of tomatoes (so I hear) you have to go pawing through the bad ones to get to one that’s worthwhile given all your musical choices.  This takes a steep plummet around the middle to d@mn near the end.  But their best is in the beginning, and it’s worth listening to when you’re in the right mood, aided or not by certain substances.  I just don’t understand how “Legend Of A Mind” could possibly be left off given some of the weaker songs that made it.
(“Ride My See-Saw”, “The Story In Your Eyes”)

Grade: B

2010: (Listening with a clearer head) Grade: B+

Moby

Play (1999)

When Moby lets loose with certain genres in full force, the results are extremely impressive.  Those genres would be pure dance and pure pop.  Don’t believe me?  Listen to “Porcelain”, as beautiful a pop song as ever I’ve heard.  Or the amazing “Bodyrock”…not so amazing because it’s (pretty) good, but because the sound doesn’t seem like it could possibly come from the same artist.  When he dabbles in blues, however, the results are decidedly mixed.  The first two songs on this album could turn anybody off…but “Natural Blues” is an inescapably good song.  He obviously likes old-school blues, but I’ve never been a fan of the original articles, so there’s only so much anyone can do to salvage them.  A very admirable and polished product, however.  Even when it’s bad, it flickers at mastery.  And you never know what he’s going to do next.
(“Porcelain”, “South Side”)

Grade: B+

18 (2002)

It starts out with two fairly good, typical Moby songs.  A repeated phrase/refrain and some interesting backing music for it seems to be what he’s best at.  I won’t knock him because I happen to enjoy what I’ve heard from him so far.  The problem here is that since the musical attraction of the songs is similar to a mantra, if the backing music is no good it comes off as annoying trash rather than beautiful art.  Alright, so I’ll knock him a little bit.  But Godd@mnit, the sneaky bastard just KEEPS on rolling out perfect background music for his chants and occasional singing parts.  Perfect in the sense that it always sounds “right”…the limit of his debatable genius, though, lies in the fact that the sameness of a lot of these songs doesn’t allow for a killer track.  I know he wrote a couple of those on ‘Play’, but here it’s strictly for mood, it seems.  When he does try to stray a bit, he finds failure instead of the overall success on ‘Play’.  Will it make you feel eternal inner peace or put you right to sleep?  Try it, and find out.  Track 18: “The Streets Of MobyDelphia”

Grade: C

Ministry

Twitch (1986)

This is where things begin to get interesting.  Moving towards heavy industrial but still in flux, it’s a lighter sound than their soon-to-come “classic” period.  It does have its share of moments, and is an interesting memento at least.  Recommended for any die-hard fan: you’ll get a kick out of their former incarnation and hear them edge slightly towards their triumphant sound.

Grade: B-

The Land Of Rape And Honey (1988)

Some rather nice industrial music here.  Interesting in most places, more often than not hooky, with brief periods of tedium.  I hate “Stigmata” and wonder how it made the album let alone led it off.  But the magic of MP3 players allows me to discreetly cut that little low point out.
(“The Land Of Rape And Honey”)

Grade: B

2010: (Album title of the year…look it up) Grade: B+

The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste (1989)

A solid step or two from ‘The Land Of Rape And Honey’.  Almost totally devoid of clunkers, it does contain one song that lowers the overall quality slightly (guess the song and win a prize).  I’m a bit hesitant to hand out A’s, but I can’t see how this could rate any lower.
(“Thieves”, “Dream Song”)

Grade: A

In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up (1990)

Some good material here, obviously, since they’re drawing from two good albums.  But it’s an extreme disappointment based on what they COULD have made if they picked the best songs.  Also, all the songs are better in their regular album format anyway, so there’s really no need to buy this unless you want to contribute to the Al Jourgensen support fund.  Buy their last two albums and listen to them repeatedly.  Don’t bother with this.

