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 » 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.
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 » 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!
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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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Mooney Suzuki
The Maximum Black EP

Rating: 7/10 ?

October 30, 2006
Baptized in the filthy toilet water of the bathrooms at a scuzzy East Village nightclub called Coney Island High, site of their first regular gig, The Mooney Suzuki has, since inception, been on a less-than-holy crusade to bring primitive, back-to-basics rock 'n roll to the great unwashed. Live, their goofy, over-the-top stage personas and feverish, amplified sermons bring to mind the frenzy of snake-handling church services in the deep South. Those who come to bear witness leave healed, if only for a short while, until the dull, conformist reality of the world crashes down on them the next morning.

The seeds of that movement were planted in the fertile, if fetid, soil of Coney Island High, notorious for its prevalent drug use - someone actually OD'd during The Mooney Suzuki's first show there - and the bad element that hung around outside, like treasonous palace guards secretly wishing for riots in the streets or a coup attempt to join in on. Their chance would come in 2001, a year that saw The Strokes ignite other seedy New York City clubs with their hot-wired, garage-rock grooves and The White Stripes burn Detroit with molotov cocktails of vintage, stripped-naked blues and searing rock arsons.

The time was right for the 60s-influenced, MC5-inspired mayhem of The Mooney Suzuki and they milked it, releasing the furiously fun Electric Sweat the year after Is This It? and White Blood Cells were issued. If only for a short while, the facade of respectability had been removed from rock - the operation performed by back-alley "doctors" using a pocket knife and whiskey as a local anesthetic. Because of the timing and their shared reverance for traditional rock song structures, The Mooney Suzuki will be inextricably linked to The Strokes and The White Stripes for life. But as long as they continue to lose their minds on stage and revel in dumb fun, they'll always be considered garage-rock's spazzy little brother, the one who eats worms and still plays out for junkies.

Before the media furor over rock's supposed revival, The Mooney Suzuki stayed underground, honing their chops and readying themselves for the revolution - should it ever come. Theirs was a "mod" sound at the time, developed to appease the "mod" audience that came to watch them on "mod" night at Coney Island High. You can still hear some of that in The Maximum Black EP, 11 tracks of raw, high-energy rock 'n roll The Mooney Suzuki recorded back in 1998 in separate sessions - one from a lost weekend in Maine and the others, which took place at a small New York City studio.

Reissued recently by V2 as The Maximum Black EP, the first Black EP was originally released in 1999, with only 1,000 copies issued. It consisted of six songs, none of them "mod" and most loud and imperfect, but played with wild abandon. The exception is "My Dear Persephone," a remarkably polished 60s-style pop song which borrows its earthy harmonies and guitar jangle from The Byrds. After the amp-frying, fuzzed-out intro "And Begin," a shotgun wedding of Mudhoney's scratch-and-dent tonality and Wayne Kramer's scorching, high-wire riffs, and the lowdown, uninspired grooves of "I Say I Love You," it's a woodsy park planted in the middle of burned-out cities and an unexpected set-up to the buoyant rocker "Half Of My Heart." A smart mix of handclaps and tight-as-leather interaction between rock's trinity of guitar, bass and drums, "Half Of My Heart" takes you by the hand and, despite your embarrassed reluctance, commands you to dance. The mosh pit erupts in "Turn My Blue Sky Black" and "Love Is A Gentle Whip," two hairy, stomping rockers that kill all form of melody and try to get by on their burning intensity alone.

Tracks 7-11 did not appear on the original EP. At the time, the Mooney Suzuki considered them too "mod." Characterized by a British Invasion aesthetic, songs like "This Lonely Land" - again aping The Byrds - and "Right On By" are more restrained than what came before it, but the hooks are clearer and stronger. "You're Not There" is more psychedelic and trippy than what you'd normally hear from the Mooney Suzuki, but it's still steeped in the pop jangle of the 60s.

Some of the starch has been taken out of the garage-rock revolution of late. Lackluster records by its biggest stars, The Strokes and The White Stripes, have contributed to the malaise. Undeterred, The Mooney Suzuki will survive because, like cockroaches and The Ramones, they are too tough, or too committed, to die. Their sound will always be a little too ugly for radio and mass consumption will probably always elude them - the reason being their songs aren't especially unique or all that well written. But as long as they keep the faith and there are rat holes like Coney Island High around, The Mooney Suzuki will have a place in this world. And if any band deserves a cartoon show about them, it's these guys.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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