For anyone who doesn’t know, the Melvins have gone through many lineup changes throughout the years. And for the most part, I mean bassist changes. The core duo of King Buzzo (guitar) and Dale Crover (drums) have been playing together since their first release in 1986. Their latest incarnation has been releasing albums as a four-piece the last six years.
Freak Puke is a change from that paradigm. Over the past few years, Buzz and Dale have played as a two-piece calling themselves “Melvins Lite.” Last summer they added jazz bassist Trevor Dunn the mix. Dunn’s actually played a handful of live dates throughout the years, including the Houdini Live album.
So I hope I’ve caught everybody up without too much confusion. You want to know how the album is?
It’s great. Really. The “lite” moniker is a bit misleading. This doesn’t sound like MTV Unplugged. It may be light compared to their doom metal stuff, but this is definitely a rock album. Or at least a fusion album, as there is some jazz bass. Even a few bass solos. Like actually solos where only one instrument is playing.
Although the album is very unique to their catalog, it has the experimental vibe of the albums they were making a decade ago. Then add an upright bass into the mix. Mixed in with some rockers that more like their recent Alice Cooperish songs. And throw in a Wings cover. So yeah. It’s one of those kinds of albums.
EDIT: So the album’s out now and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have it, but in case you still need some convincing here’s a download of Leon Vs the Revolution which I feel has a real Primus vibe:
Ryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen flavoured blues rock tainted vocals revolve around a fuzzed up electric guitar grind, ‘Juarez’. This dusky, homage paying to a Mexican town resting on the South Border of the USA, represents Brooklyn trio, We Are Augustine’s continuing commitment to showcase gems from debut album, ‘Rise Ye Sunken Ships’. Gritty, urban life is uncovered through oxymoronic panache:
“I got a drunk for a mother. Got a saint for a brother.”
The slower side to We Are Augustines, slides out through the spindling guitar pushed, ‘Saint Behind The Glass’. Billy McCarthy’s vocals lose their world weariness in favour of wispy wisdom. There’s enough here to suggest that stadiums can start to prepare for the impending arrival of this ranging, anthem wielding Brooklyn trio.
A four year break between your debut and second album is usually more than enough for the often fickle music industry to forget who you are and what you sound like. However, this is not the case when you spend this time collaborating with the likes of Ulver and Grumbling Fur. For his return under the guise of Mothlite, the delving multi-instrumentalist Daniel O’Sullivan, uses the creeping ambient flavour of a combination of Mogwai, Cocteau Twins, Adem and, to a lesser extent Four Tet.
He elects open up an explorative 2nd album, through the haunting gospel lagged, ‘Wounded Lions’. A hushed femme/male vocal drive leads into a wandering, digitally toed, ambient goth instrumental, as this epic starts to take shape. Before O’Sullivan’s poetic tones deliver a fatalistic message. An almost samba percussion drive lifts up the wandering 80s prog’ pop exposé, ‘Disappear’ whereby a lost soul is waved off.
‘The Blood’, swerves towards a more indie rock side with digital interludes providing an unpredictable Shy Child swerve. O’Sullivan delivers the reflective lyrics with an echoing ache:
“You can live alone in the silence; throw your secrets out to the ocean.”
The Gary Numan electro-pop spliced ‘The Underneath’, provides for a stirring, reflective interlude. Empirical digital intoning and weary distorted vocals give a forging 80’s feel to the mystical, ‘Dreamsinter Nightspore’. The slow-building ambient twisting, ‘Milk’ continues the reflective vibe, aided by a tinkering digital element and patting percussion. The musing twisted folk effort, ‘Red Brook’ puts the lid on an, at times, bracing second album that sees O’Sullivan exploring his roots and influences, covering the outskirts of a range of genres.
An atmospheric, tapping percussion led intro’ decorates the restrained, but demonstratively stammered vocals of Conor Adams, ‘Animals’. Roving keys adds instrumental adventure to contrast with the primal lyrics and overall vibe of the rest of the song.
Joker card synths keeps the predictability element at the right level, helping to give a notch of mystery to a track that would be limp if done acoustically. This feral Irish quartet does just enough to keep the intrigue ticking over ahead of their tour supporting Blood Red Shoes and, their first “authentic” album release.