Hüsker Dü - New Day Rising
By the time Hüsker Dü had released their ambitious 2nd LP, Zen Arcade, their stock had risen from out of their punk / hardcore dwellings to a land of limitless possibilities. It had been their most successful outing and saw the band getting larger audiences as their earliest fans starting talking “sell-out” while major labels began sniffing around. SST would have none of it and to that end, immediately asked for another LP just as Zen Arcade was being released in the summer of 1984.
Rather than let the band produce themselves or hire anyone else, SST had longtime producer and associate Spot produce New Day Rising in their hometown of Minneapolis, July 1984. You can hear Hüsker Dü reaching for something more, something more immediate in the heavy hooks of New Day Rising. Perhaps Spot tried to keep them “punk” as the entire LP is covered in a metallic, almost cheap wash while Bob Mould and Grant Hart were at the peak of their songwriting abilities. “The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill” and “I Apologize” are as loud and ear-catching as they come, and “Celebrated Summer” perfectly combines Mould’s acoustic moods with feedback squall and melody. Meanwhile, “Terms Of Psychic Warfare” is the stand-out track of the LP with Grant Hart’s bass and spoken word style paying major dividends while Mould howls in the background. “Books About UFO’s” is another fine Hart composition and shows their more pop-oriented approach with a big chorus and some old-timey piano chiming in on the verse. If that leaves you a little puzzled, “I Don’t Know What You’re Talking About It” enters in and blows the doors off. And things fly off the rails (in a very great way) with the chaotic “How To Skin A Cat” and the Zen Arcade-like re visitation of “Plans I Make.”
At the end of the day, this is still a Hüsker Dü record through and through. You turn it up, you sing along and you lose yourself. The guitars are still piercing, the songs are top-notch and Mould, Hart and Norton show just how much you can do with a trio. So why is this essential? Because it perfectly meshes the various sides of Hüsker Dü: loud punk, ambitious / experimental, and ear-friendly hooks. It’s also the high point of their catalog as things would steadily decrease with 1985’s Flip Your Wig before being signed to Warner Bros. for 1986’s Candy Apple Grey. But instead focus on the bombastic, brash cacophony of New Day Rising. It’s why we all love one of the great bands of all time, Hüsker Dü. (Dom)
Check out a track here.