Mudhoney - Topic

Piece of Cake Play

By 1992, grunge was becoming rock's new Flavor of the Month, and Mudhoney, being the naturally contrary types that they were, seemed to be getting a bit bored with it; besides, after several years of roadwork, the band had gained enough speed and precision to allow the garage rock and old-school punk flavors to rise to the surface of their aural cocktail (or, more appropriately, their aural Trash Can Punch). Piece of Cake was the band's major-label debut, but you wouldn't have guessed that by listening to it; Conrad Uno's production is as no-frills as ever, and the short bursts of goofy noise and techno parodies that punctuate the album make it clear Mudhoney were taking themselves (and their career) no more seriously than they ever had. If those looking for the big shaggy sloppiness of "Touch Me I'm Sick" or "You Got It" might feel a bit let down by Piece of Cake, there's a snot-nosed fury to "No End in Sight" and "Suck You Dry" that makes it clear these guys were always a punk band at heart (albeit a punk band who really liked Blue Cheer), and if you're looking for heaviness, "Ritzville" and "I'm Spun" will convince you they hadn't forgotten how to drop that D tuning. Faster and fiercer than ever, but no less fuzzy or messed-up, Piece of Cake proved Mudhoney's palate was a few shades broader than some folks might have expected, but without turning their backs on the glorious ugliness that was always their stock-in-trade. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

My Brother the Cow Play

Mudhoney didn't invent grunge, but they were one of the first bands to truly define the style, and thanks to the bizarro-world logic that has defined their career, they seemed to loose interest in the stuff once you could actually make serious money playing it, ensuring that they wouldn't have to deal with the mainstream adulation that made followers like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden into multi-platinum cash cows. By 1995, grunge's brief fling on the charts was pretty much over … just in time for Mudhoney to decide they liked the stuff again, and make the finest album of their career, My Brother the Cow. On My Brother the Cow, Mudhoney finally found a noisy middle ground where their fondness for Billy Childish and Blue Cheer could peacefully coexist, and the songs are less sludgy and more driving than their early classics, but with enough cheap stomp-box thunder to remind you of who's playing. A few years on the road had made Mudhoney a much stronger and tighter band, able to fully grasp the hard rock guitar figures they dearly loved to mock, but without falling into big rock pomp. And they came up with a dozen tunes that gave them plenty of room to sneer brilliantly (one of their greatest gifts), especially "Generation Spokesmodel," "F.D.K. (Fearless Doctor Killers)," and "Into Yer Shtik" (in which some nameless rock scene figure is advised to "blow your brains out too"). And as icing on the cake, the CD has the greatest hidden bonus track of all time. For better or worse, Mudhoney always played their game their own way, and they never played it better than on My Brother the Cow. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Five Dollar Bob's Mock Cooter Stew Play

Described by Mark Arm on release as a chance to get new songs out for fans in between albums -- which might not sound important, but for a band on an album-centric major label still counts for something -- Five Dollar Bob's Mock Cooter Stew is part compilation, part collection of new goodies. One cut is a spectacular re-recording from the previous year's Piece of Cake, "Make It Now," here titled "Make It Now Again" and taking no prisoners from its heavy-duty psychedelic start, while two further efforts, "Deception Pass" and "Underide," had previously appeared on Piece of Cake-related singles. Of the four new songs, meanwhile, they're a rough but engaging little blend. "In the Blood" is one of the more restrained and almost personal cuts Mudhoney ever recorded, with a mid-range pace and a slightly queasy organ part setting a downbeat mood that Arm resignedly sings over. "No Song III" keeps things from being too down, though; this time around the analog synth creates an almighty buzz that Suicide could have been proud of while the foursome rips along at a fast clip, Dan Peters showing some sharp drumming flair as he goes. "Between You and Me Kid" explores a newer touch for the group, with a honky tonk country touch that hints at the following year's collaboration with Jimmie Dale Gilmore. "Six Two One," in contrast, sticks to Mudhoney-qua-Mudhoney, garage rock straight up that looks in the face of grunge's success and laughs. Speaking of humor, the credits get in a gentle jab at Nirvana (a few months before that became impossible), with the producer/Young Fresh Fellows member credited as Curt and Kurdt Bloch (real spelling: Kurt). ~ Ned Raggett, Rovi

