by Warren Buchholz –
I once got through a bad breakup by throwing myself into the harmonious discord of the Melvins, which I incidentally came across after going through my uncle’s C.D. collection. I burned through copies of Houdini and Stoner Witch within a week while trying to fight passion with passion. The two don’t mix, kids, and fighting fire with fire only goes so far. But I got lost in the noise, and the heavy pulsing of guitars and wailing basses led me to find new pieces of myself. Music has a power to it I cannot describe, and I owe some credit of my growth as a person to the Melvins.
I’ve read the stories about Mike Kunka from godheadSilo getting together with the Melvins to make wonderful noise happen back in the late ‘90s. The project was then “shelved”, and that was that. Until late last year when the project sparked back up, and after hearing about the release come to light in the past couple of weeks, I jumped on the chance to listen to the dissonant concoction of Three Men and a Baby.
Anything Melvins takes time and repeated listens to muddle through the layers, and this release is no different. Dissecting the sludge is half the fun of listening to their albums, and in Three Men and a Baby, hearing Kunka’s bass rip through the resonance like a dull axe thwacking through flesh creates kickass undertones of relentless fun. This album is noise gold, and certain songs like “A Dead Pile of Worthless Junk”, “A Friend in Need is a Friend You Don’t Need”, and “Gravel” make my mind feel like it’s rolling around in buckets of thick and goopy oil, close to what that X-Files scene of an oily Mulder running from an explosion looks like.
Three bass guitars engulf our ears, and their players have craftfully turned each instrument into explosive weapons. From the beginning of “Chicken n’ Dump” to the raucous finale of “Art School Fight Song”, the 16-something year wait has been well worth it. Every song compliments the strengths of each musician, and the powerful drumming and mystic ambient noises turn this sludge into a damned fine album. Just listen to “Read the Label (It’s Chili)”, “Bummer Conversation”, and “Limited Teeth”, and you’ll hear it. Listen to Three Men and a Baby a few times and let the craftsmanship sink into your head. They also make PIL’s “Annalisa” sound like it was originally their own. This is good stuff, folks. Really good stuff.
Time, patience, and evolution of talent deliver in this album, and I’m glad the project was shelved for as long as it was. Ripping sound to shreds as a younger self, then coming back to the same songs years later while more in-tuned with your craft, adds new restraint, yet it remains consistent with the Melvins signature approach to noise.
I’m glad I got to listen to this album, especially while emotionally sober, and I think I will take time to revisit Stoner Witch and Houdini in this sober state while I wait for the Melvins’ next album, Bases Loaded, to drop in June.
MAAF BOX LISTENING PLEASURE:
Chicken n’ Dump, Read the Label (It’s Chili), Limited Teeth, Bummer Conversation, Annalisa, Dead Canaries.
MAAF BOX RATING: