Grunge pioneers The Melvins, an early influence on Nirvana, play two sold-out shows Friday and Saturday, May 13 and 14 at The Crocodile, in Seattle.
Seattle in the ’90s was synonymous with grunge, a Mecca for disenfranchised youth playing deafening anthems on electric guitars.
We can thank the Melvins for their part, a hugely influential group that inspired pre-Nirvana Kurt Cobain. The Melvins took punk rock and slowed it down, ground it into a metallic sludge that seeped throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. And although never as mainstream as some contemporaries, the band has been widely admired and imitated since it formed in Southwest Washington in 1983.
This admiration is due in part to constant reinvention, which comes through loudly on the Melvins’ powerful new release, “Sugar Daddy Live,” out May 31 on Ipecac Records. The album is executed with the same experimental ferocity fans have come to expect from the current lineup: Dale Crover and Coady Willis on drums; Jared Warren on bass; and founding member, vocalist and guitarist Buzz Osborne, aka King Buzzo.
Though they’ve recorded these songs before, they sound more atmospheric and more expansive live than on their tight and measured studio recordings.
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The Melvins are coming to Seattle for a special two-night engagement Friday and Saturday (both shows are sold out), playing the material from two full-length studio albums in their entirety each night.
In an industry increasingly driven by image and auto-tuning, the Melvins remain true to themselves and the music.
“We make music we would like as fans,” said Osborne by telephone from his home in California.
Purists may prefer an earlier version of the band, but this album is as much in keeping with its spirit as anything that’s come before. A casual listener may find “Sugar Daddy Live” difficult, a 50-minute wall of sound that comes straight on and never lets up. But it’s a beautiful noise.
“I’m not difficult, I just like difficult stuff,” said the singer.
For all its apparent chaos, the Melvins’ music is meticulously planned.
“Everything is mapped,” Osborne explained. “You get a better set if you play this way. How we start, how we end it, it’s one big thing.”
“Sugar Daddy Live” will never go platinum, but it will gratify longtime fans and should attract new ones.
And there’s no better way to be introduced to the Melvins than at a raucous live show.
“You can’t get a live show on the Internet, it’s not the same as being there,” said Osborne. “Live is always better.”
Allison Augustyn: firstname.lastname@example.org