May 31, 2023

Volcano Suns - The Bright Orange Years (1985) ☠

*Reissued on CD for the first time in 2009 by Merge Records
This pressing contains 21 tracks total and remastered audio.
Country: U.S.A. 
Genre: Post Hardcore
Label Number: MRG336
☠: Selected by Lass
© 1985-2009 Merge Records
Between Ian MacKaye and "Sherman the Tank," the thank-you list on the back of The Bright Orange Years tellingly acknowledges beer. Somewhat akin to what would follow with the remainder of the Volcano Suns' records, their 1985 debut is a messy sprawl of basement jams. Regardless of how long it took for the record to be made, the restless energy gives the feel of 12 songs written and recorded in one alcohol-soaked night. A batch of fast and furious raucous blasts form the basis of the record ("Descent into Hell," "Promise Me," "Animals"), broken up by the occasional instrumental ("Truth Is Stranger Than Fishing") and midtempo breather ("Balancing Act"). The arrangements are more straight-ahead and less experimental than Peter Prescott's former band, but they're no less interesting. Structural conventions are rarely messed with. During "Cornfield," a noisy piano comes into play that sounds like Nicky Hopkins attempting to beat a wind chime at its own game, and a couple short spates of weird interplay between Prescott and new partners Jeff Weigand (bass) and Jon Williams (guitar) break the mainly hyper-folk and '60s garage band flow. Lead-off track "Jak" is the real standout, one of the Suns' most tuneful and strummy numbers. Solid and endlessly fun, it's their finest record.

 tags: volcano suns, the bright orange years, 1985, flac,

Volcano Suns - All-Night Lotus Party (1986) ☠

*Reissued on CD for the first time in 2009 by Merge Records
This pressing contains 22 tracks total and remastered audio.
Country: U.S.A. 
Genre: Post Hardcore
Label Number: MRG337
☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1986-2009 Merge Records
Volcano Suns followed their best album, The Bright Orange Years, with a set that is decidedly less melodic and more rambunctious -- less sing-along hyper-folk and more, well, noisy (but still fun). The slight change could be attributed to the increased participation of Jon Williams and Jeff Weigand in the songwriting; half the album features full involvement of the whole trio, while Peter Prescott is the lone writer on only four songs. (Prescott seems to make up for this reduction with a much greater frequency of whooping and bellowing -- no problem there.) The noisier abandon is immediately apparent from Jon Williams' nasty abrasion at the beginning of "White Elephant," undeniably sounding much like some of Roger Miller's more memorable antics in Mission of Burma. And with that song, as with The Bright Orange Years' "Jak," the band once again sticks their catchiest (and funniest) song at the very beginning, as if to grab the listener by the throat, and the grip here never really slackens. Aside from the near-ballad "Room with a View" and the schizo tempo shifts in "Blown Stack," the first side -- also highlighted by the charmingly sloppy neo-rockabilly of "Cans" and the hurtling "Walk Around" -- whips by at breakneck speed, while the second side is slower yet no less rowdy or welcoming.

 tags: volcano suns, all night lotus party, 1986, flac,

Sy Smith - Psykosoul (1999) ⚓

*This is an advance promo CD. 
"Advance Edition" is printed on the disc. 
This album was originally slated for a 1999 release but was shelved. 
Promo CD's were pressed but were not released. 
This album would eventually be released in 
2007 on CD and as a digital download. 
This promo CD contains 12 tracks total. 
A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.

Country: U.S.A. 
Genre: R&B, Neo Soul 
Label Number: PRCD-62198-2

© 1999 Hollywood Records
Sy Smith's debut album, Psykosoul, is a musical story: tales of the ups and downs, ins and outs, and inevitable bittersweet feelings of relationships. The album is definitely worth a listen and fits perfectly into the genre of "nu classic soul." Smith's slick style of writing over organic yet urban tracks showcases a brilliant marriage of classic soul and hip-hop. Anyone who bought The P.J.'s soundtrack album will have witnessed her ability before. Her brilliant cover of Edie Brickell's "What I Am" was featured on the soundtrack and rounds off this debut. The standout track is called "That Ring," interpolating Donny Hathaway's classic "Someday We'll All Be Free" to great effect. Each song tells a story about relationships; however, Psykosoul cannot be described as monotonous and will become an album left on "repeat" in your CD player. Sy Smith, the singer, the songwriter, the producer, the actress, deserves to be around for years to come.