Grade: B-

Psalm 69 (1992)

Three years after a surprising industrial masterpiece, Jourgensen shows no signs of letting up, making this one of the few non-grunge popular “rock” acts to survive the Nirvana-induced musical upheaval of the early 90’s.  The ferocity is there, angry lyrics with exceptional music to back them up.  The only track here I’d replace is the much-touted guest appearance by the mostly useless Gibby Haynes.  Otherwise, it’s a keeper all the way through.
(“Just One Fix”, “Scarecrow”)

Grade: A

Filth Pig (1996)

Mostly ferocious in sound (at least on the title cut and several others), the riffs (musical or samples) just aren’t there anymore for the most part.  Where did they go?  I don’t know.  If you find out, send a letter to Al.
(“Filth Pig”)

Grade: C+

Dark Side Of The Spoon (1999)

Displaying the slow but steady decline from deserved industrial king to just another noisemaker in the clearance bin, this has too few moments to make it recommendable.  It is, however, not unlistenable, with hooks emerging at occasional points, both vocal and musical.  The problem is the occasions are too infrequent to warrant anything close to their most productive period, quality-wise.
(“Kaif”)

Grade: C+

Animositisomina (2003)

A great industrial act several times and several years removed now.  This is purely product: throwaway, filler, forced songs, and a cry for help and direction.  Only “Animosity” saves it (barely) from total obsolescence.

Grade: D-

Houses Of The Mole (2004)

I’ve followed this band through Heaven and Hell, but I think it’s really time to call it quits.  One or two marginal songs per album does not warrant musical existence.  Jourgensen will retire, or continue pumping out product to a continually decreasing fan base.  As for new fans, this flop isn’t going to garner any.

Grade: D-

Metallica

Kill ‘Em All (1983)

The product of anger, defiance, anger, horrible songwriting, and anger again.  Vastly overrated.

Grade: D

Ride The Lightning (1984)

Talk about a turnaround.  After their near-embarassing debut, they come up with a hard-rock/metal classic or at least near-classic.  This album features some terrific riffs, some pretty (yes pretty!) chords, and some solid vocals.  I’m hungry for more.
(“Ride The Lightning”, “Fade To Black”, “The Call Of Ktulu”)

Grade: A-

2012: If you like your rock hard, you’ll love this.  It’s not really “metal” by today’s standards cuz it has, you know…melody.  Grade: A

Master Of Puppets (1986)

A huge relief after worrying about them falling backwards after ‘Ride The Lightning’.  This album rocks hard and causes no pain lyrically throughout.  Good job, boys.  Keep it up.
(“Master Of Puppets”)

Grade: B+

2012: More intelligent, less tuneful.  Their last album featuring Cliff Burton is their second and last album worth owning.  Grade: A-

…And Justice For All (1988)

Their first ever video was made for “One”.  Appropriately enough, it’s easily the best composition here.  In fact it’s the only one that sinks into my fancy after (trust me) REPEATED listenings.
(“One”)

Grade: D+

2012: How many good songs are on this, anyway?  Grade: C-

Natalie Merchant

Tigerlily (1995)

This album, “Carnival” excepted, has dated very badly in a rather short period of time.  If you want to, lower it one grade level for the next few years until it(possibly) seems fresh or at least not rotten again.  I don’t think anyone will really notice, or care.

Grade: D+

Men At Work

Contraband (1996)

These guys seemed so nice and polite that it’s a shame they weren’t better than this shows.  I don’t have the faintest idea what else to write about them.
(“Down Under”, “It’s A Mistake”)

Grade: C+

9/2/12: A poor man’s Police.  Is that so bad?  Grade: B-

Megadeth

Countdown To Extinction (1992)

Two good songs and a lot of anger, frustration, and filler.

Grade: C

Capitol Punishment (2000)

I’ve always respected Dave Mustaine for some unknown, intangible reason.  Maybe because he didn’t heed the call of pop music until well after Metallica sold their souls for mass acceptance.  What’s that you say?  They already HAD mass acceptance before their self titled release?  Yes, but I mean MASS mass acceptance.  I’m talking Aerosmith, The Beatles, The Stones, etc…bands that pop fans like but that don’t get you ostracized by the metal community all that much.  Problem is, he’s never written as well/consistently as James Hetfield and company.  So, AGAIN, a disappointing best-of, even though it happens to be a very good album.
(“Sweating Bullets”, “Peace Sells”)

Grade: B+

Loreena McKennitt

The Visit (1992)

Lured in by “The Mummer’s Dance”, I was AGAIN disappointed in a critically respected release.  When will I learn?

