SOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS Green Naugahyde (2011).
Primus is back with their first full length album since 1999.
As they have done before, this album opens with a brief instrumental “Prelude to a Crawl” which sort of sets the tone for “Hennepin Crawler.” As soon as “Hennepin” opens you know that this is classic Primus–bass loaded and crazy rhythms. But it’s also apparent that Les is bringing some of the weird effects he’s been playing with in his various other bands to Primus–the bass is wonderfully distorted with crazy effects. I love that he’s also playing harmonics on the bass. It’s really hard to tell what is the guitar and what is the bass on this song.
The only problem I have with this song, and a few others, is that Les is singing in a low(er) register. And since the bass is so prominent, it makes it really hard to hear the vocals. Either that or they are mixed especially low. Primus lyrics are usually just as weird as the music, and it’s always fun to hear what’s on Les’ mind. So it’s a shame that they are buried. It also means that the music has to stand on its own. It often does this, but they do put extra effort into instrumental sections, so a section that feels like an instrumental because the lyrics are so quiet means it’s not quite as interesting as it could be,
Having said that, there’s some great musical ideas here. I love the riff of “Last Salmon Man” (again, the lyrics are hard to decipher) and the way it changes from verse to bridge. Although at 6 minutes it’s a bit too long. “Eternal Consumption Engine” is a great title. It’s the first song where Les’ old vocals come back, and it’s nice to hear him. Although I admit the “everything’s made in China” refrain does go on a bit long.
“Tragedy’s A’ Comin’” is classic Primus, a funky rubber bass line, and group vocals (although again, that bass lead vocal is hard to hear). I think what I really like about it is the openness of the music–so that you can really hear the fun things that original drummer Jay Lane is doing. (I was bummed that Herb wasn’t here, but Lane is really great).
“Eyes of the Squirrel” is probably my least favorite song which is a real shame because the opening bass riffs are INSANELY wonderful! I don’t know how anyone can play that fast. I really like the way the song opens. But it just seems to drag. “Jilly’s on Smack” is one of those weird Primus songs that worms its way into you–the song is mostly quiet little noises and whispered vocals. But there’s a cool instrumental break (and on this song, too, the drums sound great).
It’s the second half of the album that totally kicks ass. “Lee Van Cleef” is a great stomper about missing Lee. “Moron TV” is infectiously catchy (especially the dang a dang a dang a dang dang part) and the lyrics are wonderful. The spoken word/jam section is also really fun.
“Hoinfodaman” is awesome and listening to Les pitch for fake products is hilarious. It also features what may be a first for Primus: guitars in the lead melody line. I especially love the crazy (and I think rather funny) guitar line that works as the bridge.
“Extinction Burst” ends the album on a major high note. The harmonics from the bass jump into the really heavy main riff. And Ler’s bizarrely fiddly guitar section is great–easily comparable to any of Les’ fiddly nonsense. I don’t know how these guys make their instruments sound like this. And the drums are a great complement once again. The truly amazing part comes at the end. The outro of the song is very Rush-like, except that Ler’s guitar chords go high when you expect low, which is awesome, and his solo is insane–all the while Les is being Les.
The disc ends with the 58 second reprise called “Salmon Men” which reintroduces the fishy theme.
It’s great to have Primus back. It’s also great to hear them exploring different styles like funk! (within their own weird style). Even the songs I don’t like that much are still enjoyable. This makes for one of Primus’ best releases overall.
[READ: March 21, 2012] “The Life of a Zombie,” “The Forest,” “Snoopy,” “Life with Billy Joel”
I haven’t read Crosbie before, so I don’t know if she typically writes these really short (yup, I’m going to say it) flash fictions. I’ve mentioned many times that I sort of love and hate flash fiction. It seems like as the genre develops it revels even more in what is not stated. Sometimes this works really well, and other times it just seems to ask too much of the reader–especially if you don’t have time to get invested in a character.
“The Life of a Zombie” is strangely titled because it’s actually about the life of a woman dating a zombie. The story (half a page in total) goes into Lynn’s previous bad dates as well as the men she met through a dating service (including a criminal and a man on hid death bed). The zombie has more life than either of them. She just has to keep him from eating her brains, but otherwise they have a nice time and have just moved in together.
It’s hard to critique a story because it doesn’t do what you want it to, but I will anyway. I had hoped this story would have been more deadpan–not so much that should couldn’t get anyone else but how it really is to be in love with a zombie. It could have been funny through playing it straight. And, yes, longer would have been better here as it was it kind of felt like a one note joke. (more…)
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