Do you like power trios? I love power trios. It’s one of the reasons I loved Nirvana from the start. There’s something exciting about one guitarist handling both leads and rhythm in front of a pounding rhythm section that gets me every time. I love the old guys, like Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and I love Nirvana and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
My two favorite power trios, until recently, were the Bob Mould led Hüsker Dü and the Bob Mould led Sugar. So yeah, I’m a total mark for Loud Bob. The way his guitar playing deftly moves between an anthemic roar and a beautiful, Byrds-esque melody anchors the most affecting post-punk power pop recorded yet. He’s getting close to 60 and he’s every bit as great today as he was then.
Bob Mould records under his own name these days but his music, live and on record, is powered by the best power trio he’s ever fronted: Jason Narducy and Jon Wurster. Wurster has spent decades pounding for Superchunk and the Mountain Goats, but his best work has been with Mould. It’s explosive, and it has to be said, his humor adds a lot to Mould’s videos and live show. Narducy has spent time playing bass for Superchunk and Guided by Voices, and is 100% the foundation of the performance of Bob’s songs. His sound gives every song a fat bottom and when the guitar and drumming seems like it’s going to fly off the rails, Narducy’s thumping bass keeps everything grounded and moving forward.
Bob Mould’s newest, Sunshine Rock, is his best solo record yet. With his current band, Mould has started to wear his heart on his sleeve. He’s always had moments, but rarely has he ever just poured him anguish and sadness and personal anger and melancholy into such a remarkable whole. It’s not a performance, it’s an honest outpouring of his heart. On Sunshine Rock, more remarkably, he’s let the sunshine in. He’s not afraid to be happy and he’s not afraid to let it show in his songs.
After three listens, I’m ready to call Sunshine Rock a classic.