Jan 18, 2014

Music Review: "Good News For Modern Man" by Grant Hart

By Milos Markicevic

Amid all the great rock band reunions in the last few years I'm still sitting and waiting for Husker Du to come around; unfortunately, Husker Du fans have been left in the cold. Having met both Grant Hart and Bob Mould, I have to say that chances are slim, as both continue to tightly hold on to their grudges (guys, think of the money!). Even though there might never be a reunion (or a new Husker Du album) Husker Du fans have been lucky that both Mould and Hart have produced extensive solo catalogs, which contain work that is just as good, if not better, than some Husker Du material.

Out of the two, Hart, a punk George Harrison of sorts, never seemed to get as much attention as Mould for his post-Husker Du output, which might be attributed to Hart's longer gestation period between albums or just plain bad luck (something that has followed Hart throughout his career). It's a real shame though because Hart is an accomplished musician and songwriter, and his work with Husker Du has had a significant influence on a whole generation of bands. The Pixies, Foo Fighters, Green Day, and more have all been influenced by Hart's work with Husker Du.

While Hart's discography may lack in quantity he's made up for it in quality. His most recent album, The Argument, a sprawling concept album based on John Milton's Paradise Lost, speaks for itself. With the release of The Argument, Hart is finally getting some long overdue recognition. Alongside his new work, he's also been re-releasing his older out of print back catalog, giving a younger generation a chance to hear his work.

The most recent of these re-releases is 1999's overlooked Good News For Modern Man. Originally released on CD only by Pachyderm Records, the album has been released this week by Con D'or (on vinyl for the first time) and sports some new charcoal shaded artwork. Hart is at the top of his game on this album, incorporating everything from trumpets, piano, guitar, and even a xylophone, showing off his multi-instrumentalist talent. Despite the great variety all the instruments gel seamlessly together and produce some great pop tinged rock. 

The album also has Hart stretching his sonic palette as well--  "Nobody Runs For Free" is particularly unique in its rockabilly style, as well as "A Letter From Anne Marie" which uses a backtracked guitar sample as the foundation throughout the song-- both exemplifying Hart's creativity. Rock purists need not worry as there is plenty of guitar on the record as well, particularly on the awesome album finisher "Little Nemo". Although it's personally not my favorite Hart record (that title is reserved for Intolerance), Good News For Modern Man is a great addition to Grant's small but tight discography. Husker Du fans will find a lot to love here.

Grade: B-

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