Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Ah, grunge. Sounds kinda hokey now, doesn’t it? The only time modern variants on this sound have anything going for them is apparently when they bury the vocals, head back to the 60s and turn everything up to “stun”, a la hot new band BIRDS OF MAYA, whose debut CD “Volume 1” is one of the fave listens around my house this year. But we’re not here to talk about them – we’re here to revel in some early 90s rawk from MONSTER MAGNET, their second single to be exact. You may recall that we posted their first one on this site right here, and made reference to there being one other good record squeezed out by the band before they took a dive down the dumper. That would be the “Murder / Tractor” 45, which is full of feedback, pedal-hopping, distortion, and all that you’ve come to associate with the crème de la crème of grunge-related musics. At the time this band struck me as being more in the HAWKWIND/MOTORHEAD vein, crossed with that dirty & dingy DRUNKS WITH GUNS sound we dug so much back then. A slightly later contemporary was MONOSHOCK, except that Monster Magnet headed to the stadiums while Monoshock headed to the futon.

Here's what I wrote about the single on an old blog:

I dug this 45 out from under a ton of rubble and detritus in my garage this weekend, in hopes of recapturing whatever magic I heard in it when it first came out in 1990. I’m too lazy to look up the review I wrote on it in my then-fanzine at the time, but I’ll bet I told a whopper of a tale about blazing wah-wah, screaming guitar fury, the second coming of the Stooges blahdy blah blah. Just LOVED this band’s first two singles when they came out (“Lizard Johnny/Freak Shop USA” got a spin last year and I’m proud to say it held up). So what about now, hunh? Well, let’s take it from a couple of angles. First, the band’s record label is called “Primo Scree”. Please allow me the opportunity to say “that is so gay”. Second, there’s a big sign on the front sleeve that says “Drug Rock”, right next to the photo of some hippie who’s just shot someone dead. Drug Rock. Pardon my French, but that’s a little gay as well. (I mean gay as in happy).

Vocals, too, are more than a little over the top: “well I awwwlwayz trah ta do tha right thang bayyy-bah” etc. I guess you gotta remember that Mudhoney had been blowing a lot of minds during the previous 18 months, mine included, and this sort of Arm-esque vocalizing was allowed – nay, encouraged – at the time. Look up the 1990 indie punk rulebook, you’ll find it under rule 3:16, I promise. What I still really enjoy about this record is the actually understated feedback and wah-wah (at least on the a-side) – “Murder” really does have a distant, murky, lo-fi, almost dangerous feel to it that still sounds terrific. “Tractor” is more heavy screech a la “Loose” or ”TV Eye”, but both tracks are pretty smoking. Maybe because the recording quality is sub-optimal, it doesn’t stray into the jukebox hero arena metal these guys later became famous for & instead sounds like a scary piece of underground punk rock vinyl from an bygone era when new 45s could still be pretty fucking exciting. If it came out today no one would hear it nor care, but this one was heralded pretty unanimously upon release ways back. Nice to hear it retains at least 50% of its luster fourteen years on.

I think you get the picture. It’s still a great, if dated, rock and roll recording.

Play or Download MONSTER MAGNET – “Murder” (A-side)
Play or Download MONSTER MAGNET – “Tractor” (B-side)


Anonymous said...

I concur, I'm still really glad I own this and if I still had a turntable, it'd be just the thing for waking me up in the morning. I found it scary and exhilarating at the same time.. Christ, I gotta buy a turntable.

Brushback said...

Never paid much attention to Monster Magnet, though I own "Murder" by default; it's part of the Glitterhouse "Endangered Species" box set. Not sure if it's the same version, though.

I think I heard some story or other about Primo Scree not actually having the rights to release this, so it wasn't widely distributed in the States, or something like that. Perhaps you own a rarity, Jay...

nicepooperzine said...

Cool to see a Birds of Maya mention in a Monster Magnet post, nice!