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Street Sweeper Social Club

Two and a half stars
Street Sweeper Social Club
Warner
Key Tracks: ‘Fight! Smash! Win!,’ ‘Clap for the Killers’

Samar Grewal Aug 25, 2009
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Street Sweeper Social Club is the coming-together of Rage guitarist Tom Morello and The Coup frontman Boots Riley with Stanton Moore of Galactic filling in on the drums. And it’s only a lukewarm addition to the strong RATM family collection (recently given a shot in the arm by One Day as a Lion), with another outspoken rapper stepping up to the plate with appropriate doses of belligerent anarcho-socialism. [Little-known The Coup have taken cues for album names from Abbie Hoffman (Steal This Album) and put out singles with names like ‘5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO’.] But though he does say “muthafucka” a lot, Riley doesn’t scream like De La Rocha, often even when the music begs that he do. Moore’s drumming too, while quite accomplished as a solo artist and with Galactic, is not a very good foil for the other two players. If someone does salvage a bit of spunk here, then that’s Morello. And just as well for him, given the two anaemic discs he’s released since Rage as tough-guy-folkie-with-a-baritone alter-ego, the Nightwatchman. He sticks to his strengths, putting his considerable weight in riffage behind songs about revolution, retribution and rich people choking on caviar (‘Fight! Smash! Win!,’ ‘Clap for the Killers’). There’s also some shredding and liberal doses of that unique solo technique (‘100 Little Curses,’ ‘Somewhere in the World it’s Midnight’). But overall it’s never enough to distract from the fact that a tighter selection would’ve worked as a much better EP. There are moments strewn across this disc, every other song or so, when the thump of the rhythm section gives out, that “wo-ho” power chord singalong feels all too deflated (‘The Oath’) and the forms clash more than they should (‘The Squeeze’). One pretend-anthemic gutless rocker too many to salvage.

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