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Music Review: Meat Puppets – Sewn Together

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Uncomplicated, humble, and straight to the point, the Meats PuppetsSewn Together takes hold instantaneously with its clear-cut brand of rock and never lets up until the final track fades out.

Formed in 1980 in Paradise Valley, the Meat Puppets started out as a punk rock band on SST Records. Their style began to expand and it wasn’t long before they were being cited as major influences on acts like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pavement.

In the mainstream, it was difficult for the Meat Puppets to step out from under the light by which they were best known. Nirvana’s Unplugged In New York, one of Kurt Cobain’s last televised performances, featured Curt and Cris Kirkwood as special guests during “Plateau,” “Oh, Me,” and “Lake of Fire.” The Nirvana versions of the three Meat Puppets tracks became more well-known than the original songs from Meat Puppets II.

After a few breakups and reunions, the Meat Puppets came together again for 2007’s Rise to Your Knees. It was the first record since 1995’s No Joke! to feature both Kirkwood brothers in the line-up. It also introduced a new drummer, Ted Marcus.

As the follow-up to Rise to Your Knees, Sewn Together presses ahead with the trio’s dizzy mélange of styles. With some psychedelic rock, some country-folk tones, and some deep rock moments, this is a record built sincerely and, according to Curt, swiftly.

The title track is a neat swaying number, perfect for bright summer days. Curt’s guitar meshes with the other instruments fluently, offering an unfussy quality that sounds like it was hammered out in one perfect take.

And that’s really what makes Sewn Together so special. In a day and age of overproduced studio madness, it’s refreshing to experience songs that come together as they should in true organic fashion. This record is the consequence of musicians knowing one another and knowing the path to lucidity.

The deep, downward crunch of “Clone” reflects an instant of a potentially complex arrangement brought down a peg and given unambiguous treatment. As Curt’s guitar walks down the stairs in the introduction, the song comes beautifully apart and rolls out with charming alt-country tone. A more pretentious act would have laminated a piece like this with overplayed instrumentation and obnoxious tinkering.

Whether it’s the bluegrass gait of “I’m Not You” or the frank rock goodness of “S.K.A.,” the Puppets deliver down-to-earth appeal on every track.

Sewn Together is a treat, representing a divine throwback to a time where producers weren’t the stars of the show and gorgeous, effortless melodies shone through as they should.

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