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Discog Guides

Previous Diagnoses:

Paradise Lost|Primus|Faith No More|Paramore|HEALTH|Dir En Grey

Band/Artist: MC Ren

Origins: Compton, California, USA

Founded: 1992

Studio albums: 4

Active: Yes

Taste Test: Playlist

Good day denizens of Sputnik, and welcome to the seventh instalment of my diagnosis series. After covering a mixture of rock and metal bands, I thought I’d tap into some hip-hop, and more specifically, highlight an underrated MC in the game: Ren. For my money, Ren is a great rapper – his baritone voice has the same kind of well-rounded warmth and weight to it his peers Ice Cube and Dre have, and his feral attitude and cold-killer bars make his discography a very engaging one. Yet, he’s not really talked about a great deal. Why? Well, being in, arguably, the most important hip-hop act in music history won’t have made his situation any easier, giving that N.W.A was comprised of pedigree talents Ice Cube, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre, all of whom went off to shatter and re-define the genre with their own solo careers. As such, while MC Ren didn’t grapple the zeitgeist as aggressively as Ice Cube say, his music still deserves every hip-hop fan’s attention.

Shock of the Hour (1993)
album 1

The Doctor’s rating: 4/5

Analysis: After the success of his debut EP Kizz My Black Azz in 1992, with the aid of Eazy-E, Ren set to work on…

Previous Diagnoses:

Paradise Lost|Primus|Faith No More|Paramore|HEALTH

Hello music enthusiast, and welcome to another instalment of Dr.Gonzo’s ‘Diagnosis Series’– where I go through a band or artist’s studio recordings and find their strengths and weaknesses. Today’s edition is on Japanese legends Dir En Grey, so join me while I try and wade through their sprawling and epic work.

Band/Artist: Dir En Grey

Origins: Osaka, Japan

Founded: 1997

Members:

Kyo – vocals

Kaoru – lead guitar

Die – rhythm guitar

Toshiya – bass

Shinya – drums

Studio albums: 11

Active: Yes

Gauze (1999)

gg

 The Doctor’s rating: 4/5

Analysis: As far as debut albums go, Gauze is an excellent entry point for fans looking to listen to some great J-rock music. Tracks like “Yurameki”, “Akuro No Oka”, “Cage” and “Yokan” reveal the raw talent within the band, with a deluge of infectious melodies, fantastic vocal performances and solid playing from every member. “Cage” in particular is a song I hold close to my heart, as I spent A LOT of time trying to play it when I first started playing the bass (the solo is still one of Toshiya’s career highlights). In hindsight though, Gauze’s strongest attribute is setting the stage for the rest of Dir En Grey’s career. The album gives every member the opportunity to shine and show their…

Previous Diagnoses:

Paradise Lost|Primus|Faith No More|Paramore

Young handsome physician in a medical robe with stethoscope

Good day denizens of Sputnik, and welcome to the fifth instalment of Dr. Gonzo’s “Diagnosis Series”. Today’s issue will be on L.A. trio HEALTH; looking through their mainline LPs, with a couple of recommended supplements for you to check out, just because they’re too good to pass up. So let me put on my gloves and let’s check out what this band is all about.

Band/Artist: HEALTH

Origins: Los Angeles, California U.S.

Founded: 2005

Current Members:
Jake Duzsik: (vocals, guitar)

John Famiglietti: (bass, pedals, electronics)

BJ Miller: (drums) 

Previous members:

Jupiter Keyes (guitar, synths)

Studio albums: 4

Active: Yes

 Health (2007)
HEALTH_-_Health_2007_Album_Art

The Doctor’s rating: 4/5

Analysis: HEALTH’s 2007 debut is in stark contrast to what the band is producing these days, but in spite of the stylistic differences, the band’s first album is still incredibly enjoyable and displays their promising potential for the future. Since the band’s genesis was founded in the underbelly of the L.A. noise rock scene, their sound here is vastly experimental, albeit, never to the point of being obtuse. The album largely lends its sonic influences from bands like Ex Models’ Zoo Psychology or a mid-noughties Liars album, like They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, but the distinction between these examples and this is that Health

Slowdive: A Sputnik Guide

This feature is part of a newly-rebooted series aimed at exploring the discographies of interesting and/or important bands whose wider body of work is often overlooked on this site. There will be lots of words and a few pictures, but the main deal is that if a band features here, they are good and you should listen to them! And if you already jam them, hit up the comments and explain where and why I went wrong! Get going!

