Mr. Epp

Ridiculing the Apocalypse

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This disc begins with an independent radio station's introduction to a Mr. Epp song, which declares the band as possibly the worst group in the world. This may seem true at first, as trebly bass and crud-caked guitars sputter out of tune, but oddly enough, this band completed an EP shortly after their formation that received fairly amazing reviews. That EP, titled Of Course I'm Happy, Why?, contained what could be titled Mr. Epp's sole hit, "Mohawk Man," which poked fun at the Plasmatics and included lines such as "I've got lots of chains, and I'm getting more/I ordered a dog collar from the local punk store." The song reached number one on Los Angeles' radio station KROQ, beating out Toni Basil's "Mickey." Noticeably, the standout tracks on Ridiculing the Apocalypse are penned by Mark McLaughlin (aka Mark Arm), which gives a hint at what was ahead for his future as the howler in Green River and Mudhoney. One of the other standout tracks by McLaughlin is the number "Spooky," which is one of the most eerie songs, yet one of the most humorous as well. McLaughlin's career has always balanced on irony, and this is no surprise. The guitar growls with a menacing distortion as he speak/sings "Think you're setting trends, you're just Alice Cooper again. Black Sabbath mentality, pseudo-Satanist stupidity." The disc also includes Jo Smitty's vocal tracks, which are presented in a spliced fashion of Bikini Kill/Le Tigre's Kathleen Hanna and a Neanderthal from the Stone Age on a song like "Red Brigade." In this collection of Mr. Epp's career, "Flogging a Dead Horse" is even included, which was often the closer for many of the band's live gigs. The music swells like a repeatedly bumped bruise, as Smitty adds saxophone squalor and McLaughlin taps into a putrid guitar solo until the music almost becomes unbearable. This is an interesting historical sample of the early-'80s Seattle music scene, but it's one that can only be handled in small doses.

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