Album: (A) Senile Animal
Double drumming! Double drumming. Wooo Hooo. Wooo Hooo.
For the latest incarnation of (the) Melvins, Buzz and Dale Crover enlisted the band Big Business to play with them. So Jared Warren joins on bass and Coady Willis on drums. So yeah, there’s two drummers, two drummers in the lineup. With that you get some amazing drum passages, drum passages on this album as well as some of the hardest material to ever appear on a Melvins record.
At first glance (A) Senile Animal would appear to be a bit straightforward for the band and by all accounts this record does mark some of the most accessible material of their career. But taking a closer listen you hear not only the power of the double drums, double drums but the complex percussion work that results. And the quad quad quad quad vocals also add a crazy dynamic to the sound as well.
The trio of “Rat Faced Granny,” “The Hawk” and “You’ve Never Been Right” comprise seven-and-a-half minutes of pure armageddon with the latter tune finishing with Willis and Crover feeding off each other pretty brilliantly brilliantly. The jagged rhythms of “Blood Witch” sound fantastic up against all four members singing and “Civilized Worm” is probably the closest thing to a single they could have had since the Atlantic record days.
And as far as the double double wording here, that was part of the gimmick around this release. At random times Buzz would start speaking in doubles since they had two dummers, two drummers.
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I know that a lot of people that think this incarnation is the best version of the Melvins ever. However, the second go-around with the guys from Big Business is an album that I dislike more each time I listen to it. If (A) Senile Animal was the almost metal, loud, freakout record, Nude with Boots is the “let’s experiment with the two sets of drums” album.
This is a less aggressive record, with the group putting forth a bunch of instrumental passages and full songs. It starts off with “The Kicking Machine” which has an unmistakeable Zeppelin sound to it but soon turns into a drum fest, followed by a very southern stoner vibe. It includes the atmospheric instrumental “Dies Iraea” which has somehow become a concert fave in recent years and the title track which doesn’t know if it wants to be a rock song or a pop tune. And this album marks the return of the bizarre track to close the record with “It Tastes Better Than the Truth,” not quite worth your time.
A lot of people like this record and I know I’m going to keep trying to like it as much as I did when it first came out but I have a feeling there’s going to be a point when I file it away for good.
“The Kicking Machine”
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Album: Chicken Switch
I include this not because I want to discuss it but because it’s somehow considered a studio release by the Melvins. It’s a remix record where each artist was given an entire album from the group to do what they felt with it. The end result is 15 tracks of splices, edits and mashups so remarkably different than any of the original material that you’d be hard pressed to identify any of this as belonging to the Melvins. Titles like “She Chokes Her Dying Breath and Does It In My Face” “SNOW REM REM IBVZ” and “The Silky Apple Butter of Youth” don’t really give any insight into what the material was either. However at least the Ozma title is in this monster; “Hard Revenge Milly Bloody Battle VS. The Melvins Ozmatized Gore Police (Feat: Cardopusher of the Five Deadly Venoms).”
Unless you like walls of feedback and extremely experimental mash-ups, there’s no way you should get anywhere near this one.
The press release that came out with the record has been reprinted on the MelvinsWiki page, so I’m going to say thanks to them and repost some of it here – it explains more than I care to.
Remember, anything worth doing, is worth overdoing! Well, it’s 2009 and the seemingly tireless Melvins have yet ANOTHER record ready for release… What is this, their 50th record? Maybe? Anyway, the “newest” Melvins release is called CHICKEN SWITCH and it’s a “re-mix” record… of sorts… Each of the artists on this thing were given an entire album to work with and pull things from, however none of them were given individual tracks from the albums! So the outcome HAD to be left of center from the “norm.”
Some highlights from CHICKEN SWITCH:
As part of japanese noise/epic rock band Boredoms’ 23 year mission, leader Eye Yamatsuka has done the impossible and made the drum circle cool for the first time, ever. Filthy hippies will have to find something else to do, which will predictably involve combining two lame sedentary “sports” into one.
Matmos famously lent their precision-sampling wizardry to Bjork. They took their name from the movie ‘Barbarella’ – featuring a nubile, scantily-clad Jane Fonda. Given their intense fondness for weird, sexy women, it’s no wonder they were totally into working with the Melvins.
