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The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Come Clean’ (2001) by Puddle Of Mudd

2 Apr

By Slick Nick

If there’s one thing this bandd will go ddown in history for, it’s teaching the masses (or maybe just their impressive 9815 Twitter followers) that ddoubling the letter D in things ddoesn’t make them any better, for example Puddle Of Mudd’s name and song-writing ability.

These chaps were part of the ‘nu grunge’ phenomenon that polluted rock charts during the late 90s and noughties – a genre that when dissected really means ‘to want to be like Nirvana whilst actually presenting music that is a million times shitter.’ Thus, Puddle Of Mudd brought these 13 or so crap songs to the table in 2001 and in doing so, effortlessly crafted one of the worst albums ever made.

Merely six seconds into opening single ‘Control’ and one thing becomes tragically clear; listening to this album will be as interesting as watching paint dry at a bus stop. Anyone that has been listening to rock for even a couple of years will likely have heard all these riffs in far better songs by other bands.

‘She Hates Me’ is another mindfuckingly awful single, sounding like a rejected song from Grease and quite unwelcome in an album that is fundamentally slow, grungy butt rock. Given how  different and obviously commercial it sounds compared to the other songs on the record, it just screams of gimick-single-to-get-band-on-the-radio, so much so that it makes Offspring’s noughties work look like fucking Despised Icon by comparison. Appalling.

Perhaps, given the overall listening experience, the most accurately-titled song on here is ‘Bring Me Down’. Its only point of note is the attempt at a tempo change that underpins a middle eight, but executed by musicians as talentless as Puddle Of Mudd, the piece is just clumsy and awkward, like admitting you watch Loose Women without irony to a small group of friends.

The final single ‘Blurry’ is passable I’ll admit, with some enjoyable moments. Apparently about the end of frontman Wes Scantlin’s marriage and not getting to see his kid, it’s the heartfelt tale of a woman not wanting her only child to be associated with a sub-par Kurt Cobain wannabe, and no one would blame her. Poor lyrics do undermine this tolerable pop song though.

Scantlin: 'I've written this many crap songs today.'

Considering how shit this music is, and how underwhelming the lead singles are, I did start to wonder what on earth any respective A&R professional would deem worthy enough in this band to invest valuable time and money in getting them on the music channels and into the music collections of people that like extremely crap songs. Delving into the Mudd biography it all became crystal clear – this lot were signed to Fred Durst‘s label for their big break. No further explanation is necessary after uncovering that nugget of music trivia, considering Durst is a man seemingly hellbent on bestowing the world with as much bad rock music as humanly possible.

Puddle Of Mudd have managed to sell a mind-boggling number of records, stretching into the millions. I’d love to meet a genuine fan of the group to ascertain what made this music good enough to purchase. Is it the boring guitarring? The excitement of the slow, ploddy music relentlessly executed in that barely explored 4/4 time signature?  The memorable lack of melody? The mediocrity of Scantlin’s entirely derivative vocal delivery? Perhaps I will never know. But one thing I do know for certain is that if an individual even has a single Nirvana MP3 in their music collection, it pretty much makes this group’s complete discography entirely fucking pointless.

‘She [metaphorically representing people that enjoy good music] fuckin’ hates me.’

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The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘The Black Parade’ (2006) by My Chemical Romance

19 Mar

By Slick Nick

If I want to listen to retro rock, I may delve into my immense iTunes library and put on a bit of Journey or Cheap Trick. If I want to hear a bit of generic pop-punk then Blink182, Midtown or Lit usually does the job. If I want to listen to some piano-driven pop that uses minor sevenths, some Paul McCartney hits the spot. Then, if I fancy hearing some terrible singing, I’ve been known to enter ‘X Factor shit auditions’ into YouTube’s search bar. Luckily, if I ever want to hear all that at once, I can turn to this 2006 release by My Chemical Romance, one of the worst ‘alternative’ bands to make it big in the noughties.

After starting their career as a pretty bog-standard pop-punk group with a slightly different sound to all the billions of Greenday/NFG clones, something triggered MCR to become ‘artists’ rather than ‘dudes prolonging the inevitable despair-ridden office-driven existence by being in a band’. They started pulling in a plethora of musical influences largely favoured amongst the Dad community, whilst still underpinning their music with the generic, twenty year old riffs that all their peers had been using all along.

