Released by: Megaforce
Release Date: March 8, 2019
Genre: alt-rock, alt-country
Curt Kirkwood – lead vocals, guitar
Cris Kirkwood – bass guitar, backing vocals
Derrick Bostrom – drums
Troy Meiss – guitar
Elmo Kirkwood – guitar
Ron Stabinsky – keyboards
2. Nine Pins
4. Unfrozen Memory
5. Dusty Notes
6. The Great Awakening
7. Sea of Heartbreak
9. Vampyr’s Winged Fantasy
What started as a group of friends exploring punk rock on the back of 70s psychedelia, soon became one of the most significant bands of American underground music. Drummer Derrick Bostrom explains, “We began to make such a hellacious racket that we knew we were on to something.” Formed in 1980 in Phoenix, Arizona, the Meat Puppets are band known for influencing the likes of Nirvana and Soundgarden, among others from the alternative rock and grunge movement of the 90s. Achieving the height of their success on the back of their guest performance at Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance in 1993, the band’s Too High to Die album, released in 1994, became their most successful release to date. Having broken up twice, in 1996 and 2002, the band reunited in 2006 and has been making music together ever since. When the band was inducted into the Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2017, the original line-up was brought back together for the first time in over twenty years. Performing a set of classics, it was clear that the band still had its original chemistry. “It was so intense that even I couldn’t deny it! I remembered why we did this. It was magical,” explains Bostrom, with Cris adding, “It was the psychedelic fuckin’ time machine… Mind-blowing.”
It was this moment that has led to the creation of Dusty Notes, the first album to feature the original line-up since 1995’s No Joke! A unique and inspired album that is difficult to fit into any one genre, Dusty Notes takes the band into new directions while harnessing the energy that made them such a fantastic band to listen to in the first place. Curt explains that the album is made up of “simple yet engaging songs,” adding that “I can ignore my vocal and listen to the other four guys play, they’re all so good.” Discussing the return to form, Derrick said, “The band has been a really, really deep font of creativity. Love it or hate it, hit or miss, Curt is just prodigious. They are still living the rock lifestyle; they’re not doing it by half measures. They stayed on the road. These guys are uncompromising. I consider the Meat Puppets to be a national treasure.”
This uncompromising attitude can be heard, and genuinely felt in the honesty of the song writing. Opening with ‘Warranty’, it has a sound that harkens to CSNY’s ‘Teach Your Children Well’ and yet echoes the Meat Puppets classic sound. It lets you know that you’re in for something a bit different. That was always their strength, and this track cleverly illustrates that this a return to form for the band.
Woven through the album are alt-country riffs and rhythms backed by psychedelic and alternative rock sensibilities. While it shouldn’t work, it creates a style and texture in the music that provides a strong sense of the creative flair and dynamism that was poured into every track on Dusty Notes. Second track on the album, ‘Nine Pins’ opens with a quirky organ and banjo going around and around as this song spins its magic with all the charm of classic Americana updated with alt-rock riffs and choral vocals.
These songs are followed by the wistful ‘On’, ‘Unfrozen Memory’ with its subtle folk textures, upbeat and bouncy title track ‘Dusty Notes’, psychedelic ‘The Great Awakening’, Dylanesque ‘Sea of Hearbreak’, and the positively vibrant ‘Nightcap’ before breaking down into ‘Vampyr’s Winged Fantasy’. This dark and broody track is a stark contrast to the rest of the album, with its heavy alt-rock psychedelic riffs screeching out like an echo of classic Meat Puppets. After the languid melodies of the previous tracks, it comes as a bit of a shock to the system, before it drops back down into a mellow vibe with ‘Outflow’.
Dusty Notes truly stands out against the backdrop of the current state of the rock industry. It has all the elements to inspire a new generation of musicians to look beyond what is expected of them and experiment with new sounds and new ideas. Given the history of the band, I would expect nothing less. If you are looking for a unique experience that broadens your musical horizons, then Dusty Notes is the album for you.
Written by: Erik De’Viking
My Global Mind – Reviewer / Music Journalist
Erik De’Viking is a London based freelance music journalist. His musical interests include blues, rock, and metal in all its forms, and he is constantly on the lookout for new bands and genres to discover and later preach about to the masses.
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