Melvins: Stoner Witch

stonerwitchI have to imagine that the club of boys clueless enough to purchase this album for their girlfriend is very small. And I am a member. I think I thought at the time that any woman who would be into me must have the same obviously infallible taste as me. And, to be fair, crossing the rubicon of being into me, I mean, you’ve gotta pass quite a few filter traps I’ve unintentionally set up around me. But still, why did I ever think she’d appreciate this?

Well, if you’re an “everything happens for a reason,” it was all leading up to this very moment when I’m writing this review. See, I’ve never been able to get her one sentence review out of my head: “This is a great album to listen to at night.” That one sentence was a complete bomb in my head as far as what music was. Up until then, I just thought music could be rated on a linear scale and you wanted to listen to the best music most of the time, the very good music slightly less, the pretty good music sometimes, and so on. The idea that you might want to listen to different music based on different times of the day or different activities…this was absolutely crazy to me. And completely explains (at least part of) why nobody wanted me picking music at school dances and parties.

There are three-and-a-half tracks that put it squarely into the the night listening genre: the slow and quiet “Shevil” and “Lividity” (two of the last three tracks on the album), the bluesy “Goose Freight Train,” and the first half of the noisefest-cum-rocker “Magic Pig Detective.” And the rest of the album, which features some of the best intro-to-Melvins rockers in their entire catalog, fits just as well into a party-hard night situation as it does a morning-coffee-let’s-kill-this-thing vibe.

Most of the rockers are front-loaded and most of the sound experiment stuff is back-loaded, making this a bit of a tale-of-two-bands kind of thing. Looking back, after the commercial disappointment of the Atlantic debut, Houdini, and the band’s disappointment with Kurt Cobain’s “production” of that album (he was notoriously and allegedly nodding off on heroin the entire time) this feels like the band showing two very different faces,  both very different from the much grungier, dirtier, punkier feel of its major label predecessor. Here they’re both more accessible, catchy, and rockingier while also being more experimental, slower, sludgier, and trippier.

In the way that it shows those two sides of the band, it’s almost a perfect introduction to Melvins’ discography. Don’t enter unless you both (i) like the rockers and (ii) can at least stand the experimental stuff. Natch, I love both. And I really like examplars from both sides on this disc. Still, something about the two-sidedness of it–and maybe some of it’s sequencing, though I don’t think that’s all of it–makes it fall just shy of something that carries me through on a start-to-finish journey.

Mix: “Queen,” “Sweet Willy Rollbar,” “Revolve,” “Roadbull”
Really Like: “At The Stake,” “Magic Pig Detective,” “June Bug”
Like: “Skweetis,” “Goose Freight Train,” “Shevil,” “Lividity”
Filed Between: Melvins’ Prick and Queen single
Song Notes: After the jump

  1. Skweetis – pretty short`
  2. Queen – one of the absolute best intros to the band.
  3. Sweet Wily Rollbar –
  4. Revolve – almost best song ever
  5. Goose Freight Train – bluesy
  6. Roadbull – back to the rock
  7. At The Stake – heavy, doomy
  8. Magic Pig Detective – noisy transitions into rock
  9. Shevil – really slow and quiet. we really get into the night music hear.
  10. June Bug – instrumental
  11. Lividity – more than nine minutes long. slow and dark. buzzy. very repetitive. the other real night song.

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