El Producto

Released January 23, 1996 on LP, CD, and cassette. Caroline and Quigly Records.


The return of this flower-power trio is further proof that “alternative” isn’t an opposition to Big Rock, just its latest incarnation – which would be fine by me if it just sounded good, which should be a prerequisite for good rock and roll of all sizes. While obviously lacking in “roll” this made-for-heavy rotation Modern Rock easily outstrips most of its peers. A less brooding and pretentious Smashing Pumpkins? Yes. A better Smashing Pumpkins? That too.

Walt Mink combines punk volume and speed with a pre-punk commitment to instrumental virtuosity and a trippy innocence that recalls Sixties psychedelia before the side effects set in. John Kimbrough is a flashy guitarist, Candice Belanoff a fine bass player and the addition of former Bitch Magnet drummer Orestes Morfin hasn’t hurt their sound a bit. However, what one can make out of Kimbrough’s pleasant poetry is reminiscent of Robert Plant circa “Misty Mountain Hop,” so perhaps we should stick to the music. Kimbrough’s Alvin, Simon and Theodore vocals are uniquely annoying in the Plant tradition also.

Very listenable, but Walt Mink’s on their third label in about three years, which isn’t the usual path to success for next big things. – MacWeekly (February 8, 1996)

A Minneapolis (the city of choice this week apparently in new release) trio, Walt Mink establish from the get-go that they can rock with the best of ‘em. The band comes out strong on the high-energy “Stood Up”. John Kimbrough, Candice Benaloff, and Orestes Morfin follow that with more power pop/punk numbers, but on “Betty” and the soothing “Settled”, the threesome prove it has more than a one-dimensional sound going. This could be a sleeper Modern Rock hit. – Cash Box (March 6, 1996)

Mostly, Walt Mink’s new album, “El Producto”, will make you feel good. Guitar riffs whip around bongo beats and the pleasant blending of the trio’s cheery voices to assert an easy-going playfulness unparalleled by other modern rock groups. Best explained as a down-home mellowness escorted into the electric world of guitars by a stir-crazy drummer and solid bass, Walt Mink prances on both sides of the folk/rock fence. At times, like in the song, “Love In the Dakota,” the violins and acoustic guitar will jerk a tear from your lonely eye while at others, like in the work “Overgrown,” you’ll just get the irrepressible urge to spin, spin, spin around the room like a child in a patch of daisies. There’s simply something different about this band, though it’s hard exactly to say what that something is. Maybe it’s that despite the depressing lyrics, most tunes leave you smiling and glad to exist. For instancew, the track, “Settled,” propagates visions of “streets and empty doors, broken glass and bottles, fear is everywhere, leaves me bare and troubled.” Yet, the Far Eastern influences in the song exert a tranquillity and sturdiness which counteract all other musical forces and forms of logic to provide you with a happy glow. It’s actually sort of weird. In any case, it’s usually best not to question how the powers that be manage to contort your emotions into the desired form. You are the consumer. You buy the product. You support the economy. You are entertained. Enough said. V.V. B – UCLA Daily Bruin (March 11, 1996)

Walt Mink creates whiny, mellow grunge sound. Every once in a while, we receive compact discs from little no-name bands on independent labels just begging to be reviewed. Some of them turn out to be promising, deserving of that all-important publicity and radio airplay. Alternative wanna-be Walt Mink was not one of these surprises. The main differences between Walt and these other bands is that Walt Mink isn’t on an indie label. Atlantic Records has the dubious distinction of signing this band to a contract. Their album “En [sic] Producto” tries to be a mellower form of grunge. They succeed a little too well. When a CD makes me want to do homework, something’s wrong. I can’t specify what I didn’t like. I liked John Kimbrough’s voice and the lyrics, that that’s where it ended. I like a CD that make me sit up and notice, like Pearl Jam’s “Ten”. My hopes were dashed when the first four or five songs, most notably “Overgrown”, kinda blended together into one blasé mix of whiny music put me to sleep. Candice Belanoff’s bass parts were not that imaginative. I have friends who were in garage bands when I was 12 who had a better sound. I had to strain to listen to her parts over working on my compositin paper … three weeks early. I was disappointed by Atlantic’s “find”. Better luck next time, guys. – Jason Tarwater, The Northwest Missourian (Vol. 82, No. 22b), 1996

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