Review Summary: http://oi50.tinypic.com/216d7n.jpg
Forget Let it Be
and the other usual suspects that prop up the usual best of lists of the 1980s US indie rock underground - Arizona’s Meat Puppets released at least two albums in the same time period that top them all. Instead of just focusing on the decade and punk background from which they came, there’s even a case to be made for them as one of the great US rock bands, period. It was from those punk roots that the band’s defining works Meat Puppets II
and Up on the Sun
were born - having already made their mark with the unique acid fried retard hardcore of their first EP and SST debut, their creative progression in the next few years was motivated in large part by a desire to branch out and further alienate the kind of audiences who reacted to their long hair and covers of Doc Watson and Creedence Clearwater Revival songs with hurled beer cans. Led by one of the more talented songwriters/guitarists of the era in Curt Kirkwood (assisted by bro Cris on bass and drummer Derrick Bostrom), the result was a unique album boasting a hybrid of sounds and influences, from psychedelia tinged hardcore to the smoldering guitar jams of Zuma
era Neil Young and straight up country of Bob Nolan, but the end result still sounds like little else.
Evoking images of the desert around the band’s hometown Phoenix, the instrumental “Aurora Borealis”, “We’re Here” and “Plateau”s shimmering outro are representative of the album as a whole; timeless passages of music imbued with a sense of fragility by the bands lackadaisical playing and Kirkwood’s languid, wavering vocals, which may initially take some getting used to for new listeners or those with dicks in their ears
. Surreal yet often strangely poignant, his lyrics are one of the keys to the enduring charm of II
’s hazy, spaced out world, touching on subjects ranging from folklore and junk culture to youthful uncertainty, as described by the breezeway rambling narrator in “Lost”. Their next record Up on the Sun
was a similarly great leap into new territory but the Meat Puppets never sounded quite like this again.