 tags: sy smith, psykosoul, 1999, flac, promo, cd,

May 29, 2023

Andi Sex Gang - Arco Valley (1988)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Pop Rock
Label Number: FREUD 024 CD

© 1988 Jungle Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

 tags: andi sex gang, arco valley, 1988, flac,

Phenomena - Phenomena (1988 Reissue)

*Reissued in 1988 by Legacy Records
This pressing contains 9 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: LLMCD 3015

© 1985-1988 Legacy Records
Supergroups have been common in the realm of hard rock for decades -- some have worked wonders (Cream), while some, well, stunk (too many to mention). One of the more obscure ones to surface was the '80s outfit Phenomena, who debuted in 1985 with a self-titled release, and featured contributions from the likes of Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Don Airey (Ozzy Osbourne), and a trio of ex-Whitesnake members -- Mel GalleyNeil Murray, and Cozy Powell. Those expecting tough, rip-roaring heavy metal may be a bit disappointed by the album (which features a cover shot of a young girl quite reminiscent of Linda Blair circa The Exorcist). Keep in mind -- the mid-'80s was the era of polished, keyboard-heavy, melodic rock, and Phenomena fit in with the musical climate, especially on such tracks as the album-opening "Kiss of Fire" and "Still the Night." If GTR could have scored a hit or two around this time, with the right push, there's no reason why Phenomena couldn't have also.

 tags: phenomena, phenomena album, 1985, 1988, reissue, flac,

May 28, 2023

King Kobra - Ready To Strike (1994 Reissue)

*Reissued in 1994 by ATM Records
Contains 10 tracks total
Country: U.S.A. 
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: BTCD 979470

© 1985-1994 ATM Records
For every PoisonW.A.S.P., and Ratt that made it famous during the reign of hair metal in the '80s, there were plenty of other bands like King Kobra that released metal songs equally full of glam, hairspray, and fury. Drummer Carmine Appice's outfit really presents nothing new to the style, yet still delivers a session of hard rocking, tightly performed songs, with "Hunger" standing out with its melodic driven moments that wouldn't be out of place on a Trixter record. It's definitely not groundbreaking stuff, but albums like Ready to Strike aren't made for analysis, they're just simply made to rock & roll, and this definitely does the trick.

 tags: king kobra, ready to strike, 1985, 1994, reissue, flac,

Pru - Pru (2000) ⚓

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.

Country: U.S.A. 
Genre: R&B, Neo Soul
Label Number: CDP 7243 5 23120 0 9

© 2000 Capitol Records
As a child growing up in Houston, TX, Pru Renfro could memorize and recite the text of an entire Dr. Suess book. The open-minded, whimsical influence certainly shows on the singer/songwriter's self-titled album Pru. She freely mixes hip-hop, Latin, R&B, rock, and trip-hop into a uniquely enticing mix that quickly identifies her as an adventurous artist along the line of Angie Stone, Jill Scott and Lauryn Hill. The ballad "Candles" is a juxtaposition of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles' "Tracks of My Tears." Pru wisely gives Sade's "Smooth Operator a different flavor than the original; bring to the fore the original version's Latin influences more forcefully but still keep it smooth amid popping percussion and fluttery flute runs. The halting ballad "Hazy Shades" recalls "blue light in the basement" old skool slow jams. Other highlights include "Aroma," "183 Miles," "Sketches of Pain," and the movie portion of this enhanced CD.

 tags: pru, pru album, 2000, flac,

Hil St. Soul - Soul Organic (2000 Reissue) ⚓

*Reissued in 2000 by Dome Records
This pressing contains 14 tracks total. 
A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: R&B, Neo Soul
Label Number: DOME CD 17x

© 1999-2000 Dome Records
Hillary Mwelwa and Victor Redwood-Sawyerr are the guts of Hil St. Soul, with Mwelwa's flawless leads serving as the focal point. She's the cream of a crop of young contemporary R&B female singers (who are poppin' up like dandelions), and she dispels any doubts with regard to her vocal ability on this sparkling debut of mostly self-written songs. There are no weak tracks, just some that are superior to others, and a lot to like, including two versions of "Until You Come Back to Me" (popularized by Aretha Franklin), "Strictly a Vibe Thang," "Higher Ground," "There for Me," "Together," and, for those with wanderlust, "Free Spirit." These picks are purely subjective, as you won't reach for the remote to skip any tracks when they cue.

