Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Radiohead - Studio Album Discography

With the release of the "King of Limbs", I thought I'd go through and revisit Radiohead's discography. I'm not a superfan like I used to be, but I still always get excited with their new releases, and make it a point to see them live if I can afford it. Many better writers have tackled this subject, so feel free to skip to the links. They're written as hxxp, so change that to http before pressing enter in your browser's location bar.

Pablo Honey - 7.0/10. I'll just come out and say it: It's not that bad. It's the black sheep of the band's discography, because 1) It has their most notable and highest charting single (Creep), 2) It sounds derivative
of other bands of the time period, and 3) It lacks the certain brilliance of their later albums, but if you're willing to judge it on its own merits you'll find a lot to like here. Blow Out is one of the band's best closers, and other tracks like You, I Can't, and Anyone Can Play Guitar tap into that sort of wistful, bright eyed 90s alternative rock sound. Better things will come after this, but it's interesting to look back and see where one of the more experimental bands in mainstream music started.

There's a collector's edition with a second disc of B-Sides, radio sessions and demos but I've yet to check it out. I sort of felt it wasn't essential like all the other ones.

link: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=0R2ZCM6S

The Bends - 9.5/10. A huge step forward for the band, all the rough edges of Pablo Honey are dealt away with and what's left is one of the best guitar albums of the mid 90s. It's still very accessible, with lots of classic ballads and soaring choruses but they've also carved out their own style here. Personal favorites are My Iron Lung, which shows an angular and surging guitar style that the band never seems to do enough, and Street Spirit, which despite my praise of Blow Out earlier, is the best closer they've ever written.

The second disc of the reissue contains lots of good tracks, with one of my favorites being "Permanent Daylight", which if memory serves, was their attempt at writing a Sonic Youth song.

link1: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=AJX24VG5
link2: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=S3BTY57I

OK Computer - 10/10. The best Radiohead album, and definitely in the conversation of best album of the 90s. It's another jump forward, this time into Pink Floyd style reverb and more guitar experimentation. It's this
album that seems to define Nigel Godrich's production style too; it's influenced his work with Pavement, Beck, and Travis, among others. Bright(est) spots include Subterranean Homesick Alien, Exit Music (For A Film), Let Down, and No Surprises.

This album benefits the most from a second disc, the airbag EP is on there which was mostly excellent, and there are some cool alternative mixes of Climbing Up The Walls.

link1: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=7ABHOSR4
link2: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=U2X60587

Kid A - 9/10. Ahh, I still remember listening to this for the first time. Despite the large differences between Pablo Honey, The Bends, and OK Computer, they were still prominently guitar albums, but from the opening
bars of Everything In Its Right Place, the history becomes irrelevant. This is a different band now, influenced more by IDM and electronic music than the Pixies and U2 influences of the past. It's amazing how comfortable they sound in their new skin, however; there are no real awkward genre experiments here. Highlights include The National Anthem, which has an anchoring bass line that turns into a jazz breakdown, How To Disappear Completely which perfectly matches its title, and Idioteque, which is one of the creepiest dance songs I've ever heard.

The second disc is almost all alternate recordings/radio sessions, and as it normally goes, they're hit and miss. It does however contain "True Love Waits," which is a terrific and wonderfully simple acoustic song that seems like a huge outlier compared to the other tracks recorded during the same period. So I'd say it's worth it for that alone.

link1: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=IGL3ZLTU
link2: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=PC2TQ9WN

Amnesiac - 8.5/10. Although the tracks come from the same sessions, Amnesiac doesn't feel like an album of B-Sides. It has its own personality, and feels a little bit more off the cuff, and for lack of a less pretentious word, organic. Guitars return in I Might Be Wrong and Knives Out, and the album closes with Life in a Glass House, which is a brilliantly messy jazz song.

