Husker Du?
March 21, 2007 10:51 PM   Subscribe

I like Sugar. Would I like Husker Du?

Sugar's Copper Blue is one of my favorite albums. I also like File Under: Easy Listening, but not as much as I like Copper Blue. I don't like Beaster.

I also really like Bob Mould's Workbook, more than his Black Sheets of Rain. I haven't heard much of his post-Sugar stuff.

So, would I like Husker Du (or are there specific Husker Du albums I'd probably like)? What about Bob Mould's later stuff? Also, are there other bands that sound like Sugar on Copper Blue?
posted by kirkaracha to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. You will like it in bits. Listen to all of it as soon as possible and find those bits.
posted by lemuria at 10:53 PM on March 21, 2007

Yes, you would like Husker Du, because Sugar sounds like watered-down, over-produced Husker Du.
Zen Arcade is really great, but all of their albums are pretty solid (though there are always a handful of songs that are weak).
You should probably start with Warehouse and move backwards into Flip Your Wig, New Day Rising and then Zen Arcade.
Or not, whatever. It is closer to Black Sheets than Workbook, all of it.
As for his later stuff, I never really got wild about Sugar, but his last bit of electronic experimentation was pretty decent.
posted by klangklangston at 11:02 PM on March 21, 2007

Best answer: Try "Candy Apple Gray" -- it's less raw than their earlier albums, and always seemed to me to be a bit more compatible in sound to Mould's solo stuff.

For post-Sugar Mould, you might want to start with eithe "Last Dog And Pony Show" or the self-titled/hubcap album; "Modulate" is a bit of an electronica turn and more of a break from his old sound.

For other bands...hmmm, have you already heard David Barbe's band Buzz Hungry? A few Sugar songs like "Frustration" and "Company Book" were his work and the BH album gives you different versions of those songs.
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 11:05 PM on March 21, 2007

Candy Apple Gray is the Husker Du album that's turned more people off of Husker Du than anything else they ever did. It's probably the worst album to give someone right off if you're hoping to let 'em in on the sound of Husker Du, but it might be the best for this exercise.
posted by klangklangston at 11:24 PM on March 21, 2007

I'm going to be contrary and say that I don't think you'll necessarily like Husker Du. I think you should check them out, but they don't sound too much like Copper Blue era Sugar, to my ears.

You like Copper Blue, go buy Doolittle by the Pixies. Verrrry similar.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:36 AM on March 22, 2007

I don't think anyone doesn't like Husker Du.
posted by cmonkey at 12:58 AM on March 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

Spot's engineering just about damn ruined New Day Rising for me. I know what he was doing and why, I just think it sucked.

It's heresy to say so, maybe, but I'm fonder of the later Husker Du albums and Mould's solo work than I am of either early Husker Du or Sugar. It's all good stuff, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:09 AM on March 22, 2007

I agree with Infinite Jest as I love Husker Du but don't really rate Sugar at all. Remember half the Husker's songs were written by Grant Hart - it wasn't just Bob's band.
posted by oh pollo! at 2:22 AM on March 22, 2007

I second klang's suggestion to work backwards. You may not like the low production values on the earlier Husker Du stuff. Zen Arcade is one of my favorite albums of all time, but it sounds like mud compared to Copper Blue and Warehouse. On the other hand, I think that Bob's songwriting was better in Husker Du than anything he did afterwards.

If you like Workbook, you might also like the Golden Palominos' Visions of Excess. Anton Fier, who produced and played drums on Workbook, got a similar sound on that disk.
posted by fuzz at 2:55 AM on March 22, 2007

Of the three Sugar albums, Beaster is in parts closest to the Husker sound. Tilted in particular could have slotted into any of the last 3 Husker albums unnoticed. That said, Flip Your Wig and Warehouse are probably the most accessible albums to start with. Zen Arcade and New Day Rising are widely regarded as the best. Land Speed Record is for fans only. The live set, The Living End isn't a bad cross-section of the band. And the Eight Miles High CD single is quite simply one of the finest pieces of work committed to a recording ever. One of those rare examples where the cover version transcends the original.

For what it's worth... the day I was sitting in the listening room of the Rowden White library at Melbourne University and accidently flipped the channel selector to New Day Rising was one of the few days I can honestly say my life took a fork in the road and was never the same again. I caught a few seconds of vinyl hiss before the drums started pounding and Mould's guitar started buzzing and I'd finally found the sound that gave voice to all the things that this angsty white adolescent needed to say. Mind you, I was a very tightly wound spring back then, but I digress.

