The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina release debut LP
If I asked you to tell me a little bit about grunge music, as a casual music listener you would probably start talking to me about Seattle and Nirvana, maybe even Soundgarden, discuss how alternative rock was a collective rejection of the pomp and over-produced arena rock and hair metal of the 1980s, and how before 1991, the style was pretty much non-existent. Perplexed, I wouldn’t have much of a choice in this scenario other than to educate you about a little band called the Melvins. The Melvins weren’t just one of the original grunge bands, they are the grunge band who arguably got the entire movement started, all the way back in 1983 in the little logging town of Montesano, Washington. The Melvins might have been the first grunge band, but they were pure punk rock, because they didn’t care what you called them or if you were even paying attention. It was all about the music, and it still is. Much in that same spirit of revolution driven by wonderful apathy, The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina are blazing their own trail of guitar riffage and amplifier destruction in 2018, dropping their debut album Act 3 just in the nick of time for summer.
I don’t know about anyone else, but when it comes to the summertime, other than beaches, BBQs and baseball games, the main thing that comes to my mind is hot summer jams. This is when some of the best music of the year comes out, and it can make for a very chaotic and competitive environment in the industry. As a journalist, I review more music in June and July than I do any other portion of the year, and as a result, I have to put up with listening to an awful lot of garbage. When I first got the chance to listen to Act 3 and my colleague described it as a “psychedelic indie record,” I was half-expecting to hear yet another attempt at recreating My Bloody Valentine style shoegaze packaged in a dance rock record (kind of a recurring theme for me in the last month). I was shocked to hear a record that actually lived up to its claim of being a rock album, and even more surprised to find the psychedelia unscathed by synthesizers or other digitally-influenced instrumentation. “East of Eden,” “Anarchy,” and “Particle Craze” are pure analogue gold retranslated into a full color, ultra-high definition spectacle of garage rock, and “Slip Away” recalls memories of listening to Big Star on my uncle’s back porch as a young man. The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina isn’t a throwback band, but they sure have a way of inspiring some feelings of nostalgia.
If you’re looking for something a little different to blast this summer and you’re a fan of classic big riffs, spacey instrumental freakouts and deep-thinking lyrical exploration, Act 3 is definitely a record that I would highly recommend you check out. I know it’s definitely going to be staying in my playlist, and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.