Previously covered discographies:

StereolabSweet TripBlonde Redhead


Everyone loves Slowdive! One of the rare bands to come out of shoegaze and dream pop playing both genres their own while playing them to the best of their potential, their value has gone up and up and up over the last decade, and neither the past decade’s outpouring of soppy bedroom artists through every pore of the internet nor  shoegaze’s TikTok resurgence aren’t entirely to blame for it. Let’s all love Slowdive!

With Souvlaki‘s 30th anniversary back in June and Just for a Day’s 32nd just last week (along with a new LPEverything is Alive), it is time to remember this greatest of  it is time to dive once into the shoe, to gaze once more at the slow. I’m going to cover every individual release here (no comps!), and I ended up doing it so quickly that I entirely forgot that Frippertronics actually made his own version of this list in 2017 until I was 75% of the way through. Six years and…

Previous Diagnoses:

Paradise Lost|Primus|Faith No More

Young handsome physician in a medical robe with stethoscope

Good day denizens of Sputnik and welcome to the fourth instalment of Dr. Gonzo’s “Diagnosis Series”. Today I will be looking at Paramore, the Franklin, Tennessee outfit that captured the hearts and minds of an entire generation back in the mid-noughties, with their own brand of pop-punk. So, get out of the waiting room chair and observe the doctor, as I go through all six of their studio albums and conclude if they’re worth half a damn or not. 

Band/Artist: Paramore

Origins: Franklin, Tennessee, U.S.

Founded: 2004

Current Members:
Hayley Williams: (vocals, keyboards)

Zac Farro: (drums, keyboards)

Taylor York: (guitar, keyboards)

Previous members:

Josh Farro (guitar)

Jeremy Davis: (bass)

Jason Bynum: (guitar)

John Hembree: (bass)

Hunter Lamb: (guitar)

Studio albums: 6

Active: Yes

All We Know is Falling (2005)

Paramore_-_All_We_Know_Is_Falling

The Doctor’s rating: 3/5

Analysis: For me, All We Know is Falling is fine. It’s a decent first album that lays down the groundwork for future records. Hayley delivers some great performances on the likes of “Pressure”, “Emergency” and “Conspiracy”, and the music does a decent job of toeing the pop-punk line with some energetic drum work and infectious guitar melodies. Other than that, there’s not much else to say here.

Previous Diagnoses:

Paradise Lost|Primus 

Young handsome physician in a medical robe with stethoscope

Hello music enthusiasts and welcome to the third instalment of Dr.Gonzo’s ‘Diagnosis Series’, where I go through a band or artist’s studio recordings and find their strengths and weaknesses, recommending a few things along the way. Today we’ll be looking at San Francisco’s venerable legends Faith No More to unpack their capricious career, which ultimately led to a sublime streak of near-perfect albums, as well as the iffy ones. So grab Bjork’s fish and prepare to gasp in excitement or terror.

Band/Artist: Faith No More

Origins: San Francisco, California, U.S.

Founded: 1979

Current Members:
Mike Bordin (drums)

Billy Gould (bass)

Roddy Bottum (keyboards, rhythm guitar)

Mike Patton (vocals)

Jon Hudson (lead guitar)

Previous members:

Mike Morris (guitar, vocals)

Wade Worthington (keyboards)

Courtney Love (vocals)

Mark Bowen (guitar)

Chuck Mosley (vocals)

Jim Martin (guitar)

Trey Spruance (guitar)

Dean Menta (guitar)

Studio albums: 7

Active: Hiatus(?)

We Care a Lot (1985)
Faith_No_More-We_Care_A_Lot

The Doctor’s rating: 2/5

Analysis: I feel like Faith No More’s trajectory was very similar to how Iron Maiden started out their career. Like Iron Maiden, FNM started out with a very different sounding vocalist for their first two albums, and although Di’Anno and Mosley both bring…

Previous Diagnoses: Paradise Lost

Young handsome physician in a medical robe with stethoscope

Hello music enthusiast, and welcome to the second edition of Dr.Gonzo’s ‘Diagnosis Series’ – where I go through a band or artist’s studio recordings and find their strengths and weaknesses. Today we’ll be looking at the eccentric El Sobrante trio, Primus, delving into their weird and wonderful world filled with renditions of old children’s stories, big brown beavers, race car drivers, and fishermen. So grab a cold one and prepare to sail the sea of cheese.