Not all of HD's output will be to your taste, but there is very little of it that was crap.
posted by tim_in_oz at 3:06 AM on March 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

Husker Du's stuff is much rougher -- not just in sound and performance, but the songwriting isn't as good. It makes up for it in enthusiasm and raw energy, but they aren't the same things and Husker Du is not the same band as Sugar either. (Sugar could have done with the occasional bouncy Grant Hart tune to break up Mould's wall-to-wall angst.)

I remember 'Candy Apple Grey' being universally panned as Husker Du's sellout album, but in the context of Bob Mould's later work it's closer to the sound he wanted than anything else Husker Du recorded. My three most-played HD albums are (in no order) 'Flip Your Wig', 'Warehouse', and 'Candy Apple Grey' -- sitting through 'Zen Arcade's never been a treat -- but 'Land Speed Record' is one of my favorite office-work albums even if it sounds more like a Japanese noise band than anything else mentioned here.
posted by ardgedee at 4:35 AM on March 22, 2007

Best answer: If you like Sugar's Copper Blue, you might like The The's Dusk and possibly Soul Mining.
posted by necessitas at 4:51 AM on March 22, 2007

'Zen Arcade' and 'Flip Your Wig' for Husker Du records to start with although as mentioned above you may just not like HD. Some elements of 'Copper Blue' are very Pixies-esque so you should get 'Doolittle' etc if you don't have their stuff already.

The 'Copper Blue' sound is very over-produced compared with HD and was widely dissed by fans of the latter when it came out. While I think that his earlier stuff is much better I still have a soft spot for 'Copper Blue' but I think that is because of the associated memories of the time it came out (just before I went up to Uni).
posted by zemblamatic at 4:59 AM on March 22, 2007

While I was never a massive fan of Hüsker Dü I do remember buying Copper Blue, listening to it, and thinking "Well, that's over, isn't it?"

So I'd definitely second all the advice in this thread to start listening.
posted by unSane at 5:30 AM on March 22, 2007

Land Speed Record is like the rebellious teen to Copper Blue's staid mid-lifer. You'll like it.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 6:18 AM on March 22, 2007

Definitely start with Flip Your Wig, and you probably would like a lot of what's on Candy Apple Grey. At the very least, try the first four tracks from Warehouse: Songs and Stories... (which might be the best four opening tracks of 1987, IMO).
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 6:42 AM on March 22, 2007

the songwriting isn't as good.

That's pure madness. Grant Hart was the better of the Husker writers imo.

Sugar is pap and holy crap were they boring live. I'm voting that the OP will not like HD.
posted by dobbs at 7:09 AM on March 22, 2007

Seconding The The's "Dusk." Great call.
posted by Atom12 at 7:25 AM on March 22, 2007

I'm voting that the OP will not like HD.

Totally. What about an over-produced, watered down band like Sugar reflects anything remotely connected to Husker Du other than the fact that Bob Mould is in it? It's like saying "I really like Coldplay will I like The Replacements"?
posted by spicynuts at 7:42 AM on March 22, 2007

Bob's newest record "Body of Song" has some songs that are sort of Copper Blue-ish. But while some songs are straight up rock songs others are very electronic. Try the track Paralyzed.
posted by ro50 at 8:03 AM on March 22, 2007

"It's like saying "I really like Coldplay will I like The Replacements"?"

Actually, that's Replacements:Goo Goo Dolls::Husker Du:Sugar (except that Sugar was better than the GGD).
posted by klangklangston at 8:25 AM on March 22, 2007

True, klang. My bad.
posted by spicynuts at 8:35 AM on March 22, 2007

Best answer: I'm a huge Sugar fan -- loved Copper Blue, really like FU:EL and Beaster somewhat less.

If you don't already have it, get Besides. It's worth it and for me comes in just under FU:EL.

Now for Husker Du: I have heard nearly all of the albums (from Land Speed Record right up to Warehouse), and since my aesthetic leans heavily toward Bob Mould rather than Grant Hart, I've found nearly every Husker Du album to be irregular, bumpy, and incoherent. Never could get into Hart's writing or singing styles, so now I hardly ever listen to any Husker Du.

Workbook and Black Sheets of Rain are also excellent, as are the Hubcap album and Last Dog and Pony show. Personally, I like them pretty much in that order. I haven't gotten around to buying Body of Song, but I hear it's got some Sugar-like production.