Grade: D+

The Book Of Secrets (1997)

Now this is one kind of music I HOPE to enjoy.  I’d prefer not to be hooked by jazz or hardcore rap, thanks.  But a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice can up your grade in a heartbeat.  Unfortunately, she(or they) don’t write as well as they play.  At least, not consistently.
(“The Mummer’s Dance”)

Grade: B-

2010: (Did I mention she has a beautiful voice?) Grade: B

Mad Season

Above (1995)

Supergroup, huh?  Well it sure beats the hell out of Audioslave (sorry, Chris).  Also, it gives Layne Staley something productive to do after Alice In Chains.  Too bad he eventually chose drugs over music.  I don’t grieve rock star deaths any more than I grieve the death of any other stranger to me, but I do grieve the loss of talent and music in his case.
(“Long Gone Day”)

Grade: B-

Live

Throwing Copper (1994)

The problem here is too many flippin’ songs that are marginal filler, as is often the case.  Listen, all you album-stuffers out there- write GOOD songs and ONLY good songs, and release an album when you have enough of them.  I don’t care about your bottom line once you’ve sold a million copies.  Cut out the cr@p, stop milking a used up album for more singles, and get your mediocre noise out of my ears.  The few worthwhile ones here shouldn’t be surrounded by mediocrity.
(“Lightning Crashes”)

Grade: C+

Linkin Park

Hybrid Theory (2000)

Like many perfectly reasonable and intelligent people, I happen to get a fair amount of enjoyment out of this album.  I don’t care how you characterize their sound or their influences, what we have here is some catchy hard rock/pop.  And when I say some, it’s with a bit of disappointment.  I was looking forward to more after the first five tracks, but the quality definitely dips a bit.  Some good songs here, though, and definitely worth a listen.
(“One Step Closer”)

Grade: B-

Limp Bizkit

Three Dollar Bill, Y’All (1997)

I expected to dislike this, hearing it as I did after ‘Significant Other’.  To the hardcore fans this is LB’s shining moment, before the great sellout of 1999.  But you know what?  It doesn’t sound all that different.  It’s just not as good.  The problem isn’t street credibility or putting the music before the money.  The problem is that when they tried to write hits this time, they bombed.  So they tried again and somehow pulled hit singles out of their a$$es.  So you could say this is a demonstration of how they sound without any truly powerful song to lean on.

Grade: C+

Significant Other (1999)

I knew about “Nookie” and “Break Stuff”, of course, the same as anyone else listening to rock radio at this time.  But I never bought the album, so I never listened to the rest.  Turns out they had a coupla other hits that I forgot about.  Worthy hits, at that.  And even a few album tracks that demanded my attention even if they weren’t single material.  They crammed a lot of good stuff on here…which may or may not bode well for their next album.  But I’ll take this, right here right now, for what it is.  Message?  Get it while it’s hot.
(“Break Stuff”, “N 2 Gether Now”)

Grade: B+

2010: (In retrospect, everything after this really sucked, huh?) Grade: A-

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin (1969)

Their initial release leans heavily on blues influences and shows very little of the mixture of melodicism and hard rock that would develop soon.  The lyrics can be horrible (this applies to most Zeppelin albums, actually) at times, but the music does the talking when it has to. “Dazed And Confused” is the perfect example of this.  Just based on this, there’s no way I’d think this group would go onto anything more than blues remakes and bluesy, stoopid semi-originals.  I’m glad I was wrong.
(“Dazed And Confused”)

Grade: B-

2010: (Really GOOD blues remakes and bluesy, stoopid semi-originals) Grade: B+

2012: Yeah, it’s really good.  But it’s not great.  Not with lyrics that make Black Francis look good. Grade: B+

Led Zeppelin II (1969)

