Thursday, March 16, 2006

Meat Puppets

This is one of those records that you'll either love or hate upon first listen. For those whose Meat Puppets experience has been limited to the song "Backwater" and the appearance with Nirvana on MTV's Unplugged, then this record will be a shocker. For hardcore enthusiasts, this will be a must buy record. In fact, if you buy the newly-reissued CD, it features the mega-necessary "In a Car" EP. I have the LP, so I still need to get that EP. The one cool thing about this LP is that it is a 45 and not a 33RPM, which means you can slow it down and make them sound like monsters.

The Kirkwood brothers and their friend Derick Bostrom, formed the Meat Puppets in 1982 and hailed from Phoenix, Arizona. This the place of my formation as well, so it's all rather cosmic--wow. Back to our story, The first song hits you hard in the head, which is either good or bad. You either come to the conclusion that this is not for you, or you go, "Hell yeah, I can't understand what this guy is screaming about, but it sounds like he's vomiting his guts out on to the floor." How can I describe it in more contemporary terms? It's like if Caleb Followill (Kings of Leon, singer) was killed, buried, then brought back to life as a zombie, then started singing in a hardcore-punk band.

(Meat Puppets, from left: Derick Bostrom, Kurt Kirkwood, and Chris Kirkwood)

The guitars, courtesy of Kurt Kirkwood, are fantastic. He did something different, incorporating humor and atonal jamming into hardcore. His brother Chris' bass has a bouncy quality that just wants to come out and play around with his brother's guitar. This is the key relationship that makes the Puppets' magic. The overall sound fluctuates. You can hear the origins of their sound to come, with a nugget of country hidden in all the noise.

My favorite tracks on this record would have to be "The Gold Mine", "Saturday Morning", and "Walking Boss"--a classic track. I also love the two instrumentals: "Our Friends" and "Milo, Sorghum, and Maize". Another thing that I always look forward to when taking out my Meat Puppets albums is the artwork, done by the Kirkwoods.

In addition to the humor and country influences, the Puppets weaved elements of psychedelia into their songs. Most of this album sounds like a few guys in a garage thrashing away after dropping way too much brown acid. So, go forward with caution on this one. I warned you. You just might find that you're sick enough to like it.

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