Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Album Review: Mudhoney’s “Plastic Eternity” Is Fresh Yet Familiar

Mudhoney photo by Emily Rieman.

— by Robert Wilkins

 

Tomorrow, April 7th , grunge rock pioneers Mudhoney are releasing their twelfth record titled Plastic Eternity on the legendary Sub Pop label. For those not in the know, Mudhoney’s “Touch Me I’m Sick” is often credited as the first grunge song. Meanwhile Sub Pop have released early albums by not only Mudhoney but also Nirvana, Soundgarden and Detroit’s the Go (w/former member Jack White).

While Mudhoney never quite gained the fame of their Seattle cohorts, they are one of the few bands from the grunge era still producing music today. Band members Mark Arm (lead vocals and guitar), Steve Turner (lead guitar), Dan Peters (drums) and Guy Maddison (bass) are as relevant today as they have ever been. The new album has some new twists (that I will address below) but it still has that distinct Mudhoney sound.

The song “Almost Everything” is the most daring shift from the traditional sound of Mudhoney in my opinion. It is a guitar heavy rocker that starts with a slick drum pattern, a droning bassline and bongos! I wasn’t sure if I was listening to Santana or Mudhoney for a second there. I have to admit that the bongos caught me off guard at first but they fit so perfectly into the song that if its wrong I don’t want to be right. Be forewarned that I do not recommend listening to this while driving because It is sure to lead to a speeding ticket. Depending on your current driving record however, it might be good enough to warrant paying the fine.

Mudhoney photo by Emily Rieman.

“Move Under” is everything you would expect from the band. It starts with a driving drum beat and is quickly followed by fuzzed out guitars. Steve Turner blasts tasty punk/blues inspired leads that punch you in the gut, and there are some of the finest Mark Arm wails on record along with great backing vocals. This song is as glorious and urgent sounding as anything on their early albums. If their goal is to single handedly save rock n roll, they may be onto something with this is modern day grunge masterpiece.

“Cry Me an Atmospheric River” is my favorite song on an already great album. The main music in the verse is almost a bit funky but still unmistakably Mudhoney. Guy Maddison lays down a bassline that takes you for a ride and is interwoven gracefully with Dan Peters drumming while Steve Turner’s leads are on point as always and Mark Arm sings about global warming.

“Little Dogs” puts the band into drastically unfamiliar territory again and is quite possibly the nicest song the band have ever written. I’ve read that it is a love song of sorts about a Pomeranian that Mark Arm was fostering but couldn’t bare to part with. It starts with a guitar riff that is bright sounding, playful and dare I say pretty but rocks nonetheless. If everything else weren’t a bit strange enough for a Mudhoney record, there is also an organ in the middle of this song and it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that it was Iggy Pop singing.

I can’t say for sure what prompted some of these new ideas and sounds to come out of the band but they sure did it right. They were able to experiment just enough to give them a fresh new take on their music but stayed true enough to their roots that they still sound like themselves. Do yourself a favor. Buy the new record and be sure to see the band when they hit the road to promote the new album. I have been lucky enough to see them up close and personal multiple times and let me tell you, they always bring it!

 

 

Track listing

  • Souvenir of My Trip
  • Almost Everything
  • Cascades of Crap
  • Flush the Fascists
  • Move Under
  • Severed Heads in the Sleeper Cell
  • Here Comes the Flood
  • Human Stock Capital
  • Tom Hermans Hermits
  • One or Two
  • Cry Me an Atmospheric River
  • Plasticity
  • Little Dogs

 

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