More blooze, stupid lyrics, and blatant sexual references from the boys.  All three of these things are able to be overlooked when the band is rocking the way it can.  Here, that’s limited to just a few songs.  Their second worst studio album, after the posthumous ‘Coda’.
(“Whole Lotta Love”)

Grade: C+

2010: (Testosterone poisoning…I mean, how STUPID can you get?) Grade: C-

2012: Ehhhh…testosterone doesn’t poison the riffs, and there are riffs.  Some.  Grade: C

Led Zeppelin III (1970)

A switch from overkill hard rock/blues, this album contains mostly ballads.  It shows promise in points – the Page and Plant synchronization of guitar and vocal on “That’s The Way”, the “Stairway To Heaven” prequel “Tangerine”, etc… I don’t think anyone had any idea what was to follow after this.
(“That’s The Way”, “Immigrant Song”)

Grade: B

2010: (Upped a notch for radical transformation, and meaning well) Grade: B+

2012: It’s actually very good because it’s very good.  They drop the overkill of I and II and add melody and harmony in believable (and more importantly, listenable) ways.  Grade: B+

Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

Their generally acknowledged masterpiece, and who am I to argue with songs like “Stairway To Heaven”, “When The Levee Breaks”, and others.  Plant manages to write some interesting lyrics for once on this album.  Some of them I don’t fully understand, but at least they’re not obviously and embarassingly stupid.  The whole band contributes to make this a seriously great album/undeniable classic.
(“Stairway To Heaven”, “Black Dog”, “Misty Mountain Hop”)

Grade: A

2010: (Transcendent) Grade: A+

2012: They get by with a little help from their Spirit.  Grade: A+

Houses Of The Holy (1973)

A great follow-up to IV, this album shows no signs of Zep letting up in their current formula (that is, light and shade mixed together for a wonderful end result).  I’ve become a little bit sick of some of these songs after playing them repeatedly, and I wonder (as I always do) if the music is dated and not as good as originally thought, OR if I just got sick of it for a time.  With this album I think it’s mostly the second option.
(“Over The Hills And Far Away”, “No Quarter”)

Grade: A-

2012: Only “The Crunge” makes me cringe.  Grade: A

Physical Graffiti (1975)

A double album that, for a change, doesn’t make me wish they’d chopped it down into a single one.  There’s a little bit of filler here, sure.  And the best songs aren’t exactly what you would call “classic” (“Kashmir” excluded).  But there’s a whole lot of good-to-very-good stuff here.  Disc one I could truly call great.  Disc two gives a slight feeling of Deja Vu (“Sick Again”, try to find its near-twin) and isn’t so great.  But it’s interesting and at least fairly good.  An album worth listening to all the way through.
(“Kashmir”, “The Wanton Song”, “Trampled Under Foot”)

Grade: A-

2010: (Pride before the fall) Grade: A

Presence (1976)

The worst Zeppelin album (yes, including ‘Coda’) of them all if all you’re looking for is the killer track.  If good, solid music is what you’re after (or at least, willing to accept) then it’s not a bad selection.  I listen to it…occasionally.
(“For Your Life”)

Grade: B

2012: It’s only got two good songs on it.  And they’re not all THAT good.  “Achilles Last Stand” is an interesting but failed attempt at “Stairway, part 3” or “Kashmir, part 2”.  And the fact that every song is at least ok shouldn’t be regarded as a monumental achievement.  Grade: B-

In Through The Out Door (1979)

“In The Evening” was quite enough to sell me on this album for a long time.  Jimmy Page’s repeated hooky riff and Robert Plant’s perfectly synchronized vocal response are upstaged only by the mid-song solo, one of Page’s best ever.  One of ANYONE’s best ever.  Unfortunately, after that song the album is a bit of a let-down.  They always did like light and shade, but here the shadiness fades quickly, and what is left behind is a great hard rock band either running out of hard music or switching to synth-pop.  Neither of those options do all that much for their legacy.  “All My Love” is a fine song, but it just somehow doesn’t seem quite right for Led Zep.  Calling it quits here seems now to have been a good idea, John Bonham or no John Bonham.
(“In The Evening”)

