They Aint Old, They're Mission of Burma. - Oh My Rockness

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They Aint Old, They're Mission of Burma.

January 3, 2007
Mission of Burma formed in 1979 when I was a just a 1-year-old kid with a real attitude problem. Their first and now-legendary album, V.S. was released in 1982, or as it's become known as, "The year Tootsie changed Hollywood." (Dustin Hoffman as a woman = C-O-M-E-D-Y.) After a 20-year hiatus, MOB started fiddling around again and played a blazing 2002 show at Irving Plaza in NYC that is still being talked about. At Hammerstein (also in NYC) a couple years later, they almost stole the show from that other Boston band, the Pixies. Not bad for three old dudes.

Anytime someone describes a band as "art-rock" (Les Savy Fav, Liars, Dismemberment Plan...) you have Mission of Burma and their peers Sonic Youth to blame. Both bands were among the first to put the "jitter," the "spazz," and the "math" in rock. Both were interested in finding new ways to fuck up tempos and time signatures. Burma was Boston's version of NYC's Sonic Youth. They were contemporaries with a mutual respect for each other and both helped bridge the gap of punk and new wave by mixing raw guitars with dark, atmospheric synths. And both were underground before anyone knew what the hell that meant.

MOB's forte was always the dark ferocity of Roger Miller's guitar, resulting in an extremely heavy, distorted assault. It was what Gang of Four was doing times 10. And bassist Clint Conley (who wrote the song, "That's When I Reach For My Revolver" that Moby, in turn, fucked up) always provided the undercurrent of cool, British-like spookiness. Together, with Peter Prescott's tight drumming and Martin Swope's high-tech gadgetry, their music gave off the aura of strength and intelligence, still a rare combination.

MOB are no Rolling Stones or a money-making circus tour. They deserve to be on stage because they can still bring it. In 2005 they play like its 1982. Sure, they may have a few more wrinkles, a little more belly and slightly less hair, but the music is still the same. Mission of Burma are tight, energetic and put on a show that still requires the best earplugs money can buy.

Mission of Burma play The Double Door, on Friday, January 12th.


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