Released June 15, 1992 on LP, CD, and cassette. Caroline and Quigley Records.
Everything from the drum sounds, vocal melodies, and guitar tones on Miss Happiness resemble what the Smashing Pumpkins acheived on their successful Gish album, but Walt Mink does have something new to offer. Bluesy twists uniquely accentuate churning, psychedelic, fuzzy guitar riffs as guitarist/vocalist John Flansburg adds a quirky element with his They Might Be Giants-like vocals.
No happiness from Walt Mink
If only Walt Mink knew what it wanted to be when it grew up. Or maybe it does and mom and dad just don’t approve of this kooky concoction of psychedelia and heavy metal it calls Miss Happiness.
Big-time babe of the Minneapolis underground since 1988, Walt Mink isn’t the raunchy rock ‘n’ roll you might expect. Swirling guitar melodies, circling the stratosphere to the point of nauseau make up the mainstay of crunch pop songs that go wherever they want to go, whenever they want to go.
The helium-inspired vocals of guitarist/vocalist John Kimbrough hop, skip and jump around lyrics like “She’s got the glower on/She’s not Miss Happiness today” from the title track. None of this stuff is safe.
Even Smoothing the Ride, which starts out as a pretty ballad complete with classical guitar, turns into a plasma ball nightmare of screaming guitars and obligatory frenetic drums.
Sure, it may seem like pretty passionate stuff at first, but after a couple of songs, all the dynamics start to run together, making Miss Happiness some nightmare rock opera from beyond the gates of 1969.
by Helen A.S. Popkin, Tampa Bay Times staff writer
This power trio who named their band after a popular college psychology professor, sound very close in beat and power to Smashing Pumpkins, but somehow meld a psychedelic influence (in particular John Kimbrough’s flanged vocals on “Miss Happiness”, the opener) without becoming too self-absorbed or losing their punch. It took me by surprise.
Harmonizing vocals. Funky, nice, safe rock. Fresh new stuff. Impressive sound production. Very close to Kings S, Faith No More, Rush…. Looking for that cutting edge. Get a good video producer and Walt Mink could be the next Red Hot Chili Peppers, who knows?
Being an under-aged show goer, I was not able to see this band perform at the Bar and Grill a few months back. Even though I had heard barely three fourths of one song from Walt Mink at the time, I was still intrigued enough to want to see them live. So, I went and bought the album to compensate for Utah’s anti-liquor establishment attitude. After one listen, I felt better, and was left wanting more.
To describe the sound, you would have to make references to a variety of different musicians, ranging from Smashing Pumpkins, to Poster Children, to sight traces of Jimi Hendrix, with a bit of jazz here and there to tie it all together. A new mix of sound, and yet, it’s very light hearted and fun to listen to.
Vocalist/guitarist John Kimbrough is a very articulate musician, who wrote most of the albums material, and is very creative, using very tight riffs, and singing with almost a laid back, sarcastic white (which is good). Together with bassist Candice Belanoff, and drummer Joey Waronker, this outfit seems to bind closely to a very powerful, and very entertaining sound, which I think would appeal to most anyone.
My favorite tracks would have to be “Love you better”, a grungy power chord-driven ditty about stupidity in relationships, and “Showers Down;”, a poppy, funkjazzpunkrock tune of anxioety. Kimbrough’s words don’t seem to make a lot of sense most of the time. But who says that’s a bad thing? Anyway, if they come through town again, check out their live performance, which I heard is just like the album.
“While Jane’s Addiction may have had an edge in artiness and Nirvana in angst and rage, nearly everyone who’s witnessed Walt Mink live would contend that they were one of the best live bands of the 90s.” – Read the full review here.