Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.
First, a digression: ROCK DOTS (oh, the assonance! So poetic!). Or: Röck Döts?! Also known as a "heavy metal umlaut," röck döts are the dots sitting atop a letter "gratuitously or decoratively" in a band name, according to Wikipedia—e.g., Blue Öyster Cult, Mötley Crüe, etc. (Is anyone else craving the impossible-to-masticate candies called Dots now?) Because of their röck döts, I'd always assumed that Hüsker Dü were a tacky metal band. Ööps! Turns out they're hardcore, punk, or thrash—hardcore is a kind of punk, right? And thrash is a kind of metal... The music taxonomy eludes me yet again. What's important is that they were influential and not commercially successful—catnip to music nerds' little noses.
I started listening to Zen Arcade after the interwebs decreed it in our blog poll. I walked around the city buying groceries, dodging rush-hour pedestrian mobs, baking a little in the late sun. I did not love it; I did not hate it. It was yelly, but I'm used to giving that a chance now.
Shortly, a song, halfway done already, climbed through the mess of city and snared itself in some feelings that had been building a hidden nest in my stomach. "Never Talking to You Again" is straightforward, quietly defiant, and less than two minutes long. "There are things that I'd like to say/But I'm never talking to you again/There's things I'd like to phrase some way/But I'm never talking to you again..." A resigned-but-empowering estrangement anthem? Yes, please! When it was over, I pressed rewind. Then I accidentally-on-purpose listened to it on repeat for an hour-long bus ride, mesmerized.
I did eventually listen to the whole thing, and while I kept wishing I had better headphones or better speakers (then I read that the production is just kind of shit), and some of it was annoying—"Hare Krsna" = someone sharpening their jingle bells on a whetstone wrapped in cellophane?—I liked how much variation there was across a long album. Apparently, it's a concept album about a suburban kid in a mental hospital, but I couldn't really understand most of the words.
I end with music news you should write on a Post-It so you don't lose: Former frontman Bob Mould is coming to town (solo) on September 18! You heard it here first! Or third or something.
In honor of "Never Talking," I give this a "my new favorite ohrwurm" out of 10.