This second CD is mostly fantastic, with a the bulk of the studio recorded B-Sides from the Kid Amnesiac sessions.

link1: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=P9K9E59M
link2: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=BE1H0IW9

Hail To The Thief - 7.5/10. Probably the most inconsistent Radiohead album. I know for a fact that these tracks are better live, but much of it comes off as a bit flat on the record. Not to say there aren't some classic
tracks here, because there are: Myxomatosis has an infectious and fuzzy keyboard riff that propels the song, and the album starts very well with the 1-2-3 punch of 2 + 2 = 5, Sit Down Stand Up and Sail To The Moon. It's just that the band had been on a roll recently and this was the first time it seemed like they didn't have a specific direction they were heading in.

The second disc is worth it for Gagging Order, I Am A Wicked Child, and the glitchy I Am Citizen Insane. There are also some solid live versions, like most of the other reissues.

link1: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=FGW76WTD
link2: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=RGAX93H5

In Rainbows - 9/10. For all the fuss that was made about its pay-your-own-price distribution model, the real story here was how fantastic the record was. After the quietly underwhelming HTTT (by their standards, anyway) this was a welcome return to form, where they sound comfortable and confident instead of a bit directionless. My favorites include Jigsaw Falling Into Place, which is a top 5 Radiohead song for me, Reckoner, which changed from its earlier racuous live version into a relaxed jam a la Knives Out, and All I Need, which burns into a very satisfying ending climax.

There's a second disc from the deluxe version of In Rainbows, but I don't really remember it being essential. Uploading it here anyway for completeness' sake

link1: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=BE1H0IW9
link2: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=N0XNV69H

The King Of Limbs - 8.5/10. My opinion is subject to change as the album is still new, but so far I believe that it's sort of the continuation of Amnesiac. They aren't really treading any new ground, but they are
synthesizing the different elements of their past into something new. I tend to favor the first half, which is more upbeat, and electronic, but the album ends nicely with some downtempo tracks to contrast the earlier ruckus. There are rumours that there will be another half, as Separator is well, called separator, and it also includes the line "If you think this is the end, you're wrong." But who knows; even if this is it, it's a great effort from a band who's rarely taken a misstep since striking gold with the Bends nearly 16 years ago.

link: hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=3NLUC85H

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Fall - Studio Album Discography

So I've listened to every album and I thought I'd make this thread, because while lots of people have heard the Brix albums and Hex, not everyone has dove into their 90s stuff. So here are all the studio albums reviewed, with ratings and poor descriptions that don't always go anywhere.

The 1970s:
There are only two albums, just get them!

Live At The Witch Trials - 8/10

This is not a live album! I didn't check it out for years because I thought it was.

The Fall hadn't really found their sound yet, but the songwriting (and cheap keyboards) were there from the beginning. It has a cleaner production than any other Fall record of that era, and is oddly accessible; highlights include Rebellious Jukebox, which is one of the more tuneful songs from the band's beginning; Industrial Estate, which gets by on the brilliantly simple refrain of "yeah yeah, Industrial Estate"; and "Music Scene", a long rant set to minimalistic guitar playing and a simple bassline, for 8 minutes!

I'd recommend getting the expanded edition, for the first disc, at least; it includes early singles like Bingo Master's Breakout!, Reptition, Psycho Mafia, and others. The second disk has some Peel Sessions that are in the box set, and a very poorly recorded concert from Liverpool. It sounds like it was recorded with a boombox, and knowing the Fall, it probably was.

Dragnet - 7.5/10
Despite being recorded only 8 months after Live at the Witch Trials, it manages to simultaneously sound worse sonically, but more like a traditional Fall record. Founding member Martin Bramah left, and took his cleaner guitar playing with him. Craig Scanlon took his place, and the band added a new bassist, too; Steve Hanley. It's a strange album, it almost feels like a step backwards in songwriting, with songs like "Printhead" and "Choc Stock" being more straight forward punk than anything on Live at the Witch Trials, but it's a good Fall album regardless, and a good early look at the partnership of Marc Riley and Craig Scanlon. There are definitely some winners here though; "Spectre vs Rectre" sounds menacing and dark, complete with out of tune guitars, and "Psykick Dance Hall" has an infectious opening riff. Better things would come later, though!

The reissue I have is essential for "Rowche Rumble" and "Fiery Jack". Highly recommended over the original release, but it does have way too many takes of "Rowche Rumble"

The 1980s: Definitely the best decade for the Fall. They get on a run with "Grotesque" and it doesn't really end until "I Am Kurious Oranj". Their output in the first half of the decade is particularly amazing and some of the best albums of the decade, if not all time. This is where you should start.

