Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Sugar Answers Rock's Call For Layers of Loud Guitar

Sugar has the kind of sound and fury that has helped define the appeal of alternative rock music: big guitar noise and melody. While the so-called grunge movement smolders, this power trio is gaining ground with its brand of loud tunefulness.

The territory is not new for singer-guitarist Bob Mould, who lit the fuse of ``noise pop'' in the early 1980s with Minneapolis-based Husker Du, a post-punk band known for its muscle-guitar music played at warp speed.

About these ads

After a few solo efforts (``Workbook,'' ``Black Sheets of Rain''), Mould formed Sugar along with bassist David Barbe and drummer Malcolm Travis. The band's debut record, ``Copper Blue,'' stormed the alternative charts, selling more than 350,000 copies, and clinched a spot on many rock critics' Top-10 lists for 1992. Part of the reason for Sugar's success is that frontman Mould has maintained a loyal following. Another is timing: The band now finds that its musical evolution matches what audiences want to hear. While Mould may not purposely have ventured closer to the mainstream, it came to him.

During a recent concert stop in Boston, Sugar tore through some 20 songs in support of its recently released - and ironically titled - album: ``File Under: Easy Listening (FU:EL)'' on Rykodisc.

Mould opened with a roaring ``Gift,'' then Barbe followed with a resounding ``Company Book'' - both from ``FU:EL.'' But judging from the set list, one would not have guessed the show was promoting the new record. The trio performed seven B-side songs as well as fare from two previous albums.

Even if not all the songs were familiar, Sugar's output didn't disappoint - from the pounding ``Granny Cool,'' and rollicking ``Your Favorite Thing,'' to a few slower tunes such as Barbe's ``Frustration'' and Mould's moving finale of ``Explode and Make Up'' - the latter being easy listeners, all things considered.

*Sugar performs tonight in Atlanta; The tour continues to Austin, Texas, Dec. 1 and 2; Denver, Dec. 5; Tempe, Ariz., Dec. 8; Los Angeles, Dec. 9; San Francisco, Dec. 11; Portland, Ore., Dec. 13; Seattle, Dec. 14.