Digital Garbage Sub PoP
The return of rock’s last sane men.
First of all, thank Christ there’s a new Mudhoney record out. Mark Arm and crew were always the eyerolling bullshit detectors of grunge’s brown wave and holy smokes, and we’re tits-deep in bullshit these days.
If there is one thing certain in this world, it’s that the new Mudhoney record is gonna sound like the old Mudhoney record, and that’s just the kind of consistency we need in these perilous times. They don’t experiment with harps or extended remixes or anything here. There’s a synthesiser, but it’s a chintzy late-70s new-wave synthesiser, so it’s cool.
One thing, though: it always seems out of touch when rock’n’roll legends use the parlance of the times in their lyrics. Like when Alice Cooper sings about how he ‘disconnected my Xbox’, or Mike Monroe tells you to ‘talk to the hand’. So when Arm opens slippery 60s punk stomper Kill Yourself Live with ‘When I killed myself live, I got so many likes’, you do sorta wonder if Mudhoney lecturing you about Facebook is really what you need right now. Well, strap in, because there’s a lot of lessons on this one, from the mass shooter-themed Please Mr Gunman to Next Mass Extinction, a smackdown of the neo-Nazi morons in the Charlottesville protests. Sure, even Touch Me I’m Sick was political on some level, but this album is aggressively topical. Sub Pop meets CNN. But, worldweary-middle-aged-dude-trying-to-cope blues aside, Digital Garbage is a thrillingly direct rock’n’roll record. In fact some of these songs are as brutal and snotty as any Mudhoney have ever done, in particular Neanderfuck, an Iggy-esque bruiser with a sludgy Creedence Clearwater riff that harkens back to Mudhoney’s Green River days, or the raging, acidic, hilariously sarcastic Prosperity Gospel (‘Get rich, you win!’).
Speaking of sarcasm, the aforementioned Mr Gunman is the most fucked-up singalong punk jam in ages
– I can hardly wait to scream: ‘We’d rather die in church!’ with a room full of drunken rock goons the next time they’re in town. Ultimately, that’s what you come away with on Digital Garbage: an acknowledgment that the world may be in flames, but we can still choose to laugh and listen to punk rock as it burns.
They might not understand the appeal of these new-fangled social media apps, but these crusty old salts still know how to deliver solid, penetrating, lifeaffirming rock’n’roll. God knows where most artists would be without their inspirations, but we know the best bands out there are capable of absorbing them, chewing them up and spitting out something fresh.
Guildford’s Icarus Dive are very much in their infancy, and on this four-track EP they’re still figuring out how to put their own stamp on their distinctive influences. Hydra leans heavily on Muse’s bombastic guitar histrionics and Queenharmonies, and there’s more than just a touch of Matt
Bellamy in vocalist Joe Crook’s urgent wail.
There’s also an intriguingly progressive mind-set on display here. Beneath the chunky, turbocharged riffery of Mesmerised and Murder And Lies, the band are juggling jagged riffs and shape-shifting shards of rhythm, which on The New Gods take on QOTSA-meets-early Biffy Clyro intentions. It suggests that, given time, Icarus Drive will take the familiar and turn it into something very exciting indeed.
Progressive-minded upstarts grapple with their influences.