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.
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.