One of the best bands to come out of the explosive music era of the 1990s was the punk rock trio the Muffs. Hands down. Led by Kim Shattuck (guitar, vocals); with Ronnie Barnett (bass); and Roy McDonald (drums), the Los Angeles-based band started out in 1993 with their self-titled debut and have released six compelling full-lengths in their career.
In 2015, Omnivore Recordings took the steps to show us how important the Muffs are by reissuing their first record in an expanded edition. Not long after the first reissue, the bands second album, ‘Blonder and Blonder’ received the makeover, and now, the Muffs’ third album, ‘Happy Birthday to Me,’ is being reissued. It’s perfect timing too, since May 20 marks the 20th anniversary of the original release.
‘Happy Birthday to Me’ marked a milestone for the band, as Shattuck produced a Muffs record for the first time, and she didn’t miss a beat capturing that signature Muff punk sound with her defiant vocals and hooks galore. At times the band sounds like the Beatles on steroids with their pop melodies, and in other moments they sound as raw as Nirvana. That is the beauty and talent of the trio. The Muffs’ sound is from California, but feels equally at home in the “Seattle sound” or even the cold scene of Minneapolis or along the gritty streets of Boston. With ‘Happy Birthday to Me,’ you hear a band who is comfortable in their own skin, doing things on their own terms, and the end result is a fantastic offering.
The original recording featured 15 tracks, so it was stacked to begin with, but now Omnivore has tacked on an additional seven bonus tracks, including the U.K. B-side “Pacer,” the previously unreleased track, “Unwrapped,” and six demo versions of songs from the album. Newly remastered by multiple Grammy winners Gavin Lurssen and Reuben Cohen, the reissue includes extensive liner notes from the band, track-by-track commentary from Shattuck, and a collection of photos.
So, listen up kids. If you are starting a punk band, it is commonplace to look towards Nirvana or Green Day, but don’t overlook the Muffs. They are as exciting today as they were 20 years ago.