Get Stoned with the Dead Milkmen's New Album, The King in Yellow
Listen to this while high: The Dead Milkmen's The King in Yellow.
Behind the buzz: Eighties college-rock jokers you either got or you didn't, The Dead Milkmen are back with three original members and a snootful of the same old eff-yew. They weren't the first punks to goose risibilities (Sam the Sham got there firstest and The Dickies mostest), but they were among the first to take the spare and serious hardcore era somewhere a little less self-righteous. I always liked "Bitchin' Camaro" and the substance of "Big Lizard" details a fantasy cherished in boyhood. Why these Philly vulgarians should take title The King in Yellow, previously that of a 19th century fantasy story treasured by people who still read, is one of many mysteries in a world already reeling before admixture with the below strain.
Today's weed: Giggling's the thing, so I decided on a fat chunk of Special Reserve indica, buttressed with a dusting of OG Blonde kief.
Udderly daft: The Milkmen's first album since 1995 opens with a titular burst of roots-rock that's only slightly more C.W. McCall than the North Mississippi All-Stars before settling into American Gothic grisliness. "Fauxhemia" is a goof on hipsterdom with the poignant line "No, I don't get Norah Jones/Maybe that's why I feel so alone" and a lot of jokey shoegaze guitar riffs. Structurally, this whole album feels less like a canonical Milkmen joint than one of those early Eighties Blue Oyster Cult LPs that lurches from one tricky obscure joke to another like some nitrous freak at an art gallery. The satirical rightwing raving and howling sounds pretty tame in an era that takes Herman Cain almost seriously. "Some Young Guy" is a nasty little stalker ditty worthy of Napoleon XVI in jabbering intensity, and "Passport to Depravity" is unironic like an upraised finger worn as a party hat. The Milkmen have gotten a lot more sophisticated since their Reagan Age heyday, as a lot of oldtimey punks inevitably did once they discovered The Chocolate Watchband and The Electric Prunes. The record's sense of outrage isn't much we haven't heard before -- "Commodify Your Dissent" gnaws a beef already chewed over by the Frankfurt School back when Bill Haley was a zygote. "Solvents (For Home and Industry)" is a freakishly funny closing jape about the kind of crazy you usually find in Tennessee Williams, if not here.
Psychotropic verdict: Truly a cow for all seasons.----