I need to get a few things off my chest before I start this review. First off, I’m a music snob. I can’t help it, but if you’re reading this, you’re probably a music snob too. It’s not the reason I collect vinyl, but it is the reason I’m so damn obsessive about it. I buy multiple copies of certain albums. I buy albums I don’t even really like just because I know they’re collectible. I go to record fairs, and I am friends with all of the old timers as opposed to the young kids. I have to control the car stereo. I don’t listen to the radio. I always want to dig through someone’s music collection when I go to their house for the first time. It goes beyond this though. I’m a flat out dick. I make snide comments to people who listen to bands I don’t like. I belittle entire groups of people who like pop music. I once asked out a girl just because she was wearing a Neil Young shirt. I stopped seeing her when she was listening to a Backstreet Boys’ album in her car.
Why tell you all of this? Because, like all snobs, I have certain genres I focus on more than others (though I actively collect most genres). One of my favorite genres is punk. I grew up on punk. To clarify, I grew up in the 90’s on grunge and bands like Mudhoney and Nirvana. I had older brothers though, and they fed me a steady diet of punk albums that I greedily lapped up. My ears were constantly flooded with bands like Black Flag, Bad Brains, The Stooges, The Angry Samoans, The Circle Jerks, Fear, Minor Threat, The Minutemen, Negative Approach, and the list goes on and on. No conversation gets under my skin like “the punk” conversation. This conversation always starts with me telling someone I’m into punk, and then them asking me how I like Blink 182. This kills me. I hate pop-punk with a passion. Even more so, it kills me that pop-punk has taken over the punk genre, and I want to wave the flag of any real punk bands left out there. If at this point you’re offeneded because you like Blink 182 remember, I told you I was a dick
This is why I was so excited when I got my hands on a copy of Muuy Biien’s second album D.Y.I. (Do Yourself In). It was all based on the cover: a stark white background with an illustration done in blue of a body hanging from the ceiling and a chair knocked over on the ground. The cover immediately reminded me of Black Flag’s album covers, especially Nervous Breakdown. It is not a direct homage, but it is easily imaginable that the cover of D.Y.I. would appear on the poster for an 80’s hardcore punk concert. If you’re a hardcore punk fans, than this cover is enticing indeed.
Upon first listen, I felt a little let down. I’ve listened to D.Y.I. multiple times now, and the album really has grown on me. D.Y.I. has a bit of a post punk feel. The music has a slower more plodding feel than straight ahead punk. In a sense, it feels like Slint or Fugazi, but the songs on D.Y.I. are much shorter then any song on a post punk album. They also don’t have the anger and aggression of a post punk band. D.Y.I. has the snotty feeling off a young British oi band. The songs retain the jagged edges and lumbering bass of post punk though. This mix makes Muuy Biien a strong and interesting listen, but it is clear they are a band still trying to find their sound. The lead singer whelps like John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees which gives the album an unintentional garage rock feel. In fact, the second track, and one of the strongest, tracks on the album, “Human Error,” feels like a young and bratty garage rock band covering Rites of Spring, but by the time they reach track nine, “Dust,” they have a frantic Minutemen feel.
As much as I like this album, there is one thing I find obnoxious. There are random ambient noise tracks thrown in between the punk songs. D.Y.I. opens with the song “Cyclothymia, Pt. 1” which is an aimless two minutes of boring noise. Had I judged the album just on the opener, I would have quickly given up, but if you can make it through these ambient noise tracks, the payoff is worth it. Specifically, the ambient noise annoying because it’s disruptive. These tracks feel as though they are making an explicit effort to take the listener out of the mood of the album. This makes the album as a whole a bit disconcerting. The album has a punk feel, but it doesn’t quit feel like punk. It’s an album that is punk in spirit with sneering lips spewing sarcastic encouragement for you to commit suicide. The bottom line: if you’re a fan of Dischord label punk or post punk, you will find this to be an album worth owning. You may have to give it a few listens, but it’ll grow on you.
The album, the band’s second for Happy Happy Birthday to Me, comes on both vinyl and CD. The LP is a standard weight pressed on white vinyl. The LP is packed with an insert with recording information and a download card. As far as vinyl goes, it’s pretty much your standard punk package. You can purchase a copy from your local independent record store or directly fromHHBTM Records.