 tags: hil st soul, soul organic, 1999, 2000, reissue, flac,

Björk - Debut (1993)

*This is the European second pressing. 
Contains 12 tracks total. 
A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: Iceland
Language: English
Genre: Art Pop, House
Label Number: 521 323-2

© 1993 Mother Records
Freed from the Sugarcubes' confines, Björk takes her voice and creativity to new heights on Debut, her first work after the group's breakup. With producer Nellee Hooper's help, she moves in an elegantly playful, dance-inspired direction, crafting highly individual, emotional electronic pop songs like the shivery, idealistic "One Day" and the bittersweet "Violently Happy." Despite the album's swift stylistic shifts, each of Debut's tracks are distinctively Björk. "Human Behaviour"'s dramatic percussion provides a perfect showcase for her wide-ranging voice; "Aeroplane" casts her as a yearning lover against a lush, exotica-inspired backdrop; and the spare, poignant "Anchor Song" uses just her voice and a brass section to capture the loneliness of the sea. Though Debut is just as arty as anything she recorded with the Sugarcubes, the album's club-oriented tracks provide an exciting contrast to the rest of the album's delicate atmosphere. Björk's playful energy ignites the dance-pop-like "Big Time Sensuality" and turns the genre on its head with "There's More to Life Than This." Recorded live at the Milk Bar Toilets, it captures the dancefloor's sweaty, claustrophobic groove, but her impish voice gives it an almost alien feel. But the album's romantic moments may be its most striking; "Venus as a Boy" fairly swoons with twinkly vibes and lush strings, and Björk's vocals and lyrics -- "His wicked sense of humor/Suggests exciting sex" -- are sweet and just the slightest bit naughty. With harpist Corky Hale, she completely reinvents "Like Someone in Love," making it one of her own ballads. Possibly her prettiest work, Björk's horizons expanded on her other releases, but the album still sounds fresh, which is even more impressive considering electronic music's whiplash-speed innovations. Debut not only announced Björk's remarkable talent; it suggested she had even more to offer.

 tags: bjork, debut, 1993, flac,

May 27, 2023

Various Artists - Mission Control Presents: Prehistoric Sounds ft. Mood (2000) ⚓

*This is a digital store download purchased from Qobuz
Contains 16 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A. 
Genre: Hip-Hop 
Label Number: None

© 2000-2017 Jason Grimes
An amazing compilation put together by the likes of Talib Kweli, Prehistoric Sounds brings together some of the best artists in underground hip-hop circa 2001. Not surprisingly, the vet Talib Kweli provides the album's highlight with "Millionaires." Newcomers Mood and Elite Terrorist hold their own amid a stirring sound collage that melds elements of trip-hop and hip-hop in a way that is as entrancing as RZA's stellar work on the soundtrack for Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. Forget about the title, Prehistoric Sounds represents the future of hip-hop.

 * Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 

 tags: various artists, mission control presents, prehistoric sounds, featuring mood, 2000, flac,

Motorpsycho - Angels & Daemons At Play (1997)

*This is a digital store download purchased from Qobuz. 
Contains 11 tracks total.
Country: Norway
Language: English
Genre: Indie Rock
Label Number: None

© 1997-2011 Motorspycho Management
*No professional reviews are available for this release. 

 tags: motorpsycho, motor psycho, angels and daemons at play, 1997, flac,

Immortal Technique - The Martyr (2011)

Country: U.S.A. 
Genre: Hip-Hop 
Label Number: None

© 2011 Viper Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release. 

 * Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled.

 tags: immortal technique, the martyr, 2011, flac,

May 26, 2023

Mother Love Bone - Mother Love Bone (Club Edition) (1992)

*This is the single disc, club edition pressing.
 This compilation combines "Shine" & "Apple" on one disc. 
Contains 17 tracks total.

