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Nutshell Music Group’s 2012: The Year (Or…Seven Months) In Review

Everyone here at Nutshell has been taking some time off in response to the holiday season being upon us, just as we hope you did the same. But before the streamers and fireworks get released and the beginning of a new work calendar is upon us, it’s only fitting that we put together a best of list for those of you that are new to the site (or are already nostalgic). So here are some fun facts about our last seven months as an official publication. But before we get the ball rolling, here’s to wishing you a wonderful 2013.

Nutshell Music Group is born!

With the June 14th review of Walk The Moon’s self-titled LP, Nutshell Music Group officially became a publication.
Album Rating: 89/100
Album Highlights: “Anna Sun”, “Shiver Shiver”, “I Can Lift A Car”

NUTSHELLNutshell: The Logo and The Twitter

On June 18th, we unveiled our new logo, created by John Spiller. Then three days later we officially hit social media, with our Twitter that you can follow @NSMusicGroup.

Nutshell’s First Concert

The site became so much more than an album review site on July 16th, with our first concert review being published on Vampire Weekend’s Pitchfork Performance.
Concert Rating: A
Concert Highlights: Opening with the one two punch of “Cousins” and “White Sky”, an untitled new song now known as “Unbelievers”.

Making Friends

On October 15th Nutshell Music Group officially announced the addition of our newest writer, Bianca Smith. Her first review was posted less than two weeks later.

Opening the Discussion

On December 1st, we started our first full-on discussion topic as we posted our first round of Lollapalooza 2013 lineup predictions. Since then, a large amount of responses have come in and we opened up our Lollapalooza 2013 page.

Bests, Worsts, and Other Notable Things

Highest Rated Album: Matt & Kim – Lightning
Album Rating: 98/100
Album Highlights: “Let’s Go”, “Now”, “I Said”

Highest Rated EP: Go Tell The Eskimo – Smoke Signals EP
Album Rating: 95/100
Album Highlights: “When The Lights Go Out”

Lowest Rated Album: Animal Kingdom – The Looking Away
Album Rating: 73/100
Album Highlights: “Get Away With It”, “Skipping Disc”

Top Viewed Post: Lollapalooza 2013 Lineup Predictions

Most written about artist: Green Day (with a total of three album reviews)

Album We Wish We Reviewed Better: The Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
Original Rating: 84/100

IMG_0445Nutshell Music Group’s total geek-out favorite band of the year: Stepdad

This one deserves some explaining. This goes to the band that Nutshell Music Group feels is the band that was most enjoyable to deal with. After reviewing Wildlife Pop back in June and then their Beat Kitchen Concert in October, the group has always been fun to watch, listen to, and even talk to in small doses. So a big thank you goes out to the guys in Stepdad for giving us a memorable band to talk about time and time again.

There you have it folks! Have a great time ringing in the new year, and we will be back on schedule with normal reviews after 2013 begins.

Nutshell Album Review: Green Day – ¡Tré!

TreWe promise, we haven’t been slacking on the reviews for bad reasons. The answer as to why we have been gone for over a week is because we have spent that time going to awesome parties, rubbing elbows with band members, and throwing TVs out of hotel room windows from the journalist point of view. The honest answer is that everyone here is a student who is currently facing finals week. It makes us seem lame, though, so let’s go with the first answer.

Nonetheless, enter Green Day (for their third appearance on the site) to lead our comeback! ¡Tré! is the final installment of their colossal new album trilogy, and it is hyped up to be a combination of everything heard before by the band. This could get exciting, and at the same time breeds good things for the punk rockers that to this day have separate,  oh-so dedicated fan bases that center completely on just one of their albums. Putting all of their eggs in one basket may finally unite the fans who saw American Idiot on opening night with pre-sale tickets with the ones who liked, well, Nimrod.

The album opens with “Brutal Love”, which is basically an amazingly solid vocal performance by Billie Joe Armstrong. Its a bluesy, more jam-out style rock song that the group pulls off very well. Up next is “Missing You”, which sound a lot more like Green Day. A sort of “Jesus of Suburbia” type hooky song, with fast chord changes and good background vocals keeps this album off to an impressive start. “8th Avenue Serenade” sounds like a punky Dinosaur Jr., with a combination of the Green Day’s usual sound and today’s modern indie rock. With high strummed chords and poppy riffs, this song is definitely one to take a listen to. “Drama Queen” is one of the rare occasions that Armstrong breaks out the acoustic guitar, and the lyrics are actually a painful story about growing up. Could it be influenced by the frontman’s big four-oh in the back of everyone’s minds? Maybe, but it’s helping the band produce some very strong work.

