Classification on music from track to genre becomes harder and harder as the pieces and players adapt to break lines and form their own styles. The Meat Puppets were far ahead of the curve with their 1984 release, Meat Puppets II that combined a love for desert dazes, square-dancing foundations, and punk rock power into one single digestible piece. From the fast runs or the graceful turns, Meat Puppets capture this desperado nature that runs from tranquility rather than the law.
As the story begins on Meat Puppets II, the record could be mistaken for a Californian punk band consisting of surf rockers and skate fools. Instead, the Arizona-based natives are a departure into the sunshine and Cactus Jack’s with “Split Myself in Two.” They are nearly impossible to understand lyrically as the shrills and shrieks from Curt and Cris Kirkwood on the vocals and string aspects while Derrick Bostrom covers the percussion. It is this three-piece from country roots that tap into the fast play and avant-garde profiling of punk that form more high-brow illustrations of ability.
The second track, “Magic Toy Missing” is strictly instrumental and acts almost as an interlude that spices up the madness rather than toning it down. The fierce scratches of guitar that stands neck-to-neck with the bass as they battle back and forth is this sibling rivalry born from love. One thing that is noticeable from the first seconds on Meat Puppets II is the airtight togetherness that shines like a fiery-orange opal. There are several instances where the instrumental tracks are giving the audience a well-deserved break on the 19-track, 48-minute long journey through twisting hills and revolting natives.
Especially shining on the cascading performance of “Aurora Borealis” which dances in this freeform nature just like the Northern Lights would. The use of psychedelic capacity that stirs along with the dreamy guitar is almost heaven-sent. All three members of the Meat Puppets rely on each other to progress the record forward and to push this lightweight-instrumental onto the listener. Every second on Meat Puppets II is fascinating whether disguised and laid back like on “Oh, Me” or on the frontiers with “New Gods,” there is something delicious that lies in the corners of the world in the Meat Puppets’ eyes.
This strange but friendly nature is what makes returning to the record such an accessible process. As soon as the vinyl stops spinning, Meat Puppets II is ready to be spun again, taking the listener up the mountain once more. The sound can be jarring at first glance, but they are just different enough to stand out like a blooming saguaro amongst a dry climate.