MUFFS, THE: No Holiday: 2 x LP

I fell in love with the Muffs from their very first show. Their brash, battering mix of punk heft and garage pop was instantly intoxicating. I spent their first year catching as many shows as I could, and their releases enjoy permanent spots in my regular rotation. I bought No Holiday within forty-eight hours of its release, but put off listening to it until nearly three months later. I’m far from the average “fanboy,” but the sudden stilling of Kim Shattuck’s inimitable howl hit home hard. It put a period at the end of an era in L.A.’s punk underground when bands again revolted against what became a new set of rules foisted upon the “alternative nation” by Big Rock, Inc., but it’s also an end-point for a massive part of my life’s soundtrack. Ya estuvo. No more. Done. Couldn’t process that finality. This swan song perfectly encapsulates all of the dualities that made them so special—feral yet sophisticated, public yet personal, raucous yet disarming, bratty but sweet. Kim’s voice is a bit raspier, her howl used more sparingly, and the songs are less lively than their initial albums, but her Kinks-meets-Saints songwriting is not diminished a whit. Some songs sound like Ronnie, Roy, and assorted friends have retrofitted rhythm sections to Kim’s acoustic demos, but those moments fit well as testament of a band playing together just one last time. All sentiment aside, this is easily one of the best, most consistent albums the band released. By the time the gentle, acoustic “Sky” closes out side three (the fourth has a laser etch of the band), the loss again hits home and this goodbye hurts all over again. Much love and gratitude, Kim, Ronnie, Roy, Melanie, and Chris, for so many amazing songs that made life that much brighter in two-plus-minute increments. –Jimmy Alvarado (Omnivore)