Tomorrow Hit Today Play

On their fourth release for Reprise and seventh overall, Mudhoney show that they have absolutely no plans to mellow out in their old age. On Tomorrow Hit Today, the influential Seattle outfit harness their attack more than the full-throttle previous release, My Brother the Cow. Mark Arm still sings with all the attitude he can muster, while the others gleefully bash away at their instruments, creating tunes comparable to the enjoyable racket that the New York Dolls and Stooges laid down earlier. And it's very impressive that Mudhoney can still deliver true garage rock all these years later -- "I Have to Laugh" and the opening "A Thousand Forms of Mind" are classic Mudhoney stompers, and they mix it up with '60s surf ("Night of the Hunted") and blues-rock ("Move With the Wind"). Along with the Melvins, Mudhoney remained one of the few remaining Seattle originals, and Tomorrow Hit Today is one of their finest and most focused. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi

Since We've Become Translucent Play

Yes folks, Mudhoney is back -- three years after the near-fatal one-two punch of Matt Lukin's resignation from the band and Reprise Records dropping the group from their roster, the founding fathers of grunge have shaken off the dust and recorded Since We've Become Translucent, which oddly enough sounds a bit like the adventurous major-label project the band never bothered to make for Bugs Bunny. Mudhoney still ranks low on the slickness meter on Since We've Become Translucent (the entire album was recorded in eight days), but the band sounds at once heavier and more confident than it did during its major-label tenure, and the addition of horns on three tracks (and violin on one) adds new textures to the classic Mudhoney throb without crushing the band's personality or spirit. (Don't fret -- the often atonal sax on the Stooges-esque "Baby, Can You Dig the Light" could have been pulled straight from side two of Fun House, while "Where the Flavor Is" is a raunchy slice of mutant funk in the manner of Exile on Main Street.) While Guy Maddison is in many respects a stronger bassist than Lukin was, he has the good sense to stay in the background where he belongs, and if Mark Arm and Steve Turner are playing less dropped-tune metalized riffs these days, this is still Mudhoney, and there's something gloriously unclean about the snotty "The Straight Life," the sleazy "Where the Flavor Is," and the menacingly anthemic "Our Time Is Now" after all these years. Since We've Become Translucent isn't always the Mudhoney you remembered, but the album clearly carries the stamp of the band's personality, and shows the group can still rock out while pulling a few new tricks from its collective sleeve. Nice to have you back, guys -- did you bring beer money? ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Vanishing Point Play

Growing up gracefully would seem to be a contradiction for a band as cheerfully vulgar as Mudhoney, but there's no mistaking that the members of the quintessential Seattle quartet are comfortable within their own skins. They know what they are, they know they're not gonna change their stripes, not even as they glare at middle age right in the face. If anything, they revel in being crotchety old gits on 2013's Vanishing Point, pledging allegiance to garage punk, dropping references to long-gone pop culture phenomena, happy to wallow in their misanthropy. And, unlike on the preceding The Lucky Ones -- released way back in 2008; the five-year wait is the longest between Mudhoney records, signaling the band's slow descent into middle age -- Mark Arm's savage wit is on full display, as he scrapes himself against all manner of modern irritations. Arm rails against "Chardonnay" popping up on a backstage rider and people acting like long-lost friends, gets revolted by the "Douchebags on Parade," facetiously sings a song of joy and feigns positivity on "What to Do with the Neutral." As he sneers out his disgust, Mudhoney stomp out blitzkrieg rockers and Stooges dirges, working within their wheelhouse but gamely stretching out, encompassing hints of blues and elastic slide guitars. It is, in other words, a Mudhoney album through and through: no outright surprises sonically, but beneath the roar it's hard not to admire how their perennial piss-takes are subtly deepening and how their saturated superfuzz always sounds so good. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

