Call The Shots 12” EP
(Pirates Press Records)
Listening to Call The Shots – the debut EP by Suzi Moon – there’s no way to deny that listeners will be able to recognize a great similarity to the vocal tone and timbres of Courtney Love, but listeners also won’t be able to deny that the three songs which comprise this EP are more enduring and enjoyable than anything the Hole singer has ever done.
This review has been written in the manner that it has for a reason. Could I have pattered on at length about how the three songs on Call The Shots [which have been pressed on both sides of this 12” vinyl record –ed] feature a lineage which can be traced directly through pillars of the Riot Grrl movement including Bikini Kill, L7 and Bratmobile, as well as through the sludgy, attitude-infested East Coast crunch of bands like Boss Hog? Sure I could have – but that would just be dancing around the point. The point is that, in the three songs collected here, Suzi Moon has stricken a perfect balance between the swagger of punk rock and the grit of grunge, and presented that mixture with just the right amount of excitement to also make it powerfully infectious.
There is no build or delicate ramp-up as stylus catches groove and the EP opens – the running just assaults eardrums with all the gentility of a dead blow hammer to the temple as “Special Place In Hell” falls into gear. There, the basic structure of the song is exactly what anyone would expect of the first thing they’ve ever heard from a female rock star; Moon introduces herself with a sort of tongue-in-cheek come-on (“You looked me in the eye/ Told me this was really blowing your mind/ It’s not the life you’re used to/ I let you come inside/ Steal a little piece of my design/ Did you calculate the kiss too”) before spiting in listeners’ ear with molten guitars and the line, “There is a special place in hell for you.”
In the strictest terms, the most stoic critics will say this is nothing new, and they’re right – but Suzi Moon presents it with such fervor that there’s no question she’ll have piqued the interest of everyone within earshot. The sound is, very simply, a perfect mix of ‘noxious’ and ‘hypnotic’ and the hooks will sink deep into listeners and hold them as the singer continues her rant for another two and a half minutes. It’s a great cut and leaves listeners primed for more.
Listeners will take pause and think twice after “Special Place In Hell” closes and a far leaner guitar tone which comes close to cribbing the riff from Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” opens “I’m Not A Man,” but the song then shifts gears into a “Party girl with no excuses to make and no fucks to give” along with an almost bluesy grunt which pulls the best song (in this critic’s opinion) along. Here, the Riot Grrl swagger from the first cut endures, unbroken, but because listeners are already primed for it, “I’m Not A Man” actually plays better because the sense of familiarity after the first cut causes listeners to relax.
Because the first two cuts already did most of the hard work, “Nothin’ To Me” plays through confidently, almost like a victory lap. Following a count of six, Moon and guitarist Drew Champion just lash out unhinged with a gloriously muddy instrumental tone over Rikki Styxx’s unrelenting drum performance. That sound really does feel like the pay-off listeners were hoping for from the first two songs but, when Moon steps to the mic and unleashes a vocal performance which sounds like Die Mannequin’s Care Failure after a really long, hard night at the Corktown, listeners’ eyes will just set to glistening. In a short fun of two songs which felt and sounded spectacular already, “Nothin’ To Me” answers the question of how promising this singer’s future might be in four minutes flat. Here, the rabid tone and tempo of the guitar compliments Moon’s vocal perfectly, and makes it feel as though she’s bored but is obviously capable of dishing thrills – even on her worst day; and it’s just excellent.
And after “Nothin’ To Me” splashes out and the needle lifts, listeners have the option of either flipping the 12” single over of just re-starting the side they’re on; either way, they’ll be playing through the same songs – but that’ll be fine because they’re supremely addictive. There’s no question that those who experience the Call The Shots EP will be hungry for more and, yes, they’ll have their eyes peeled on new release racks at their favorite record store for when another release does appear from Suzi Moon. Until that release appears though, it’s good that the three songs which populate Call The Shots appear on both sides – with two copies of each song available on this single, it’s slightly less likely that listeners will totally wear the vinyl out as they wait for more music. [Bill Adams]
The Call The Shots 12” EP is out now. Buy it here, directly from Pirates Press.