Mudhoney - Vanishing Point

by Steve Reynolds Rating:9 Release Date:2013-04-01

Mudhoney are not the most prolific of bands in terms of releases, a mere nine albums in their 25 year history. That's not a slight or criticism; all their releases have been important in their own way. You cannot understate how much of an influence they have had on indie-rock during their invigorating tenure. For a start, 'Touch Me I'm Sick' (no doubt they are probably fed up with that being used as a reference point) was such a ground-breaking piece of garage rock that it has become the archetypal indie anthem over the years, similar to their noisy guitar cousins Dinosaur Jr when they turned up with 'Freak Scene'.

They were deemed as proto-grunge, hitting all the right buttons after Green River dissolved in 1988 and mixing the rattle of garage with the ethos and potency of punk and the darkness of the blues. At the same time, they laid the red carpet for Nirvana to swan down it and take the grunge crown. However, they've never been bitter and have always been held in high esteem in alternative circles.

So on album nine, Vanishing Point, we charter to familiar territory, albeit with all the freshness of a band in their early 20s, not their late 40s/early 50s. Blokes old enough to know better? Nah, bollocks. Rip-snorting opener 'Slipping Away' is quick out of the blocks. Steve Turner rocks like a bastard with his ubiquitous fuzz-pedal , full of energy and spunky enthusiasm. Mark Arm still sings with the youthful charm of those early years: "I feel you slipping away" - possibly an ode to a lost love? Knowing this bunch of jokers, it probably couldn't be further from the truth.

"Chardonnay, you're the name that launched a thousand strippers", "I hate you Chardonnay" - Arm even does a faux shunder to accentuate the hatred for all things Chardonnay. Nothing escapes his hatred: "Get the fuck out of my back stage". All wrapped up in 90 seconds of white-heat full-throttle punk-rock.

'The Final Course' veers into darker waters as Turner wrings every God-damn fucked-up blues riff he can find from his guitar, Arm continues in his own whimsical way: "I heard without a body there can be no trial". 'The Only Son of the Widow from Nain' has Arm in preacher mood, almost spitting venomous bile with searing anger: "You say you can't keep a good man down/ I feel good and I'm up for another round... I'm coming back/ I'm coming back for more", curtailed with a trademark yelp. If there is one thing which has changed as the years have rolled on at Mudhoney towers, it that their lyrics have become less frat-boy and pants-down, swapped for attacks on government and people matters, as on last album Under a Billion Suns.

My favourite Mudhoney album is still Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge for the reason that it contains drive and power with an aptitude for fusing frivolity, balls-out licks, and a sense of immaturity mixed perfectly with garage rumble. Vanishing Point is its younger brother, equipped with the fervour of Fudge and summed up perfectly by the belligerent 'Douchebags on Parade', a glorious slab of what they do best, with pummerling guitar and cacophonic drums. Turner seems to really come to the fore on this album. Comfortable in his own skin, he doesnt shy behind noise but thunders through with some breathtaking riffs and is the crucial centrepiece to what makes this album so bloody good.

Yes, they are older and wiser but they haven't taken their focus away from what makes them such a powerful and relevant force still.

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