Country: U.S.A. 
Genre: Grunge
Label Number: 314 512 884-2

© 1992 Mercury/Stardog Records
It wasn't death but life that brought Mother Love Bone to the attention of the world in the end. Andrew Wood's premature passing was a personal tragedy to all who knew him and to the band's hometown fanbase, but the group had barely made a mark beyond the Shine EP, and Apple was less a debut album than a memorial. But when Seattle's music took over the commercial stratosphere, with Gossard and Ament steering Pearl Jam to undreamed-of heights, it was inevitable that a re-release would occur -- something further confirmed when "Crown of Thorns" became one of the many radio hits from the soundtrack to Singles. For all the after-the-fact money-making thanks to Polygram, about the only thing that makes it a rip-off to the earlier fans is the inclusion of one unreleased track -- "Lady Godiva Blues," which sounds more than a little like one of the Cult's neo-boogie efforts circa ElectricWood certainly has Ian Astbury's gift of gab and vocal projection, though it's likely Rick Rubin would have recorded the guitars a lot more forcefully; either way, it's not essential for those who have everything else already. For newcomers, though, this collection is all that is needed, compiling as it does the full contents of both Shine and Apple into one package. The second disc only contains the Shine take of "Capricorn Sister" and "Lady Godiva Blues" itself; given the presence of numerous demos on bootlegs, including a version of Argent's "Hold Your Head Up," it seems a lot more could have been added. It's a fairly minor quibble, though, given all the fine music, whether it's the stomp of "Holy Roller" and "Half Ass Monkey Boy" or the fragile beauty of "Stargazer" and "Crown of Thorns." Ament's amusing but heartfelt liner notes, complete lyrics, and a slew of pictures of Mother Love Bone memorabilia help round out the release.

 tags: mother love bone, mother love bone compilation, album, 1992, flac,

Mario - Turning Point (2004)

*European pressing. 
Contains 16 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A. 
Genre: R&B
Label Number: 82876-68517-2

© 2004 J/3rd Street Music Group
Two years after getting his foot in the door of contemporary urban music with a straight-faced cover of Biz Markie's "Just a Friend," Mario returned with his sophomore album, Turning Point, and its money lead single, "Let Me Love You." Produced and co-written by Scott Storch, fresh off the summertime success of his "Lean Back" chart-topper for Terror Squad, "Let Me Love You" has all the makings of a gigantic urban hit. It's by far the best song Mario has yet recorded, and it's one of the best contemporary R&B songs of the year, right up there with the best offerings of UsherAlicia Keys, and company. However, there's not much else on Turning Point that comes close to matching the balladic magic of "Let Me Love You." The other immediate highlight is "Boom," a by-the-numbers rewrite of Usher's "Yeah," which likewise boasts Lil Jon's trademark production, a guest rap cameo (from Juvenile, in this case), a dance club theme, and a catchy, simple one-syllable refrain. There's also an album-closing remix of "Let Me Love You" that aims for the streets, featuring grown-up raps by Jadakiss and T.I. as well as a much edgier yet still infectious beat. Some of the slower songs like "How Could You" are quite likable, in a quiet storm sort of way. Above all, though, it's "Let Me Love You" and its remix that make Turning Point a noteworthy effort for this teenager and a fine second album overall.

 tags: mario, turning point, 2004, flac,

Mario - Go (2007)

Country: U.S.A. 
Genre: R&B
Label Number: 88697170302

© 2007 J Records
So much for "You should let me love you," then. "You down or what?" is the softest line from the opening title track of Mario's third and many times delayed album, and from there, the track -- a prodding Neptunes production with the requisite synthetic, sticky-sweet coatings -- is an obvious bid to surprise or even shock, with Mario proclaiming, "I ain't trying to meet your mother/I just wanna f*ck you like no other" and "If I stop f*ckin' you, it'll make your world end." Go is indeed Mario's most aggressive and assertive album, but no other song comes close to out-vulgarizing "Go" itself. There are several sensitive ballads, including "Music for Love," bearing a definite resemblance to J. Holiday's gently rocking and swaying "Bed," and an excellent choice for a cover in Keith Sweat's "Right and a Wrong Way." (Eighties babies will also catch a reference to Zapp's "Computer Love" in the former.) There is a handful of deceptively clever moments, too. "Kryptonite," for instance, puts a twist on the common "I'm a pimp, so take it or leave it" theme by positioning Mario as Superman with a weakness he cannot combat. An unnecessary Rich Boy verse, unfortunately, pretty much robs the song of its ability to produce any level of empathy. Although the raunchiness and posturing may act as deterrents -- that Juelz Santana is the other featured MC further indicates the direction in which Mario continues to head -- the album is, by some distance, the singer's strongest release yet, easily apparent after one listen, a credit that can be distributed equally between an ever-improving artist and his collaborators (including TimbalandMr. ColliparkStargateAkonSean Garrett, and Polow da Don). If Turning Point didn't make it evident that Usher has some more competition, Go seals the deal. Next time out, he'll hopefully not cross into Pretty Ricky territory. He gets dangerously close here.

