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

Melvins: Nude With Boots

Sean Murphy

Melvins are not a band so much as a machine that rolls over the earth, leaving a trail for anyone bothering to look, and inventing an entirely new language for anyone able to hear.


Melvins

Nude With Boots

Label: Ipecac Recordings
UK Release Date: 2008-07-07
US Release Date: 2008-07-08
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

Melvins are not a band so much as a machine. For almost a quarter of a century they have rumbled and rolled over the earth, leaving a trail for anyone bothering to look, and inventing an entirely new language for anyone able to hear. Hear this: Melvins are at it again, not wasting too much time following up on their last release, 2006's A Senile Animal. That album was remarkable, and ended up surprising even longtime fans with its variety, and the sheer quality of practically every song. It also managed the semi-impossible, incorporating as it did, more polished edges into the Melvins’ patented sound: a shadowy diffusion that manages to sound glacial and molten, sometimes at the same time.

A considerable amount of credit was correctly given to the group’s newest members, bassist/vocalist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis -- on loan from their other jobs as the demonic duo in the band Big Business. The two drummer/two singer strategy was risky and potentially misguided, but in hindsight, it seems like a no-brainer. The band sounded more invigorated, with the new blood clearly pushing the others -- guitarist/singer/mastermind King Buzzo, and drummer extraordinaire Dale Crover -- to reinvent ways of distributing similar sludge. It was, in short, a newer take on a tried and true formula, and it yielded spectacular results. The line-up is unchanged this time out, and expectations were high for a return to form, or -- if such a thing is reasonably imaginable -- an improvement. The bad news: Nude With Boots is not better than A Senile Animal. The good news: it is undeniably a success, albeit on a slightly smaller scale.

Early on in the opening song (“The Kicking Machine”), it's clear enough that the M.O. from A Senile Animal is in effect: the twin drum assault and the synchronous vocals, and a discernibly enervated pace to the proceedings. More of same on track two (“Billy Fish”) -- rolling drums introducing the action, then the always reliable Buzz Osborne unslinging (yawn) yet another nasty, tasty riff. But, like the previous album, it's on the third track that the band truly locks in. That initial minute is pure Melvins bliss, that familiar, stuttering death crawl, unsettling yet irresistible. Not for the first time, and likely not the last, one cannot help marveling at Buzzo’s brilliance. How does he do it?

How does Buzzo do it? Perhaps it's because he's not human. That has to be it. Indeed, it is this fact that it’s a tad disconcerting, at times, to hear him sound like one. Or, to be more precise, hearing a regular human being singing alongside him. Probably because Jared Warren is mixed too high on the harmonies (it sounds, on most songs, like he and Buzzo are at equal volume, which means Warren is, in fact, mixed too high), the songs lose some of their otherwise insistent power when Buzzo’s voice is not front and center. A much better balance was subtly achieved on A Senile Animal, where Warren’s (and on some songs, the others’) voices embellished and accompanied. On Nude With Boots they come dangerously close to interfering. Ultimately, this might well be a matter of taste, and to some ears the novel, “fresher” sound might rate as a positive development.

Along with the occasionally claustrophobic harmonies, there is a little more light and air in several of the songs (the title track, for instance), which causes them to come near to being not only accessible, but even (gasp) catchy. Not to worry, no one is going to confuse the current incarnation of Melvins with, say, Vampire Weekend. Nevertheless, the band has evolved. The more fundamentalist-minded Melvins' fans might protest -- not without justification -- that this is the one band that should remain in the muck, neither swimming nor walking, but sort of slithering in the boiling primordial ooze, making their prehistoric noises ... like the sounds made on the album’s best track, “Dies Iraea”. Every Melvins album has at least one song that separates itself from the others, and this is it. This is the music playing at that last dinosaur house party before they all toppled drunkenly into the tar pit.

In sum, Melvins fans, do what you need to do. Newcomers might want to check out A Senile Animal, but then again, perhaps this one will make the last one easier to understand, and then it may be more enjoyable working backward. The question persists: how do they do it? Melvins remain a contrary respite from the gumball machine sensibilities of so much modern music: put in a penny, suck on some sugar for a few seconds until it all turns sour. Melvins are already sour, but instead of turning sweet, they do something even more surprising. They remain unsullied. And so, if you hear one of your semi-jaded friends whining about how no good music gets made anymore, you can hold Nude With Boots up as merely the latest example of how good it can still be, even today. And how fortunate we are that this band continues to thrive, sucking on the carcass of banality and spitting out gold.

7

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
Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


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.