Mouldiana (2)
By: James Parker | Categories: Read-outs

CELEBRATED SUMMER

Second in a series of posts, coauthored by James Parker and Tommy Valicenti, singer/guitarist with the Boston rock band Mount Peru, parsing the solos of Bob Mould. Series intro here.

From New Day Rising.

“This bitter metal howl is a sound that seems to literally pour over our ears, a glittering river of savage harmony.” So wrote Richard Cook, God bless him, for the NME, reviewing a Hüsker Dü show at London’s Camden Palace. 1985: New Day Rising. Spot takes a lot of shit for his mix on this album, from fans and from Hüskers — “I’m not happy with how that record sounds, no, not at all,” Grant Hart told Dü biographer Andrew Earles — but we like it. We give it the old thumbs-up. With a cramped vocal channel, dumpster-thump drums, mutually demolishing vibrations and a general feel of having been recorded inside a meat locker, New Day Rising is overload all the way: Bob’s guitar tone is so acerbic, and his playing such a tinnital rage, that when a little bit of melody leaks into the signal you feel like crying. J Mascis, Kevin Shields, and damp hordes of shoegazers-to-be — they all felt like crying.

For our solo today we nearly chose the rockin’ “Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill” (Hart: “The sound of my vocals is fucking terrible”) but “Celebrated Summer” is more of a showcase for the emerging Bob style, his uniquely rich psychedelic bombardment. He writes in See A Little Light that “Celebrated Summer” was his “first truly effective use of melancholy.” Love and hate were in the air like pollen from a flower… He was still only twenty-four. The song’s acoustic break at 1.42 sounds small and tinny, like it’s being played by an angry anchovy. But it’s magical nonetheless, and as the distortion comes revving colossally back in we begin a forty-second bipolar build-up to the solo. Which hits at 2.52, and takes the top of your head off: an escalation of power that is also a major melodic lift-off. Folkily, wildly, Bob is playing figures around the pedal point, holding a plangent snarl-drone at the core of the solo while piling over it with lyricism upon lyricism. The Byrds come blurring through, as does the Big Bang.

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Co-written by Tommy Valicenti. Parker and Valicenti also collaborated on the series ANGUSONICS, which parsed the solos of AC/DC’s Angus Young.

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READ other HiLobrow series: ANGUSONICS — the solos of Angus Young | ARTIST IN RESIDENCE — HiLobrow’s favorite artists | BICYCLE KICK | THE BOOK IS A WEAPON — a gallery | CABLEGATE COMIX | CECI EST UNE PIPE — a gallery | CHESS MATCH — a gallery | DE CONDIMENTIS — a world-secret-historical take on ketchup, mustard, relish, and more | DIPLOMACY — a world-conquest boardgame musical | DOTS AND DASHES — a gallery | DOUBLE EXPOSURE — the stratagems of Middlebrow | EGGHEAD — a gallery | EPIC WINS — our versions of epic poems | FILE X — a gallery | FITTING SHOES — famous literary footwear | GOUDOU GOUDOU — adventures in Haiti | KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM — 25 Jack Kirby panels | LATF HIPSTER | MERIT BADGES — earn ’em! | MOULDIANA — the solos of Bob Mould | PANTENE MEME — a found gallery | PHRENOLOGY — the insane origin of browism | PLUPERFECT PDA — time-traveling smartphones! | POP ARCANA — spelunking weird culture | REBOOTING MUSEUMS | ROPE-A-DOPE — boxing | SECRET PANEL —Silver Age comics’ double entendres | SHOCKING BLOCKING — cinematic blocking | SKRULLICISM | UKULELE HEROES

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James Parker is a contributing editor at The Atlantic.