The Lucky Ones Play

The Lucky Ones marks Mudhoney's twentieth anniversary as a band, and in those two decades they've evolved from the guys that first brought the Seattle sound to loser record collectors around the world into a living anachronism as the Last Grunge Band Left Alive. But The Lucky Ones is a telling album to release on Mudhoney's big birthday, as it's the simplest and most unadorned album the band has released since 1995's overlooked masterpiece My Brother the Cow, and also the best. While Since We've Become Translucent and Under a Billion Suns proved Mudhoney had lost nothing in the way of fire or focus in the Twenty-First Century, The Lucky Ones is a brave step backwards into the primitivism of Superfuzz Bigmuff, and though Tucker Martine's engineering and mix is cleaner and better detailed than what Jack Endino brought to the band's early sessions, the approach seems much the same -- roll tape and lurch into the songs with all the muscle the boys can muster, and when the band kicks into fourth gear on "The Open Mind," "I'm Now" and the title cut, this stuff comes on as raw and messed-up as anything Mudhoney has unleashed in years, and Steve Turner's guitar work is little short of feral. The twisted sense of humor that informed much of Mudhoney's "classic period" is in short supply, but Mark Arm's command of the verbal sneer remains unsurpassed, and when he bellows "the lucky ones have already gone down," its with the voice of the leader of the last gang in town. For good or ill Mudhoney remain bloody but unbowed, heavyweight champions of fuzz and feedback, and on the evidence of The Lucky Ones, no one with any sense is going to challenge their title anytime soon; they built this strange machine, and they can drive it better than anyone before or since. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Mudhoney Play

Mudhoney's first self-titled album came as a bit of a disappointment after the group's initial singles, and from the distance of over a decade it's even more of a sore thumb in the band's extensive discography. It's good, to be sure, but not great; the essential spark of the band got a bit lost over 40 minutes, where in three minutes' space the quartet could be the best act on the planet. Then again, arguably Mudhoney was trying to figure out how to make a full album work with their sound, and if it's not a perfect listen as a whole, there are still some great songs to hear. Jack Endino's production lives up to his reputation for rough, thick recording, but he's left just enough for the songs to breathe, whether it's the audible handclaps on "This Gift" or the quirky guitar riff leading into Dan Peters' rollicking drum rolls on "You Got It." "When Tomorrow Hits" is easily the sleeper hit of the record; later memorably covered by Sonic Boom in the dying days of Spacemen 3, its slow, dreamily threatening build shows off the band's ability for subtlety amidst the volume. "Flat out Fucked" about sums up the whole ethos of the album -- careening pace, compressed feedback roar, and Mark Arm's desperate but never self-important singing resulting in neo-garage rock anti-anthems. About as good is the brilliantly titled instrumental "Magnolia Caboose Babyshit," which gives Steve Turner and Arm a chance to show off some crazy acid rock/proto-funk guitar that avoids sucking, always a pleasure. A couple of draggy numbers and others that take a good idea but almost run too much with it ("Come to Mind," well, comes to mind) keep things from fully working, but next time out Mudhoney would have the perfect combination down. ~ Ned Raggett, Rovi

Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge Play

Whether it was Conrad Uno's production, the addition of more instruments to the Mudhoney arsenal (notably, Mark Arm adds organ, as can be enjoyably heard on "Who You Drivin' Now," among other numbers), a slew of brilliant songs, or a combination of the above, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge found Mudhoney coming into their own album-wise. "Let It Slide," the album's lead single, fuses everything from surf rock drumming from Dan Peters to a delicious vocal whine on the verses from Arm into a hotwired classic. It's not so much grunge as speed-freak energy, and all the better for it given the caricatures of Sub Pop's sound that would soon take over the airwaves. "Into the Drink" is another fun single, using acoustic and electric guitar to carry a nicely snotty garage stomp along, the full band adding one of their better chorus-gang shouts. More acoustic twang surfaces here and there (check out "Move Out"), helping to show that the variety of songs and styles is much more apparent and welcome here than on the self-titled album. The almost-pretty rushed guitar chime on "Good Enough" could be mid-'80s New Order or the Wedding Present, while Steve Turner's harmonica playing often suggests even deeper roots (and on "Pokin' Around" is both quick on the pace and sweetly mournful). Uno's eight-track production makes more of less plenty of times -- "Something So Clear" may not sound as full to some ears as their other records, but the basic guitar overdubs add just enough force, an effective simplicity (and Turner's soloing is pretty great to boot). The six-minute "Broken Hands" is the one point on the album where the band completely freaks out, but unlike the takes-too-long moments of Mudhoney, it's all worth it here, down to the final chaotic amplifier abuse. ~ Ned Raggett, Rovi

