The Mooney Suzuki
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2007, Volume 14, #6
Written by John Metzger
Fri June 22, 2007, 06:00 AM CDT
Affixed to the back cover of promotional editions of The Mooney Suzukiís latest endeavor Have Mercy is a quote from The New York Times that reads: "Loud, boring, and utterly charmless. If youíve been searching for a reason to hate garage rock, The Mooney Suzuki is the band for you." Most musicians would have taken offense to such a statement, and with near certainty, the members of The Mooney Suzuki initially did. Considering the groupís adoration of The Stooges, however ó as well as the fact that in 1969 Rolling Stone referred to The Stoogesí self-titled debut as "loud, boring, tasteless, unimaginative and childish" ó itís likely that The Mooney Suzuki came to view the putdown as both a badge of honor as well as a source of inspiration.
Undeniably, The Mooney Suzuki always has had grander aspirations than most garage bands, and the proof can be found within the polished aesthetics of Alive & Amplified. In crafting the outing, the group employed the pop production team known as The Matrix, which previously had worked with both Avril Lavigne and Liz Phair. Although the collaboration was considerably flawed, it did help to pave the way for The Mooney Suzukiís latest offering Have Mercy. Wisely, the outfit found a pair of more sympathetic producers in Kevin Salem and Niko Boras, both of whom are well versed in the organic flow of classic rock. The result is a looser, more relaxed endeavor that takes the few good moments from Alive & Amplified and folds them around the ensembleís new material.
Much of Have Mercy is centered around the taut R&B of the Rolling Stones, and itís upon this foundation that The Mooney Suzuki constructs its paeans to garage rockís past. Opening cut 99%, for example, mixes in bits of glam, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and the Steve Miller Band; while Good Olí Alcohol is rooted within the work of The Kinks. Elsewhere, Ashes recalls the blues-baked fervor of Ten Years After; Down but Not Out comes off as a soulful romp through The Beatlesí Revolution; First Comes Love takes the punk-pop clatter of The Ramones and Elvis Costello and blows it up into a larger-than-life portrait that reflects Bruce Springsteenís fondness for Phil Spector; and on Adam and Eve, the jagged edges of Neil Young and Crazy Horse are toned down and laced with a forceful flute accompaniment that is plucked straight from a Jethro Tull album.
Make no mistake, Have Mercy is hardly a perfect endeavor, and The Mooney Suzuki still has room for improvement. Nevertheless, the band is, at least, back on track, and the maturity that it brought to the recording combined with its reinvigorated interest in rummaging through rock history is more than enough to successfully refute the aforementioned critical slam it received at the hands of The New York Times.
Have Mercy is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box