Pop That Goes Crunch!

Seven Decades Of Melodic Rock & Roll

Archive for the tag “Husker Du”

Hüsker Dü’s “I Apologize”: Power Pop In Disguise

New Day RisingThe soundtrack of my summer of 1984 was comprised largely of two double-records that helped stretch the boundaries of “punk rock” and combined cost less than $5,000 to record. They were Double Nickels On The Dime by The Minutemen, and Zen Arcade by Hüsker Dü.

All told, these two five-star records packed nearly 70 songs into 143 minutes of sonic wonderment, ranging from punk to funk to jazz to psychedelia to noise to folk to something approaching pop. The two records were relentless and occasionally “in your face.” They were sometimes indulgent. They were sometimes silly. They were “all over the place” in the best way. And they were always brilliant; two of the best of the entire decade.

Less than a year later, Hüsker dropped an even better record onto the world — and arguably their best — New Day Rising, clocking in at a mere 40 minutes and change. New Day Rising was direct and focused where Zen Arcade was purposefully sprawling and meandering. Combined with numerous instantly hummable melodies, New Day Rising upped the ante even higher on the band’s overall approach to sonically assaulting the ears and the mind.

The best song on the collection is the third track, “I Apologize,” perhaps the single most ferocious piece of Power Pop ever committed to wax. Hüsker Dü, of course, was not the first band to combine a sharp pop melody with the power of punk rock. The Ramones and The Buzzcocks, in particular, did this with great results in the mid and late-70s. The Buzzcocks‘ “Ever Fallen In Love” is a great example of pure pop masquerading as punk rock.

“I Apologize,” however, combined punk and pop even louder and even faster than anything either The Ramones or The Buzzcocks. It did it by matching buzz saw guitars and pounding percussion and bass with a perfect hook and a classic pop plea of frustration and self-righteousness: “I apologize/I apologize/I apologize/Said I’m sorry (Said I’m sorry)/Now it’s your turn/Can you look me in the eyes and apologize?” go the key lyrics. “I Apologize” is as raw, as powerful and as likely to bounce around in your mind for hours or days as it was when it was released nearly thirty years ago:

A Perfect Pop Gem

A mantra of mine lately has been “if it jangles, I’ll listen to it.”  I never thought of myself as a “jangle pop” person back in the 80’s when “jangle pop” became a genre, but I always had a soft spot for the more melodic parts of the left side of the dial. The Replacements’ “I Will Dare” beat their “Dose Of Thunder” hands down. I could listen to Husker Du’s “I Apologize” and “Hate Paper Doll” any day of the week.

The Red Button takes a decidedly mellower approach to the same melodic formula. Their first album, “She’s About To Cross My Mind,” put 1965 and 1966 into an update machine to craft the perfect pop record that stays in your mind for days, weeks and months at a time.  The word “girl” figured prominently. The ninth song on “Rubber Soul” is, of course, “Girl.” I put their “Free” on a playlist right after The Beatles’ “Rain.” Two more perfect companions might never be found.

Their new record, “As Far As Yesterday Goes” might be even better. Its reach certainly is greater.

Redbutton

Flourishes of Burt Bacharach’s sophisticated 60s pop come in an out. The title song could have been on The Zombies’ “Odyssey and Oracle.” “Easier” does Emitt Rhodes better than Emitt Rhodes does Emitt Rhodes. And, keeping with tradition, there is “Girl, Don’t,” a perfect power pop gem. Jangles can be heard throughout. They also can get breezy with “On A Summer Day”:

<p>On A Summer Day – The Red Button from Seth Swirsky on Vimeo.</p>

“As Far As Yesterday Goes” is my favorite collection of 2011. It’s smart and catchy. It wears its influences without being nostalgic or derivative. It’s sophisticated without being bland. It has an edge without being trendy or falling into alternative rock cliches. And, just like in 1966, its less then 40 minutes long. Brevity is a virtue.

Go get it.

 

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