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January 18, 2016 / bloggenstatt

H is for The Hold Steady, Hüsker Dü and The Happy Mondays. H is not for Herb Alpert

Coming up with three quality H bands was kind of challenging. The first two picks were all sorts of obvious, but it’s a letter with a lot of bands that are solid and get a spin every once in a while–The Hives, Heartless Bastards, The Horrors and Hot Chip–and bands with one excellent album–Harlem and Hospitality–but not a ton of knock outs.

The Hold Steady

 

 

The Hold Steady are simply the most literary bar band of all-time. This is meat and potatoes rock delivered from the point of view of a scenester, who’s never been all that comfortable in any particular scene.

They’re responsible for between two to four classic albums. Almost Killed Me and Stay Positive are at the very least very good rock albums, but they sandwich two of the best albums of the ’00s: Separation Sunday and Boys and Girls in America.

Those two albums are the absolute epitome of the band’s penchant for pairing muscular, chugging guitar song with Craig Finn’s  acerbic character study lyrics before hitting a big chorus, and I recommend them to anyone who likes rock music.

 Hüsker Dü

 

 

Hüsker Dü is one of the greatest punk bands ever. They pushed a genre that was traditionally more style than substance to artistically fertile territory with the double-album-concept-album Zen Arcade.

Other than maybe The Minute Men, and much much later Fucked Up, there aren’t many bands who have pursued such audacious heights within the hardcore-punk genre,

Hüsker Dü had an absolute blistering intensity, but Bob Mould and company had a way of making all the noise sound tuneful.

They followed  up a punk masterpiece with New Day Rising, an album nearly as good, and released several other albums worth checking out throughout the rest of the ’80s. Bob Mould, singer and guitarist, has gone on to release approximately 9 billion songs and albums since the band’s breakup and reunion rumors always swirl.

The Happy Mondays

 

 

OK, so they never released an album as solid as The Stone Roses‘ debut album, but there’s a chance these guys were the better Madchester band.

At the very least, they were the quintessential Madchester band. The music of The Happy Mondays sounds exactly like what you would expect spacy art-rockers dabbling in dance influences and plenty of drugs to sound like.

I think it’s safe to say without The Happy Mondays, there would never have been a Screamadelica, and I think we’re all happier to live in a world with a trippier Bobby Gillespie.

Also, worth noting. Their hit(kind of) single “Kinky Afro” has my all-time favorite opening to any song ever, “Son, I’m 30/ I only went with your mother ’cause she’s dirty.” Great stuff.

 

 

I have a Herb Alpert Christmas album on my iPod, because unconventional Christmas tunes and odd covers are always somewhat interesting to me, and I suppose I’m a richer person for having heard “Sleigh Ride” in ’70s gameshow style. Still, it’s not particularly good.

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