People always look for sounds, especially new ones that will establish new musical revolutions. There’s the famous “Detroit” sound, which consists of Berry Gordy and Motown Records. There’s the famous “L.A.” sound, which consists of Van Halen, Motley Crue, Guns ‘N’ Roses and countless metal acts. Then there’s “grunge”, or the “Seattle” sound which Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were the frontrunners of. Detroit, L.A. and Seattle all have celebrated sounds as well as legendary scenes. Bob Mould’s new record, District Line, continues on a sound that has been around for ages, isn’t as famous as its contemporaries, but carries some of the most melodic music ever recorded.
Prior to this record and his solo career, Bob Mould was the guitarist and vocalist for the legendary Minneapolis punk-band-turned-alternative-rock trio Husker Du. Along with fellow Minneapolis bands The Replacements and Soul Asylum, Husker Du crafted a sound based on strict concentration of melody, minimalist chord progressions and heartfelt lyrics. This new offering of Bob Mould’s fits right in at home.
It’s been twenty odd years since Husker Du broke up, and Mould’s latest solo recording shows his maturity. Gone is much of his pent up adolescent aggression and shown is nothing but Mould’s penchant for basking in melody and memories of good times. The album opens with the slow rocker “Stupid Now” and Mould’s vocals are crisp here. The song is filled with lots of instrumentation to satisfy tons of indie kids and music theorists. Mould uses vocoders, multi-tracked guitars and the drumming on this record is performed by Brendan Canty, the drummer for D.C. legends Fugazi.
The next few songs “Who Needs To Dream”, “Again & Again”, “Old Highs New Lows” and “Return To Dust” continue in the same college rock format, all good crafted and melodious tunes. The real interesting thing however is that the album picks up and dives into much more after “Return To Dust.” On the song “Shelter Me”, Canty’s percussive beats behind Mould’s well-crafted guitar work is nothing short of awesome. This is definitely one of the best songs off this record and Mould’s vocals are soulful and fit very well with the overall “robotic” mood of the song. This song is definitely a departure from the rest of the album, but it’s a bold move and Mould shows influences that would have never been seen previous to his Husker Du days.
The album ends with a great 1-2-3 punch with “Very Temporary”, “Miniature Parade” and the six minute epic “Walls In Time”. For the forty-seven year old punk & alternative rock veteran, Mould’s District Line is another milestone of melodic achievement. Not only is this a good album for the year so far, it shows that old dogs cannot learn new tricks. Mould learned very long ago the importance of musical melody and harmony. Husker Du and his other band Sugar, built upon these premises and have reached considerable praise in musical circles. District Line leaves a nice melodic stamp on the musical world and holds up continuous quality for alternative rock as we look toward the future.
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