PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Mudhoney: The Lucky Ones

Seattle’s elder statesmen of grunge return with another so-so, Lukin-free effort.


Mudhoney

The Lucky Ones

Label: Sub Pop
US Release Date: 2008-05-20
UK Release Date: 2008-05-19
Amazon
iTunes

I didn't check out the last Mudhoney record, 2006's Under a Billion Suns, because the one before that, 2002's Since We've Become Translucent, didn't really churn my butter. "Take It Like a Man" was pretty hot, but the rest of the record was more bland than Ted Koppel. The sloth-paced eight minute opening track "Baby, Can You Dig The Light?" was particularly irksome. I remember singer/guitarist Mark Arm saying in an interview at the time that "Baby" was supposed to be a "test" of some sort to see if people could still make it through a Mudhoney record.

Hey, Mark Arm: that wasn't cool, bro. Tests are the reason I quit going to school after the sixth grade.

The good news is there are no overly long snoozefests on the 'Honey's latest offering The Lucky Ones. No tune goes past the five-minute mark, keeping attentions from wandering to thoughts of patio furniture and weasel droppings. Unfortunately, your brain might drift that way regardless as nothing Arm and his cohorts have crafted here is all that memorable. It's another batch of seemingly uninspired grunge rockers lacking the sinewy venom that was the hallmark of early Mudhoney. These songs, if I may steal a phrase from goateed uber-producer Ed Stasium, just kind of lay on their side. The songs onThe Lucky Ones are like beached whales.

On the up side, Mark Arm's voice is still that same unmistakable whine of a total creep partially drunk on stolen (and possibly homemade) hooch. The old boy doesn't sound a day over 1996. Arm's ability to shift vocally in any given song from detached, smirking hipster to depressed, shrieking victim is something that helped define this great band in the first place. Arm injects his most inspired and tortured caterwauling here into "Tales of Terror", which is apparently a tribute to an ancient hardcore band Mudhoney used to hobnob with. I've never heard of them, but then again, there's a lot of stuff on the West Coast of this great land of ours that's completely foreign to me (In n' Out Burger, earthquakes).

There are other guys in this band, you know, and I'll mention that lead guitarist Steve Turner, drummer Dan Peters, and bassist Guy "Not Lombardo" Maddison do their part to whip up that neo-swingin' '60s garage rock sound Mudhoney often likes to champion. Something is most certainly lacking, though, as if the inspiration or the magic or the pixie dust has just plumb dried up. Go ahead and blame the departure of original bassist/heart of Mudhoney Matt Lukin a few records ago, but frankly, I don't think that's it. Matt Lukin, to the best of my knowledge, does not possess a magical songwriting cloak that allows for the creation of incredible grunge anthems. He's just a goofy bass player everybody likes.

No, methinks the problem here is the Mudhoneys (who were quite popular with the MTV at one point) are just getting old. Again I was struck by something Mark Arm said regarding his band's work. In a passage I spotted deep in the six pages of press clippings Sub Pop sent along with The Lucky Ones (way to save the rainforest, Bruce and Jonathan), Arm related something Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister once told him: stick around long enough and they'll start calling you legends (they, of course, being journalists and rock fans and every person not in your band who isn't your mom and dad). Mudhoney secured their place in the cool pantheon years ago, but it does seem the only reason they keep making records is to insure that hard-fought "legend" tag.

That's kind of a shame. If Mudhoney had packed it in six years ago, one might have been able to call their catalog dangerously close to flawless. Now, they aren't so lucky. Pun most certainly intended.

6

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.