Grotesque (After the Gramme) - 9/10
-The first amazing Fall Album! MES was always influenced by Rockabilly, but it's a really big deal for this album. "New Face in Hell" will sound familiar to any fan of Pavement's "Conduit for Sale," "CnC's Mithering" is top 10 Fall tune, a hilarious endictment of the American music culture. It ends strongly with "The NWRA", a 9 minute Krautrock jam about the eventual rise of Northern England.

There are a few different editions of the album, with some including "How I wrote Elastic Man", "City Hobgoblins", "Totally Wired" and "Putta Block". All the tracks are brilliant, but on some editions they're placed at the front of the album, with others (including the remasters) putting them at the end. IMO the album flows better with them at the end

Slates - 9.5/10
Quite possibly the greatest EP of all time! Every track here is a classic, so just get this right now. Not gonna bother reviewing it

There are a few different editions of this too, I have the one with "A Part Of America Therein", a live album from their tour of America. The 2004 version has some Peel Sessions, a single with Lie Dream of a Casino Soul and Fantastic Life, and Medicale Acceptance Gate. The version of "Room to Live" that I'm going to upload has "Lie Dream" and "Fantastic Life", so only grab the 2004 version if you want "Medical Acceptance Gate"

Hex Enduction Hour - 10/10
This is my vote for the best Fall album, and one of the best albums of all time. It's caustic (but cerebral), noisy, and brilliant at the same time. It was also the first album to be recorded with two drummers, which added a definite punch. Side A is an onslaught; "The Classical", "Jawbone and Air Rifle", and "Mere Pseud Mag Ed" are some of the most punishing and angry songs MES has laid to tape. He thought the band was going to break up after this LP due to a lack of critical/commercial succes, and he wanted to go out with a bang, it seems. Side B is a little less noisy, with "Who Makes the Nazis?" having a melody of bass harmonics, and "Iceland" being anchored by a piano. If you download one Fall album, get this one.

The version I'm uploading is the 2 disc edition, with "Look, Know" added to the tracklisting of the bonus disc. I don't know if the person I downloaded it from added manually, or if it's a leaked version with it included...but it's a good tune and the studio version is better than the Peel Session version.

Room to Live - 7.5/10
CNC described it as their Kid A, and I sort of see where he was coming from. It's a total rejection of anything they had really done up to that point. The retreated from the "overproduced" (lol) Hex Enduction Hour, and apparently a lot of these songs were unrehearsed before coming into the studio. Surprisingly though, the results are pretty good. "Papal Visit" is an almost unlistenable mess, but "Room to Live" is very catchy, and "Marquis Cha-Cha" is infectious despite its minimalism.

Theres another version around with some live tracks instead of the "Lie Dream" single, but I haven't heard any of them yet.

Perverted by Language - 9/10
This one took me a little time to get into, but I'd put it up there with Hex and This Nation's Saving Grace now. Brix Smith joined the band during the recording of the album, but her presence is only really felt on Hotel Bloedel, where she sings with MES. This album includes what could be my favorite Fall song, "Hexen Definitive Strife Knot." It totally changes gears about 4 minutes into the song, and theres a surprisingly creepy bass line that takes over the song. If you enjoy it, listen to the Peel Session version! It has an even better build up.

There are a few versions of this, too. There's the original LP tracklist, then a 1998 reissue with Bonus Tracks (Man Who's Head Expanded, Ludd Gang, Kicker Conspiracy, Wings, and Pilsner Trail) The bonus tracks don't mess up the flow of the album too badly, but the 2disc reissue/remaster from 2005 puts the bonus tracks at the end.

The Wonderful and Frightening World - 8/10
Brix is really felt on this record! Some of the songs are even poppy; somewhere in a bizzaro universe, "Oh! Brother" was a top 40 hit in 1984. My only issue with this album is that it really needs a remaster. Oh, and "Bug Day" is on it, which is probably my most hated Fall song. As an album it doesn't flow that well (even without the bonus tracks IMO) but it has some of their best singles, so I would definitely pick it up if you're trying to get a handle on their 80s material.

