New Standards and Old Favorites

Well he’s back…he’s back for more! Welcome back to the column that keeps going, albeit ever so slowly. Hope you’ve all been having a good year so far.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this here column over the past two months, trying to come up with some different ideas for how it could work. I’m usually a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” kind of guy, but I would like to see if there are other things that you readers would enjoy. So for the past two months I have been searching for ideas, coming up with a good one about a month ago. So I started to write the article in my head during my off moments, as I usually do, then commit it to 1’s and 0’s. I have been wanting to call attention to great albums from the past, some that may be known to you, others that you may not have heard of but albums I thought you all might like. Imagine, then, my surprise at the startling little bit of synchronicity that happened when I listened to the last ABOG episode and the guys decided to pick an album from 1979 as their recommendation! I was floored, if only for the fact that I felt that anything I did in that vein would just feel like a carbon copy of what they are doing. But great minds think alike, as they say, so I will just go ahead and plug along with my original intent. So thanks for the idea gents!

But first, we’ll look at a new release that I have been enjoying lately…

New Standard: Bob Mould Sunshine Rock

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Released on February 8th of this year, the former Husker Du and Sugar frontman returns with his 13th solo album on Merge Records. After a couple of dark and introspective records which dealt with mortality and loss that was brought on by the loss of his parents, Mould seems to have found some peace. Although the music is a bit brighter, the lyrics deal more with loss of personal relationships. As biting as some of the lyrics can be, there is an undercurrent of brightness that shines through with occasional keyboards and strings that thread their way through the songs. These little touches help lift the songs. Personally I feel like this may be his best album since the days of Sugar, one of my favorite bands. It also helps that he brings with him the rhythm section of the great Superchunk (Jason Narducy on bass, Jon Wurster on drums) and they provide some great melodies on certain songs. All in all, a great album to start off 2019. Key songs: What Do You Want Me To Do; Irrational Poison; Thirty Dozen Roses; title track

Old Favorites: Fu Manchu California Crossing

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You all have heard me praise this band. Their latest was number 3 on my FOTY list last year. They are one of the forerunners of stoner rock (along with Kyuss) and have been going strong since 1991. While a lot of stoner bands lean heavily on the fuzz element of the music, Fu Manchu have never shied away from their hard rock elements. Don’t get me wrong, the fuzz is definitely there, but on this album in particular they seem to embrace their hard rock roots a little more. This album came out on October 23, 2001 on Mammoth Records and was their seventh release. It follows one of their most amazing albums, King Of The Road.

This is the album that many true fans call the “sellout” record, but the truth is, it is just a little more streamlined and commercial sounding than the rest. All of the band’s tics are present: fuzzed out guitars and bass, pounding drums, Scott Hill’s typical laid-back vocal delivery, and just the right amount of cowbell. Just a slight emphasis on the rock this time out, but the songs do not suffer for it. Also, this would turn out to be drummer Brant Bjork’s last album with them - he goes on to have a great solo career - but you can’t tell from his performance here.He really drives these songs, and also gets space for a short solo during the instrumental closer, “The Wasteoid”. Other standouts include “Mongoose”, a song that is played in concert to this day, “Separate Kingdom” , “Downtown In Dogtown” and the title track. All in all, a stellar album that some of you may have never heard, or forgotten how great it is. Go seek it out as soon as possible.

Current Listening: Johnny Marr Call The Comet; Queens Of The Stone Age Rated R; Eagles Of Death Metal I Love You All The Time - Live At L’Olympia, Paris; Fishbone Truth & Soul