With their second full-length release on a major label, Mudhoney, one of the progenitors of Seattle grunge, may finally find themselves exploding on the pop charts. Sacrificing none of the punk rage and fury that define their sound, Mudhoney has injected My Brother the Cow with enough of the right elements—memorable choruses and tight grooves—to make it as commercially viable as the music of their friends and Seattle compatriots Pearl Jam.
“Judgment, Rage, Retribution and Thyme” gets things cranked up, with singer Mark Arm caterwauling through a primitive-sounding microphone and guitarist Steve Turner throwing in a classic British Invasion lead to lessen the sonic boom. And what Emerald City band members would be worth their weight in coffee beans if they didn’t lash out at some vapid social trend? In “Generation Spokesmodel,” Arm condemns Gap ready-to-wear pop or media stars: “Hey, kids, how would I look on the cover of Spin?” he sings with a permanent sneer on his face. Cynics may label them Nirvana-bes for the naggingly familiar opening guitar chords on “Today, Is a Good Day,” but this punchy rocker doesn’t smell like teen spirit; it’s just a good, catchy number. And Floridians won’t appreciate the hilarious Led Zep-ish “Orange Ball-Peen Hammer,” which was inspired by Arm and band manager Bob Whittaker’s run-in with some rowdy miscreants in the Sunshine State: “A day without orange juice is like a night in jail.” By the time “1995” brings the record to a screeching, dissonant halt, the listener feels exhausted but satisfied. Leave the brooding anthems to Pearl Jam. Mudhoney delivers pure grunge—messy music that casts a powerful spell. (Reprise)