Those of us who are old and crusty enough to remember Hüsker
Dü - surely one of the most influential and best-loved indie
bands of the '80s - are lucky indeed that two out of the holy Dü
triumvirate are still making music. Although luxuriously-mustachioed
bassist Greg Norton left the scene and was last heard of working
as a professional chef, singer/guitarist Bob Mould is still
making great solo records, after doing three albums with the fantastic
Sugar - as well as a brief spell as an ESPN wrestling correspondent!
Hüskers singer/drummer Grant Hart has been somewhat less
prolific - this is his first album of the 21st century, in fact -
but it's great to have him around. The melodic power of songs like
"Green Eyes" and "Dead Set On Destruction" made
Hart the McCartney to Mould's Lennon, and he's penned
quite a few equals since going solo - for example the great "2541",
notably covered by Robert Forster.
There's a pretty wide range of styles and influences on Hot Wax;
Hart had help on production and playing from members of Canadian post-rock
icons Godspeed You Black Emperor, and their influence is definitely
felt with the addition of strings and brass to the usual guitar-driven
fare. The album slams out of the gate with the rocking "You're
The Reflection Of The Moon On The Water", a classic three-chord
garage tune with cheesy organ, slamming bass and drums. Next, "Barbara"
is a sort of whimsical 60s ballad, with plinking piano and soft, clattering
drums, nice trumpet and strings at the end.
"Charles Hollis Jones" (who, courtesy of Wikipedia, is
an American artist and furniture designer who is currently being recognized
by the Smithsonian Institution for his pioneering use of acrylic and
lucite!) is another organ-driven pop song. "School Buses Are
For Children" is a real surprise, being a surprisingly spot-on
Bowie parody, with Hart's vibrato and "Heroes"-like
emoting on the chorus making the listener do a double-take. "I
Knew All About You Since Then" is a quiet song with a strolling
melody played on wheezy accordion; the Godspeed guys definitely make
themselves known on this one.
The final "My Regrets" is a stately rocker, with Hart singing
wistfully "Apologies, I don't make too many of these
I'm sending you all my regrets".
All in all it's great to have Grant back; he looks amazingly young
in the CD booklet photo, striking a classic hands-on ears recording
vocals pose, so let's hope we hear some more new music in less than
ten years this time. The man is out on tour currently, with a few
dates at the upcoming SXSW; should be well worth seeing.
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