03 JUNE, 2014Bob Mould landed in LA, pulled his rhythm section, (the law firm of Wurster and Narducy), in from Europe, and proceeded to lay waste to Amoeba Hollywood wth a 10 song set that continued this year's trend of "Instores Requiring Earplugs". This is something of a golden age for Mould, (no pun intended), in a career that's seen its share of blinding light and fallow moments, and the latest rise can be traced back to the moment the rhythm section snapped into place. In the smoke-filled hard bop days of the mid-50's, under Miles, the trio of Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Jo Jones was known simply as The Rhythm Section, and a case can be made for bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster as the indie rock equivalent. Narducy's roots stretch back to Mould producing Jason's band Verbow back in the 90's. When Mould saluted his own Workbook with a 25th anniversary show at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall in February, it was the Verbow combo of Narducy on bass and Alison Chesley on cello accompanying him, returning the gift. Along with his Split Single project, he joined Wurster in Superchunk as bassist on their most recent tour. While we're not quite ready to ordain him Philly Jon Wurster, (geographically correct though it may be), the powerhouse drummer from Superchunk has gone on to sit in with a number of bands, always raising up whatever situation he's dropped into. The combination of the two has, to say the least, rejuvenated Mould's sound, keeping up with his fiercest guitar tangents, but most importantly, adding a swing and buoyancy to songs that could easily turn leaden. Once the foundation was laid, Mould has worked backwards and forwards, rewriting his own history one blast at a time, revisiting his older songs while turning in new work that ranks with his best.
With no other show on the schedule save an appearance on Conan, the band was fully locked in and focused. Kicking off with "The Descent", from 2012's Silver Age, the die was cast as they moved on to tracks two through six from Beauty and Ruin, in that order, with "Little Glass Pill" setting up the sideways blowtorch pop feint of first single "I Don't Know You Anymore", clearing the decks for the full throttle punk charge of "Kid With Crooked Face", and it could have been the mid-80's all over again, or '94. At every station, Bob Mould has been there in the background, and while not a household name, it's hard to swing a dead cat without coming across an indie band that doesn't owe some small debt to the man. "Nemeses Are Laughing" and "The War" set up the conceptual thrust of the LP, and just when a normal instore would have petered out, Mould never looked back, tapping into the Sugar songbook for a volcanic take on "Hoover Dam", before returning to the business at hand with new tracks "Tomorrow Morning" and a hard charging "Hey Mr. Grey". Finishing things up, he dusted off another Sugar gem from Copper Blue, "If I Can't Change Your Mind". As much as the guitar shock and awe that preceded, the song was a potent reminder of his gift for melody. Beauty and Ruin is out now on Merge Records, and the band is on tour this summer-they'll return to Los Angeles in September for two nights at the Roxy.