Superfuzz Bigmuff Plus Early Singles Play

Named after the band's favorite distortion pedal, Superfuzz Bigmuff was actually Mudhoney's first EP; the Superfuzz Bigmuff Plus Early Singles package collects that recording, as well as the A- and B-sides of their first two 45s and two covers (of the Dicks and Sonic Youth), all released in 1988-1989. Taken as a whole, this output makes a case for Mudhoney as the first true grunge band; due to the time constraints of the forms in which this material was originally released, it also makes for their best, most consistent album, as the band largely refrains from the sort of aimless, grinding Stooges updates that slow the momentum of most of its records. Instead, Superfuzz Bigmuff has all the best attributes of Mudhoney's Stooges fixation -- whether slow or fast, this music is grimy, raucous, and violently enthusiastic, with a stronger melodic sensibility than Iggy's band possessed. Mudhoney's dominant traits are simple chord progressions and a filthy-sounding, ultradistorted guitar racket, punctuated by Mark Arm's snarling, demonic howls. It isn't the most original approach to rock & roll, but when it all comes into focus -- as on their (and Sub Pop's) debut single, the ultimate grunge anthem "Touch Me I'm Sick" -- Mudhoney's power is absolutely throttling. "Touch Me I'm Sick" would be essential listening for anyone even remotely interested in the genesis of the Seattle scene, but the album is full of menacing, vital rock & roll, plus sharp songwriting that elevates several other songs to classic status. Mudhoney's musical range may be quite limited, but as Superfuzz Bigmuff proves, they can be amazing at what they can do. This is the birth of grunge, and a reminder of exactly why the music was christened with a word meaning "dirt." ~ Steve Huey, Rovi

Here Comes Sickness: The Best of BBC Recordings Play

Divided up into three different encounters with the BBC, Here Comes Sickness exhibits Mudhoney in their youth for a 1989 in-studio appearance on The John Peel Show, in their later years for a 1995 in-studio show for Evening Session, and a live concert set from 1995's Reading Festival for the John Peel Show. As far as the live, in-studio programs, Mudhoney is fairly tight. The production of the in-studio tracks from 1989 and 1995 are louder and cleaner sounding than the album versions of the songs. A perfect example is the opening number and title track "Here Comes Sickness." The band plays at a much more frantic pace filled with more emotion than the version from their 1989 self-titled album. Mark Arm's vocals slur and hiss, Steve Turner's lead guitar work stings with a vengeance, Matt Lukin's bass chugs along, and Dan Peters' drums are well-miked, adding to the overall strength of the tracks. Some of the songs are also sketches for their studio albums. The edition of "Poisoned Water Poisons the Mind," which later evolved into "Poisoned Water" on 1998's Tomorrow Hit Today, is shorter due to the absence of its guitar solo and outro. "Judgement, Rage, Retribution and Thyme," which turned up on 1995's My Brother the Cow, is more stripped down and less chintzy than that record's version, which included a corny marimba line. Flaws begin to appear in the Reading set though, but it's mainly due to how the instruments are mixed. Arm's vocals vary from being some of his best, projecting the feeling that he's going to rip someone's head off ("Into Yer Schtik"), to sounding his weakest, fighting to be heard over the loud guitars ("Judgement, Rage, Retribution and Thyme"). Lukin's bass is also nearly inaudible throughout the majority of the Reading set, and Peters' drums seem to fade in and out. ~ Stephen Howell, Rovi

March to Fuzz Play

Mudhoney was most convincing when the 7" recording format limited their more indulgent tendencies. In general (especially early on), their albums were always peppered with great songs -- usually variations on the band's trademark scuzzy sound and sneering attitude -- but rarely sustained momentum all the way through, thanks in part to the band's weakness for ponderous jams. The sorely needed, two-disc best-of March to Fuzz attempts to have it both ways: the first disc is a generous, 22-track overview of their recordings from 1988-1998, while the second compiles 30 rarities for the devotees. It's a tactic that's been used before, and it's usually maddening, giving both casual and die-hard fans an entire disc they don't want. But March to Fuzz actually works very well. For one, it's not priced as a double-disc set, and for another, both discs are actually very strong. Mudhoney's sound didn't change very much over the course of their career, which means that even though disc one isn't arranged chronologically, everything is pretty much of a piece. It's also very well chosen, even if the surprisingly strong latter-day albums My Brother the Cow and Tomorrow Hit Today aren't heavily represented. But the disc makes a convincing case that Mudhoney never stopped making bruising, vital rock & roll, or writing great (albeit samey) songs. The rarities disc is surprisingly entertaining, featuring plenty of cover versions, cranky goofs, and songs that were certainly better than some of their album tracks, but were relegated to B-sides or indie compilations. Their '60s garage and surf roots are actually summed up very effectively here, as well as their love of early-'80s hardcore. March to Fuzz might be a little hard to handle all in one sitting, but it's hard to imagine a better overview of Mudhoney's career. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
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