14 Songs, 34 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

There’s no denying that The Muffs’ Kim Shattuck is a gifted singer and songwriter. Very few (male or female) songsmiths can cobble together a punk-pop tune as punchy, simple, and sing-songy as Shattuck, much less deliver them in such brutally fun ways; there’s real guts behind Shattuck’s vocal howls. On the band’s second album, released in 1995, the frontwoman masterfully distills honest themes of personal relationships and self-loathing down to bare-knuckle essentials and almost Ramones-like simplicity (“If you ever see me anywhere/And you know me/Please walk away”). Her voice shifts easily from semi-tender (the Kinks-ish “Sad Tomorrow” and the gentle epistle to manipulation “Just a Game”) to throat-spray needy (“Agony,” “Red Eyed Troll”). Shattuck sings the truth even if she’s mocking it—and she often is, as on the strangely graceful pop ditty “End It All” (which sounds a lot like a lost Jackie DeShannon tune by The Searchers). Irony or no, there’s real heart beating among the watertight rhythms and gusty power chords. Luckily, that year The Muffs had one of the best rhythm sections in rock ’n’ roll.

EDITORS’ NOTES

There’s no denying that The Muffs’ Kim Shattuck is a gifted singer and songwriter. Very few (male or female) songsmiths can cobble together a punk-pop tune as punchy, simple, and sing-songy as Shattuck, much less deliver them in such brutally fun ways; there’s real guts behind Shattuck’s vocal howls. On the band’s second album, released in 1995, the frontwoman masterfully distills honest themes of personal relationships and self-loathing down to bare-knuckle essentials and almost Ramones-like simplicity (“If you ever see me anywhere/And you know me/Please walk away”). Her voice shifts easily from semi-tender (the Kinks-ish “Sad Tomorrow” and the gentle epistle to manipulation “Just a Game”) to throat-spray needy (“Agony,” “Red Eyed Troll”). Shattuck sings the truth even if she’s mocking it—and she often is, as on the strangely graceful pop ditty “End It All” (which sounds a lot like a lost Jackie DeShannon tune by The Searchers). Irony or no, there’s real heart beating among the watertight rhythms and gusty power chords. Luckily, that year The Muffs had one of the best rhythm sections in rock ’n’ roll.

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About The Muffs

Fusing big guitar riffs, pop hooks, fast tempos, and an attitude that sways between sweet and snarky, the Muffs are a pop-punk band from Los Angeles led by guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Kim Shattuck. The Muffs' story begins in the late '80s, when Kim Shattuck and Melanie Vammen were members of the Los Angeles garage band the Pandoras; under the direction of group founder Paula Pierce, the Pandoras began to evolve from garage rock revivalists into a metal-influenced hard rock act. Shattuck left the group in 1990, a few months before the band broke up following Pierce's death due to a brain aneurysm, and Shattuck and Vammen decided to put together a band of their own. They formed the Muffs with drummer Criss Crass and bassist Ronnie Barnett; after two singles for indies Sub Pop and Sympathy for the Record Industry generated a large underground buzz, the Muffs were picked up by Warner Bros. and subsequently released their powerful eponymous debut album in 1993. Shortly after the album dropped, Crass left the group and was replaced temporarily for the tour.

Finally, after two years of playing small venues throughout the world, the Muffs headed back into the studio to record the follow-up, Blonder and Blonder. The group was now a three-piece due to Vammen's departure, who had left the group due to creative differences and would later work with longstanding California punk band the Leaving Trains. For the Muffs' second album, ex-Redd Kross drummer and longtime Muffs friend Roy McDonald joining Shattuck and Barnett. Happy Birthday to Me followed in 1997; it was the band's last record for Warner Bros., and 1999's Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow was released by the punk-leaning indie outfit Honest Don's Records. A rarities collection, Hamburger, appeared in early 2000. After a five-year break from recording, the group reconvened in 2004 to release its fifth studio set, Really Really Happy.

In 2011, the Muffs released another collection of odds and sods, Kaboodle, and in July 2013 Shattuck announced that she had been hired to join the Pixies as bassist following the departure of Kim Deal. Shattuck's run with the Pixies turned out to be brief, as she was fired from the group in November 2013; undaunted, Shattuck reconvened the Muffs, and in July 2014 the group released an album of new material, Whoop Dee Doo. The Muffs also found new champions at Omnivore Recordings, who released remastered and expanded editions of their three albums for Warner Bros. The upgraded version of The Muffs appeared in August 2015, Blonder and Blonder was reissued in May 2016, and Happy Birthday to Me completed the series in March 2017. ~ Mark Deming

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