• Zipgun
  • 8 Track Player (eMpTy) 1992 
  • Baltimore (eMpTy) 1994 

Kicking a solid smear of vintage Stooges/MC5/Heartbreakers into a potent fast roar of Jack Endino-co-produced grunge, this Seattle quartet (containing ex-Derelicts guitarist Neil Rogers and ex-Final Warning drummer Dan Cunnen) comes out, naturally enough, sounding a bit like Mudhoney, but with a tighter, more focused and less ambitious assault that gets the job done just as well. Robbe Clarke has a rough, deep (Iggy) Pop voice, and Rogers gets a good hit off Mark Wooten’s powerful bassisms; only the traps’ overly gated click has the wrong kind of shit sound. The quartet’s sturdy songwriting on 8 Track Player (the cover design of which was recycled by Nyack a few years later and has been adapted by others as well) never loses its grasp on engaging structures or workable melodies — check “The End,” “Put Me Away” and the thrashy “Ego a Go Go.” The spoken-word bit beginning “Cool in the Cell” is a cute idea; “Backwards” (three guesses) isn’t.

Other than a gruesomely throttled saxophone (on a painful jam reasonably entitled “Hades”) and two guest blasts from Tom Price’s organ, Baltimore keeps up the good work without frills. Zipgun fries up a trebly side of relentless razorstun guitar aggro in short, fast, semi-tuneful originals that push Clarke to punkier (occasionally Thundering) Popisms than on 8 Track Player. The material’s slapped-together quality works to the band’s advantage on “Long Hot Kiss,” “Highball,” “Through the Roof,” “Shadey” and “I Can’t Wait,” but pushing Baltimore too hard in Mudhoney’s direction cuts down on what made the band so cool the first time out.

[Ira Robbins]