New Bob, Old Bob

I'm a bit astonished by the consensus that Bob Mould's new album, Life And Times, is the best and most accomplished work he's produced since the last worthwhile thing he did (Hüsker Dü/Sugar/Workbook, take your pick). Were people really so uncomfortable with the electronic aspects of the last few albums that toning it down a bit fooled everyone into gushing about his return to rock (and consequently, legitimacy)? For me the problem with this decade's output has less to do with his attempt to graft electronica onto alt-rock, and more to do with the fact that the songs were limp, tailor-made-for-tv-drama drivel. With one exception (the succinct "Argos" is as good as anything on 1998's Last Dog And Pony Show), Life And Times continues the downward trend that first became overbearing on 2002's Modulate. Lyrically, things get downright ugly, the title "I'm Sorry, Baby, But You Can't Stand In My Light Any More" conveying this better than I could.

Speaking of Workbook though, I recently found my copy of the "See A Little Light" 45, a record I forgot I had. The middling but upbeat single was probably the obvious choice, considering what a downer the rest of the album was. But tucked away on side b is "All Those People Know", exclusive to this single (as far as I know), and much stronger than the a side. Note the tasteful synths on the track. A cool rarity overall.

Bob Mould "See A Little Light" (from Workbook / "See A Little Light", 1989)

Bob Mould "All Those People Know" (from "See A Little Light", 1989)


After a couple years of trustworthy recommendations, intriguing write-ups and colossal disappointment, I wrote Woods off as a lost cause. Last year's Woods Family Creeps, ostensibly compared to Faust's IV, left me especially cold, a cruel bait-and-switch exploiting one of my favorite albums. This was supposed to be the final straw but somehow the Captured Tracks single from earlier this year drew me in and the spot-on Graham Nash cover ("Military Madness") sold me on what was a killer precursor cassette (Some Shame) for what's turned out to be an equally great album, Songs Of Shame. The shift to concise and relatively straight-up songs may have something to do with it, but even the jams are killer, as evidenced by the collage and the 10 minute "September With Pete" from Songs Of Shame.

For the other naysayers out there, here's one of my favorites from the album, along with the untitled collage that fills side b of the Some Shame cassette.

Woods "Rain On" (from Songs Of Shame Lp, 2009)

Woods – untitled (from Some Shame cassette, 2008)

And if anyone out there saw them at Little Mountain last November, I'd love to hear about it.

Telefon Boys "Get Up Get Up"

Killer Italo track from four guys that give off boy band vibes but look like an Italian version of Cheap Trick. Whatever. It's an ill one, I'll forgive them.

Telefon Boys "Get Up Get Up" (vocal mix)
(from Get Up Get Up 12", 1985)