Review: Mike & The Melvins’ Powerful Unearthed Record ‘Three Men and a Baby’

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As the story goes, way back in 1999, Mike Kunka, vocalist/bassist with godheadSilo, found himself with some spare time on his hands due to the godheads opting to take a break. So he decided to team up with his friends the Melvins (the lineup then consisting of Buzz “King Buzzo” Osborne on vocals/guitar, Kevin Rutmanis on bass/vocals, and Dale Crover on drums/vocals), and record a bunch of tunes under the pithy name “Mike & The Melvins.”

Though Sub Pop expressed interest in the project, a full-length record titled Three Men and a Baby, it remained unreleased. Until, happily, all concerned finally decided it was way past time to wrap things up and the final touches to the recordings were made last year — a lucky decision that rescued the album from its long and winding tenure in purgatory.

The song titles alone (“Limited Teeth,” “Dead Canaries,” “Lifestyle Hammer”) give you a strong hint of the kind of pummeling you’re likely to receive at the musical hands of these fine gentlemen. The album gets off to a great start with “Chicken ‘n’ Dumb,” opening with heavy guitar riffing before the full band kicks in with a fury, and Kunka wailing away on top, sounding not unlike John Lydon.

In contrast to King Buzzo’s more gravelly vocals, Kunka’s higher-pitched voice adds a pleasing new flavor to the Melvins mix. Just check out the histrionic vocals on “Annalisa.” With a little tweaking, it could even have become a pop song, but that wouldn’t have been any fun. Instead, the band pounds away, delivering a propulsive, sweaty workout that’s thoroughly satisfying.

It’s not all loud, hard-hitting chaos, however. “Dead Canaries” turns down the volume, the vocals delivered in a sinister near-whisper, against a taut musical backing. But most of it packs a powerful punch, with the kind of musical attack that makes you sit up and take notice, the kind of music that shouts to the rafters: “We will not be ignored!”

(Three Men and a Baby is available for pre-order through Sub Pop’s website ahead of its release on April 1st. You can stream the track “Limited Teeth” below.)

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Gillian G. Gaar

Gillian G. Gaar covers the arts, entertainment, and travel. She was a senior editor at the legendary Northwest music publication The Rocket, and has also written locally for The Seattle Times, The Stranger, and Seattle Weekly, as well as national/international outlets such as Rolling Stone, Mojo, Q, and Goldmine, among others. She has written numerous books, including She’s A Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll, Entertain Us: The Rise of Nirvana, Return of the King: Elvis Presley’s Great Comeback, and World Domination: The Sub Pop Records Story. Follow @GillianGaar on Twitter.