Gabriel, San Francisco 09/09/2014
Melvins’ guitar god lashes out acoustically on these fine twisted tunes. This isn’t Melvins unplugged, but King Buzzo spewing forth his miserly magic without accompaniment. My standouts are “Drunken Baby,” “How I Became Offensive,” and “New River.”
It seems fitting that the debut solo acoustic full length from Melvins fronthuman Buzzo Osbourne has a title as unrepentantly snarky as it does, a cruel pun on the post-Guthrie/Strummer pretensions of the rocker picking up an acoustic instrument and going it alone for the sake of truth, earnestness, and simplicity, the tender ethics of "unplugging." Seems like the kind of thing Buzzo would snort at and yet he made the record anyway--and it's not particularly snarky past its title. TMKA is a sprawling collection of simply overdubbed raga-like meditations for steel string acoustic guitar, recalling mostly very serious music following the same pattern: Roy Harper, acoustic Led Zeppelin and, particularly, acoustic Hawkwind whose reverbed and echoed vocals are mimicked here with a far-away, ominous, psychedelic effect. The riffage has a lot in common with Buzzo's work with the Melvins: sounds from the same dark, occasionally bluesy wellspring where both grunge and stoner metal at one time met to hydrate. These days grunge is an anachronism, a performance of something barely remembered, but on this record, the listener gets a bizarre reminder that its roots were usually in mean classic rock; Buzzo's decidedly normal-guy-singing-metal vocals speak to grunge's regular "lazy guy" take on that mean classic rock in a way that normally gets buried in the soundwall of the perpetually timeless, electrified Melvins. At the end of the day, TMKA feels very traditional in terms of its dark 70s rock lineage, a new release in a large and growing family of angry midnight stoner ragas, the product of the aforementioned bards (Harper, Hawkwind, & Page, but also people like Peter Hammill) and time spent alone with a guitar. Exceeded expectations.