What is one to make of an album that kicks off with a headlong punk-rock ripper called "Split Myself in Two," then devolves into a collection of brain-damaged C&W-style; instrumentals, feedback-guitar ballads and Dylanesque rockers, and includes a lovely, folklike finger-picking opus called "I'm a Mindless Idiot"? Well, make the best of it, I say Meat Puppets II is one of the funniest and most enjoyable albums of 1984.
The Meat Puppets are a threeman thrash band from Phoenix, Arizona, who've gone beyond head-banging to become what can only be called a kind of cultural trash compacter, piling such standard hard-core flip-outs as "New Gods" atop revved-up hayseed warbling ("Lost"), a bit of the Byrds ("We're Here"), some faintly Hendrix-style guitar ("Aurora Borealis") and, on "Plateau," sharp, Blonde on Blonde-style wordsmithing. The Puppets somewhat resemble Milwaukee's Violent Femmes, with bassist Cris Kirkwood and drummer Derrick Bostrom providing a spirited and detailed base from which leader Curt Kirkwood launches his screaming-guitar sallies and helium-stoked vocals. The effect is rather like wandering into a drug-detox center and overhearing twelve strung-out conversations at once. Fun, in a word a real find. (RS 420)
(Posted: Apr 26, 1984)
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