Release Date: 20 Sep 2019
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I remember Mudhoney from their earlier days, though I never kept up with the band. I loved their 1988 single Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More, which I probably heard on the John Peel show and which featured a style I'd never heard before. It was really garage rock but so raw and so achingly slow that it tripped a lot of the same buttons that doom metal does. Of course, before long, it would evolve into grunge and the rest is history.
I had no idea that Mudhoney were back and I was even more surprised to find that they'd never gone away. They've been together since 1988 and their most recent album, their tenth, was last year's Digital Garbage. This EP seems to be a set of outtakes from that album with a few other obscurities. It's not as raw as I remember, but then that single predated any of their albums and they've cleaned up a bit since then. Fortunately, I'd say, not much. This is garage rock not much rawer than the Alice Cooper EP I reviewed yesterday.
There are seven tracks here and four of them tie to that album in some form.
Three are outtakes and my favourite is easily Creeps are Everywhere. It has an effortless nature to it but it's outstandingly catchy. This is what punk pop really ought to be: loud and sneeringly obnoxious but with a fantastic hook. If Digital Garbage was like this, I need to seek it out! I'm less fond of the other two, Morning in America and Snake Oil Charmer, but they're good songs. The former has that agreeably slow burn and is very much of its time, starting out with "America hates itself."
The fourth is Let's Kill Yourself Live Again, which is an alternate take of a Digital Garbage song called Kill Yourself Live; it had previously been the bonus track on the Japanese release. I liked this and caught many influences from Iggy Pop to Joy Division. I'd always heard that grunge's influences all had to be from Seattle, from the Sonics onwards, but I was never quite happy with that propaganda.
That leaves three more. One Bad Actor and Vortex of Lies are both taken from singles. The former was formerly half of a split 7" with Hot Snakes and the latter was a limited tour release in the EU. One Bad Actor has a lot more of that Iggy Pop vibe, Mark Arm snarling in that recognisable way while turning out riffs on an outrageously fuzzy guitar. Vortex of Lies is slower and less effective for me which makes it an odd opener for the EP. It feels like Cake but wilder and less controlled.
And that just leaves Ensam i Natt, which is a cover of a song by the Swedish band known as the Leather Nun. Even though the title is in Swedish, the song is in English, revealing that it means So Lonely Tonight. It's another solid garage rock anthem. It's my other favourite here, even though it's over too quickly at just a breath over two minutes. In fact, this whole EP could have been longer, these seven songs amounting to only twenty-two minutes. If only Mudhoney had had more outtakes!