The Black Parade‘ is supposedly a concept album about someone passing away due to cancer, which is enough to put me off even playing it in the first place to be honest. I’m pretty sure in modern times, naming something as a ‘concept album’ is simply a way to protect bad music from harsh critics, who wouldn’t understand what these artists set out to achieve.

Musically, it’s not too far off from the likes of Cheap Trick and Kiss, if the former forgot how to write good songs and the latter wrote even worse songs. There’s also some masturbation over the likes of Lennon and Bowie, which is to be expected, and at least the songs do have one consistent quality running through them in that they are all for the most part total dogshit, particularly the lead singles.

The music is generally staggeringly mediocre at best. It’s not that catchy, it’s not that heavy, it’s not that fast. It’s just there to bolster camp, shrieking monstrosity Gerard Way’s irritating-as-fuck vocals, whilst ripping off Queen‘s harmonic guitar sound. Chord changes can be predicted a mile away, which leaves the album as tedious as wading through a thread about Blade Runner on an internet forum, which is in itself only slightly more tedious than watching the actual film I might add.

Hit single ‘Welcome To The Black Parade‘ was notable only for the music video, which looked to have cost the GDP of Paraguay to make and saw the group dress up as the evil sports jocks from the first Karate Kid movie, an idea that will surely be regretted by everyone involved for the rest of their lives. It’s an interesting song which opens with a minute or so of this album’s few bars of tolerable music, before delving into the group’s roots with an interlude of shitty pop punk before building to an irritatingly over the top chorus seemingly hellbent on ripping off their own breakthrough hit ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’.

MCR rough up a fan for not paying for autograph backstage at the London Astoria in 2006

Other single ‘Teenagers’ is far worse; the kind of garbage you’d expect to be playing at the end of an Adam Sandler movie.

Aside from the music, one of the worst things about MCR is watching their press interviews. The band take themselves very seriously considering their childish, stage-school schtick, and hearing them dissect their own body of work and influences you’d think they’d just released the next fucking Sgt. Pepper or Nevermind. This behaviour, from a group that featured Lisa Minnelli on one of their songs, is fucking laughable.

 

We’ll caaaaaaarrrryyyyyy oooonnnn, we’ll wriiiiiiiiiiiiite shit sooooo-oooooongssssss.

 

The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Getting Away With Murder’ (2004) by Papa Roach

5 Mar

By Slick Nick

For many people growing up at the turn of the noughties, Papa Roach were a big deal, helping to prize kids away from the shackles of Craig David and Reebok Classics, putting them firmly on the path of listening to bad metal and dressing like a second cousin of Wednesday Adams.

‘Last Resort’ from 2000 was the big one, the single/video which confidently earmarked all the key sub demographics under the banner of ‘high school bully victims’ that would be their core audience by featuring them in their bedrooms listening to Papa Roach, or exercising. Or both.

Casting aside their nu metal roots for this third attempt, what people were left with was an even more boring rock album than previous efforts, but the band certainly looked a lot better in their videos thanks to a bandwagon jumping visit to the hair salon for some cod-emo styling.

Lead single ‘Getting Away With Murder’ aped RATM’s efforts by parodying stock exchange workery with the tried and tested message that money = bad. We should only aspire to living a lonely bedroom fuelled existence listening to bad music rather than getting out there and making something of ourselves. Thanks, lead singer Jacoby Shaddix, for that nugget of inspiration. Now where did I put that Velvet Revolver CD?

Mercifully there were only two singles, but the final one ‘Scars’ treaded depths of badness that even the most ardent Roach hater would have been taken aback by, sounding as worthless as a Puddle Of Mudd b-side.

Every one of the fourteen songs on offer is much of a muchness – you get four chords played in exactly the same time, you get some poor vocals and unmemorable melodic breaks, and lyrics fuelled by radio-rock despair and self-pity (which I don’t buy for a second because Shaddix married his highschool sweetheart and appears to be making a comfortable living).

The song-writing is questionable at the best of times, as if ideas that were jammed in rehearsal were slapped together to fill up an album worth of material. Quite often, choruses will not match the tone set by the previous bars of music. Above all else, the music is painfully boring and if there’s one thing rock should never be, it’s boring.