Grade: B-

2010: (“In The Evening” is really really really good) Grade: B

10/3/16: Ok, take away one really. Grade B-

Coda (1982)

When I first started listening to this album, I was not surprised that the tracks weren’t particularly good.  After all, they’re admittedly scraping the bottom of the barrel with songs that weren’t good enough for previous release.  I fail to see how John Bonham’s death makes them worthy of release now, excepting the possible tribute to him, “Bonzo’s Montreux”, which fails to produce much excitement.  The only track that kept me wavering on trashing this album was “Wearing and Tearing”:  A nice, fast, riff-heavy, meaningless song.  Then I realized I wasn’t giving a couple of other songs their due, mainly “I Can’t Quit You Baby”.  It’s still the worst studio album
they’ve ever released, but as is always the case with Led Zep, even their failures have bright spots.
(“Wearing And Tearing”)

Grade: C

2012: Update: Still their worst.  Grade: C-

Korn

Follow The Leader (1998)

While I had never considered the possibility before, having never seen the disturbing cover art of their albums and the possible insinuated (or obvious, you pick) illegality (or at least immorality) of their name, I think my policy of assuming the best is put to work here.  I’m not just speaking from a personal revelation…I’m speaking based on reactions and opinions given by people whose judgement I admire and find wise.  I’ll ignore the fact that Jonathan Davis and company seem quite interested in children(Davis was abused as a child, yes, I know) and pretend their name doesn’t threaten to signify/promote Kiddie porn.  Rating them just on musical value, I can with relief say that they’re not very good at all, and will hopefully be burning out sometime soon.

Grade: D+

KMFDM

Retro (1998)

Even the best songs here are so poor lyrically that they’re very difficult to listen to, especially with another human being around who wouldn’t hesitate to inquire “What the Hell is this sh1t???”.  If you want good industrial, go pick up some Ministry.

Grade: D

King Crimson

Red (1974)

The instrumental lead-off, “Red”, gave me some hope that perhaps this purchase, guided by glowing album reviews was FINALLY going to be the one that paid off for me.  The rest, however, is alternately boring and annoying.  Never again.  And this time, I MEAN it.

Grade: D

Kid Rock

Devil Without A Cause (1998)

There’s something unshakably annoying about the Bull God.  Even when enclosed in a good song, I wish I could change the vocalist.  Maybe this is just an overreaction to repeated playings of “Cowboy” on the radio.  But it makes me hypersensitive to his failures.  In conclusion, this album is mildly entertaining if you can take the Kid as the joke he is.
(“Bawitdaba”)

Grade: B-

Billy Joel

Greatest Hits Volume 1 & Volume 2 (1985)

I harbor a perhaps-unfair distaste and bordering-on-technicolor-yawning instinctive reaction for/to most of Joel’s catalog.  Let me clarify…the albums themselves don’t bother me so much, from what I’ve heard of his catalog(Yes, I have heard all the songs here.  I would never blindly slam an artist based on incomplete data, no matter how much I KNEW they deserved it).  What bothers me mostly are his earliest hits and semi-hits: the bathetic, pathetic, sickeningly maudlin and/or pompous things that he calls “songs”.  I never liked Harry Chapin, and I don’t like Mini-Harry that much either.  Admittedly, Joel isn’t nearly as bad as Chapin.  Why?  Because he graduated from pathetic and annoying to hooky and annoying.  Nevertheless, even the Joel songs I LIKE still stir up a bit of bile in my system.  While I do not deny the man’s “talent” at what he does, I simply don’t like it.  I know many intelligent people that do (to various degrees).  If you liked “Piano Man” or (Blech!) “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant”, you’ll love this hunk of pure pop melodrama.  If you only like “Captain Jack” because it has a killer voice/music hook, join the club.
(“Captain Jack”, “Big Shot”)

Grade: C

2010: (What the Hell was I thinking?) Grade: A

Jewel

Jupiter(Swallow The Moon) (1999)

I bought this for “Emily”, which I found softly mournful and emotional at the time, and still do.  The rest is inconsequential.
(“Emily”)

Grade: C+