If you see Mark Lanegan today (and considering how tall and imposing he is, you can’t really miss him), be sure to give him a slap on the back and wish him a happy birthday. The Seattle icon turns 45 years old today, and he can feel pretty good about the decades he has spent creating music. Best known as the frontman for Screaming Trees (the band lumped in with the grunge movement who were secretly much heavier, more psychedelic monster than anybody gave them credit for), Lanegan has made a career out of lending his distinct voice (a whiskey-soaked croon that can shift into an apocalyptic metal growl) to a variety of projects. He’s currently a member of the Gutter Twins, his collaboration with former Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli, but he has also teamed up with Belle and Sebastian member Isobel Campbell and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age.
No matter what project he’s working on, Lanegan always provides an amazing balance of menace, sweetness, toughness and sex. If the Gutter Twins ever come around to your town, it’s worth it to check them out if only to see them tear through “Methamphetamine Blues,” a track from Lanegan’s 2004 solo album Bubblegum. But the best example of Lanegan’s remarkable instrument unique approach is “All I Know,” which is from the Screaming Trees’ final album, 1996’s Dust.