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by AjD

Buy Bob Mould

It's time for another installment of 'Ask That Guy,' the question and answer column where you ask that guy some questions. Today's topic is Bob Mould's latest career choices.

I heard that Bob Mould had a heroin habit, or a headache or something. Is he gay? -- D.R., Cleveland, CA

He gets asked silly questions all the time. Somebody from his first set of ex-bandmates was hooked on smack, but he might or might not be off it now. It's no business of yours, but he does in fact get depressed some times.

Is Bob Mould following in the footsteps of the great confessional singer-songwriters of the 1970s, like Janice Ian and Joni Mitchell? -- P.D., Toledo, MI

Not so much confessional as accusatory. Thanks for writing.

Has Sugar broken up? -- G.G., Akron, MA

Apparently. But when Bob gets tired of his isolation, he will form another pathbreaking power trio with a drummer who's not all that bad a songwriter in his own right.

Is his current solo work as delicately beautiful as his first great solo album, "Workbook"? -- P.Q., Dayton, GA

There are a couple nice acoustic tunes; "Thumbtack" on the album and "Eternally Fried" on the "Egoverride" ep. As with many of his songs on these two disks, you can enjoy the desolate anger of the music as long as you don't pay too much attention to the self-pity in the lyrics. Most of the rest of the tunes have little acoustic garnishes, but mostly to lull you into a false sense of security when the distortion pedals kick in. But 'Delicately beautiful'? Sorry. Thanks for writing.

What are your Radio Playlist Choices for this album? -- B.V., Cinncinnati, OR

If I listened to anything on the radio besides freeform college music and the news, I'd probably figure "Egoverride" to score the CMJ bucks. "I Hate Alternative Rock" is catchier and is whiny (a bonus), but Alternative-Oriented-Radio playlists could've already had their fill of unintentional-wry-irony-by-leaders-of-popular-music by playing Mike Watt and Eddie Vedder's "Against the Seventies" for a couple days last year. "Art Crisis" is also mighty catchy, but is about complex things that confuse radio programmers.

Did Bob Mould have a bad day? This album's kinda' bitchy. As opposed to bitchin'. -- B.O., Kent, PA

The way I figure it, whoever pissed him off, their ears are burning. The rest of the world can only wonder.

Would you consider this album to be a step forward in Bob's development as an artist? -- Q.W., Ashtabula, WI

Perhaps. The music is tight and some of the melodies are pretty damned catchy. But the rhythms are stiff 'cause Bob did the drumming himself (it's not on par with his guitar playing skills), the lyrics are entirely self-absorbed, and the whole album is too slick to be entirely involving. Bob does get points for including sound effects of a record needle between sides and riding the inner groove.

Okey-Dokey. So Bob broke up with somebody, or his car got sideswiped, or he had the flu. Is that any reason to break up a kickass band and hole up in Texas and not put on his kickass live shows? -- Z.A., Wooster, NM

Well, um, I guess it is. This is probably the musical equivalent of getting really upset and spending the weekend alone in your bedroom, only stepping out to order pizza and get more beer from the fridge, the rest of the time writing in your personal journal about how you'd been wronged and how lousy THEY are and how the whole damn world is no damn good.

In other words, Bob got pissed about something and made this album about it all on his own, but unless you know who or what he's singing about, you really don't understand what justifies the bile.

At least he's not writing campaign songs for Bob Dole.

Thanks for writing.

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