Mooney Suzuki: Have Mercy

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Mooney Suzuki: Have Mercy

Once-feral New York garage outfit looks back to groovy album-oriented rock

Mooney Suzuki used to take Motor City proto-punk as a starting point, as former guitarist Graham Tyler hacked out noisy riffs that the MC5 or The Stooges would’ve approved of. Following the debacle of 2004’s Alive & Amplified,

a naked attempt at the rock mainstream, frontman Sammy James Jr. seems to have moved the source of inspiration forward a decade. The leadoff track from Have Mercy, “99%,” finds James channeling Steve Miller circa “Rock ’n Me,” and manages to capture some of that song’s appealingly loose boogie spirit. Unfortunately, “almost as good as Steve Miller” is about as good as things get, as James elsewhere seems content to lean on genre clichés (“Rock n’ Roller Girl,” “Good Ol’ Alcohol”) and obvious turns of phrase (“Ashes,” in which he sings “all falls down”). Only the closing “Down But Not Out”—which takes a rootsy turn and ably evokes The Band—can touch “99%”’s sense of fun. And there’s a lot of just-OK album in between.

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