This year sees the mighty Melvins celebrate 25 years together, basically a silver jubilee in a big smelly dress. There's an interesting "timeline of grunge" on Wikipedia's grunge music page which shows the births and deaths of the various bands associated with the sound of Seattle: it's underscored by one constant bar-line labelled The Melvins, the band formed by guitarist Buzz (King Buzzo) Osbourne back in 1983. They remain the unsung heroes of American rock, having been Kurt Cobain's favourite band, and spawning Mudhoney in the process. For 90% of their existence, King Buzzo's loyal partner has been drummer Dale Crover, and together with a Spinal Tap style succession of bass players they have ploughed a deep and individual furrow through the battlefields of heavy rock.
These days (the) Melvins operate as a four-piece, with the already established duo Big Business providing bass and a second drummer, and all four members providing vocals. Nude With Boots is the second album for this line-up and it evolves nicely from its predecessor (a) Senile Animal. The Kicking Machine starts things off with the twin drum kits pounding out a peg-legged funk peppered with extended guitar riffs and vocal harmonies. It's about as close to a Melvins manifesto as you could get - if this track grabs you then you're going to like the album. The songs are memorable, and the sense of a band working this out together is very strong. The influence of Big Business comes through a lot more, Jared Warren's vocals are a terrific counterpoint to Buzzo's grizzled growl and Coady Willis works instinctively with the veteran Crover.
Like most Melvins albums, there are parts that will grab your attention first (The Smiling Cobra, Suicide in Progress) and other parts that make more sense once you've heard them a few times. The last couple of tracks on the record tend towards the experimental noise-rock side of their sound, rather than ending with a knockout punch. More of a spiked punch. There are rumours that the band is planning to visit the UK later this year to celebrate their quarter century in a big way. Watch this space, and, buy this rekkid.