 

Nothing to see here

Kudos to Papa Roach though for realising their musical ineptitude and sticking to what they know how to ruin best – butt metal. Quite often, once a band receives sperm cells from overzealous rock critics over a period of time, the acclaim can go to their heads and makes them think they are worthy of delving into more complex and challenging musical genres – not these guys though.

Finally, I had to listen to this album on Spotify to review it. Usually I click the next songs to avoid the adverts, but that wasn’t needed here because no adverts came on anyway. Even Spotify’s infrastructure was wise to the crapness of this album and realised that hardly anyone would ever want to hear it again.

 

Getting away with recording tedious rock music

The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Mechanical Animals’ (1998) by Marilyn Manson

12 Feb

By Slick Nick

During the 90s, if you bought even one copy of Kerrang! magazine, you couldn’t help but be exposed to the monstrosity that was Marilyn Manson, who came to represent everything that could possibly go wrong when a bunch of lads entered a recording studio. They were everywhere, and the release of each new album was treated, ironically given their Satanist leanings, like the second coming of Christ himself by the press.

Manson, real name Brian Warner, was the very definition of style-over-substance, where looking like a dick and saying silly things in interviews could generate a shit ton of record sales even if the music on those records was as bad as that of ‘Mechanical Animals’, his third album.

With a lead singer that relied almost solely on image, and a group of cohorts all named after serial killers, it just screamed of childish attention seeking from the get-go, as if they knew they were never going to write any music that was worth listening to but couldn’t bare the thought of making the coffee in an office for the rest of their lives.

Growing up, a few things puzzled me about this band. Obviously the music had zero merit; it wasn’t particularly heavy, and there certainly wasn’t any melodies to remember . There was no sex appeal unless you happened to have a fetish for very ugly, under fed men. The instrumentation was basic and would never be admired by proggy muso types in the same way that something like Tool would have been. Yet the group’s army of misguided fans kept growing. Despite all their controversy, musically they had more in common with T Rex than Slayer, and the only shocking effect they had on the impressionable youth of the day was postponing their discovery of decent music for a few years. For myself, that band/act was Rod Stewart, but I digress slightly.

‘Mechanical Animals’ is an hour of inconsistent, incoherent balls. Every song starts and ends with noise, and inbetween fails to satisfy in every way. The vocals are the same monotonous, crap-sounding dirge, underpinned by sometimes glam/sometimes industrial but always dull nothingness. It’s so fucking slow and drawn-out as well, with each song about two minutes longer than necessary. Lead single ‘Dope Show’ is a particularly big offender; less music, more torture.

There are fleeting moments of listenable guitar work but these are over quickly to make way for more rubbish. It must have been frustrating having to make this album as a guitarist with someone as up themselves as Manson at the helm of the operation. I’m sure they consoled themselves with the buckets of money they made though.

Finally, the genre-skipping really winds me up. This can’t make up its mind as to whether it wants to wank over David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust material or be featured in a straight to DVD film in a scene where a load of douchebag characters enter an ‘alternative’ nightclub for the first time in their lives. If you’re going to dip into every genre found on allmusic.com then before you do so, you’d better make sure you’re some kind of fucking musical prodigy like Brian Wilson or Will.I.Am first, lest you end up with a piece of shit like ‘Mechanical Animals’ on your CV.

 

We’re all slaves in the… crap music show.

The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Adema’ (2001) by Adema

5 Feb

By Slick Nick

Adema – a word I never thought I’d see again. Still, that’s what this feature is about in a way – digging up long-forgotten shit from the past. And believe me, this is shit.

I suppose in hindsight, Adema serve a small purpose in 2011. People often disagree with me when I suggest that the noughties were generally the worst decade for music since the 1940s. They will claim metal in general, bands like Against Me! and Gaslight Anthem breaking big and the charts never looking better as reasons to cherish the past decade’s recorded output. Next time that happens, I can calmly sit down, load up Spotify and type ‘Adema’ in the search bar. “Come, my friend. Have a seat,” I’ll tell them. “I don’t feel the need to offer this debate anything more than for twelve tracks.”

