[This week's feature piece on Chris Newman and Napalm Beach can be found here.]
By the time punk hit, Chris Newman was already in his 20s. Instead of disregarding the music of his youth, he filtered it through the velocity of the time, and laid the groundwork for punk’s next evolutionary step. Heck, you can hear grunge’s birth pangs in his crunchy, mud-caked guitar tone alone.
Snow Bud and the Flower People
Stoner rock in both its riffs and lyrical content, the band began as a joke for the amusement of Newman’s pot dealer—song titles include “Bong Hit,” “Grass Is Groovy” and “Seeds for Thought”—but in certain circles is perhaps better known than Napalm Beach. It even scored Newman an illustrated review in a 1991 issue of High Times.
When Newman first returned to the land of the living in the mid-2000s, he cataloged his time perched on the edge of oblivion through hard-driving, psychedelic garage-punk tunes that sound something like the Doors paying tribute to the Gun Club.
Chris Newman Experiment
More an extended therapy session than a project built to last, Newman, fresh from rehab, recruited a father-son rhythm section from his hometown of Longview, Wash., to record an album processing his short-lived second marriage. Nine months later, the band dissolved.
Coming together around a memorial show for the Cramps’ Lux Interior, the bassless trio’s stripped-raw blues-punk is designed to restrain Newman’s compulsive genre hopping. But the band gets its power from hearing him battle against those self-imposed constraints.