There are two major tracklistings of this album; the 9 track LP and the 16 track cassette/CD. The 7(!) bonus tracks are stuck in the middle of the album, with the exception of No Bulbs which acts as a closer. I included the CD version because the bonus tracks are all pretty solid, with C.R.E.E.P, Oh! Brother and No Bulbs being some of the best tracks of the Brix Smith era.

This Nation's Saving Grace - 9.5/10
The bluffer's Fall album of choice. It's probably a better introduction than Hex Enduction Hour, as they sort of tackle every style they had been attempting since the genesis of the band. This album has some classics; "I Am Damo Suzuki" is MES's overdue tribute to Can, "Bombast" is true to its name and kicks the album off in a proper fashion, and "Paintwork" takes an amazing melody and tries to obscure any sort of normal song structure. I can't think of a bum track out of 16, and that proves that the band was definitely at the height of its powers here.

This album is similar to The Wonderful and Frightening World in that the bonus tracks are numerous and they appear in the middle of the tracklisting, but they're all great songs. They mess up the flow slightly because "To Nkroachment: Yarbles" is supposed to bookend the album, but what are you gonna do.

Bend Sinister - 7.5/10
The Fall play Joy Division? It's definitely the darkest Fall record, and a bit of a dropoff of quality from "This Nation's Saving Grace". There aren't really any songs that would make you reach for the skip button, but they sound like they're on auto pilot for a lot of it. Exceptions to that include the cover of "Mr Pharmacist", "Shoulder Pads" and "Auto Tech Pilot"

Unlike the past two albums, there are only two bonus tracks on the cd edition, "Living Too Late" and "Auto Tech Pilot". Living Too Late is alright, but "Auto Tech Pilot" is a great song and makes the CD version the one to get. Apparently theres a US version that throws in singles that sound really out of place, and it has a different title The "Domesday Pay-Off" Triad Plus! Avoid it. Bend Sinister proper should get a remastering sometime soon, too

The Frenz Experiment - 8.5/10
I like this a lot more than anyone else seems to. Athlete Cured steals a riff from Spinal Tap and tells a great narrative, "Bremen Nacht" is 9 minutes of the same goddamn thing (and I love it for it), "In These Times" predicted radiohead333 in 1988, and "Victoria" is the second great cover in as many albums. Generally the sound here is more accessible and keyboard led

Bonus tracks are added to the end this time, and they definitely up the enjoyment of the album for me. "Guest Informant" and the two pop singles "Theres a Ghost in My House"/"Hit the North" make the CD version essential.

I Am Kurious Oranj - 7.0/10
Hey, who wants some leftovers from the Frenz Experiment? This definitely has some filler, like "Guide me Soft" and "Dog is Life", but any ill of this record is wiped out by "New Big Prinz". It's a reworking of "Hip Priest" that sounds completely different; this time with a bit of bile and swagger. Problem is it overshadows the rest of the songs, even if some of them (Cab it Up!, Kurious Oranj) are solid. This isn't an essential Fall release, but it's recommended if you like "the Frenz Experiment"

The CD edition apparently has alternate versions of some of the songs, and adds "Guide Me Soft" and an alternate of "New Big Prinz" called "Big New Priest". I haven't heard original songs from the LP, but I'm guessing that it might be the definitive version 'cause "Big New Priest" isn't really necessary and "Guide Me Soft" SUCKS

The 90s:
Welcome to 90s Fall! I was surprised how much I enjoyed their 90s output. Few, or maybe none of the albums match the highs of the previous decade, but I was led to believe that nothing was worth bothering with and that's not the case at all. Most of the records in this decade have some flaws, and some have a lot of flaws, but if you've listened to everything up until this point and have enjoyed it, I would recommend giving some of these albums a try.

Extricate - 7.5/10
The decade starts off with an improvement over their last album. Martin Bramah is back in the band to replace Brix who left and divorced MES. You can tell because the guitar riffs aren't as poppy and don't have the same kind of hooks that Brix would write, but that's not a knock on the guitar playing here. Although, now that I think about it, it's pretty simple and most of the malice is gone. Anyway, this is a pretty good album, with the only real downsides are the Monks covers. I haven't listened to the originals, but MES says "You" far too many times and it's irritating as shit.

