January 12, 2006

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Jello Biafra with the Melvins, Sieg Howdy!
Alternative Tentacles, 2005
B

Some things in life just go well together. Chocolate and peanut butter for example, or coffee and brandy. Now the forces of fate collide yet again to create another cool combination: grunge-y sludge-rock pioneers the Melvins fronted by the Dead Kennedys’ quavery-voiced Jello Biafra.

Sieg Howdy! proves a solid follow-up to the musicians’ initial collaboration, last year’s Never Breathe What You Can’t See. Musically “Jello Biafra with the Melvins” sound exactly as their collaborative moniker suggests. Take the fuzzed-out alt-punk of the Melvins and replace Buzz Osbourne’s vocals with Biafra’s and you’ve got the idea.

Biafra’s whimsical yet poignant lyrics remain the group’s central focus, with his pointed attacks on everything from the image-manipulating media (“Wholly Bun Bull”) and right-wing religious zealots (“Caped Crusader”) to the commercialization of punk-rock (“Those Dumb Punk Kids [Will Buy Anything]”). Of course, these diatribes are all delivered in the singer’s shrill, cartoonish wail, which throughout the years has been imitated by many, but perfected by few.

The wonderfully timely “Voted Off the Island,” sounds like it was lifted from the Dead Kennedys’ classic In God We Trust Inc. EP, while a live version of the updated Kennedys classic, “California Uber Alles,” replaces Governor Jerry Brown with Ah-Nold. Unfortunately, the remainder of Sieg Howdy! is padded with remixes and alternate versions of songs from Never Breathe, all of which are intermittently engaging. Still, this cool collaboration proves an excellent rebuttal to the claim that punk is dead.

— Adam Marletta