Band/Artist: Primus

Origins: El Sobrante, California, U.S.

Founded: 1984

Current Members:
Les Claypool (vocals, bass)

Larry “Ler” LaLonde (guitars)

Tim “Herb” Alexander (drums)

Previous members:

Todd Huth (guitars)

Vince “Perm” Parker (drums)

Peter Libby (drums)

Robbie Bean (drums)

Tim “Curveball” Wright (drums)

Jay Lane (drums)

Brain (drums)

Buckethead (guitars)

Danny Carey (drums)

DJ Disk (turntables)

Studio albums: 9

Active: Yes

Frizzle Fry (1990)
Primus-Frizzle_Fry

The Doctor’s rating: 5/5

Analysis: Primus are one of those rare cases where an act will walk right out of the gates with their sound, ready and willing to discharge it onto the placid masses. Unlike Paradise Lost who spent decades honing their craft, Primus busted out Frizzle Fry and unleashed a sound so idiosyncratic, it’s eccentricities would blindside an entire…

Young handsome physician in a medical robe with stethoscope

By absolutely no demand, welcome to Dr.Gonzo’s Diagnosis series, where I go over a band or artist’s career and by the end of it pick out their roaring strengths and vulnerable weaknesses. Today’s edition follows Northern England hard-lads Paradise Lost, on their epic thirty-five-year peregrination that sees a sprawling sixteen studio albums, a fuckload of drummers, and an impressively disparate array of genres to pick from. So sit still and await the verdict.

Band/Artist: Paradise Lost

Origins: Halifax, West Yorkshire, England

Founded: 1988

Current Members:
Nick Holmes (Vocals)
Gregor Mackintosh (Lead guitar)
Aaron Aedy (Rhythm guitar)
Steve Edmondson (Bass)
Guido Montanarini (Drums)

Previous members:

Matthew Archer (Drums)
Lee Morris (Drums)
Jeff Singer (Drums)
Adrian Erlandsson (Drums)
Waltteri Väyrynen (Drums)

Studio albums: 16

Active: Yes

Lost Paradise (1990)
lostparadise

The Doctor’s rating: 3.3/5

Analysis: Lost Paradise is the very definition of diamond in the rough. A good chunk of the band’s adulated elements are present here, but they are ill-defined and go largely unchecked. Lost Paradise’s biggest crime is its myopic scope which becomes samey after a while and lacks the distinction their other works would later seize. That said however, this thing can be fucking heavy at times and the band’s proclivity for turning their death metal leanings into this Sabbath-styled sludgy, doom-y dystopia serves them well overall.…

Blonde Redhead

Arthouse.

What the hell?

Back at university, I remember there being a point at which my dissertation tutor told me to put the whole thing on hold and read up on the meaning and application of arthouse. I spent approximately two hours of my life reading relatively uncomplex definitions and unpackings, but damn would it have been easier if he’d just sent me away and told me to check out Blonde Redhead (I’m sure he could have done, too – he pitched surrealist film to me using Pixies lyrics and half the reason I originally asked him to help me out was over a rant we had about the bonus tracks on Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising, but I digress).

Sorry, what’s arthouse?

One big hybrid, innit. A bastard product of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art that’s not pure enough to satisfy elitists, too edgy to sell to the mainstream, but an exciting box of treats for anyone who doesn’t mind getting their paws a little muddy. It derives most of its innovation from pastiche and appropriation rather than groundbreaking originality, and the styles it draws from are often both a little behind the times in their sourcing and a cut above in the way they’re dealt with. Bonus points for any cross-cultural, trans-geographical or oh-it’s-quite-hard-to-label-comprehensively content, all of which amounts to a notoriously broad collection of categories. You get the picture.

Sorry not sorry for the wank onslaught, but all this fits Blonde Redhead down to

Sweet Trip: A Sputnik Guide

This feature is part of a hopefully ongoing series aimed at exploring the discographies of interesting and/or important bands whose wider body of work is often overlooked on this site. There will be lots of words and a few pictures, but the main deal is that if a band features here, they are good and you should listen to them! And if you already jam them, hit up the comments and explain where and why this is wrong! Get going!