Highlights: Sing! Harpy, Chicago Now, Telephone Thing

The best version of this is the 2007 reissue that has the original LP tracklisting with some of the bonus tracks and other B sides/singles. This one actually had a decent flow going so I'd avoid the early CD/cassette editions.

Shift Work - 8/10
Mad underrated! Sonically, this is the cleanest, and friendliest release. "Edinburgh Man" has MES singing happily about his longing for the Scottish city, and "Rose" is actually very pretty! This record grew on me; I thought it was pretty terrible and boring at first, but it won me over after a couple of listens. The only song that kind of sucks is "Sinister Waltz", which is true to its name, I suppose. I expect a lot to disagree with me on this album, but if anyone wants to listen to a Fall album that sounds nothing like anything from the 80s, pick this up.

I'd get the reissue with the bonus 2nd CD, because it restores the original tracklist. There were only two extra tracks but I like the flow of the album with the extra tracks on the second disc instead.

Code Selfish - 7.5/10
This album sort of abandons the positive sheen of Shift Work for a slightly more angular style (With the exception of "Time Enough At Last"), but it's still pretty listenable by Fall standards. I like this album but it's sort of inconsistent, especially in the second side. Some great tracks, like "Free Range", which is a pretty competent dance song and a classic Fall track. Recommended if you like Shift Work, but in my unpopular opinion, it's the lesser of the two.

Blah blah blah, grab the 2 disc reissue/remaster

The Infotainment Scan - 8.5/10
This is the one 90s record that can hold its own with the 80s output. I'm not too keen on the closer "Light/fireworks" but I like every other song, even the two unlikely covers of "Lost in Music" and "I'm Going To Spain", the latter of which has MES singing wistfully like he did on "Edinburgh Man." I wonder why Manchester doesn't get any love! More great songs on this though, like "Service", which has the catchiest piano/keyboard riff ever. I'm starting to think that you can listen to the opening riff of a Fall song and if you like it, then you'll like the rest of the song. With this album, all of those opening riffs are good!

With this album, the 2CD reissue only adds songs on a second disc; it doesn't alter the tracklisting in any way. So grab either/or, with my recommendation to grab the 2CD set if you don't mind the bandwidth, or the single CD if you're in some backwards nation (I say this with love) like Australia with bandwidth caps

Middle Class Revolt - 7/10
This one is either great or boring, depending on the side you're listening to. The band seems to be going through the motions, and some of the tracks are forgettable, but the nonforgettable tracks are very strong. Like a lot of Fall albums, it's frontloaded, with the 1/2/3 punch of "15 Ways", "The Reckoning" and "Behind The Counter" making it seem like it could be the Fall's mainstream melodic breakthrough, but then it switches gears with "M5#1" and "Surmount All Obstacles" which sound like they could have been on Code Selfish. But all is good up until "War", when things take a miraculous dive for the worse. The album ends alright with another Monks cover, but the only real good track on the second half is "Hey! Student" which is really loud/rockin'.

Similar to The Infotainment Scan, you can grab the single CD or 2CD, depending on whether you like the album or not (or bandwidth limitations)

Cerebral Caustic - 6/10
The nadir of 90's Fall. Brix Smith returns, and it sounds like it's going to be great; lo-fi tunes and more attitude from the band than we've seen since the 80s. But it's just so half assed; imagine some of the lesser tunes from Middle Class Revolt played more angrily. That's not to say it's all bad; I actually like some of the songs: "Life Just Bounces" is a re-recording of an Extricate era song that seems more developed than nearly everything on this album, "the Aphid" succeeds despite a guitar riff that sounds like it was written by someone who had just picked up a guitar, "Pine Leaves" has some great keyboardin' and a rare appearence by what sounds like an acoustic guitar. The problem with this album isn't that it's uniformly terrible, but just that nothing is truly a cut above the rest. It's worth spinning every now and again, but it's no one's favorite Fall album. I also think the production bails out some of the songs.

