Mudhoney – Digital Garbage (Album Review)

Ever wonder what would a Nirvana album sound like in 2018? Sadly, the world will never know since Kurt Cobain left this place in 1994. Like so many other bands from that late ’80s/’90s era of Alternative Rock out of the Northwestern region of the USA, Nirvana would not sustain the longevity of pioneering forefathers Mudhoney. Speaking of which, in 2018, Mudhoney are celebrating their thirtieth year as a band, and doing so with their tenth overall studio album, Digital Garbage.

Released on Friday, September 28, 2018 through Sub Pop, like so many modern albums, Digital Garbage is a reflection of the current state of the world. Thirty years after the band’s start, the world has reached a new boiling point that calls out for Mudhoney’s sonic anti-ludicrous and angst anthems. Their first studio album since 2013’s Vanishing Point, and coming a year after 2017’s live record Lie, Vocalist Mark Arm, Guitarist Steve Turner, Bassist Guy Maddison, and Drummer Dan Peters answer the call for action with Digital Garbage. 

A very sarcastic lyricist, Arm’s songs offer a brusque companion to the ever-more-ridiculous news cycle. “My sense of humor is dark, and these are dark times,” says Arm. “I suppose it’s only getting darker,” as he reflects on society, news, and social media on the vanguard of Digital Garbage. In fact, society’s obsession with social media provides to be a lyrical inspiration, although, Arm admits, “I’m not on social media, so my experience is somewhat limited.” Still aware of what is going on, he added, “But people really seem to find validation in the likes—and then there’s Facebook Live, where people have streamed torture and murder, or, in the case of Philando Castile, getting murdered by a cop.

All these thoughts in mind, Digital Garbage kicks off with the Beach Rock-vibed “Nerve Attack.” A song which would make the Ramones proud, Bassist Maddison shines in the groove. From here the album races into “Paranoid Core.” The album’s lead single, this old school Clash-style Punk Rock anthem shows Mudhoney’s ability to make you think, dance, and laugh, all at the same time with lyrics such as  “I feed on your fear,” reflecting how social media news became the standard. 

“Please Mr. Gunman” picks up right where “Paranoid Core” leaves off, reflecting on societal standards, values and fears, all with the hymn of the chorus “we’d rather die in church.” A strong track, it also features the addition of Arm’s piano on the back-end, bringing yet another layer to it all. Tying the album together like a puzzle, the piano parts hinted on at the conclusion of “Please Mr. Gunman” are  taken up notch for “Kill Yourself Live” with a long intro that showcases Arm’s skills on the keys in a fun house style synth sound. Eventually, he steps away from from the piano and picks up the microphone to give social commentary on how people are doing everything on their “tiny little screens” and mockingly states “kill yourself live, do it for the likes.

In the digital era of 2018, not only has media changed, but the music itself has been changed in part to digital recording tools and tricks making much of what artists put out sound overly processed. Eleven tracks in total, fortunately, Mudhoney’s Digital Garbage is a grass roots back to basics Rock-n-Roll satire that will satisfy your urge of listening to music that once was. Not at all digital noise or rubbish, CrypticRock give this album 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Digital Garbage

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