King Buzzo

This Machine Kills Artists

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After nearly 30 years in the Melvins, it's hard to say how much guitarist and founder King Buzzo -- also known as Buzz Osborne -- still hopes to do musically that he hasn't done just yet, but he's crossed two items off his bucket list in one stroke: he's made his first full-length solo album and recorded his first acoustic project at the same time. This Machine Kills Artists finds Osborne armed only with his acoustic guitar and his voice (along with some discreet overdubbing) as he pounds through 17 songs that bear a fairly strong melodic resemblance to his traditional style. The buzzy report of Osborne's acoustic lacks the titanic force of his traditional Les Paul axe and Sunn amps, but the tone isn't as dissimilar as one might think (especially since he seems to have tuned down on a few cuts), and the songs conform to Osborne's typical lyrical and musical obsessions (any album with songs titled "Dark Brown Teeth," "Drunken Baby," "How I Became Offensive," and "Useless King of the Punks" would appear to be right in Buzz's wheelhouse). But while fans will be reassured to know that Osborne has no desire to show us his sensitive side when he picks up his acoustic guitar, ultimately the greatest failing of This Machine Kills Artists is that it's too close to what one would normally expect from Osborne's regular gig. Without a bass and percussion, these just sound like Melvins tunes with the power off, and frankly Osborne sounds best big, loud, and viscous, not dialed down with no amps, especially given the open-ended heaviness of the tunes. This Machine Kills Artists is a worthy experiment, and a few tracks work rather well, but ultimately Osborne should aim for a more distinct game plan before he goes acoustic again. (Ever considered a string band arrangement of Stoner Witch, Buzz?)

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