Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Hey Mr. Grey” by Bob Mould from the forthcoming album Beauty & Ruin on Merge.
Well into his fourth decade of writing and performing, Bob Mould is both an elder statesman reflecting on his past and a still-thriving songwriter in a late-career renaissance. As a member of Hüsker Dü, Mould was one of the primary architects of the sonic template that would come to dominate the genre known as alternative rock in the ’90s, and has been name checked as a key influence by everyone from Nirvana to Spoon to Ryan Adams. After that band’s dissolution, Mould began a prolific solo career that has continued to this day, releasing an album every 2-3 years on average and touring even more frequently. The last few years of Mould’s career have found him looking back more than ever before, but his recent retrospection has always been in conjunction with something new. As he was prepping a reissue campaign of his work with Sugar, he also released a new album, 2012’s great Silver Age, playing those new songs alongside full sets of Sugar songs and Hüsker Dü classics.
This year saw a reissue of his solo debut, 1989’s predominantly acoustic Workbook, that was accompanied by a brief acoustic tour. As that tour was starting, Mould announced that he and his current backing band of drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy had recorded Beauty & Ruin, his eleventh solo album, in late 2013 for release this summer. The first single from that album, “Hey Mr. Grey”, plays to all of Mould’s strengths: it’s fast, hard, melodic, and incisive. Narducy and Wurster’s locked-in rhythm section serves as the engine for Mould’s trademark forceful and melodic guitar playing, and across the song’s two-minute runtime, Mould shouts out a sardonic tirade about a younger generation pigeonholing an older man. Not only does “Hey Mr. Grey” show that Mould can still pump out punk rock pogos worth getting in the pit for, but it also shows that Mould still has a refreshing amount of self awareness, because there’s no one better at writing songs about being an angry young man than someone who was once one.
Bob Mould is playing a series of solo and full band dates this summer in support of Beauty & Ruin, including a full band set at Sasquatch this month. Keep an eye on Mould’s website and Facebook for any news on more tour dates. Below, watch him and his band play the Hüsker Dü classic “Makes No Sense At All” live on KEXP at Bumbershoot 2013.