If you're interested, the second CD has some alternate mixes, but given the strength of the song writing, it's probably better to just grab the original release.

The Light User Syndrome - 7.5/10
A marked improvement! There are a few duds, and the album is a bit overlong (especially with the added bonus tracks) but it's a quality release. "He Pep!" and "Spinetrack" have Brix bringing back the pop accessability from her earlier tenure with the band, and "Das Vulture Ans Ein Nutter-Wain" must be German for "fucking badass and simple bass line." And the keyboard on this album! It just farts all over "Power Keg" (in a good way). I'd wager this is one of the more underrated Fall LPs, along with Shift Work and The Marshall Suite

There hasn't been a 2CD reissue of this, so grab the version with the Chiselers single on it. It's a whopping 17 tracks!

Levitate - 7.5/10
Up there with Room to Live in weirdness. It's actually a decent comparison, because while Room to Live excluded certain band members from playing on some tracks, Levitate seems like it was created mostly in the studio by messing with band member's recordings. I'll sum it up with a very fitting quote from Mark Prindle; I got the exact same feeling when I first listened to it:

"My point here is that, even though these songs sound like incomplete constructions, I'd bet probably half a dollar that these ditties actually WERE at one time complete songs, but Mark purposely screwed everything up in post-production. I can just see the rest of the band (especially the two new guitarists, whose input seems to have been nearly entirely deleted from the final mix) sitting down and listening to the final product with these huge furrows in their brow as they nudge each other and ask, "It didn't sound like that when we PLAYED it, did it? I thought I remembered there being a melody in that song!""

So that's what you're getting into. Great songs include: Masquerade, I'm a Mummy, 4 1/2 inch, Ol' Gang. The album sort of drops off towards the end, but the closer "Everybody But Myself" ends the album on a good note.

There's the album and a limited release disc that I haven't heard. Just grab the album itself

The Marshall Suite - 8.5/10
I really like this one. Most of the long term members left after a fight at a show in NYC, so MES picked up whatever random dudes he could find, and it's the second best album of the 90s. "Mad Men Eng Dog" is a real stinker, and "On My Own" is a reworking of "Everybody But Myself" but otherwise this is pretty consistent all the way through. It's a more realized and accessible version of the sound of Levitate; lots of drum and bass but this time there's some rockabilly guitar and louder keyboards. Levitate was sort of cracked out dance music, but this album removes a lot of the rouger edges.

No bonus tracks/reissue problems! It's now 1999 and CD's been the defacto standard for awhile

The 2000s:
The Fall's return to relevancy, sort of. I think this is probably the most inconsistent decade they've had so far, but the highs are higher than they were in the 90s.

The Unutterable - 9/10
Great! With some trimming, this could compete for the greatest Fall album ever. Problem is, "Octo Realm" exists and MES gets cocky and the last three songs of the album suffer for it. Until then, it's a varied and wonderful array of different sounds, with a large electronic influence. The production on this album is really good too; songs like W.B and Hot Runes are simple, but the production adds some layers of complexity that only recently had become a talking point for the Fall. The Unutterable even includes MES's first (and only) attempt at lounge singing, with "Pumpkin Soup and Mashed Potatoes." Highly recommended.

No bonus tracks here either sad.gif

Are You Are Missing winner - 5.5/10
I don't know why I listen to this album; it's Cerebral Caustic's retarded cousin. The production is pretty awful, and the band can only really handle rockabilly. Everything from the Unutterable is thrown out the window. However, they sort of stumble upon some decent songs, like "Crop Dust", "My Ex Classmates' Kids" and "Gotta See Jane", the latter of which actually has a catchy bass line. Then the album sucks for awhile and ends with "Reprise: Jane - Prof Mick - Ey Bastardo" which stops and starts with a repetive bass line for 9 minutes. It's a guilty pleasure, that one. Overall, I'd say this is the worst Fall album that is still kind of worth owning, but only for hardcore fans like myself. If you listened to the Unutterable and are hoping the follow up is similar, I'd rather direct you to 20 or so better Fall albums

There is a reissue from 2006 with some b-sides, but the only good added song is "I Wake Up In The City." I'd just stick with the standard version, because there's less crap on it

The Real New Fall LP: Formerly Country On The Click - 9.5/10
OH MAN! This one, I tell you, is one of the first Fall albums you should get. It's hard to believe that theres anyone left over from the previous album, because it's a ridiculous improvement. Even when they dick around on Loop41 Houston, it's engaging and catchy. It breaks the trend of having shitty endings too; "Mike's Love Xenagon" has a great vocal track by MES, Proteinprotection sounds like the Jesus Lizard, and Recovery Kit is a clinic in badass drum work.

