by Ggregg Stull
Pudge's Bad Land covers a lot of terrain in just 27 minutes. Across 20 songs, Pudge navigates hardcore punk, alt country, melodic post-hardcore, sitar-ditties, and spoken-word Minutemen-inspired ballads. Short clips, taken at random and compared side-by-side, might sound like completely different bands. But taken as a whole, this odd assemblage of songs is surprisingly cohesive, well paced, and absolutely never boring.
I know next to nothing about Pudge, other than the fact that the members reside in New Orleans. This album came to my attention—as is often the case, for better or worse—through a Facebook post from a band I follow. In this particular case, Woozy:
"New Local Supergroup Releases Best Punk Album in Recent Memory"
Woozy, also based in New Orleans, happened to release an album last October, Blistered, that is one of my recent favorites, so their recommendation seemed worth a listen. After many listens I can easily say that Woozy were right, this is my favorite punk record in recent memory (at least since Ex-Breathers’ flawless album Past Tense).
Bad Land appears to draw heavily from the Minutemen. The singing style ranges from spoken word to screams and bellows (and, occasionally, to country drawls). The songs are generally short, but jam-packed with tight playing, hooks, and sometimes an almost funky groove. The lyrics, like those of the Minutemen, often provide political/social commentary. In this case, the lyrics are often difficult to discern, but comical yet disgruntled perspectives on American life seem to pervade the album. “Make this country great again. Not on my street.” The album art, by Berndt Savig, of a lone cowboy riding horseback on an empty plain, is a fitting piece of comical Americana for the lyrical and musical content of the record.
Despite multiple parallels with the Minutemen, Pudge bring a wide variety of influences to the table, along with great songwriting and staggering dynamics. Bad Land is strong from start to finish and well worth many listens. But if you don’t have 27 minutes to spare, “Sock Puppet,” “Wet Land,” and “Baseball” are good places to start.