Meat Joy Meat Joy LP reissue

Learning about Austin’s MEAT JOY was a formative experience for me as a disaffected Texan teen in the early ’00s—a keyhole glimpse into a history of Lone Star punk informed by radical art, subversion, and queerness that didn’t seem possible in the landscape of bland stripmalls and conservative toxicity surrounding me. Part of what made MEAT JOY so punk was their steadfast refusal to be bound by the constraints of the genre (which, when this LP was released in 1984, had already turned into something far too rigid and straight-laced), even openly mocking that concept on “Proud to Be Stupid,” a FLIPPER-esque dirge with sneering lyrics (“I’m better than you because I am tough!”) that gives way to perfectly piss-take “hardcore” breakdowns. That’s about as “conventional” as they get, as tracks like “Slenderella,” “Final Curtain,” and “Godpleaser” put a twanged-out, Southern-fried spin on the asymmetrical post-punk of bands like the RAINCOATS and the AU PAIRS, “Another Pair” veers from ramshackle rhythmic clatter to unadorned doo wop/girl group-inspired harmonizing, the fractured noise freakout “Ich Bin Nur Ein Schauspieler” rides a similar wave as the BUTTHOLE SURFERS (to whom original MEAT JOY drummer Teresa Taylor actually defected before this LP was finished), and the acoustic lesbian love song “My Heart Crawls Off” balances being both emotionally raw and tongue-in-cheek clever. MEAT JOY was keeping Austin weird long before that phrase became a bumper sticker sales pitch, and this record is the proof—it’s just as jarring now as it was when I first heard it years ago.