Meat Puppets II Review

artist: Meat Puppets date: 07/03/2014 category: compact discs
Meat Puppets: Meat Puppets II
Released: 1984
Genre: Alternative Rock, Cowpunk
Label: SST Records
Number Of Tracks: 12
The simplest way to put it is that "Meat Puppets II" is an eclectic album. Ranging from songs influenced by their hardcore days, to country, to instrumental songs. This album has very little, if any filler. It stands as one of the most impressive albums produced of its time.
 Sound: 8.5
 Lyrics: 8.5
 Overall Impression: 8.5
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reviews (2) user comments vote for this album:
overall: 7.3
Meat Puppets II Reviewed by: benthegrunge, on july 03, 2014
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Meat Puppets are undoubtedly best known for starring in Nirvana's hallowed unplugged concert in 1993, so listeners can be forgiven for expecting another Sub Pop style grunge band. The Meat Puppets prove to be a much bigger curiosity than this, serving up offbeat folk romps and often coming across as a spoof act.

Many tracks on the album are less than 3 minutes long, adding to little more than a half hour running time. A couple of the tracks are instrumentals, most notably "Aurora Borealis," an album highlight and a good example of the band's overall sound. The chugging riff and beat, punctuated with fluttering, phaser-soaked leads, slots with the "Lake of Fire" formula. Quasi-psychedelic blues overtones achieved via delay and phaser are a staple throughout, as are rambling basslines and singer Curt Kirkwood's nasal, deliberately indifferent drawl. There are a couple of heavier punk tunes, including the opener "Split Myself in Two," which proves to be a red herring. These couple of punk tracks aren't in conflict with the mellower songs on the album, as they are united by the band's faux-folk storytelling approach and slacker sound, but its important to note that the few punk tracks merely make up the numbers and aren't representative of the album's heart. // 8

Lyrics: This is not a confessional, political or commercial album. Lyrics mostly borrow from the mundane lived experience, often using domestic props such as the bucket and mop in "Plateau" and the clutter on the table in "Climbing." At its best the lyrics are introspective, with the clever line "time doesn't exist but its playing on my mind" from "Climbing," and "Oh Me" and "Plateau" sounding like an existential crisis. Meat Puppets are definitely products of an apathetic and cynical age, and I would pinpoint the lack of ambition or a coherent message in their songs as why it's so averse to the mainstream market. Before Nirvana, this band can't have been very commercially viable, but now the situation has flipped, many are opposed to the avalanche of what we call whiny, hipster bands, which would perhaps be this band's embodiment were it not for their bit of extra musical flavouring. // 7

Overall Impression: The album is inoffensive but dispensable to the modern listener, until fourth track "Plateau" picks up the quality considerably. I imagine changing times and trends have definitely effected perception of this album. To me, Meat Puppets, save a handful of tracks, do not feel as wild and rebellious as they probably did to a young Cobain, as the grunge movement subverted expectations and made nerd rock the norm. This is similar to how I feel listening to the Pixies in 2014 - they are ok, have their moments of brilliance, but I am dubious about people born after the '70s referencing them as a favourite band. For what reason? Perhaps our struggle to satirize a world that has purged the depths of self-consciousness to the point of apathy is the real root of rock 'n' roll's cultural redundancy, as absurdism, anti-music and anti-culture have become well-trodden terrain. The band's blasé persona doesn't detract from the fact there are some real nuggets here lyrically and especially musically, though I am undecided whether their kitsch style is genius or a little too contrived, and the album doesn't consistently meet the quality of "Plateau," "Lake of Fire," "Oh Me" and "Aurora Borealis." // 7

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overall: 9.7
Meat Puppets II Reviewed by: qaz923, on january 26, 2012
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: The simplest way to put it is that "Meat Puppets II" is an eclectic album. Ranging from songs influenced by their hardcore days, such as "Split Myself In Two" or "Lake Of Fire", to country, like "Climbing", to instrumental songs, such as "Aurora Borealis". Despite this, the album is somehow tied together nearly perfectly. Obviously, this album reached whole new groups of fans after Nirvana covered several songs off of the album on their unplugged album. The connection is evident, and at times it sounds like the Meat Puppets are "doing Nirvana" better than Nirvana does. This is especially evident in "The Whistling Song" and "Split Myself In Two". The guitar work on this album is very strong as well. Though some songs are simply chord driven, there is some more technical work on "Aurora Borealis" and "Climbing" that most guitarists will enjoy. // 9

Lyrics: The songwriting on this album seems to have influenced Kurt Cobain too. The lyrics are observational, and at most points spacey, but "Lake Of Fire" stands out as the finest example of writing on the album. It is a pointed satire on fanatical evangelism, and is quite powerful. "Oh, Me" and "Plateau", two more songs that Nirvana covered, seem to have, incidentally, influenced the style of songwriting that Cobain popularized with Nirvana: seemingly random and image heavy. The almost distracted delivery on "Oh, Me"; "Plateau"; and "Climbing" suit both the lyrics and the music perfectly. Likewise, the painful screams in "Lake Of Fire" exemplify the pain of the subject at hand. Overall the vocal delivery is excellent, and very suited to the album. // 10

Overall Impression: Overall this album is extremely impressive. The comparison between this album and Nirvana's discography will live on because of Nirvana's use several songs from this album as covers. However, "Meat Puppets II" compares favorably to anything Nirvana ever made top to bottom, with the possible exception of "Nevermind". This album has very little, if any filler. It stands as one of the most impressive albums produced of its time. In terms of guitar technicality "Aurora Borealis" is the top song on the album, however "Meat Puppets II" prove that there is more to a great album than simple technicality. This album is a must buy. It has pretty much anything a music lover could want due to its versatility. // 10

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