|If you don’t already have your headphones in, best get ready:Today’s album is Husker Du’s Zen Arcade:
For the not-quite-VH1 Behind The Music version of the album:
|RC: Husker Du – Zen Arcade
Least favorite track/tracks:
Overall (1-5 stars): 3
|Husker Du – Zen Arcade: 2.5 stars
Precon: No idea. I’ll take a guess and say they’re the American version of Kraftwerk.
Favorite Track: Newest Industry
Oh jeez 23 tracks.
Magic the Gathering Card: “Recurring Nightmare”
|Husker Do-Zen Arcade
Pre-Concevied Notions-I think I used to get these guys confused with A-Ha when I was little, or with a country band, I’m not sure. I do know that I used to have a postcard from a friend who went to, I think it was Denmark, when I was in London. I’ve never really known what to associate this band with. I know I’ve heard the name before, but after reading just the initial paragraph of the Wikipedia summary, I should state, I’m not really sure if I’m in the mood for this today.
Indecision Time is the perfect combination of everything I dislike in music. Thank goodness it’s only a little more than 2 minutes long.
After Listening-What I didn’t know was that “Indecision Time” was going to be the beginning of the descent down the angry rabbit hole. It’s possible that I would rather listen to Queensryche than ever hear this album again, or at least the beginning of this album, again. It’s some sort of hybrid punk metal monstrosity that I’m sure jazzed up a bunch of whiny suburban teenagers in the 80s who were oh so misunderstood. Please. I was literally checking back every song to see how close I was to this finishing. I had to go back to the Wikipedia to make sure that there wasn’t something that I was missing and I found this quote about the album:
“Zen Arcade tells the story of a young boy who runs away from an unfulfilling home life, only to find the world outside is even worse.” Oh BOO!
So yeah, a bunch of sad, misunderstood teens thought this was their story. Yikes. To quote Andrew Clark “Everyone’s home life is unsatisfying. If it wasn’t people would stay with their parents forever”. I don’t ever want to hear anyone complain about any of my picks being “whiny” ever again. The whole thing feels like musical jambalaya if the ingredients were “Dark Side of the Moon” “Tommy” and “London Calling” and then if there was angry screaming added on top like sour cream. I suppose the good news is that no song is longer than 4 minutes, so at least the self-indulgence only came from the thematic nature of the album.
For the first half of this album, I’d give it -0.5
Favorites: Pink Turns to Blue
|Preconceived Notions: Aside from the overused pun of Husker Don’t-which is even referenced in the head of this email thread, I have no real certainty of this band. I have heard of them in similar circles to Black Flag…though always with the caveat of someone saying “not as good as…” So I know we’re in for some punk – quality to be determined.
After Listening: This is the type of music that’s a lot more fun to play, as opposed to listen to. I could see me and a few friends with some Schlitz or some Coors Light setting up in my garage in the summer and thrashing out for hours in similar disjointed fashion. Heck, been there done that already in my life, it’s good times. Combine that element with the terrible audio recording quality that sounds like a 4 track with a warped tape inside it (the drums sound particularly terrible like muffled farts)…and you have to hand it to Husker Du, certainly all the elements are there for evoking up the garage punk rock image. And you can at points on this album genuinely appreciate the energy, these guys are clearly in the hardcore vain-plenty of screaming to go with moments of “singing”. It’s an attempt to be in your face and properly sloppy. Husker tries at moments to switch up the formula with songs like “Never talking to you again (acoustic guitar) “One Step (clean piano) ”“Hare Krsna (Kishna chant) ” , and the closing track “Reoccurring Dreams (instrumental)”. But let’s be honest, there’s no need for 70 mins of this album. Any strengths individual moments might have are dulled down by the overall similarity of many songs, and putrid production values that blend the whole thing together. I didn’t even have a clue this was a “concept” album about a runaway until I re-read some of the wiki after listening. So there’s a narrative communication failure there as well- although to be fair you can just generally assume all of this style of punk is about some sort of angst – no great need to personalize it.
Favorite Tracks: “Dreams Reoccurring & Reoccurring Dreams” – It’s not often that I appreciate instrumentals that have sort of subpar musicianship on them, but with these two tracks the band was trying to switch things up and so that’s worth the effort. Clearly they’re attempts to influence the mood, and give pause within the narrative of the album which displays a higher level focus absent in a lot of punk.
Least Favorite Tracks: Rather than rail on anything in particular let’s just say that out of…. “Broken Home, Broken Heart”,“Charted Trips”, “Beyond the Threshold”, “Pride”, “The Biggest Lie”, “Masochism World”, “Pink Turns to Blue”, “Newest Industry”, “Whatever, and “Turn on the News”…we could easily lose half, if not all of them from this record- and nothing would be lost.
In fact if this record had a playlist like
1.) Something I Learned Today
While still having some down moments, would flow a lot better to my ears and encompass anything musically the band might possibly have to say. In fact I might even be tempted to give it something like a…
Overall 3.5 (my list)…but I guess really 2.75 I can excuse the crappy production as a mix of style and the 80’s, I can also excuse the repetitive tracks and playing – I’m sure it has a genre niche and like I said it’s fun to actually play. I can understand all of that-but it doesn’t mean I have to really like it. Taking the record as a whole is both a strength and a weakness….as a whole you don’t have to examine too closely what contributes to the energy on this, but also as a whole you have to deal with the feeling at the end of thing that they wasted a good deal of your time. I encourage anyone to give it a full listen and then to chop the heck out of it-if you cut down on your own personal drudge it may indeed be possible to enjoy this thing. Or better yet, get yourself a guitar and a garage, and some beer…and make your own music.
|Husker Du – Zen Arcade
Preconceptions: This is one of my curiosity picks. I always hear about these dudes, and some people go bonkers bananas about them, and this album in particular. I used to mix their name up with another hardcore band called Shai Halud, but I got that straight a few years ago and I’m getting along really well nowadays at keeping it that way. It’s a struggle, but hey, I get by…. one day at a time. What else can I do?
After Listening: This album is truly epic and self-indulgent, which are two things I don’t necessarily hold against a band—as a couple of my previous picks demonstrate. In the case of Husker Du, my feelings are mixed—at least for now. There are songs and sections of this album that I really dig a lot, and overall, I really like the sort of punk these guys deliver, and I appreciate the under-produced yet listenable quality—I think the cool kids call it Lo-Fi. Even still, I found myself wandering off a bit while listening to certain parts. However, I think this could become a more solid album for me with a few more listens. I might hit up my friends for a copy.
Also, what’s with me picking albums with 14 minute final tracks, huh? Crazy. I’ll tell ya, that’s some wild stuff. That being said, The Battle of Hampton Roads is a far superior song to Recurring Dreams.
Favorites: Honestly I was keeping notes by track number, but I got off track because of a couple of short songs that I mixed up with longer songs—bottom line, I can’t decipher which songs were my faves and which were my least. Sorry folks. Maybe I’ll send an update if I can figure it out.
Overall: 3.5 stars (at least for now)