Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Review #35: Meat Puppets - Meat Puppets (1982)


Year: 1982
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore, Noise, Post-Punk
Label: SST Records
Tracks: 14
Length: 21 Minutes (Medium-Length)
Style: Angry/Weird
My Rating: 7/8

Hardcore-Punk's two main strongholds in the United States were in Los Angeles and New York City. However, somewhere out in the desert in Arizona were a couple of bored-ass punks who decided to start their own band. Less than a month ago, I reviewed their first record, "In a Car", a five-minute EP which was almost nothing but extremist thrash with almost ridiculous-sounding screamed vocals which were extremely unintelligible. Well, for the most part, this album is even more of that, but it marks the start of a transition towards a later sound that the band would become more famous (or infamous) for. There are two covers of old country songs, "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds" and "Walking Boss". There are also a few slower songs, and there is a more prevalent psychedelic LSD-inspired sound throughout the record.

1. Reward
A pretty fast song with trippy-sounding guitar and more weird, meat-puppety vocals. Not a very long song.

2. Love Offering
Similar beat to the previous song. Curt Kirkwood sounds like a kid with Down's Syndrome, here.

3. Blue-Green God
Some twangy guitar noises in this one. More aggressive vocals here, sounding like Darby Crash or something. It's pretty cool. Nobody ever really told us what color God was before this song came out, anyways.

4. Walking Boss
This is a cover of a song by Doc Watson. And so, it's slower than a lot of the other songs on here. This is about as clear as the lyrics get, here. It's a little quieter, as well. There's a solo about one minute and twenty seconds in. This is the longest song on the album.

5. Melons Rising
My favorite song on the record! This is about as insane as the album gets, and it's pretty close to what you'd hear on "In a Car". Basically demented screams, a very fast beat, and fuzzed-out guitars. I love how Curt's voice sounds the most in the first "verse" for some reason. It's under a minute long.

6. Saturday Morning
A very good song. This one starts slow, but it gets really cool and fast halfway through. Ends with a guitar-solo.

7. Our Friends
This is an instrumental. It's pretty slow, too. It actually reminds me a lot of Flipper (the band). It's got that slower beat, bass-driven melody, with a layer of trashy guitar-noize in the foreground. I find something very beautiful in that. This song ends Side 1.

8. Tumblin' Tumbleweeds
Another country song. It's a cover of a song by Bob Nolan. And it's slow. However, I doubt the original sounded nearly as crazy is this. According to the band, they were really tripping on LSD when they recorded this entire album. It really shows, here. And I love it.

9. Milo, Sorghum, and Maize
An instrumental song. Begins with a strange little jam, but then the song really kicks off into the fast-n-hard mode about one-third into it.

10. Meat Puppets
A SONG named after the BAND! It's got a weird lead-driven riff, groovy bass, and more raging vocals. The riff gets even cooler at about a minute into the song.

11. Playing Dead
Another song I really like off of this record! This one has a pretty nice intro, but then the first verse starts and the song gets more aggressive. The vocals aren't quite as loud, here, but the rest of the music makes up for it.

12. Litter Box
A little box is a place where cats like to shit. I coulda sworn I actually heard Curt use WORDS in this one part of the song! This song iz pretty short.

13. Electromud
Shortest song on the album. It's also the fastest! It's pretty similar to "Melons Rising" in those aspects, as well as the vocals. There's also a solo in this song.

14. The Gold Mine
This one's pretty fast as well. I really enjoy Curt Kirkwood's raving maniac vocals throughout this album. It almost speaks to a certain part of brain 'er something. Unfortunately, the song isn't very long, so it ends with a few seconds of feedback. So does the album. So, I guess that means we're at the end.

Even more-so than the "In a Car" EP, this album, to me anyways, paints a picture of an almost ridiculous amount of rage and energy accumulated in those of us who are fucked-up, stuck in the middle of nowhere with nowhere to go, but seein' the same shit everywhere over and over again. I base this on nothing, however. All I'm sayin' is that if being into punk rock in the rural midwest makes you feel like crap at times, being into punk rock in the rural southwest has gotta be even shittier. Maybe. I hear they have a lot of acid down there... Anyways, not long after this came out, the band began writing more mellow, psychedelic songs (which they already were bordering on doing here) for their third record, which would be released in 1984, "Meat Puppets II". Curt Kirkwood would take up new, strange musical talents like USING WORDS to sing, as well as other stuff that I'm probably forgetting. As a result, the Meat Puppets started to alienate their hardcore-punk audience. Still, they likely were alienating them in the first place, since they never really whined about Ronald Reagan or stuff like that that a lot of popular bands at the time did then (sort of like how a band would criticize George W. Bush or even Barack Obama nowadays), and they had long hair n' stuff as well. But as for this album... well, it's pretty simple. Many of the songs follow a similar theme, but there's still a lot of diversity.

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