Walter D. Mink was -- and no doubt remains -- the name of a psychology professor and "lovely human being" (according to the credits on WM's Colossus (1997)) at the University of Wisconsin or some similar place out there in the vast, windswept, cannibal-haunted steppes of the American Midwest.
A band named theirselves after Dr. Mink. They consisted of the immortal John Kimbrough on guitar and singing, and the immortal Candice Belanoff playing bass and not infrequently singing a bit as well. They had two different drummers: Joey Waronker on the first two albums, then the fabulously named (and, like, 'way chopsier) Orestes Morfin on El Producto and Colossus.
They released five albums, none of which drew flies:
The first two are great in spots -- dig the fantastic cover of Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" from the first, and the wonderful "Subway" on the second -- but El Producto and Colossus are just plain magnificent. Then they broke up because nobody bought the damn records -- so you see, it's all your fault, you cheap bastard. I hope you're proud of yourself.
The Nick Drake bit is no accident. They were about as close to Drake as it's possible for a noisy, punkish, chops-ridden Midwestern power trio to get. Okay, that's not real close, but it's closer than you think.
They were cool because they were loud and tight and they could play, but they wrote songs with hooks and they moved well rather than just fast. The lyrics usually bypassed a lot of the the machismo bullshit, too (but the music was hairy-chested as all hell, mind you): "Betty" is about a nice, lonely old lady planning a dinner party. Over an avalanche of noise, Kimbrough bellows: "It's important to understand/the menu for the party would be well planned/and everyone gets along just grand/NO, THE FRIED CHICKEN WOULDN'T DO, IT WOULDN'T DO AT ALL!" No, no, this is not irony. This is not "oh look at the stupid people who don't babble about anarchy and read Z Magazine." This is not bullshit, is what I'm saying: It's real sympathy for other human beings, even unfashionable ones. It's profoundly unhip. Kimbrough has a weird, often gentle, high-pitched voice that deconstructs whatever machismo gets past the lyrics.
Weird shit, and glorious in its own ineffable way. They were a true original, the genuine article, strange and sad and lovely and loud. Collect 'em all, kids. It's not like you've anything better to do.