US - Arizona - Full Moon 205 - 05/25/13
The brothers Meat are back with a new album, Rat Farm; their 14th in a career which spans a 33 year stretch from their formation! Meat Puppets are (and have
always been) the mainstay twosome, the founding, performing and creative couple Curt Kirkwood and his brother Cris Kirkwood. As it probably will continue to be for the
next 30 years as well... They are only 52 and 54, but still young at heart, youthful spirits, with sharp and fresh minds - like steel traps.
Curt Kirkwood is the band's singer, guitarist and primary songwriter, while brother Cris handles the bass guitar. Their career had a boost when Kurt Cobain introduced
the Kirkwoods for the masses during the Unplugged session (including "Plateu" and the excellent "Lake on Fire" off Meat Puppets' second album II in the
set) with the brothers present and performing. Despite being one of the bands on the roster of SST Records (who released their first 7 albums), Meat Puppets were quite
different in style and attitude than Black Flag, Minutemen, and Hüsker Dü. Meat Puppets had this strange brew with a hybrid of punk and country, with a psychedelic,
dusted twist. Maybe due to the Arizonian climate and geography, with high temperatures and the surrounding Sonoran Desert. No wonder the band has been tagged 'desert
punk', or 'country-fried hardcore' since their formation, or at least from when starting to perform and record music.
Over the years the Meat Puppets has grown a tad more 'straight'. Don't get me wrong here; We're not talking polished or chart popping mainstream rock. This is still
music of the alternative kind, maybe somewhat up R.E.M.'s alley. Or, maybe sounding like a cleaned up Screaming Trees (another band serving SST for a period). You could
also imagine Neil Young writing songs for ZZ Top. Curt has described Rat Farm as "...real blown-out folk music".
He's further stated that he "...tried to write stuff that would stand on its own -- just the chords and the melodies, and play
it kind of straight.. [..] It was one of those things where a lot of times, in the past especially, [bassist Cris Kirkwood] would go, 'Well, that's all there is? Let's
put a prog rock part in the middle'. But I tried to hold it off as much as I could." Anyway, Rat Farm comes out as a double six-pack of songs which are
both cool and friendly, but it might lack a certain edge, or roughness. That said the straightforward expression is quite fitting for the band. The album seems to follow
the trail of their 2011 album, Lollipop. Stand out tracks? Well, even if there aren't much glittering gold present, and the record somewhat follows a monotonous
path, some songs shine more than others. Such as the title track, or "One More Drop" and "Leave Your Head Alone", or the rocking "Original One" and the closing "Sweet".
Even though the Meat Puppets isn't of the more important or innovative bands around, they still do deserve a place in the rugged rock landscape.
Copyright © 2013 Håvard Oppøyen