Kicking down meaningless categories
By Vanessa Salvia
The Melvins have been on a tear lately. For one thing, the band’s brand new release, The Bride Screams Murder (their 19th), represents their third recording with the same stable line-up. They’ve also released one recording of some sort or another on pretty near a yearly basis since 1987. But after a decidedly uncommercial 26-year career, the really remarkable news is that the Melvins are on the pop charts. That’s right: The popular music industry gave a collective shudder a couple of weeks ago when the punkish sludge-metal band nabbed the last spot on Billboard’s Top 200 chart. Moving 2,809 copies was all it took; with sales of just another 2,000 units, they would have soared into the top 100.
“That shows you how far down everything’s come,” says Buzz Osborne, the Melvins’ big-haired singer and guitarist, with a laugh. Has it gone to their heads? “Not. At. All,” Osborne says. “It’s a nice footnote, but it’s not necessarily good. Records and CDs just don’t sell these days.”
Every Melvins release is a little demented, like they’ve taken all the natural elements of the periodic table and switched their places. They can take Franken-parts of songs and somehow fit them together into something that breathes on its own — most of the time anyway. On Bride, opener “The Water Glass” drops its sludgy riff into a call and response marching song — drum and voice only for a minute and a half, complete with military “huuuuus.” “Inhumanity and Death” provides a playful, thrashy chug fest before morphing into the strangely operatic “I’ll Finish You Off,” with scat singing, the beat of “My Sharona” and lyrics from “My Generation” tacked on, all of which foreshadows a seven-minute dissection of that classic Who song. The album closes with “PG X 3,” apparently the melody of an old folk song, with haunting harmonica, honest-to-goodness a capella singing and a weird horror movie sort of trailing off ending. For lack of a better description, we’ll use Osborne’s words: “Captain Beefheart crossed with George Clinton crossed with Lenny Bruce playing heavy metal,” he says. “With this new album I had all of those things in mind.”
Other good news is that the band has no desire to stop, or even slow down. “I don’t know what else I would do,” Osborne says. “I don’t have a Plan B.”
Buzz, now that you’re a pop star, you don’t need one.
Melvins, Totimoshi. 7 pm Wednesday, July 7. John Henry’s • $15 • 21+.