Friday, February 8, 2019

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BOB MOULD/SUNSHINE ROCK

BOB MOULD
SUNSHINE ROCK

2.8.19

Forty years ago, a Rock artist’s longevity was not something that was guaranteed. The first Rock ‘n’ Roll boom of the ‘50s had been swallowed by the late ‘50s/early ‘60s teen idols. Then those heart throbs were dethroned by the British Invasion. That joyful racket was overcome by the Summer Of Love/Hippy scene of 1967. And so on… Like any industry, the new kids were constantly replacing the old guard, who would then reluctantly slip into the shadows and wait for nostalgia to make them momentarily relevant again. The four Beatles (among others) made it work but a lot of their contemporaries had been left behind, lost in a time warp and destined to play the oldies circuit for the rest of their careers. By 1979, artists and the industry were more understanding when it came to making hit records and extending an artist’s career. However, the Punk movement was initially viewed as a novelty by the bigwigs and while the industry capitalized on Punk’s commercial appeal, they certainly didn’t expect any of the artists to last beyond a two or three-year window, just like any other musical movement that came along since the days of Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. Over time, we have learned that nearly every artist from every genre was capable of something much more than their “15 minutes of fame”. As for the unruly Punk kids, Bob Mould was going to break the mold (semi-pun intended)…

In ’79, Bob Mould was a founding member of Hüsker Dü, a Minnesota Punk trio. The Hardcore Punk sound of their early years matured into a melodic yet very powerful sonic wall of Punk that eventually earned them worldwide critical acclaim and a fanbase that continued to grow with each release. Right when they were on the verge of massive commercial success, the band split in 1987. For many bands, a split can be the end of some members’ musical career… until the inevitable reunion. Instead of standing still, Mould dived into a critically successful solo career, releasing two solo albums to much acclaim. Then, wanting to dive back into the harder-edged sound he was known for, he formed Sugar in 1992. After three years, he split that band up and followed the solo route again. While not as prolific as some fans would prefer, Mould has not been idle, either. Releasing an album every few years, he tends to always bring something new to the table. His career has been unpredictable in the best way possible, never serving up the same reheated formula and always taking a few chances along the way. And, thankfully, he was never tempted to reform Hüsker Dü, a band who’s legacy is untouchable.


2019’s SUNSHINE ROCK is a sonic blast of free-spirited melodic Rock, which is what we expect from Bob Mould. However, his energy, his love, and his passion for creating music has not dimmed whatsoever. The title track alone is worth the price of admission – a sonic wall of Punk-inspired energy that drips with melody and power. Then, all of a sudden, “What Do You Want Me To Do” kicks in with the same level of hook-filled urgency. “Sunny Love Song” follows with twisty hooks galore – almost Buzzcockian in its grandeur. And by the grace of your deity, Mould keeps his phasers set on stun for the rest of SUNSINE ROCK! Sure, there are songs like “The Final Years” that gallop at a slower pace, but that is Mould’s unpredictable nature. But don’t let your guard down – just because you can’t pogo to it doesn’t mean that it isn’t just as powerful as the fist-pumping anthems. Even the acoustic “Camp Sunshine” will hit you emotionally. SUNSHINE ROCK has it’s share of surprises, as you’d expect, but the biggest takeaway from the album is that Mould is on fire, displaying much of the same energy he possessed four decades ago. This is not the sound of a jaded elder statesman of Punk nor is it a comeback of any kind. This is Bob Mould, plain and simple. Thanks goodness for artistic integrity, which is the secret to longevity…

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