Jesse Jarnow

“backwater” – the meat puppets

“Backwater” – Meat Puppets (download here)
from Too High To Die (1994)
released by London (buy)

(file expires April 23rd)

It’s amazing how genres disappear with time. A few weeks ago, I caught a bit of the Kids In the Hall movie, Brain Candy, at a friend’s house, which I hadn’t seen since college. I couldn’t tell if Death Lurks, the faux-band fronted by Bruce McCullough’s Grivo, was supposed to be parodying grunge or metal. Likewise, a bunch of months ago, I put the Meat Puppets’ Too High To Die on my iPod. Nearly every time a track came up on shuffle, I thought “what vintage jamband is this?”

“Backwater” — their only charting single, not coincidentally, #47 on the Hot 100 — is still the best. It’s filled with sweet double-tracked vocals and rubbery/crunchy guitars that might launch into a Jersey Shore cover band version of “St. Stephen” at any moment. Plus, the album is called Too High To Die. Of course, the Meat Puppets were always hippies, and Meat Puppets II is at least as psych-country as it is punk. But they worked on the proto-indie circuit, and got a huge boost when Kurt Cobain featured them on MTV Unplugged, so they got lumped in with the alt-rockers, and people heard them differently. Whatever you wanna call it, “Backwater” still makes me happy.


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