This Melvins album is named Basses Loaded because it is packed to the gills with notable bass players, up to a total of 6! As well as the regulars, we have Steve McDonald of Red Kross and OFF!, Jeff Pinkus of Butthole Surfers, and Krist Novoselic of goddamn Nirvana. All contributing to the Melvins maelstrom of low-end heavy. Pow.
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I’d like to dedicate this review to my housemate Vasili, who recently declared “Bullhead > Houdini” to the internet, full of pride in a conviction that faded with the setting of the sun. He later admitted he was wrong. Was he though, or do all Melvins records essentially do the same thing, making them all better than each other depending on which riff and/or solo you are listening to in the moment? I don’t know, but Melvins have obviously started catching onto the very no frills essence of their existence, and so they’ve made ‘Basses Loaded’, a record that comes with the stoner rock equivalent of a cereal toy gimmick: there are six bassists on this thing, each playing with the band on a different song.
Six bassists! That’s one for every Norman staff member. Such a luxury. Ultimately the low-end is pretty streamlined throughout ‘Basses Loaded’, the various participating members (Steve McDonaldt, Krist Novoselic, Jeff Pinkus, Trevor Dunn, Jarred Warren and Dale Crover) doing a good job while I basically notice other things, like the cool synthy riff on “Choco Plumbing”, which reminds me of the silly rhetoric of System of a Down. The bass thing serves to make this a fun, freewheeling time where everyone knows they’re here to doomparty, with actually catchy riffs on “Beer Hippie” and elastic metal jaunts on songs such as “Hideous Woman” (bad song title, there’s no question -- fuck all these guys).
Six bassists can’t really compromise for many, many years of doing the same thing, but Melvins remain the same great-at-what-they-do band with a couple of tricks, such as “Planet Distructo”, which slow-burns as a ballad instead, the vocals grazed into the background as the bass wriggles its way free of proceedings. With extra players on the thing, they sound like the Melvins getting notes back on their essay. Thanks, bass professors.
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