Lee Ranaldo has had a long solo career making quite pleasant warped midnight music. He’s also in this band that you might have heard of called Sonic Youth.
Japanese NOISE GOD Merzbow is not the only guy to wrap 50 CDs of audio steel wool in a kinky leather fetish boxset or release a cassette “packaged” in an automobile, but — Wait. Yeah, he is.
Sunroof! is the more psychedelic, meditative alter-ego of Matthew Bower (Skullflower, Hototogisu, Total, etc.), who is responsible for upwards of 50% of tinnitus cases reported in England.
Kawabata Makoto, as leader/guitarist of the cultish Japanese band Acid Mothers Temple, has perfected the art of making rock music that sounds like freight trains. His remix lovingly recreates the Monon BL2 diesel locomotive (pulling an estimated 60 cars).
No one knows what Void Manes is. I think it has something to do with EVP — it was on the CD after it was mastered, and we sure as hell weren’t going to pay to do it over.
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Album: The Bride Screamed Murder
And for the third record from Buzz, Dale, Jared and Coady, you’ve got something in between (A) Senile Animal and Nude with Boots. There’s a lot of experimenting with the double drums but on something like “Pig House” it actually sounds really good. The riffs throughout the record are pretty jagged and take a while getting used to but in the end it’s loud, quirky and a bit unique even, maybe for an enjoyable listening experience. Highlights of the record include the spacey “I’ll Finish You Off,” the harmony vocals in “Hospital Up,” the marching band beat of “The Water Glass” and the insane fierceness of “Inhumanity and Death.”
On the weird end is the plodding, psychedelic doom cover of the Who’s “My Generation” and “P.G. x 3” which is a reworking of a traditional Canadian folk song called “Peggy Gordon” which is usually covered by Irish and Celtic artists. Instead it closes the record making me feel like I’m in church.
The Bride Screamed Murder ends up being a decent record overall because it includes everything that’s great about the group. Loud metal moments, super freak outs, sludge and some mind numbing madness. It wouldn’t be a place I’d recommend you start from if you’re new to the group but it’s a solid addition to the catalog.
“The Water Glass”
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Label: Scion A/V Club
It’s kind of funny to see records coming from the company that makes the car I drive, but the Scion A/V Club is really starting to make a name for itself in the world of metal by releasing these little singles or EPs from well known bands – songs exclusive to them – most of the time even giving the record away. Sooner or later they’ll be options in the Scion vehicles as well but until then, some good old MP3s will do.
The Bulls & the Bees is a free EP that you can download from the Scion website any time you wish, that consists of five new tunes to hold fans over until a new LP comes out. The tunes are very much in the vein of The Bride Screamed Murder. “We Are Doomed” is seven minutes of melody mixed with feedback and more crazy drumming skills being shown off. “Friends Before Larry” surprises you with power at points and other times pierces your ears a guitar wail that sounds like nails on a chalkboard. “A Really Long Wait” is like a gregorian chant followed by static.
It’s a pretty great EP, even more so because it’s free (legally!).
“Friends Before Larry”
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Next up: Freak Puke by the Melvins Lite with Trevor Dunn on bass. That album comes out in June but Buzz claims that doesn’t mean the end of the Big Business lineup at all.
Other releases to check out that I didn’t include:
1997: Singles 1-12. In 1996, the Melvins released a 7″ single for each month of the year and this box compiles them all. You get all kinds of remixes, outtakes, bad songs that should have never seen the light of day and covers of tunes from The MC5, Flipper, ZZ Top and more.
1998: Alive at the Fucker Club. One of the best known Melvins live recordings, this was captured in Australia, the first time the band had been there to perform.
2003: The Melvins released a 7″ single for every song on Hostile Ambient Takeover. Almost all of them contained a unique cover song on the B-Side.
2004: Neither Here Nor There. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the group, Ipecac released a cool 228 page coffee table book with drawings and writings from friends of the group and included a compliation CD with music from all their albums, some in slightly different forms.
2007: Smash the State EP: Four songs, five minutes. The band’s tribute to early hardcore.
2010: The Melvins/Isis Split. The Melvins did a lot of splits but none as big as this. Features extended mixes of tunes from the Melvins on the A-side and the last material Isis released on the B-Side.