Friday, April 16, 2010

Review #96: Meat Puppets - Meat Puppets II (1984)


Year: 1984
Genre: Punk Rock, Folk Rock, Country
Post-Punk, Psychedelic, Hardcore
SST Records
30 Minutes (Medium-Length)
My Rating:

The Meat Puppets are a band from Phoenix, Arizona. As you may have earlier read, the group was formed in 1980 and played mostly hardcore punk for the first half of the '80s. The first two records, a 7" EP called "In a Car" and a 12" LP called "Meat Puppets", were reviewed by me during the Winter and are both great examples of this style. During "Meat Puppets", their style began to shift towards a more psychedelic sound, with even some nods to country & western music along the way. In this album, that style is pretty much taken to full effect. The Meat Puppets stopped writing angry, typical hardcore songs save for a few; writing new, folk and country-influenced songs, with... ACTUAL LYRICS! With that said, Curt's vocals sound pretty different here -- gone is the Darby Crash-esque gibberish and screaming, and now that style is replaced by whiny, twangy, warbling cries and singing. Many of the songs are slower, and some feature very little guitar distortion at all. As you can guess, many in the punk crowd didn't really like this very much, but the band still found its fans...

1. Split Myself In Two
A fast, straightforward song similar to the style of the first album, but instead with a new vocals style in lyrics. Even with that, the lyrics are pretty nonsensical, but more coherent than the older songs, or so to speak.

2. Magic Toy Missing
This is an instrumental song. It's a fast song with a rawhide-like bass melody, and the focus is mainly on the lead-guitar. In the middle of the song, it gets more exciting in my opinion, with the lead guitar getting progressively more interesting, a little acoustic guitar, and stuff like that. Great song.

3. Lost
This one mellows it down a notch... more of a psychedelic country tune. The lyrics seem to just be about being lost in general... in an attic... on a freeway... he talks about being "tired of living Nixon's mess"... does he mean Richard or Dale?

4. Plateau
This one's kind of slow. Curt sings about a plateau and a bucket and a mop and a book about birds and Greenland and Mexico and stuff. I have no idea if there's anything more to those lyrics. 3/4 through the song, a layer of guitar distortion can be heard.

5. Aurora Borealis
Another instrumental song. This one's slower and more trippy, though. Good, interesting guitar leads. The bass and beat and pretty good too.

6. We're Here
A soft beat. The whole song's not too loud. It's a good song, still, though. The vocals are sung in harmony, here. I like the riff that goes after the chorus and before the verse. It's real cool. End of Side 1.

7. Climbing
A really country-ish feel to this one. The vocals are real mellow. They are really good on this one. Two thirds in, the vocals end, and they are replaced by an acoustic lead-section. You can start to hear the bass guitar coming out at this point, too. It's got a lot of character to it.

8. New Gods
This one also sounds a lot like something from the first album, but of course, with real lyrics. The lyrics are about some guy going to visit Mexico and being told "not to drink the water, and not to touch the food". That must've sucked. He had some Pepsi-Cola, also. The wild, chaotic guitar solo tell more tale which could not be uttered by the narrator.

9. Oh, Me
Another slower, quieter one. The guitar sounds really neat, here. You can hear little strands of trippy, aquatic-sounding guitar notes off to the side. It's very good. The chorus is pretty catchy. So many nice little subtleties in here...

10. Lake Of Fire
The only song which has a theme that I can directly decipher... it's basically a song describing Hell, talking about people boiling and frying and dying there, being tortured by demons for eternity... the song's a little bit sadder, the riff is more distorted and dirty-sounding, but the chorus seems to have just a shred of optimism of it. Nirvana pretty much made this song famous on their own when they played it on their famous "MTV Unplugged" performance nearly 10 years after this album first came out.

11. I'm a Mindless Idiot
Another instrumental. It's sort of slow, but slightly faster than "Lake of Fire". There's almost what sounds a bit like a ukulele in this one...

12. The Whistling Song
As the title suggests, there is a bit of whistling in this one... of course, sung vocals, too. It's a very good last song... the chorus section is simply a whistled melody. One of the more country-influenced songs here. Nice guitar solo at the end. And that's all, folks.

With their next album in 1985, the Meat Puppets at one point shed almost all of their "traditional" punk elements. This album finds a nice middle ground, and it's quite entertaining. As I mentioned earlier, 9 years later in 1993, Nirvana re-ignited relevancy with this album to the current media when he played three songs from this album, with Cris and Curt Kirkwood actually joining them for those performances... Cris and Curt, huh? That's actually really funny! There are people with names like "Chris" and "Kurt" in both bands! A lot of people in the punk scene back then disliked this album, because it deviated majorly from the normal punk sound, but others in the scene, such as the members of Black Flag loved them, and the two bands often played together. Well, that's all I have to say for now. Seeya!

Top 3 Favorites:
1. Magic Toy Missing

2. Whistling Song

3. Oh, Me

1 comment:

  1. i've been listening alot of this album these days... its just plain awesome. the ending of the song "plateau" is just heavenly