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Sewn Together

Meat Puppets

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Album Review

The Meat Puppets shattered so dramatically in the late '90s that 12 years separated the last album with the group's original lineup, No Joke, and 2007's Rise to Your Knees, which saw guitarist Curt Kirkwood and his brother, bassist Cris Kirkwood, reunited in the studio (drummer Ted Marcus replaced original timekeeper Derrick Bostrom), and even then their reunion came as a surprise to many fans. The Meat Puppets had a hard time finding their groove on the often clumsy Rise to Your Knees, but thankfully 2009's Sewn Together finds them sounding and feeling like their old selves again. The production on Sewn Together is more polished and professional than on the Pups' classic '80s albums like Meat Puppets II and Up on the Sun, and the presence of a few guest musicians and some keyboard and mandolin overdubs gives this a glossy sheen more befitting their later major-label efforts Forbidden Places and Too High to Die. But the vaguely psychedelic drift of the melodies and the playful surrealism of the lyrics certainly harks back to the classic period of the band, and if the 2009 Meat Puppets aren't as light on their feet as they were two decades earlier, Curt's guitar and vocals clearly recall the dusty splendor of their best work, especially compared to Rise to Your Knees, and Cris and Ted are a tighter and more sympathetic rhythm section on their second visit to the studio. When Sewn Together rocks out, the vibe is less punk and more '70s hard rock, but the crunch is classic Kirkwood, and as befits the most cheerfully stoned-out band to emerge from the hardcore underground, Sewn Together sounds and feels pleasurably baked, and the mood makes even the grandest conceits on this album sound at once modest and as spacious as the desert. For all the demons that haunted them following their brief flirtation with fame, Sewn Together suggests that the Meat Puppets are following their bliss again, and if it's not quite up to the standards of their classic material, there's no question that it reconnects with the qualities that made them so special. It's a fine thing to have the Meat Puppets back in fighting shape again.

Biography

Formed: June, 1980 in Tempe, AZ

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Out of all of the bands that made SST Records a towering force in the American underground during the mid-'80s, Meat Puppets lasted the longest, surviving where other bands fell apart. Meat Puppets never had the dedicated following of Hüsker Dü or the Minutemen — two fellow SST bands who played the same circuit as the Puppets — but they were able to carve out a long career where other hardcore bands could not, because they always drew from conventional hard rock as well as punk. Not only...
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