Few projects inspire childlike wonder quite like San Francisco’s Sweet Trip. Comprised of multi-instrumentalist/programmer Robero Burgos, vocalist Valerie Cooper and a slim roster of session contributors, this project’s respective forays into indietronica, shoegaze, IDM, glitch and dream pop are so richly atmospheric and emotively crafted that they breeze effortlessly over listener preconceptions and strike to the heart of that early-teen feeling of awe at the sheer expressive and imaginative power of music. For those whose childhoods followed the correct timeline, this should align neatly with your first-time-hearing-Dark Side of the Moon memories.

Fortunately, Sweet Trip come with none of the teenage baggage – there’s something deeply cleansing about their approach to simple melodies and sophisticated arrangements that, even at their most intense or erratic, never fails to make me feel as though some previously unnoticed weight has suddenly disappeared from my shoulders. Roberto Burgos has a talent for imbuing mechanical sounds with a human…

Stereolab: A Sputnik Guide

This feature is part of a hopefully ongoing series aimed at exploring the discographies of interesting and/or important bands whose wider body of work is often overlooked on this site. There will be lots of words and a few pictures, but the main deal is that if a band features here, they are good and you should listen to them! And if you already jam them, hit up the comments and explain where and why this is wrong! Get going!


“I saw Stereolab in Bellingham and they played one chord for fifteen minutes / Something in me shifted / I brought back home belief I could create eternity.”

This is unfortunately not my anecdote, but rather a disconcertingly well-timed snippet from Phil Elevrum’s reminiscences on the new Microphones album. It stands out as the only moment on that record that I paused and rewound on first listen last night to confirm that I had heard it correctly, and it solved the problem I had been grappling with as I came to the end of marathoning the Stereolab discography: how on earth do you go about writing a fresh introduction to such an iconic, influential and well-chronicled band?

Fortunately, Phil was so kind as to answer this question by (probably) confirming my loose theory: pick out any forward thinking artist active in the indieverse over the last two and a half decades or so, and…

Slowdive, in my opinion, are perhaps one of the premier shoegazers of the initial wave of the genre. Recording one of the landmarks with 1993’s Souvlaki and following it up with the radically different Pygmalion, Slowdive have cemented themselves as one of the giants of the effects-obsessed artform. Sometimes drifting in between heavenly dream pop bliss with cuts such as “Machine Gun” and the Eno-produced duo “Sing” and “Here She Comes”, to the abstract ambiance that permeated all of 1995’s Pygmalion, Slowdive can easily be not only the definitive entry-point to any curious onlooker, but the ultimate crossover from more conventional rock music to the incredibly diverse/divisive shoegazing genre.

In consideration to the amount of time I’ve spent listening to Slowdive – a whopping thirteen months (according to my last.fm: about 407 plays as of this writing; since Oct. 31st of 2016), I’ve still found myself somewhat overwhelmed with the near-abrupt shifts in their repertoire from album to album, although their catalogue is rather minuscule and far more accessible than some of their other contemporaries. Plus, they have the benefit of not promising an album to their fanbase, then pulling off the most drawn out disappearing act on them over a course of two decades, so Slowdive already have their priorities straightened out quite nicely.

This guide, in keeping with the recently established tradition I’ve forced upon myself (and will most likely alter in future iterations), will give a streamlined overview of the band’s works, along with a sampler that will hopefully guide…

In acknowledging I’m most likely the website’s local stan for this guy, and the point that I’m writing such an article solely due to the fact I seriously can’t stop listening to his rather plentiful back catalogue, I’ve come to have certainty in the idea that David Sylvian is quite possibly one of the greatest and most ambitious artists to come from his respective generation. There’s so much I could (and will) say, but considering the scope that his works have offered listeners for the last forty-plus years along with the various artistic overhauls that have accompanied Sylvian’s output — both solo and with others in the band format — it seems quite necessary that I provide somewhat of a guide to the works of someone I hold in high esteem. For the sake of not rambling on longer than I really need to, we shall begin with a quick glimpse of where Sylvian began: in the art rock group Japan. Formed in 1974, Japan had their roots in the glam rock scene and took to their influences quite clearly with their initial outfitting, which would come back to embarrass the group upon their identity shift to new wave/synthpop auteurs that often rejected the New Romantic culture and the following that came with it:

Following two albums’ worth of middling glam worship blended in with some worthwhile tunes, Japan had finally found their sound with their third album, 1979’s Quiet Life; along with this futuristic sound, Sylvian had eschewed the slurred vocal…

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