Hüsker Dü with their tour de force New Day Rising changed the face of Hardcore-Punk and Punk-Rock. With production tension high the trio from Minnesota set out to create something that to this day is looked upon with awe. New Day Rising feels like wild animal that has barely been tamed but is allowed to run riot.
|Artist: Hüsker Dü
Album Title: New Day Rising
Genre: Post-hardcore / Punk
I’ve always had a strong affinity towards Punk music, and in my teenage years I thought I knew it all. I thought by liking Pop Punks bands like Green Day and Blink-182 and having some vague knowledge about The Clash and The Sex Pistols; that it would be enough to see me through. Over the years I’ve definitely kept up to speed with the new acts hitting the scene and making big splashes – but what’s more is that I’ve dived back in musical time and my naivety has thankfully ebbed away.
I read once that if the Beach Boys wanted to do Punk they’d sound something like Hüsker Dü on New Day Rising, and I couldn’t agree more. The song structures, the musicianship, the emphasis on melody and the more commercial appeal this record has is reminiscent of the way The Beach Boys made music.
Hüsker Dü were not the first trio to try their hand at Punk (and they surely won’t be the last) but what they were able to create over their 9 years of activity is paramount to what came next. Before New Day Rising they released Zen Arcade, which a lot of people consider their best record. As soon as you hit play you’re met with Grant Hart’s military-esque snare drum and from there it feels like you’re listening to a practice run for what is now New Day Rising. The record itself is ambitious and the boys sound like they’re toying with their sound.
With New Day Rising you’re introduced to the record in similar fashion to Zen Arcade in that Grant Hart kicks the whole thing off. Only Hart sounds more confident, more in control of his instrument. Overall the sound remains the same, there’s the fuzzy scratchy guitars that are in the forefront of the mix; the driven hectic beats and the steady thumping bass guitar. However, there’s more emphasis on melody and the structure of the songs seem to have a more Pop sensibility. From thrashy 2-3 minute numbers that lacked musicianship, there are tracks like ‘I Apologize’ a 3:30 song that sounds like it could’ve on a Bad Religion record. ‘Perfect Example’ IS a perfect example of a refined and more mature sound that sounds like something you would’ve expected to hear on the radio instead of on a punk record.
Despite this more melodic approach to song writing the emotive style, that’s become synonymous with Hüsker Dü, doesn’t falter. In fact, you could split the album into two halves – with the first half predominantly radio friendly post-hardcore, pop-punk tracks and the second half being a return to punk form. It’s almost as if the angst within the Minnesotan trio is constantly trying to crawl its way out throughout and finally reaches the outside world in the form of ‘Plans I Make’. It’s a perfect way to end the album, it’s distorted, there’s a screechy solo thrown in, and Mould screaming like he doesn’t want his lungs in his body anymore.
It’s hard not to see how these guys have influenced other acts down the line, with the likes of Nirvana, Pixies, Green Day and hell even Brand New. They’ve all taken a leaf out of the Hüsker Dü ‘Post-Hardcore and Punk Rock’ handbook, whether it be Frank Black and Kurt Cobain with their vocal deliveries or the guitar sounds they incorporated into their bands.
Overall, the record feels like since the ambitions of Zen Arcade the Hüsker boys went away and fought their angst to better control their instruments and sound. This isn’t a record of kids screaming and playing out of time, it’s a record made by young men that seemingly had grasp of their angst. They’re able to utilise it with clever licks, scorching solos, heavy bass riffs and killer beats.
Nirvana especially went on to produce one of the greatest albums of all time in Nevermind, but so did Hüsker Dü. Hüsker Dü were one of the first to play Post-hardcore in the way they did and they did it really well on New Day Rising.
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