There are a few versions of this album. (Wikipedia can explain better than I can) But from my experience, the US version adds one alright song, one great song (Portugal), and ruins some of the mixes from the UK version. I haven't heard the original leaked version since it came out, but I prefer the UK version over the US version. I think Portugal is on a single so grab that instead

Fall Heads Roll - 8.5/10
I went through a few different opinions of this album. First I liked it a lot, then I sort of thought it was boring, but now I'm back to liking it again. The adventure and variety is mostly gone from what is largely the same band that did "Real New Fall LP" but they manage to put a lot of heart into the simple songs. A lot of the chord progressions become focal points of the songs, which is sort of a rarity for the Fall. Overall it's pretty consistent, they even change things up a bit for "The Early Days of Channel Fuhrer" which is more somber and acoustic than anything they've done. Oh yeah, Blindness. If you can listen to the Peel session version, it's better, but it's still an amazing track on the record.

No bonus track/alternate release drama this time.

Reformation Post-TLC - 4/10
reformation single hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=W5FDNFT6
My least favorite Fall album. The band from the past 2 or 3 albums left in the middle of a tour, so MES just called his US label and got some random dudes to fill in. When you think of it in that context, it's not so bad, but otherwise it's terrible. About half the songs would be the worst song on your average Fall album. It's a shame too, because the beginning has a bit of promise. The tunes were obviously not practiced that much, but there's some enjoyment out of the first 4 tracks, at least. But the second half SUCKS, "Das Boot" is 10 minutes of nothing, and "Systematic Abuse" has no right to be 9 minutes long. I hope this was not anyone's first Fall album; it'd turn me off the band entirely.

No bonus tracks/reissue nonsense, but I do recommend getting the Reformation! single instead of the album. It has the album and single cut of Reformation, as well as rough (and superior) mixes of "Over Over" and "My Door Is Never". The only good songs missing are "Fall Sound" and "White Line Fever" but it's not a big deal. Pound for pound it's a great deal better than the album.

Imperial Wax Solvent - 9/10
Whoa! This album is paced poorly, but it has them trying out all these different styles. And finally, Mark's wife Elena is worth mentioning. She had some alright input on "Real New Fall LP" but this is the first album where she's an asset, "Tommy Shooter" and "I've Been Duped" are good songs because of her voice and keyboard respectively. "50 Year Old Man" is 11 minutes, includes a banjo hoedown in the middle, and ends with one of the most fitting guitar riffs for MES's angry ranting. "Why don't they stuff the complementary catering down their neck" is one of MES's best vocal performances ever. The only bum track here is "Strangetown", a Groundhogs cover than is devoid of any sort of energy at all. Wonderful album though; I don't think it gets the respect it deserves

The 2010s!
They just started!

Your Future, Our Clutter - 8.5/10
I think there's a comparison to be made with this album and Fall Heads Roll, in that they both seem like retreats from a more varied predecessor, but it's not a bad thing in either case. There are only 9 songs on this album, and on average they're a lot longer than most Fall songs; luckily the songs never drag on. "Bury Parts 1 & 3" starts out sounding like someone is tuning to a radio station, and they hear some noise, then adjust it, then the song kicks into hi-fi goodness about 3 minutes in. There is some tangible tension in this song, and MES's "A new way of recording; a chain round the neck" lyric makes it seem like he was frustrated with label intrusion. It adds to the song, and probably the album in general, as MES sounds great and frustrated. Also, this is an album that you should play loudly, especially from tracks 2-6, where the rawk quotient is highest.

This album hasn't come out yet! But there's a 2LP version with some extra tracks that is worth getting if you have the money to spend