Archive | Feb 25, 2015

Certain Songs #117: Bob Mould – “The Descent”

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Album: Silver Age.

Year: 2012.

The sound of an artist rediscovering his muse. No doubt emotionally rejuvenated by the the self-examination required for writing an autobiography and artistically rejuvenated by the formal declarations of love and influence by other artists that culminated in the “See a Little Light” tribute concert in 2011, Silver Age was Mould’s greatest album since Sugar’s File Under: Easy Listening.

I didn’t want to play the song
That gave people so much hope
I turned my back and turned away
Here’s the rope that made me choke

As it was with Sugar and the Hüskers, Bob is working in the power trio format, a formal signal that he knew it was once again time to return what he still does better than anybody else on the planet. So backed by Jason Narducy on bass and his best drummer since Grant Hart, the incomparable Jon Wurster, “The Descent” just explodes with punk noise and pop melody.

God, I hope it’s not too late
Can I try to make it up to you somehow?
Can I try to make it up to you somehow?

Of course, as someone who has had countless hours of pleasure derived from Bob Mould’s music, he doesn’t really have to make it up to me – or any of his fans – but gods, I love that he thinks he has to try. 

He could literally put  out one of these records every few years for the rest of our lives and I’d be happy. Or he could never do it again, and I’d be happy.

Official video for “The Descent”

My Certain Songs Spotify Playlist:

Every “Certain Song” Ever

Certain Songs #116: Bob Mould – “All Those People Know”

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B-side to “See A Little Light” single.

Year: 1989.

I’ll admit it: I’ve always had more respect than love for Bob Mould’s Workbook album. In theory, I wasn’t against his turning the volume down and doing a more acoustic record: after all, ongs like “Hardly Getting Over It” and “Too Far Down” were highlights of Candy Apple Grey, so it was clear that he could pull it off, and many many folks think that he did. But not me.

Which isn’t to say that Workbook isn’t a very good record, it’s just that give the amazing run that Hüsker Dü went on during the mid-80s, “very good” just wasn’t good enough. And I guarantee that at least one person – maybe every person – who reads these words will violently disagree with me. And you know what? You’re probably right.

It’s just that the Bob Mould that I love, that had a lifetime pass by the time either of us turned 25, is the guy who writes the great pop songs with the amazingly loud, sustainy guitar. That exquisite combination of melody and noise that changed everything. And that’s why this b-side was so important.

While it’s impossible to know if “All Those People Know” would have been a highlight on whatever the next album by the Hüskers would have been (and of course, it still wasn’t as great as “2541,”), to me it was like Bob saying to his fans “look gang, Workbook was just something that I needed to do, but I can still – and will – play to my strengths and kick out these great punk rock tunes on a dime.”

Which is why, in subsequent years, whenever he did anything that went away from his core strengths, I just enjoyed the bits that I enjoyed – even his “electronic” record has some great songs – and waited for him to circle back to what he did best. Kinda like Neil Young.

Video for “All Those People Know”

My Certain Songs Spotify Playlist:

Every “Certain Song” Ever