“X-Kid” is the next track, and it keeps the theme of getting older with more force than the album has had to this point. The vocals do not have the normal gritty range fans are accustomed to, but they instead carry a sort of monotonous mumble that works well with the rest of the song. “Sex, Drugs & Violence”, beyond having a wonderful title, is such an unbelievable 90’s high-schooler song; so much that it deserves to appear in whatever the next sad rehashing of the American Pie series is. I’m sorry, but American Reunion was not a good idea. ANYWAYS. “A Little Boy Named Train” is another one that hits Green Day on an unprecedented level, and is one of the first examples of all of their former sounds being focused into one piece of work. “Amanda” is what follows, which is just a very solid pop punk song that is a believable fit on any album in the band’s catalog.

“Walk Away” has an arena rock undertone that opens up with a subdued guitar part that is alone with Armstrong’s vocals. “Dirty Rotten Bastards” was described by the bands as “all over the place”, and that is not far from the truth. In fact, it’s right on; the song hits a handful of tiny microsongs in the span of 6 and 1/2 minutes, put together in a similar way as “Jesus of Suburbia”. “99 Revolutions” goes back to the riff-based punk heard earlier on the album, and also takes on an expected pop punk sound. The record then closes out with “The Forgotten”, a soft-hearted piano ballad that has gotten praise from all across the market. A good way to end a 30+ song collection and prepare fans for the unknown future of what of the late-nineties biggest acts.

Green Day did something bold this year that has garnered a surprisingly small amount of attention. They released three albums in two months, completely skipping out on the whole process of cutting out unwanted tracks. It was a simple mindset that if they were playing the songs, they were going on one of the three albums, and it turned out to be an admirable project. Three albums later, they are back again and sounding like a band that knows exactly what they’re doing. This album trilogy has proved Green Day isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and each album as an individual is still enough to give them a substantial amount of momentum. ¡Tré! brings thoughts of a possible new direction in the band, and comes out as the best album of the three album collection. It gets a 93/100 and it is available now.

¡Tré! Tracklisting:

  1. Brutal Love
  2. Missing You
  3. 8th Avenue Serenade
  4. Drama Queen
  5. X-Kid
  6. Sex, Drugs & Violence
  7. A Little Boy Named Train
  8. Amanda
  9. Walk Away
  10. Dirty Rotten Bastards
  11. 99 Revolutions
  12. The Forgotten

Nutshell Album Review: Green Day – ¡Dos!

Deja vu. It’s almost like Green Day just came out with a new album (get it…because they did…). ¡Dos! is the second installment of the ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! trilogy from the 90’s punks, which is boasted to be the band’s take on “garage rock”. Some may, unsurprisingly, be skeptical about one of the most famous (and sometimes infamous) pop punk acts to ever touch a stage making an attempt at a genre they have never come close to. And after Billie Joe Armstrong being admitted to rehab, resulting in cancellations of tour stops going all the way to 2013, the band has to do something to let fans know that everything will be fine. With the very short ¡Dos! being the awkward middle child of the trilogy, it has its own story create. Whether the story is worth hearing is up to the fans.

The album opens up with “See You Tonight”, a minute-long low fi recording that sounds like it was made on a boom box. It’s cute, I’ll give them that. But it doesn’t scream garage rock…until it leads in to “Fuck Time”. If you never thought you would hear the words “baby, it’s fuck time”, then you are in for a surprise. The song turns out to be a pretty decent rock song with a very solid 60’s-esque solo. Next up is “Stop When The Red Lights Flash”, a true hold on the garage rock sound this album was said to have. With a main riff that includes quick chord changes, background “oo’s”, and a vocal part that nicely overdubs the chorus part, this is one to get the moshers going. “Lazy Bones” includes a verse with a sort-of-Killers-mixed-with-other-stuff vibe and a very loud, guitar inflated chorus. After that comes “Wild One”, which ironically is one of the slower and more rocking back and forth type songs of the album. The lamest, yet most fitting description for this song is “it’s very Green Day”. Weird, right?

“Makeout Party” is like 21st Century Breakdown‘s “East Jesus Nowhere” on speed. That’s a good thing. This is just a very dirty, but well structured rock song that will automatically get you moving. The album’s first single “Stray Heart” has a very apparent garage rock influence, easily comparable to The Strokes. “Ashley” is a very energetic and jarring track with tremolo solos and a heavy bassline. Next up is “Baby Eyes”, a song that starts to hit to poppy side of Green Day. It’s very hooky, and it breaks into a hard refrain after each chorus. “Lady Cobra” is A GEM. This is a must-hear track from the album, with a sound like it was ripped straight from the White Blood Cells era White Stripes. They wanted a garage rock album, well they have it with this song. “Nightlife” is a song that seems a bit out of place on this album, with a very groovy and somewhat bluesy feel. The kicker is Lady Cobra (the person, not the last song) rapping. It’s…something new for Green Day. They get an A for effort. ¡Dos! then closes out with “Wow! That’s Loud”, another one with a Strokes like feel (except it’s more of a punk-garage hybrid song), and “Amy”, the acoustic tribute to the late Amy Winehouse. It really is a precious song and a very nice tribute to close out album number two from the trilogy.

