The Indie Equation

The Unholy Marriage of Music and Math.


Equation #36: The Mooney Suzuki

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The Mooney Suzuki

God bless The Mooney Suzuki. The one American band to shamelessly rip off The Rolling Stones and The Velvet Underground and actually make it work to their favor. They dress like The Ramones, their album covers ape landmark eras in music and they managed to lure in Suzuki (the auto makers) to feature their music based on their face-melting sound rather than get sued by them.

Speaking of face-melting: the first three albums these leather-clad, shaggy rocksmiths put out there were filled with the kind of sweaty, bucking, hand-clapping rock that makes you want to kick a trash can. Great fun. Their debut "People Get Ready" is raw, unabashed and, if albums had smells, would smell like George Thorogood (sweat, bourbon and your sister's perfume). On their latest "Have Mercy" they've taken it down a notch, not so much that they've softened up, but they've turned their amps down from 11 to about 9.5. The songs here are still about the rock 'n' roll lifestyle; booze, drugs, women, and havin' a good time, but it's a more refined kind of excess. While the songs on "People Get Ready" were about the need for gratification and the drive to experience and the urgency of living in the now, with names like "Singin' a Song About Today", "Right About Now" and "Do It"; "Have Mercy" is almost a reflection on those wild times through the lens of regretless reminiscence. The prime example of this is the hilarious ragtime sing-along "Good Ol' Alcohol", chronicling the life-long trip through the purple haze along side the always reliable booze. Lyrics like "Autumn is come/our summer is done..." from "Ashes" hint at a sense of mortality, as does the surprisingly tender "The Prime of Life" and the final reassurance of "Down but Not Out". Overall it's an album of hard-earned lessons about the difficulty of love, the repercussions of fast-living and the ever-looming shadow of time. The sound is mature, (there's even some dry, jazzy flute on "Adam and Eve") and is a natural step in the growth of a band that picked up where ZZ Top left off.

Despite a relatively short career they express surprising wisdom, they appear as men who've jumped on the back of life and dug their heels in, then clung to it's ankle as it dragged them across the floor. We can only hope that they've still got some rocking left in them and that this isn't a bittersweet goodbye.


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