King Buzzo – This Machine Kills Artists (2014)


King BuzzoThis Machine Kills Artists (Ipecac Recordings, 02 June 2014)


The bulk of my formative years were spent in the 1990s, from age eleven (when I was being introduced to Faith No More and Overkill) through twenty (when I was discovering Pentagram and Emperor). I experienced lot of music both new and old during that decade, all of which had a strong influence over my tastes and preferences, and frankly, made a huge impression on my life in general. And looking back, I think it could be argued that (taking into account both direct and indirect effects) singer/guitarist Roger “Buzz” Osborne and his band The Melvins had made at least as much of an impact as any other person or band, if not more.

After all, not only did I discover their own music somewhere in my teens (and found myself blown away by it), but that band can be said to have been almost singlehandedly responsible for entire genres of music — some of which rank among my absolute favorite. Where would sludge or grunge metal be, if it weren’t for their groundbreaking work? What would Crowbar or Eyehategod have sounded like; TAD or Harvey Milk; or dozens of other bands who’ve served such an important role in my life?

So clearly, I don’t think I could overemphasize how big of a deal they — and by extension, their one constant member over their thirty year history — really are. And so when Ipecac Recordings issues an album full of Osbourne solo acoustic material, needless to say I am very intrigued…


Buzz Osborne (with the Melvins) in Pittsburgh, 27 May 2013

Buzz Osborne (with the Melvins) in Pittsburgh, 27 May 2013


That album is called This Machine Kills Artists and it saw the light of day this Tuesday (the 2nd of June). Buzz himself commented on the seventeen-song, forty-four-minute record, saying “I have no interest in sounding like a crappy version of James Taylor or a half-assed version of Woody Guthrie, which is what happens when almost every rock and roller straps on an acoustic guitar. No thanks… This Machine Kills Artists is a different kind of animal.”

Whether or not he has been successful in creating “a different kind of animal” is for the listener to decide, I guess — after all, there’s really only so much new and unique that can be done with one person and a couple layers each of vocals and guitar-playing. From the start, opening track “Dark Brown Teeth” has several interesting twists of rhythm, and cool bends and manipulations of notes, both of which bring to mind some of the acoustic work of past electric guitar gods: for example, Dave Gilmour‘s “The Narrow Way (pt. 1)” and Jimmy Page on “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” or “Hats Off to Roy Harper”.

Throughout the record, other comparisons can be drawn as well — the idea of a metal/grunge guitarist switching to an acoustic, and playing a very dark and moody tone, will inevitably inspire thoughts of material like Alice in ChainsJar of Flies EP or their live Unplugged album; and the sharp picking style here also bears some similarity to the playing of Todd Whitener (a founding member of both Days of the New and Tantric). That strong attack, which sounds like the steel strings are practically being ripped from the instrument’s body, is also reminiscent of the old-style blues pickers — who of course were the originators of what would later become rock music and eventually heavy metal.

It’s not only the guitar playing that occasionally reminds me of other artists: in the first half of the song “Instrument of God,” the vocals almost sound like Les Claypool (specifically, some of the songs he did with Oysterhead), while the falsetto of “Good and Hostile” brings to mind Jane’s Addiction‘s Perry Farrell.

Naturally, a performer as well-known and distinctive as this isn’t necessarily going to sound like other people THAT much; indeed this album is overall unmistakably Buzzo, with a clear Melvins vibe popping up all over the place (most prominently songs like “Laid Back Walking,” “The Ripping Driving,” and “The Blithering Idiot”). Either way, there’s enough variety sprinkled across this collection to make each song unique and interesting, despite how limiting the minimal “guy + guitar” instrumentation might seem like it would be. Some of my personal favorite moments include “New River,” which features very cool harmonized guitar lines in the intro and verses, and penultimate track “Useless King of the Punks,” which has a chord structure and strumming pattern that remind me — ha! — of the semi-acoustic closing song on TAD‘s Inhaler, “Gouge.”

In all seriousness, This Machine Kills Artists shows yet another facet of an already mind-blowingly versatile and prolific songwriter — considering the fact that his primary band has released at least one or more albums or EPs (here’s what I wrote about one EP from a couple years ago) on average over the course of their thirty-year career (and that isn’t even the only musical project he’s been involved in!); I would highly recommend it to any fans of … well, fans of any style of music, to be honest. Because this is an artist who transcends so many genres and who has been so important to the history of music over the past few decades, I think anyone who hears it should be able to find something to appreciate here.


