Green Naugahyde

Written by: MGA on 11/11/2011 02:35:38

The musical career of Primus for the last two decades has been one defined by quirkiness. Whether the oddities of the band were natural or due to some strong psychedelics from their native Northern California is, for the most part, irrelevant. The allure of Primus has always been how authentically strange their bass driven brand of music is, and on "Green Naugahyde" the quality of the album can be directly linked to how authentically off-the-wall it is or is not.

The question is whether the now middle-aged trio can still produce the genuine Primus sound on their first full length in over a decade. Unfortunately, having kids and not purchasing their acid in sheets at a time does seem like it’s taken a toll on the alternative funk. It’s not that any of the band members have suddenly lost their prowess on their instruments – Les Claypool is still a certifiable bass god and Larry LaLonde has always been an underrated guitarist – it’s that "Green Naugahyde" is neither a throwback to oldschool Primus nor a progression of Primus sound. Instead, it sounds like an incredibly convincing Primus cover band playing latter-day Primus b-sides, or worse… A Primus cover band playing tunes from one of Claypool’s numerous solo outfits.

That’s not to say "Green Naugahyde" is bad; it’s simply a Primus lacking in the youthful abandon that made their 90s discography so infectious. The current incarnation of the band shows a group of guys that are much more willing to go-with-the-flow and stick to the middest of tempos. While it would be unfair to expect the flair and risk taking heard on Frizzle Fry or Sailing the Seas of Cheese 20 years after those albums came out, it doesn’t help that Claypool spent so much time pitching the album to the press as a return to the Frizzle Fry sound due to the addition of original drummer Jay Lane. There are the obligatory weirdo moments in some songs, with tracks like “Hennepin Crawler” and “Last Salmon Man” serving as standouts where it actually works. Then there are shorter tracks where the weirdness lasts the entire length of the song like “Eternal Consumption Engine,” whose quality just so happens to depend on whatever you consumed before listening.

This harkens back to the original question; is the oddity authentic? Perhaps it would be impossible for Primus in the age of Internet cynicism to produce a record where the authenticity of their Primus x-factor would not be called into question. But the fact remains that there are moments on many of the tracks on "Green Naugahyde" where one has to wonder whether oddness is still something tangible on the band’s musical palette, or has it now just become a formulaic schtick for the band?

The answer to this question cannot be definitively answered by "Green Naugahyde". It’s just unfortunate that it has to be asked at all.


Download: Hennepin Crawler, Last Salmon Man, Tragedy's a' Comin'
For the fans of: Buckethead, Sausage, Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, Oysterhead
Listen: Facebook

Release date 12.09.2011
Prawn Song / Target

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