I guess for every Husker fan who thinks Sugar is too slick and over-produced there's a Sugar fan like me who laments the less-coherent and sometimes grating (sonically) mixing/mastering that was a Husker Du record.
posted by chimaera at 11:23 AM on March 22, 2007

BTW, I was briefly in a music project in college with a friend who wrote bouncy/catchy/upbeat powerpop tunes and I wrote the heavier/angstier/more melancholy ones, and friends of our said that I was the Bob Mould of the project and he was the Grant Hart, so take my advice from that perspective.
posted by chimaera at 11:28 AM on March 22, 2007

It's heresy to say so, maybe, but I'm fonder of the later Husker Du albums and Mould's solo work than I am of either early Husker Du or Sugar. It's all good stuff, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken

What the Wonderchicken said. I originally came into Husker Du through Sugar, and to my ears HD is like two different bands pre- and post- Zen Arcade (and here's my heresy: while I recognize how landmark Zen is, the sad fact is that it feels like work for me to sit and listen to it all the way through. And I can do Warehouse on repeat for hours). If you like the coherence of Sugar, there's a good chance the older, more hardcore stuff will turn you off big-time.

You might try starting out with the HD live album The Living End; it's from the Warehouse tour and it's a pretty excellent sampler. Best of all, songs that get marred by bad production on their original albums (say, "Hardly Getting Over It," coming from the overproduced side) just fucking rock in full-on shredded glory on Living End.
posted by COBRA! at 12:17 PM on March 22, 2007

Best answer: Leaving aside the irrelevant distraction of the "Sugar sucks!" subthread apparently taking place here, I think there is a bit of give-and-take in the "fidelity vs. artistry" stakes when it comes to Bob's work.

I think Copper Blue is a landmark. It's one of my favorite loud-pop albums. I think this album was more influential (or at least prescient) than a lot of folks give it credit for - especially given Mould's fondness for ludicrously undifferentiated mixing and maxed-out mastering. Hence, there are a lot of albums that sound like it, tone-wise and dynamics-wise. Not exactly in the same vein, but similarly wonderful in terms of songwriting, I might recommend The Loud Family's Plants And Birds And Rocks And Things, The Tape Of Only Linda, or Interbabe Concern. The Loud Family is to Sugar as Scott Miller's previous band, Game Theory, was to Husker Du, and similarly controversial in the "your old band's better than your new band" department.

Anyway, of the Husker stuff, I think Flip Your Wig and New Day Rising have the best pop songwriting, and Warehouse the most modern sound. I find Spott's "house-of-SST" engineering almost uniformly irritating - Flip Your Wig in particular suffers from cardboard drumming and thinly squished guitars. If you can acclimatize yourself to it, then try the Descendents' I Don't Want To Grow Up for more of that buzzy sound and quality pop songwriting.

FU:EL was unabashedly influenced by My Bloody Valentine's Loveless (most blatantly on "Your Favorite Thing"). Following that line out, the first Lilys album is a pretty decent knock-off of Loveless.

Dog and Pony is the most Sugar-esque of his solo stuff. Some great songs, some filler. I don't go back to it a whole lot, but it's great driving/running music.
posted by mykescipark at 1:26 PM on March 22, 2007

I find Spott's "house-of-SST" engineering almost uniformly irritating - Flip Your Wig in particular suffers from cardboard drumming and thinly squished guitars.

I've always wondered how some of those SST released Husker Du albums would sound re-engineered and re-mastered. The sheets-of-cardboard drum sound would hopefullly go, but I'm not so sure about Bob's guitar sound. Throughout all that period and even into the Sugar recordings, he was playing through an MXR distortion pedal, then into a stereo delay, then into a DBX compressor. I suspect that mid-rangey, slightly muddy, heavily compressed drone sound is just what you get.

Still, totally agree that Spot's production is crap, and almost killed the brilliant pop songs on Flip Your Wig.
posted by tim_in_oz at 4:29 PM on March 22, 2007

Oh, just skip the Hüskers and get yourself some second-rate Nova Mob (or Bash and Pop if you really want to punish yourself.)
posted by DonnieSticks at 5:11 PM on March 22, 2007

Whatever you do, stay away from Modulate, Mould's ill-conceived foray into electronica.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:29 PM on March 22, 2007

Seconding everyone who says work your way backwards through the Husker Du catalog, starting with Warehouse.
posted by dfan at 7:54 AM on March 23, 2007

If you like Sugar, I think the only Husker Du album that really rates as somewhat similar is Flip Your Wig.
posted by Heminator at 5:33 AM on March 26, 2007

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