King Buzzo Solo Acoustic U.S. Summer Tour

June 10, 2014 – San Diego, CA – The Casbah (w/Field, Otis B)
June 11, 2014 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo (w/Field, Otis B)
June 12, 2014 – Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory (w/Field, Otis B)
June 13, 2014 – Fresno, CA – Strummer’s (w/Field)
June 14, 2014 – Sacramento, CA – Assembly (w/Field)
June 15, 2014 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall (w/Field)
June 17, 2014 – Eugene, OR – Wow Hall
June 18, 2014 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre (w/Steve Turner)
June 20, 2014 – Seattle, WA – Neumo’s (w/Steve Turner)
June 21, 2014 – Bellingham, WA – The Shakedown (w/Adam Faucett)
June 22, 2014 – Spokane, WA – The Hop (w/Adam Faucett)
June 23, 2014 – Missoula, MT – The Palace (w/Adam Faucett)
June 24, 2014 – Billings, MT – The Railyard (w/Adam Faucett)
June 26, 2014 – Fargo, ND – The Aquarium (w/Adam Faucett)
June 27, 2014 – Minneapolis, MN – Grumpy’s
June 28, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI – Shank Hall (w/Mark Waldoch, Emma Ruth Rundle)
June 30, 2014 – Grand Rapids, MI – The Pyramid Scheme (w/Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 1, 2014 – Columbus, OH – A&R Music Bar (w/Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 2, 2014 – Detroit, MI – Small’s (w/ Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 3, 2014 – Cleveland, OH – The Grog Shop (w/Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 5, 2014 – Syracuse, NY – The Westcott Theater (w/Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 6, 2014 – South Burlington, VT – Higher Ground (w/Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 7, 2014 – Portland, ME – Portland City Music Hall (w/Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 9, 2014 – Dover, NH – Dover Brickhouse (w/Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 10, 2014 – Allston, MA – Brighton Music Hall (w/Mary Halverson)
July 11, 2014 – Pawtucket, RI – The Met (w/Mary Halverson)
July 12, 2014 – Hamden, CT – The Ballroom at The Outerspace (w/Mary Halverson)
July 13, 2014 – New York, NY – Santos Party House (w/Mary Halverson)
July 14, 2014 – Brooklyn, NY – The Wick (w/Mary Halverson)
July 15, 2014 – Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts (w/Mary Halverson)
July 17, 2014 – Baltimore, MD – Ottobar (w/Mary Halverson)
July 18, 2014 – Charlottesville, VA – The Southern (w/Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 19, 2014 – Charlotte, NC – Visulite Theater (w/Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 20, 2014 – Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle (w/Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 22, 2014 – Atlanta, GA – The Basement (w/Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 23, 2014 – Birmingham, AL – The Bottle Tree (w/Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 25, 2014 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jack’s (w/Daxx Riggs)
July 26, 2014 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live (w/Jeff Pinkus, Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 27, 2014 – Austin, TX – Red 7 (w/Jeff Pinkus, Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 28, 2014 – San Antonio, TX – Limelight (w/Jeff Pinkus, Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 30, 2014 – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress (w/Emma Ruth Rundle)
July 31, 2014 – Pioneertown, CA – Pappy and Harriet’s (w/Emma Ruth Rundle, Field)

King Buzzo Solo Acoustic Australia Tour

August 13, 2014 – Adelaide, SA – Enigma Bar
August 14, 2014 – Geelong, VIC – Barwon Club
August 15, 2014 – Melbourne, VIC – Ding Dong Lounge
August 20, 2014 – Newcastle, NSW – The Small Ballroom
August 21, 2014 – Sydney, NSW – Newtown Social Club
August 22, 2014 – Wollongong, NSW – Anita’s Theatre
August 23, 2014 – Canberra, ACT – Transit Bar
August 24, 2014 – Brisbane, QLD – Black Bear Lodge
August 26, 2014 – Perth, WA – Astor Lounge

King Buzzo Solo Acoustic European Tour

August 30, 2014 – Brighton, England – The Haunt
August 31, 2014 – Paris, France – Noveau Casino
September 1, 2014 – Köln (Cologne), Germany – Gebäude 9
September 3, 2014 – Dresden, Germany – Beatpol
September 4, 2014 – Vienna, Austria – Arena
September 5, 2014 – Judenburg, Austria – Rock Is Hell Fest
September 7, 2014 – Ravenna, Italy – Hana-bi
September 8, 2014 – Bologna, Italy – Locomotiv
September 9, 2014 – Milan, Italy – Carroponte
September 10, 2014 – Düdingen, Switzerland – Bad Bonn
September 11, 2014 – Zurich, Switzerland – Rote Fabrik (w/ Philm)
September 13, 2014 – Schorndorf, Germany – Manufaktur
September 14, 2014 – Munich, Germany – Kranhalle
September 15, 2014 – Frankfurt, Germany – Mousonturm
September 18, 2014 – Tilburg, The Netherlands – Incubate Fest
September 19, 2014 – Kortrijk, Belguim – De Kreun
September 20, 2014 – London, England – Oslo
September 21, 2014 – Bristol, England

You can check out a full-album stream at Dangerous Minds, then pick up your own copy right here.
More Melvins | More Ipecac Recordings


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One response to “King Buzzo – This Machine Kills Artists (2014)

  1. Pingback: Live Music Alert! GHOST and MELVINS in Pittsburgh this Weekend | Valley of Steel

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