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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Mudhoney
Under A Billion Suns
Sub Pop

Rating: 8/10 ?


March 7, 2006
Growing up in the era of grunge, there was always something a little scary about Mudhoney. They were separate, yet inextricably joined with my way of life... in that there was everything I liked, and then there was Mudhoney. I knew I should like them - much the same way I knew I should like both Lou Barlow and J. Mascis - but Mark Arm and Co. were undoubtedly the evil twin, far from favor.

Years of distance now separates me from those feelings of rawness and discomfort, but I have to admit that upon first listen, I was still hesitant as to whether I was indeed ready to embrace the band. After all, the title, Under A Billion Suns, smacks or irony - or worse, Generation X's well-documented sarcasm. Those kids should know by now to get off my lawn...

Mudhoney's seventh album is more of a surprise to me than anyone, then: it's a record good enough to make me nervous about what I've already missed.

The pandemonium so synonymous with their early sound is still intact, but it is not simply marching on without purpose. Under A Billion Suns has a wealth to say about outrage, uncertainty and war, and it doesn't need to do so eloquently. Lyrics like "Daddy, where have all the little boys gone?/ They don't tease us in the classroom/ They don't meet us at the mall", from "Hard-On For War" cut to the bone - sometimes the funny bone - to make unapologetic, crass statements with the intent to change perspective. This album feels necessary, springing from lips that were snapped shut for too long and need to cry "bullshit" in a language we'll understand. Sounds of colorful horns and bluesy swagger punctuate moments reminiscent of The Stooges, Sonic Youth and Adam and the Ants; we can't help but remember that grunge came at a time when the underdogs of America wouldn't put up with deceptive nonsense anymore. That parallel alone makes this album sound vital.

Mudhoney's potent, honest words are paired with noise that simply sounds good. With guitar licks bent at preposterous angles, sharp and twinkling moments to catch the muddy din off guard, and undying, snide teenage outrage (there is no better kind) bubbling and receding, the tightness of this album is overwhelming, as is the fact we need it as much as we do. As such, it works on two levels of inspiration: it is to be played repeatedly for the love of the songs, and concurrently, to allow its astuteness (and bombastic snark) to rise to the top. Its precision in sound and spirit can't be denied; Under A Billion Suns is a triumphant, wild mess.

Listening to this album makes me want to speak up for America, weep at how blind I was and buy every used Mudhoney album I can get my hands on. It took me a decade, but I like where these guys are going.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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