No Burden, the first major release for Richmond, VA. native, Lucy Dacus, is my top album of the year thus far. Dacus’ voice spills over warm jagged guitars like honey on a pile of kindling, just waiting to leap into flames. Dacus writes immediately accessible melodic songs that pay dividends with future and deeper listens. While her voice is so immediately captivating, it is easy to miss those guitars – simultaneously fat and sharp — cutting through and across one another. Opener,
I Don’t Want to Be Funny Anymore has Dacus seeking to break from expectations and curious how to carve a new path – one that is not expected or predetermined. She’d rather front the band than be its biggest fan, her previously expected path.
Lyrics throughout sound autobiographical and exposed like, “Oh please don’t make fun of me/Oh you know I get frightened so easily.” Lyrics build characters similar to how Courtney Barnett does it, but sonic textures move from tender quiet airy ballads to a wall of guitar fuzz not out of place from Torres. Rolling Stone named Dacus one of the 10 artists you need to watch for in 2016. My hope is that she gets the exposure she deserves this summer on the festival circuit. As she tours, she is living the line from Map on a Wall, “If you want to see the world, you have to say, ‘Goodbye’/ ‘Cause a map does no good hanging on a wall.” Here’s to hoping for more ‘Goodbyes’ from Dacus who is off to see the world and manage her own future.
Patch the Sky
Bob Mould never stopped making great music, but his past trio of albums, including his latest release, Patch the Sky, are particularly impressive for any artist, especially one who has been putting out such high quality and important music for more than 35 years. A Minneapolis native, Mould got his start in Hüsker Dü at the same time The Replacements were starting out and Prince was the new man who put the Twin Cities on the map.
Mould split from the band and went solo in 1989 before forming Sugar then heading back out as a solo act. Opening track, Voices in my Head and second track The End of Things, follow a familiar Mould formula; fuzzed up tightly and furiously strummed guitars with amped up vocals singing melodies that could sound at home on a Beatles album. We have heard Mould stray from that formula, but why? When you can create like this, please keep creating. The band, flushed out by bassist, Jason Narducy, and drummer, Jon Wurster, provide more than ample power trio support. Losing Sleep is carried by the melodic pulsing base line; throughout the album, the drums and cymbals crash to heighten apprehension and punctuate frustration. Often here the emotions in lyrics are personal after Mould lost his mother and father in recent years. However, this is not just an album of loss. No one can better combine angst, rage, and heartache at volume of 11 through a beat up MXR distortion pedal than Bob Mould.