The Mooney Suzuki: Electric Sweat [Bonus Tracks] [ENHANCED]

Adam Williams

The Mooney Suzuki

Electric Sweat [Bonus Tracks] [ENHANCED]

Label: Columbia
US Release Date: 2003-03-11
UK Release Date: Available as import

Over the past few years, a loud buzz has emanated from the New York club scene centering around four upstarts committed to incessant gigging and high-energy rock and roll. These musical ruffians are better known as the Mooney Suzuki, and with the major label release of Electric Sweat, New York's best kept secret is set to be unleashed on the rest of the planet.

Originally issued by indie Gammon Records in 2002, Electric Sweat is currently available under the Columbia masthead, proving that every now and again majors get it right. The 10 included tracks capture the essence of the Mooney's distinctive sound and frenetic delivery, and provide evidence as to the scope of the band's musical influences. Often praised (or derided) as being an incarnation of early Who, the Mooney Suzuki is far more than a poor man's version of Pete Townshend and Company. In actuality, the group has successfully culled from a variety of sonic sources, cutting and pasting to form a unique blend of bar band rawness, live aggression, and sophisticated studio polish.

The album's opening two songs pay homage to the mighty MC5, with fiery dueling guitars underscored by warp speed bass and drum assaults. The title track bears an uncanny likeness to the 5's "Head Sounds (Part Two)" from the Power Trip album, while the single "In a Young Man's Mind" unapologetically appropriates the bass line from "Kick out the Jams." A third tune, "Electrocuted Blues" is a high velocity instrumental feedback fest straight from the Brother Wayne Kramer/Fred "Sonic" Smith glossary of fret board jousting. These aural similarities may incite critics to mass in the streets and scream "Rip off artists!", but the Mooneys are merely practicing the time honored tradition of imitation as the sincerest form of flattery.

Putting MC5 comparisons aside, Electric Sweat is a legitimate testament to the Mooney Suzuki's musical dexterity. The songs "A Little Bit Of Love", "It's Not Easy", and "Natural Fact" channel the spirit of '80s garage band extraordinaire the Long Ryders with deft blends of wailing guitars, bluesy vocals and slick songwriting. "It's Showtime Pt. II" is an organ drenched house jam reminiscent of vintage Steve Winwood/Traffic and Sly Stone, and the album's high point, "I Woke Up This Morning", is rock and roll revival meeting at its finest.

While the majority of Electric Sweat consists of pure adrenaline and horsepower, there are two noteworthy deviations. The track "Oh Sweet Suzanna" is singer/song writer Sammy James Jr.'s lone attempt at folksy balladry. Falling short of its mark, and conspicuously out of place with the album's prevailing supercharged tempo, the song is essentially a throwaway tune. Conversely, the smoldering blues of "The Broken Heart" serves as an interesting contrast to Electric Sweat's torrid pace. It also marks another example of the Mooney Suzuki's diverse pool of influences as the track is a dead ringer for Creation's brilliant cover of the Otis Redding song "That's How Strong My Love Is".

Ironically, the importance of the MC5, Long Ryders, and Creation to Mooney Suzuki's existence may prove to be a burden as well as a blessing. Although those bands were immensely talented and known for their electrifying stage performances, widespread commercial success eluded each of them throughout their careers. The $64,000 question then is, "Can the Mooneys avoid a similar fate?" Based on the merits of Electric Sweat, the answer is leaning toward a resounding "yes".

Overall, the album sticks to a rather basic plan; equal parts punk sensibility and roots based rock, mixed with solid musicianship and amps cranked way up. Additionally, the Mooney Suzuki is one of a handful of new bands whose sound translates flawlessly from studio to stage and back. Couple this musical consistency with the band's "road dog" touring schedule and some major label promotional muscle, and we may just have a certified winner on our hands. The Mooneys are still far from laying claim to the title of "The Only Band That Matters", but they're headed in the right direction. As the album's title track proudly proclaims, "Get ready, get set, what you get is Electric Sweat!"

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.