Archive for the ‘Danny Gregory’ Category

changeSOUNDTRACK: HÜSKER DÜ-New Day Rising (1985).

new dayAfter Zen Arcade, who would have guessed that Hüsker Dü would finally release a regular album…not live, not an EP, not a double record, just a standard platter of 40 minutes of music.

For the longest time, “New Day Rising” was one of my favorite songs.  I think its simplicity combined with its basic absurdity really struck a chord with me.  It starts with a  pummeling drum and then is all distorted guitars chugging away at a single chord while Bob Mould screams, really screams “new day RI-sing” over and over again.  The chord changes from time to time and eventually Grant Hart busts in with backing chanting and hollering while Mould gets even more berserk with his screams.  And then it ends.  Just like that.  Two and a half minutes of noisy bliss.

That fuzzy guitar is a really a trademark of Hüsker Dü, something I tend to forget when I think about the songs themselves.  I’m not sure what Mould did with his settings, but his guitar is always loud, kind of tinny and heavy on the distortion.  It’s a good way to mask some simple pop songs as raging punk.

And the songs on New Day Rising are quite poppy. Grant Hart continues his great songwriter streak with “The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill” and the ridiculously poppy “Books About UFOs,” while Mould’s pop side is really starting to peek through: “I Apologize” and “Celebrated Summer” hit some great poppy strides (and the distorted guitar is toned down a little bit too).

There’s also another favorite: the weird and creepy “How to Skin a Cat.”  It’s something of a nonsense/throwaway song and yet the music is so weird that they must have had a lot of fun playing it.  “Feed the cats to the rats and the rats to the cats and get the cat skins for nothing.”  The song also makes me think of SST records in general.  If you follow music labels, SST was the home to some seminal punk bands like Black Flag and Hüsker Dü, but they also had a lot of weird punky-California bands.  And all the records have a similar soud quality.  “How to Skin a Cat” to me is the encapsulation of the SST sound.

SST is also a thorn in everyone’s side because they won’t release any of the Hüsker’s disc for remastering. I wonder what a remastered Hüsker disc would sound like? Would it still be as noisy and tinny?

[READ: July 3, 2009] Change Your Underwear Twice a Week

When we went visiting my brother-in-law in Vermont, he took us to an awesome local bookstore called Brown Dog Books.  Sarah and I made sure to do our part for the local economy.  One of the books that I bought was this one.  Tim was also very interested in reading it, as would anybody else who grew up in the 60s and 70s.

As the subtitle suggests, this is a book that looks at a number of the filmstrips shown in grade school. (more…)

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