Mr. Bungle – “California” (1999 / 2014)

I had exactly zero experience with Mr. Bungle prior to sitting down to play this record. My buddy Andy sent it to me, which was a pleasant surprise, and I decided to go into it cold without reading anything about the band or album in advance.

My version is the Music On Vinyl re-release from 2014. First things first – as always, MOV puts out a well-packaged product. Oddly, though, my copy seems to have some kind of issue during the first minute of the side A opener “Sweet Charity” in which the left speaker goes in and out. Cleaned my stylus, brushed the record again… same deal. That being said, Andy has the same version and his played clean, so could be something with my copy or possibly something that got into a couple of grooves. I usually don’t do a full clean of new vinyl, but may need to get this one into the Spin Clean to see.

As for the music, well, what can I say? Mr. Bungle incorporates elements of… well… EVERYTHING in California. Crooning? Check. Easy listening? Check. Surf… psych… Persian? Check check check. It’s both all-over-the-place and cohesive at the same time, maintaining a consistency by its commitment to being inconsistent.

I haven’t spent much time listening to some of the weirder rock performers like Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and Butthole Surfers (Locust Abortion Technician still scares me a little). Most of my weirdness has been in the electronic and more purely avant garde side. I like what Mr. Bungle are doing here, though – the musicianship is excellent, as is the overall commitment to getting each style right, which makes for a pleasing listening experience.

Shitkid – “Duo Limbo​ / ​Mellan Himmel å Helvete” (2020)

Shitkid is Åsa Söderqvist and Lina Molarin Ericsson. On their latest effort the pair overlay indie pop sensibility onto a hard rock and doom metal base, something that doesn’t feel like it should work but they pull it off. From the heavy rhythm section of “Get Jealous” and “Feels Like the Movies” to the straight-forward hard rock of “Eagles Over America”, it’s the pop-punkiness of the vocals that provides the sense of continuity. They can slow it down a bit too, when they choose, moving into shoegaze territory on tracks like “Anger MGMT”. Interestingly the B side is comprised of the exact same songs as the A side, the difference being that they are sung in the band’s native Swedish instead of English.

You can listen to Duo Limbo​ / ​Mellan Himmel å Helvete on Bandcamp HERE, and it’s definitely worth the time to check out.