Nude With Boots
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.Read more 4 star reviews
A Perfect Place (Original Sound Track)
Sooner or later this was going to happen:- Mike Patton, former singer of Faith No More and curator of a dozen musical projects, has been given the opportunity to write the musical soundtrack to a movie and it's an opportunity he does not let go to waste. Patton's fans will have long recognised his fascination with the melodies of John Barry, Angelo Badalamenti and Henry Mancini, and this is the place where he finally gets to show that he really has the musical chops to stand alongside his influences. Patton fans will therefore have some pretty solid expectations of this project and I can safely say they won't be dissapointed. Imagine Fantomas' Director's Cut album, minus the thrash metal element and with new melodies, and you're halfway there.
The strongest influence is perhaps John Barry - specifically Barry's theme for the Ipcress File - and these tracks resound with zithers, theramin and spaghetti-western guitars. There are only three vocal tracks, one of which is sung in Italian, but the rest of the record plays just like a soundtrack ought to - with established themes, reprises and re-arrangements of the main melodies.
The soundtrack has a longer running time than the movie, which is more of a short film and is included in the package on DVD - but regardless of its contextual use, the music stands up really well by itself. The main theme is very catchy - I've found myself humming it in its various forms while I go about my day - and this can only be a good thing. For the future, Patton has expressed an interest in working with David Lynch, and I think he's easily man enough for the job, but whether they end up working together or not, this record at least proves that someone should give Patton a proper big-budget full length movie soundtrack to compose.Read more 4 star reviews