Saturday, 4 April 2009

Sound Moulds

Upon perhaps my 76th run through of
District Line this afternoon, it struck me that I probably haven't afforded one Bob Mould the respect he is due in these here scribblings. For someone who has been a guiding member in two of the foremost underground alternative rock acts of the previous two decades, plus his various solo outings, he should at least receive a dedicated post. Perhaps it's something to do with having the least rock and roll name conceivable to man. Harsh but true.

The most influential of his bands is almost certainly Hüsker Dü. Whilst still completing my voyages through the back catalogue, 'Zen Arcade' is undeniably a crucial point in the band's history, not to mention the development of alt-rock as a genre. Influencing everyone from Pixies to Green Day, the aftershock of this sprawling concept album - released at a time when punk had just attempted to erase such prog-fielded efforts from existence - is still being felt today when some multi-million selling artists take the stage. The major label work is far more accessible, if less renowned, and perfectly enjoyable in its own right. In fact, 'Candy Apple Grey' is the album that first drew me to Bob's (sounds like your local plumber, not a rock pioneer, right?) musical adventures.

Moving into the 90's (when I should have been listening but was distracted by the thrashing of metal bands instead), the less influential but still excellent Sugar occupied the man's time early in the decade. Releasing possibly one of the best alt-rock (via pop melody) albums I can recall in 'Copper Blue' gives this band their legacy. 'File Under Easy Listening' is reportedly also a cracking melodic rock listen, though another gap that I need to fill in my collection to corroborate. The raw, distant sound of the guitars really echoes the sounds of the time and nods to peers Dinosaur Jr., as well as albums yet to be released then by acts like Foo Fighters and The Wildhearts. One day soon I'll get around to making a joyously nostalgic playlist dedicated to this sound, the challenge of which will be how to not overload the damn thing with Sugar and Dino Jr songs.

The 90's also saw more solo releases - following on from
'Workbook' in 1988 - efforts which have continued to the current time with the aforementioned (and thoroughly engrossing) 'District Line' and 'Life & Times', which is due to be released this coming Tuesday 7th April. Given the sheer number of releases, again I have some work to do on the solo stuff.

The tracks on show below should be a good idea as to the direction, however, displaying as they do the deeply personal writing that has become Mould's trademark. That distinctive voice is another quality which, although possibly grating on first listens, becomes alluringly familiar and close just a short time later. He manages to express melancholy with a surprising hope somewhere washing around his tone, making a song as emotionally fragile as
'Old Highs, New Lows' feel more redemptive than by rights it should.

Currently on a US tour and then hitting the festival scene, this could be one of the more nostalgic collection of sets that Bob Mould chooses to play given the title of his latest and the recent anniversary of 20 years releasing his own works. He may have a name that conjures up images of the ordinary and mundane, but he has more than enough music of unending depth and personality to eclipse that notion.

Official site / Myspace

MP3: Hüsker Dü - Chartered Trips

Sugar - Good Idea

Bob Mould - The Silence Between Us

Bob Mould - City Lights (Days Go By)

"I try to ignore the decay and listen harder to the tone
The pitch of your broad chest as it exhales into mine

Old highs, new lows. Ain't that how life goes?"

Now playing: ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - Electronic Bird Mating Ritual
via FoxyTunes


Michael said...

Lovely stuff. Warehouse would by my favourite album. Ordered District Liner the other day, looking forward to it.

Zidered said...

Thanks Michael. I'll add Warehouse to near the top of the list, just behind Workbook!