I have not heard the Meat Puppets’ debut album, but I am led to understand that it is much more conventional hardcore punk, which is probably why it’s been deemed essential, where this record is considered a much bigger deal.
I don’t know my cowpunk at all, and so I have a heard time knowing enough about the historical context of this record. I wanted to get really excited about it and then read that cowpunk had existed since the late ’70s, so there you go.
Still, this is pretty delightful cowpunk record that manages to both sound closer (at its loudest) to hardcore than I imagined the genre sounding, but also more diverse than I imagined. (There are influences outside of hardcore punk and country, including a pretty pronounced folk rock influence on some songs, and perhaps even a psychedelic influence, at least in the lead guitar playing.)
Moreover, as anyone who has listened to MTV Unplugged in New York can attest, the songwriting is substantially more sophisticated than you might expect from a record described as “cowpunk.” (“Plateau” and “Lake of Fire” certainly stand out to me because I have heard them so many times, but the music is pretty immediate all the way through, and the lyrics are basically always interesting.)
In addition to just flat out enjoying the record, the real interest here for me is how the record points to the evolving sound of alternative rock, finding a place between punk and more traditional genres, with echoes of both, which has more authenticity and power than whatever awful hair metal was dominating the rock music charts at this particular point. This is band that both wants to honour tradition and upend it (albeit only slightly) and they do an absolutely fantastic job.
All tracks written by Curt Kirkwood.
- “Split Myself in Two” 2:22
- “Magic Toy Missing” 1:20
- “Lost” 3:24
- “Plateau” 2:22
- “Aurora Borealis” 2:44
- “We’re Here” 2:40
- “Climbing” 2:41
- “New Gods” 2:09
- “Oh, Me” 2:59
- “Lake of Fire” 1:54
- “I’m a Mindless Idiot” 2:26
- “The Whistling Song” 2:56
- Curt Kirkwood – guitar, vocals
- Cris Kirkwood – bass, vocals
- Derrick Bostrom – drums