Magnolia Thunderpussy – Starin’ Down the Sun

Magnolia Thunderpussy
Starin’ Down the Sun

Remember the scene in High Fidelity when Jack Black and Co. finally listen to the music by their local klepto skate-punks? It’s priceless. Black sort of rolls his eyes, puts a hand to his forehead, and mutters, “It’s really … it’s really fuckin’ good.”

I had a similar reaction upon hearing Magnolia Thunderpussy’s Starin’ Down the Sun, a combination studio/live recording from 1985 that’s taken 20 years to resurface. Honestly, I’m glad it did, because it’s one of the most refreshing albums I’ve heard in a while. MTP falls very much in the vein of proto-punk groups like the Minutemen, but the band’s ability to switch from genre-to-genre — often within the same song — is astonishing. Folk, hardcore, Deadhead mini-jams: they’re all here, and they all rock.

What’s even more remarkable is the fact that Starin’ was recorded when MTP’s members were still in high school. (Actually, the studio time itself was a graduation gift from one of their parents.) So when you listen to a beautiful alt-country ditty like “Circle,” which concludes with the heartbreaking lyric, “With blinded eyes my fate apprised / A broken soul is my lament,” you know you’re in the presence of something precocious.

Unfortunately, Starin’ Down the Sun is the only album Magnolia Thunderpussy ever made, giving the band a kind of folkloric status amongst its fellow musicians. (Thurston Moore, for one, is quoted in the disc’s liner notes as saying MTP “should’a been massive.”) But the group has decided to continue its story, reuniting this summer for a small West Coast tour. Personally, I can’t wait. ‘Cause in the words of Jack Black, MTP is really … well, you know.