Husker Du formed in 1979 in Minneapolis and over the course of their career created a roaring, intense guitar sound that influenced countless American punk bands that would follow. After the band's demise, frontman Bob Mould went on to front the poppier Sugar and then a series of solo works with diverse sounds that would lead to firmly implant him in the annals of punk history as one of its most innovative musicians and talented songwriters.
His latest, District Line, is an album that sums up all of his sounds thus far, and leaves me eager to hear what will come next.
District Line reads like a greatest hits album that somehow manages to sum up what Mould did with Husker Du, Sugar and the various sounds he's embraced over the course of his solo career, and yet is comprised of entirely new music. It would make for an epic curtain call for his musical endeavors, but fortunately I've already heard him play newer material live; and we still have more to look forward to from an essential punk pioneer who happens to be one of the most talented songwriters producing music today.
The record can easily be broken into songs that expressed each of his eras. Husker Du- and Sugar-era Bob Mould shows up in rocking tunes like "Return To Dust" (Listen/Download), "The Silence Between Us" (Listen/Download) and "Very Temporary" (Listen/Download). His balladeer skills are evident in the acoustic "Walls In Time" (Listen/Download) and "Again And Again" (easily the standout track on the album, which is a strong statement for an album of standouts - Listen/Download). Bringing his sound full circle, electronica influences rear their heads on the synthesizer-meets-guitars tracks "Stupid Now" (Listen/Download) and "Miniature Parade" (Listen/Download), and on the entirely electronic, dancy tune "Shelter Me" (Listen/Download).
Mould's band is well -rounded with drummer Brendan Canty (Fugazi) and Richard Morel on keyboards. Morel is a longtime Mould collaborator, his partner in crime on the dance-heavy BlowOff project. All in all, they have created an album that explores diverse sounds, yet manages to wrap them into a record that is cohesive and tight.
If you're unfamiliar with Mould at all, District Line would actually serve as a good introduction, giving you a feel for everything the man is capable of, wrapped up in a single package. Once you know what you like, it will be easy to seek out what you want next. Whether you're a fan of his blasting guitars, his exquisite ballads or his forays into electronica, District Line has all of it in scores, wrapped up in an album that, despite its diverse sounds, comes together in a superb feeling of connectedness.
Release Date: February 5, 2008