Leatherface - Mush (Cover Artwork)


Mush (1992)


Leatherface is easily one of the greatest punk bands of the '90's if not all time. Sadly, due to poor promotion and a catalogue that seemed to hang between in and out of print, these guys have never gotten the true respect they deserve. Thus they have remained relatively obscure through the years and have garnered the status of simply a "cult band". Fortunately, things seem to have been making a change for the better recently. With songs released on various compilations, a somewhat high-profile split with Hot Water Music, and the reissue of several of their past albums, the word on Leatherface is starting to spread. It's about damn time.

Mush stands as their defining statement. An album that is difficult to describe and even more difficult to forget. I remember the day I bought this album, I put it in my stereo as soon as I got home and just stared stupidly at the wall as the band raged from song to song. Never had I heard anything like this before. I was in complete shock as to how a band this incredibly good remained unknown for so long. From the moment singer Frankie Stubbs belted out "I Want the Moon" on track one to the closer (a phenomenal cover of the Police's "Message in a Bottle") I was completely entranced. I knew that I had stumbled across something truly amazing.

Before I give an analysis of this disc, let me say that I have trouble describing music. Music becomes pointless the moment it can be easily defined and described by words. Music is meant to express in ways that words cannot and to sum up a band with simple adjectives and comparisons is to cheapen their true impact. Regardless, I'll do my best here.

This music is intense. It isn't particularly fast or hard, and there isn't much screaming but it is still more intense than any hardcore band I've heard. There is an underlying sense of urgency and desperation simmering just below the surface here. The two guitars play off of each other, flying off in separate directions throughout the song and syncing up occasionally to hit you directly. This band plays like it's the night before Armageddon and time is fleeting. The sense of desperation is almost tangible.

Frankie Stubbs' voice is coarse and gruff. It takes some people a while to get used to it, but I loved it immediately. It sounds as if he smokes a carton a day and someone switched his Listerine with a can of paint thinner. Very rough, very impassioned, and incredibly unique. It will move you. The lyrics are equally powerful. Stubbs comes off as weary barroom poet who has seen too much of the world. Melancholy and yearning for some sort of meaning to it all.

I cannot say enough about an album like Mush. I recommend all of you track this down, go to a quiet place away from all distractions, put this disc in your CD player or stereo, turn it up loud, and sit in awe. You cannot help but be moved. I think the sticker on the cover of the album puts it the best:

"...Leatherface had no imitators, because no-one came close. They really did make you believe that punk could still matter - that it could be impassioned, intelligent, and intensely affecting..."