Picks and Pans Review: Eat Your Paisley
The Dead Milkmen
Now here's one the kids are going to love. This young Philadelphia quartet produces rough, ragged rock 'n' roll with lyrics that express disdain for anything the adult world holds sacred and with music that purposefully negates the slickly produced synthesizer sounds of pretty boys such as Duran Duran and Howard Jones. The Milkmen show influences of the rock style known as hard-core, a mélange of yelling and relentlessly thrashing guitars that seems to appeal most to confused-but-desperate-to-be-noticed teenage males. Instead of producing the full-throttle sound that makes other hard-core bands so boring, however, the Milkmen show a wide range of tempo and dynamics, not to mention attitude. Sometimes they even stop to chat mid-song. They also have the good sense to avoid hard-core's formulaic lyrics about fascism and self-mutilation (thankful for small favors are we), leaning instead toward topical lyrics that make a fine art of tasteless sophomoric humor. On Eat Your Paisley, the Milkmen take great pride in trashing one of their least favorite eras—the '60s. Their monster epic, The Thing That Only Eats Hippies, recounts how "It ate Stills and Nash before they could shout/ Then it chewed on David Crosby/ But it spit him out." Lead singer Rodney Anonymous Melloncamp, who seems to have altered his name to needle John Cougar Mellencamp, snarls like a hungry leopard as he delivers Beach Party Vietnam, about "cookin' hot dogs with napalm," and Air Crash Museum, about putting the remains of Ricky Nelson, Buddy Holly et al. on display. Eat Your Paisley doesn't quite match the liveliness of the Milkmen's 1985 debut, Big Lizard in My Backyard, which contained such classics as Right Wing Pigeons and Bitchin' Camaro. But no past Milkmen effort tops the new song, Moron. With his heavy Philly accent and flat, innocent voice, Joe Jack Talcum sings the part of the moron ("I'm following the trends 'cause I wanna/ Have some friends") while Anonymous berates him with such accusations as "You look like some kind of toad/ Why are you a moron?" Diehard fans may regret that the Milkmen left their cover version of Both Sides Now off Eat Your Paisley. But those who have heard them in concert as they bash their way through Joni Mitchell's anthem, with a roomful of punks singing along, will agree that this band is the ultimate source of hard-core fun (Restless)
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