October 30, 2020

Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo (Ipecac)

It’s easy to forget an origin story. Especially when the results of a journey are so iconic. Mr. Bungle is often remembered as the experimental, genre-bending side project of Faith No More frontman, Mike Patton. Well, he got that spot (replacing Chuck Mosley), on the strength of a Mr. Bungle demo tape. 

In hindsight, this is a strange move, as nothing on this demo screams Faith No More. What it does scream is “Speak Spanish or die” (“Hypocrites”) and “Anarchy up your anus / Anarchy up your butt / Butt” (“Anarchy Up Your Anus”). These are precisely the lyrics you would expect from the minds that brought you “Squeeze Me Macaroni” and “My Ass Is On Fire”, and are even belted in the ‘80s caffeine-fueled aggression of a youthful Mike Patton. Which is most impressive on “Methematics”. 

Musically, the band is often described as starting out as a death metal act before experimenting with fusion, funk, jazz, and anything else they felt would “fit” into a song. As this is my first glimpse into the stuff that happened before their self-titled debut, I had always taken that as truth. The reality is a chaotic combination of thrash, punk, and hardcore metal styles, but primed with a level of IDGAF-ery that borders on riotous nihilism. 

The technical skill of the players is obvious and remarkable, but is intentionally suppressed in favor of slapshod moments of effective juxtaposition. Some guitar solos on Easter Bunny are insane shreds (“Spreading the Thighs of Death”) and others are odd-timed, odd-tuned wrecking balls (“Glutton For Punishment”). The drums are consistently rampaging throughout the 56 minutes of the record. 

Ok, this demo release took me by surprise. But I am 100% here for it. Is there such a thing as “pre-nostalgia”?

Because I think I’m experiencing it.

FFO: Melt Banana, Melvins, Helmet, Gemini-era Slayer

-JR

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July 17th, 2020


Meghan Trainor – Treat Myself (Epic)

I sat down with this record expecting, even hoping, for something to tear apart. I was not ready to actually enjoy (most of) a Meghan Trainor album. The lead single, “No Excuses”, is such a trainwreck of a song I was ready to launch into a tirade about faux-sincerity, narcissism, and banal pop tropes that are all embodied by a mush-mouthed blonde commercial puppet. 

Sure, she switches between personalities from song to song, decrying the horrors of a relationship, then wanting him back. Sure, when she sings the phrase, “Love Yourself”, it somehow sounds like she’s saying “Out dog yourself”. Sure, every song is a repetitive, four-chord, easily-digestible melody.

But…

Goddammit if it doesn’t work this time. Ignore the Nicki Minaj part of “Nice To Meet You” and the melody and beat are quite pleasing. Close your eyes and listen to “Funk” and you can almost hear Janet. “Working On It” might be the most honest a pop star has been recently about personal failings. Throw a Spanish verse into “Lie To Me” and it could be Shakira.  And the best part is, she finally has a producer that nearly eliminated the overuse of handclaps and ‘60s pop basslines. 

My favorite track on the album has to be “Here To Stay”, in which she basically says, “Yeah, I’m a piece of shit, but apparently you’re into that, so let’s do this.”

The problematic tendencies definitely still exist (“Babygirl”, “Genetics”, and the aforementioned “No Excuses”), but by and large, this is a huge step in the right direction. 

FFO: Janet Jackson, Sabrina Carpenter

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