In case anyone forgot that Mudhoney leader Mark Arm's true roots are in early-'80s hardcore, not grunge, here's Under a Billion Suns, a disc whose worldview is as ensconced in Cold War geopolitics and nuclear hair-pulling as your average Dead Kennedys seven-inch. Musically, it's not that distinguishable from its predecessor, 2002's horns-and-all Since We've Become Translucent; in other words, it's one more stumble in Mudhoney's slow descent from sludge punk to uncle punk. The band has aged decently, though: Arm and his right-hand men sound as pissed and heavy as ever, with Steve Turner's earthmoving riffs adding gravity -- even some sort of ornery gnosis -- to Arm's anti-authoritarian grunts. And now, with George W. Bush trying to steer America backward toward nuclear energy even as he gives Iran and North Korea ICBM hard-ons, Mudhoney's Gipper-era paranoia might just turn out to be prescient rather than anachronistic. Hey, even a broken atomic clock is right a couple times a century.
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