¡Dos! is, as stated before, the awkward middle child of Green Day’s trilogy of mega albums. The album was called “garage rock”, but it still seems like the usual pop punk that the band is famous for. That isn’t a criticism of their normal sound, but the promise of change wasn’t followed up on as some may have thought. Nonetheless, ¡Dos! ended up being a solid collection of songs. The final sub genre is challenging to pinpoint, but this definitely isn’t an album to skip over. It leaves people curious as to what will come out of the trilogy’s final album, and makes you wonder whether or not this new garage-punk combo pack is something to become accustomed to from the band. Green Day’s ¡Dos! takes a modest 85/100, and it is available now.

¡Dos! Tracklisting:

  1. See You Tonight
  2. Fuck Time
  3. Stop When The Red Lights Flash
  4. Lazy Bones
  5. Wild One
  6. Makeout Party
  7. Stray Heart
  8. Ashley
  9. Baby Eyes
  10. Lady Cobra
  11. Nightlife
  12. Wow! That’s Loud
  13. Amy

Nutshell Album Review: Green Day – ¡Uno!

It’s easy to admit that it was hard to decide whether or not this album would be reviewed. After putting out their eigth album 21st Century Breakdown and receiving the much-deserved response of “ehh”, modern punk kings Green Day managed to toss out two live albums, a singles compilation, a Rock Band game, and a Tony/Grammy award winning musical before coming out with the idea for ¡Uno!¡Dos!, and ¡Tré!. Now set to kick out a total of three albums between September and January, Green Day starts off with the proudly punk sounding ¡Uno!.

Starting with “Nuclear Family”, the now official quartet (with the addition of touring guitarist Jason White) sounds like they did at their best. Even though it’s hard to believe that anything called Dookie could be impressive, that album was the high point for Green Day’s career and they have very intelligently inched back towards that sound. “Stay the Night” is full of all the F-bombs and catchy hooks you could hope for, and goes back to the palm muting and loud bass grooves Green Day fans fell in love with. “Carpe Diem” has a solid power pop opening with a mastery of the “stop, start” songwriting technique. The band is also able to show their incredible gift for syncing up drum rhythms with vocals in this song, coming up with an overall catchy song. Next is a must hear from this album, the punky, fast-paced “Let Yourself Go”, which was not too long ago accompanied with a far-too-censored MTV VMA performance. This song is nothing new from Green Day’s early sound, but they hit the nail right on the head with how to make a new punk song that attracts listeners: keep it sounding like actual punk.

“Kill the DJ” is, in the words of lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong, “straight-up dance music”. This song is uncharacteristic of the band’s usual sound, but it is sure to weasel it’s way into electronic-dominated party playlists. “Fell for You” is a song that sounds like the musical equivalent of a gene pool that includes Paul McCartney and Sid Vicious. The quick and powerful “Loss of Control” is what follows, a song with 5-second guitar solos (there’s a longer one, don’t worry), raw and fast vocals, and enough bass drum to make your head explode. This is just an absolutely gritty and sarcastic punk song that is another one to definitely check out. “Troublemaker” features vocals that are at some times comparable to Bob Dylan (which is frankly quite hilarious), an unbelievable catchy groove and an acidic guitar solo. “Angel Blue” is another fast-paced one that gets your legs bouncing and also forces you to be reminiscent of the late 90’s. “Sweet 16” is one of the quieter songs of the album, and it also hits the poppier side of Green Day that came to light in American Idiot. The album then closes out with Green Day’s famous story-telling on the pop-punk superpower that is “Rusty James”, and the five minute single “Oh Love”, a song that impressively encases the positive ends of 21st Century Breakdown in an almost arena rock style.

Green Day is one of the few bands that can say that they escaped the idea of 90’s punk bands only being listened to ironically. They continue to go with the trends and put out fresh music while remaining one of the biggest names in rock and roll 25 years after their formation. ¡Uno!¡Dos!, and ¡Tré! have been set to be something amazing, and ¡Uno! is successful at enticing listeners to stay aware of the next two albums (to be released November 13th and January 15th, respectively). ¡Uno! grabs a 92/100 and it is available now.

¡Uno! Tracklisting:

  1. Nuclear Family
  2. Stay the Night
  3. Carpe Diem
  4. Let Yourself Go
  5. Kill the DJ
  6. Fell for You
  7. Loss of Control
  8. Troublemaker
  9. Angel Blue
  10. Sweet 16
  11. Rusty James
  12. Oh Love
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