 tags: mario, go, 2007, flac,

Marianne Faithfull - Dangerous Acquaintances (1981)

*This is a repress of the original 1981 LP pressing.
Contains 9 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Pop Rock
Label Number: 842 483-2

© 1981 Island Records
Her erratic, self-titled debut features lovely baroque arrangements by Mike Leander and decent tunes like "As Tears Go By," and Jackie DeShannon's "Come and Stay With Me" and "In My Time of Sorrow," and Bacharach/David's "If I Never Get to Love You," as well as fairly crummy covers of hits by the BeatlesHerman's Hermits, and Petula Clark. Look for the Japanese CD reissue: It adds six non-LP bonus tracks from mid-'60s singles, including a couple (the girl-groupish "The Sha La La Song," the melancholy "The Morning Sun") that rank among her best '60s recordings.

 tags: marianne faitfull, dangerous acquaintances, 1981, flac,

The Nits - Work (1981)

*First pressing. 
Contains 15 tracks total.
Country: Netherlands
Language: English
Genre: New Wave, Art Work
Label Number: 461190 2

© 1981-1988 CBS Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release. 

 tags: the nits, work, 1981, flac,

The Nits - Henk/Kilo (1988)

Country: Netherlands
Language: English 
Genre: Pop Rock 
Label Number: CBS 450471 2
© 1988 CBS Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release. 

tags: the nits, henk kilo, 1988, flac,

May 25, 2023

Babyface - Lovers (1986)

*U.S. first pressing. 
Contains 9 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A. 
Genre: R&B
Label Number: ZK 75302

© 1986-1989 Solar/Epic Records
On his first album, Babyface sings with just enough earnestness to be soulful and just enough sophistication and slickness to avoid sounding too much like a throwback. [The 2001 CD reissue adds historical liner notes and three bonus tracks: a "Free Style Mix" of "Mary Mack," a "Jazz Lover's Mix" of "Lovers," and a 12" version of "If We Try."]

 tags: babyface, lovers, 1986, flac,

Fretblanket - Junkfuel (1994)

*U.S. pressing. 
Contains 13 tracks total. 
A photo of the disc is included in the RAR

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Post Grunge
Label Number: 314 521 997-2

© 1994 Atlas
Fretblanket's first full-length, Junkfuel, is typical post-grunge mainstream rock that's influenced by Nirvana, but not nearly as original or raw. In fact, with its bland formula of loud, intricate guitar chords mixed with simplistic, pounding drums and heavy cymbals, Fretblanket sounds an awful lot like Bush. Even Will Copley's deep, almost hoarse vocals bear a strong similarity to Bush's Gavin Rossdale. Most of the songs on Junkfuel sound alike, including the album's two bonus tracks. Following the quintessential verse/chorus/verse model, the songs are basically the same tempo and have trite lyrics about disillusionment, disappointment and failed relationships. Three of the songs, "Twisted," "I'm Going to Buy a Hang Glider" and "You're Welcome," are almost interchangeable. Despite these flaws, the album is not terrible. The songs, though prosaic, are actually pretty listenable in a Bush sort of way.

 tags: fretblanket, junkfuel, junk fuel, 1994, flac,

Atanatos - The Oath of Revenge (1998)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Black Metal
Label Number: LEP 021;007302-2 LEP

© 1998 Last Episode/Connected Music Vertrieb GmbH
*No professional reviews are available for this release. 

 tags: atanatos, the oath of revenge, 1998, flac,

Hellstorm - Fucking Bleed (1999)

Country: Norway
Language: English
Genre: Thrash Metal
Style: Blackened Thrash Metal
Label Number: HNF059

© 1999 Head Not Found
*No professional reviews are available for this release. 

 tags: hellstorm, fucking bleed, 1999, flac,