Posts Tagged ‘King Buzzo’

Ipecac Recordings –15th May 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Because Melvins’ staggeringly prolific output clearly isn’t enough to keep singer and guitarist Buzz Osborne occupied, he’s gone and put out a second solo album, following on from 2014’s This Machine Kills. This time working with the equally prolific frequent collaborator and some-time Melvin Trevor Dunn, Buzzo offers up nine primarily acoustic songs.

The first thing to point out is that it doesn’t sound remotely like Mevins. There are some stoner / psychedelic twists spun in, but the overall vibe is one of brooding folk. Buzzo’s trademark full-lunged vocal I more often than not replaced by a hushed, breathy drawl. It’s pretty cool and works well in context. Solemn strings swoop and soar and cast long, lugubrious shadows over soft-strummed guitar: ‘Housing, Luxury’, Energy’ has the guitar feel of one of Nirvana’s acoustic songs, but tears into a heft chorus that growls and lurches hard.

There are some moments where the simplicity is stunning in itself: sometimes, when stripping things right, right back, there is time and space to bask in tones and the way notes resonate. There is a rare beauty in the way acoustic notes hang in the air, the details of how a harder or softer pick or strum varies the intonation. And we get this often on Gift Of Sacrifice: the sparse instrumentation is magnificent, notably on the rolling ‘Delayed Clarity’, but across the album a whole it’s a feature. ‘Science in Modern America’ finds Osborn growl-crooning over a cyclical chord sequence. It’s kinda sci-fi, it’s kinda dystopian and suddenly kinda now. Elsewhere, and in contrast, ‘Mock She’ is some kind of drunk country, and the depths and layers of Gift Of Sacrifice continue to reveal themselves, meaning that what may superficially appear ordinary is, in fact, pretty warped.

So, yes, this being Buzzo, things do weird out in places – many places, if truth be told – like on the brief interlude that is ‘Junkie Jesus’, and the frantic warped string frenzy that is the outro, ‘Acoustic Junkie’. Then there’s the fact that the portentous strum of ‘Bird Animal’, to all intents and purposes a psychedelic acoustic motoric minus percussion, dissolves into fluttering R2D2 bleeps a minute or so before the end. Like the way ‘Mock She’ descends into frenzied free jazz for 30 seconds in the middle, while fractured distortion obliterates the vocals in the final verses. You envisage Buzzo sitting in the studio with the producer, leaning over and twiddling knobs here there and everywhere, and everyone present shouting ‘just leave everything alone!’ But of course, then it wouldn’t have that unique twist that transforms some solid songs into works of warped genius. And that’s precisely what this is.

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The Melvins, who recently announced the April 20th release of Pinkus Abortion Technician (Ipecac Recordings), have debuted the Mackie Osborne directed video for ‘Embrace The Rub’.

"’Embrace The Rub’ is a Steven McDonald penned, punker tune throwback to his days as a young Hawthorne, CA punk hanging out with Black Flag,” explained Dale Crover. “For some reason, I decided that this tune really needed a piano part.”

Watch the video here:

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Ipecac Recordings – 24th February 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Some project ae just so wild and so awesome that they can’t fail. Crystal Fairy is one. The fact that it’s out on Ipecac should be a big clue. Essentially another Melvins offshoot, this project features King Buzzo and Dale Crover (Melvins and myriad mental offshoots), with Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes), Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (Mars Volta, At the Drive In). If you haven’t already encountered Le Butcherettes, our life is sadly lacking and you need to do something about it, immediately.

Le Butcherettes are one of the most ferociously angular, choppy, abrasive and truly awesome contemporary exemplars of the no-wave ethos, and Terri Gender Bender is a fearsome and fantastic front woman: the perfect foil to the sludge with a grin craziness of The Melvins. Omar Rodrguez-Lopez (Mars Volta, At the Drive In) is hardly a weak link here.

As the press release recounts, ‘The whole idea for Crystal Fairy began when The Melvins and Le Butcherettes toured together and The Melvins started doing the song “Rebel Girl” with Teri at the end of their set.’

The album erupts with a whack! Think! Chug-a-chug thundrball punk-tinged rock racket of Chiseler’. It crackles. It fizzes. But what’s perhaps unexpected is just how accessible it is, courtesy of its strong, melody-led chorus. It also has that early 80s vibe and the poke of a small-town pub gig or a demo tape recorded by an ultra-proficient provincial band who deserve a wide audience. That’s not a criticism of Crystal Fairy, but of the industry, at least as it was.

Rock cliché is never far away on this album: ‘Necklace of Divorce’ wheels in AC/CDisms and Led Zeppelinisms galore, but there’s a savviness to the delivery that hints at a certain knowingness, a play on the clichés being stirred in and churned around in the mix. The result is alchemy, and an album brimming with choppy tunes that explode with full-throttle drive, and build the dynamics with passages of tension-building stealth. Grunge classic? Yeah, and so much more

‘Moth Tongue’ simply sounds like Terri Gender Bender fronting The Melvins playing one of their poppier tracks. As such, it’s ace, and ‘Bent Teeth’ is simply scorching. As is the album as a whole: raucous rambunctious, it combined churning, gritty riffs with wild-eyed histrionic vocals. As much as I’m a sucker for a meaty guitar, I’m even more one to be pulled in by a vocal delivery that borders on the psychotic, and Terri’s go that absolutely nailed. But then, as the title track attests, the foursome can also nail a full-throttle post-punk pop tune: think Blondie, think PJ Harvey, delivered with energy and guts and raw sex. Belting as the backing is, Terri makes it: she sounds dangerous, intense, precarious. While the basslines tear through your guts, she tears through your very soul.

Crystal Fairy is the supergroup every supergroup should aspire to: the embodiment of rock ‘n’ roll awesome, they’ve got the full works going on here.

 

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