It would be a feat of inhuman ability for Adema to have been even worse than they were on this self-titled debut, probably only released given the singer was the half brother of Jonathan Davies, vocalist of fellow Californian highschool bully victims Korn. Whilst that latter band had some nice ideas, occasionally effective riffing and rare hooks, Adema had precisely nothing to offer rock music in the slightest, save for a cute frontman. It’s worth noting that the brothers were as equally annoying to listen to on record though.

The Adema song-writing process was a straight forward one – you lay down some terrible guitar parts, execute a couple of forgettable verses and choruses and then go into a middle eight perpetuated by an array of silly effects pedals. The lyrics in particular, after some brief analysis, are dreadful to the point of being a near parody of shitty radio rock. This nugget of poetry from the song ‘Close Friend’ illustrates my point: ‘And now I know because you’ve done everything possible to me / Made me so upset.’ Upset? On a so-called alternative rock album? Even a monumental pussy like Bruno Mars would never write anything so pathetic.

The singing from Mark Chavez is appalling. Frankie Valli he ain’t. If your band can’t nail any semblance of a passable guitar riff, you’d better be sure as fuck that you have an arsenal of immaculately-executed hook-ridden melodies to bestow upon the record-buying public to compensate. Instead, almost every song uses the same tuneless melody, whined by a singer doing a mediocre Korn impression. Combining these factors with the clumsy lyrics and ‘Adema’ makes for one hell of a punishing listening experience.

There are clips on YouTube of the band performing these crap songs live and unplugged. This was an interesting idea – if the songs and singing are awful on record, even with all the modern studio effects and trickery, what on earth was there to gain in filming even more poorly executed versions of these godforsaken tracks? It was just one in a catalogue of poor decisions made in Adema’s career, a catalogue that began with the decision to give them a fucking record deal in the first place.

There were two singles from this piece of dog shit – ‘Giving In’ and ‘The Way You Like It’. In closing, the video for the latter made the least sense. This album is full to bursting point with lunk-headed self pity and despair. Then along comes a video showing the lead singer dancing with a decent bit of skirt at one of Adema’s very own shows. Apart from the obvious self-indulgence, two very different demographics of American teenagers appear to be targetted in the band’s marketing strategy. On the one hand, the clean-cut douchebag, and on the other, unpopular grunge rocker types. This just doesn’t work. Until kids ‘find’ themselves, there are firm boundaries in a social sense that teens stick to, and that music marketing should adhere to. You’re either a confident sportsman that gets to fuck cheerleaders at keg parties, or you listen to Marilyn Manson and cut yourself. The two should not be blurred or combined within music. Ever.

 

Nowadays no one remembers when they were young and made shit music

 

The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Trapt’ (2002) by Trapt

22 Jan

By Slick Nick

Trapt’s mainstream musical career was launched in 2002 with the laughably bad single ‘Headstrong’. Three albums later and they’re still in much the same place as they were when they started – a band that is just there, with few people giving a shit.

Coming in at the arse end of nu metal’s popularity peak, this self-titled debut was an interesting beast, which encompassed most of the things that made that genre terrible (muddy production, lazy guitar riffing, similar beats) whilst injecting some fairly neat ideas that took the crapness to the next level.

The songs flit between watered down butt rock and wimpy One Tree Hill-esque self-pitious musings over clean guitars. When things get heavy, Trapt can barely motivate themelves to use riffs of more than two chords at a time. As for the lyrics – pitiful, as in they evoke genuine pity that grown adult males from a developed country could conceive such childish, derivative shite. It’s all about taking people on and breaking down etc. but you don’t win battles with watered down heavy metal music, as far as I’m aware.

The album runs out of ideas very early on. Every song has near identical execution, with clean verses and ‘heavy’ choruses. A couple of fucking breakdowns occassionally would have been welcome, to be honest, but would never have saved this from being another stain in the underpants of alternative rock.

Occasionally the drum timings veer slightly off the tried and tested 4/4 beat. Someone in this band must have been desperate to prove to their disappointed parents that all the money they’d blown on music lessons for their son hadn’t gone to waste. Unfortunately, they had.

Finally, the album cover annoys me. It’s hardly the symbol of cliched teen angst and radio rock superstardom that Trapt were aiming for. Maybe they ended up blowing all their marketing budget on effects pedals for their guitars rather than concept artists?

Headstrong to take up shelf space in charity shops since 2003.

 

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