2020 has been a challenging year for almost everyone I know – probably an understatement for most folks reading this review. Pandemics, economic distress, political unrest, police brutality – and we are still in July. As for me, I haven’t avoided the curse of 2020, but onward life goes. Fortunately, Melvins / Mudhoney have provided a short soundtrack to the chaos of the year. That’s right – two pioneers of grunge have combined into one force of nature to deliver a powerful 4 song EP.
White Lazy Boy was originally released in June of 2020 on an almost instantly sold out CD (snagged it) followed by a vinyl release in July of 2020 (missed out). It features Mark Arm and Steve Turner from Mudhoney along with King Buzzo, Dale Crover, and Steven McDonald from Melvins. Two originals / two covers, two sung by Mark / two sung by King Buzzo. My War is a fitting way to kick off the EP – Mark Arm screaming his way through a cover of the Black Flag classic. The Melvins / Mudhoney lineup bring a garage rock sensibility to the song and gets your heart racing. Exhilarating! Walking Crazy follows with King Buzzo on vocals. This tune feels closer to a Melvins song, imbued with a sludge layered sense of doom. Black Sabbath worthy riffs galore. Killer tune. 10 Minute Visitation is sung by Mark Arm and might be my favorite song on this release. Mudhoney’s rawness combined with the Melvins’ riffs & stoner grooves makes for an intoxicating brew. Drive Back originally appeared on Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Zuma – considered by some to be an influence on the grunge era. Here, the song is given a harder edge with King Buzzo delivering a fine vocal performance. Guitars swirl, white noise overwhelms, and…silence. A perfect ending to a perfect EP.
You can pick up the release here and stream below. Absolutely recommended.
Verdict: Grunge Deluxe
For Fans of: Mudhoney, Melvins, Nirvana, Green River, Alice in Chains, Neil Young
Memory of a Melody hail from San Antonio, TX. A band that is true to its Texas metal roots, it also brings a melodic side to their crushing anthems, hence their name – it isn’t just a clever moniker. The early 00’s saw multiple releases from the band that steadily increased their profile before they went on hiatus. 2020 heralds the return of the band and their first release in over 7 years. The band’s full throttled attack features Mario Galdos on vocals, Wade Sigue and Roel Castillo on guitars, Joel Martinez on bass, and Robin Lopez on drums. Layers upon layers of instrumentation make for an appealing heavy metal brew. The new 3 song EP is a stunning return from the band and a reminder of what makes them so great.
The Burn Alive EP is a stunning return, 3 tracks of raw energy that is inspiring. It sounds heavy, melodic, and sounds wholly original. Mary Go Round kicks the proceedings off with a slice of prime metal, thrash alternating with emotional longing. A System of a Down vibe with this track which is only a good thing. Burn Alive is my favorite song on this release. It has a lighter vibe that harkens back to the balladry of the 80’s. Lyrically wise, this is a tale of longing and what could have been. I’d be remiss to not mention that the song has a killer guitar solo and again hints at thrash. The song ends in epic fashion, the music building an epic symphony of noise. Rise Up closes out the EP in a glorious wave of thrash metal. It is a fitting end to an exhilarating 3 track EP.
The Burn Alive EP is available here and comes highly recommended. It is a stunning debut and a sign of good things to come.
Verdict: A Welcome Return
For Fans of: System of a Down, Ozzy Osbourne, GNR, Skid Row, Lita Ford
Ozzy Osbourne returned in February with his first solo album in a decade and first batch of songs since the Black Sabbath tour document The End. That EP had a few studio leftovers from 2013’s comeback album 13 and a few live tracks from the tour. It didn’t feel like the last we’d hear from Ozzy at the time and I’m glad the Prince of Darkness has blessed us with Ordinary Man – his strongest solo album in years.
The post grunge landscape of the late 90’s / early 00’s is littered with Nirvana-lite failures – bands that grabbed the limelight for a brief moment with catchy songs full of faux pain, then disappeared – missing the roots and point of the Seattle original scene. Puddle of Mudd didn’t fit within that convenient narrative. Formed in 1991 by Wes Scantlin, Jimmy Allen, Sean Sammon, and Kenny Burkitt it’d be another decade before the band had a breakthrough with the Jimmy Allen / Doug Ardito / Wes Scantin penned song, Blurry. By this time, Jimmy Allen was no longer with Puddle of Mudd, having moved on to writing for other bands and working with independent projects. The late 00’s saw Jimmy Allen form Against All Will, which released various EP and singles from 2007 through 2013 to critical acclaim. Late 2019 saw the release of a new project – Cooker featuring Jimmy Allen on guitar and former Puddle of Mudd bassist Troy McCoy. This is the real deal – it might be the finest album Jimmy Allen has been involved with.
The album kicks off in high gear with Settle the Score – intricate guitar work, a killer bass line, and howled vocals that wouldn’t sound out of place in Seattle circa 1989 (or 2019 – Seattle’s like that). Choke Up is the single getting spins on hard rock radio – and no wonder. It has the catchiest melody and has the verse chorus verse structure that Kurt Cobain famously talked about in Nirvana’s music long ago. This isn’t retro – it is an invigorating and decidedly modern anthem. The musicianship is outstanding – everyone is firing on all cylinders. Brown Girl is another highlight – a mid-tempo stroll through the emotive side of the band. The song builds and builds until it reaches a crescendo 2/3 of the way through, truly allowing the listener to experience the same catharsis as the performers. Roach is a perfect way to end the album – a pure visceral outpouring that serves as an encapsulation of the band’s strengths. It leaves the listener wanting more.
The album is out now and comes highly recommended. Jimmy and Troy are calling this a side project, but I hope to hear more from them in the future.
For Fans of: Puddle of Mudd, Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, Mudhoney
- Settle the Score
- Bad Unit
- Choke Up
- Brown Girl
The 10’s proved to be a busy time for Neil Young. Starting off the decade with one of his strongest records – 2010’s Le Noise – it ends with another strong record, the recently released Crazy Horse reunion, Colorado. Although the new record marks the first Crazy Horse album in 7 years, Neil Young has released 9 studio albums in the last decade. That’s averaging a new studio release every 13 months, for those of you keeping tracking at home. There were moments over the last few years where people openly wondered if we were in an era comparable to Young’s wilderness period of the 80’s – such was the off the cuff, immediate quality of the records being released. For every Le Noise or Psychedelic Pill we also had Storytone or Peace Trail. In the midst of this, Neil also found time to form a new band with Promise of the Real – thus far, this has resulted in two albums that have multiple moments of inspiration mixed in with some lesser tunes. For me, there is always at least one classic Neil Young song on every album, and I’ve been pretty happy with the output over the last decade. I was excited when Colorado was announced – a reunion with the original grunge band, Crazy Horse. That feeling hasn’t gone away after repeated listens – in fact, this is arguably the strongest Neil Young album of the decade.