The Meat Puppets virtually invented mixing country and punk almost thirty years ago (‘cow-punk’), but that mix has gotten commonplace by the twenty-first century, so the band (on their second reunion) couldn’t standout like they once did. They were enjoyable enough on 2011’s Lollipop (QRO review), but somewhat colorless in their country. Well, Rat Farm mixes up their mix up.
That’s especially true in the record’s early goings, where the verse & chorus to many songs quite differ. The title track/opener has kind of a ska-folk verse, but grungier chorus; meanwhile, the following “One More Drop” has expansive grunge in chorus, but rhythmic verse. The mash-ups do feel a little forced and out of the blue, especially once the Meat Puppets get down to country-folk in the back half of Rat Farm with “You Don’t Know”, pluck-strum “Waiting”, and country-trots “Time and Money” & “Sometimes Blue”. And then the album picks up nearer the end with a relaxed catch.
Not only are there stylistic mixes in the songs on Rat Farm – the songs mix from one to another themselves, though always grounded in country folk-rock. In this day & age of every type of music being relevant, of kids mashing up everything they can find on the internet, check out an act that’s been mixing long before it was fashionable.