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
I first fell in love with Mudhoney in the summer of 2013. You could say I was about 25 years late to the party. I’d owned their records and liked them. But it wasn’t until I was at my first Mudhoney show at the Sub Pop Festival in Seattle that everything clicked for me. The perfect unholy alliance of garage rock, punk, and grunge. Fortunately, Mudhoney play a ton of local shows and I’ve had the opportunity to meet members of the band, catch their live show over a dozen times, and even appear in one of their music videos. Digital Garbage is the band’s first album in 5 years and reflects the uncertain times in which it was recorded.
The morning of May 18th, 2017 is not one that I’ll forget in my lifetime. I woke up to a message from a close friend indicating that Chris Cornell had passed away at some point early in the morning. Puzzled, it took me a few times to understand what had happened. Out of the blue news about a musician who had long seemed to settle into his lifestyle, it shook me to the core. News and articles seemed light on details at first – at first I thought it had been a hoax – but reality soon sank in. Chris Cornell – Seattle’s son – had passed away at the age of 52 by his own hand.
Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.
Like many people in high school in the early 90’s, I first heard about Nirvana through their world-changing 2nd album, Nevermind. Simultaneously killing the hair metal scene and bringing attention to the Seattle scene, it was an event that is unlikely to be repeated in my lifetime (I hope I’m wrong though). I did what any music obsessed 14-year-old would do – I took my paper route money to the local music store and asked the owner for anything relating to Nirvana and bands from Seattle. Bleach was the band’s 1st album, released in 1989. Dave Grohl is nowhere to be found (though he is on the live version embedded below). The sound is the rawest Nirvana would ever be (and for my ears, the best they ever would be). This is the sound of Aberdeen, WA. Where the bay leads to the sea. Gray mornings, rainy days. Negative Creep is quite possibly the most aggressive song Nirvana ever cut. An unholy blend of Sabbath riffs, Melvins sludge, and Mudhoney-ish lyrics. This one’s made for the mosh pit. The chorus positively kills “I’m a negative creep and I’m stoned!” Some of the other lyrics seem to pay homage to Mudhoney – can there be any doubt that “Daddy’s little girl ain’t a girl no more” owes a debt to Mudhoney’s “Sweet young thing ain’t sweet no more”? Only a positive in my book. Notable cover versions include Velvet Revolver’s and Machine Head’s. A deep album cut by Nirvana that deserves more attention.
A couple of weeks ago in the city of Seattle, WA I bore witness to an aural assault not witnessed since the last time I saw Mudhoney live and in the flesh. That I had just taken part in the live Mudhoney experience just 30 minutes earlier has no bearing on what I am saying. The Sonics – forefathers to garage rock, punk, and grunge were headlining a star-studded affair to launch the release of their 1st full length album in 49 years, This Is The Sonics. Rooted in the 60’s, yet sounding delightfully abrasive and modern, it was easily one of the best concerts I’ve ever had the privilege of attending. Do you know how sometimes artists will insist on playing their new songs and the audience is polite until the better known tracks come along? The Sonics didn’t have to worry about that – the batch of new songs slot in well alongside their covers of Louie, Louie and garage rock classics / originals such as The Witch and Strychnine. In fact, I think quite a few younger bands would do well to see The Sonics and take notes on how to deliver raw, energetic songs that still have the ability to engage with the audience on a visceral level.