Record of the Week: Why Bother?: A City of Unsolved Miseries LP

Why Bother?: A City of Unsolved Miseries 12” (Feel It Records) Feel It Records brings us the third full-length in as many years by this Iowa band (they’ve also released a few EPs in there too!). Given their prolific release schedule, lo-fi recordings, and home base in the Midwest, I wouldn't doubt Why Bother? gets a lot of comparisons to Guided by Voices. While that comparison isn’t off-base—I’m sure a GBV fan would find a lot to like in Why Bother?’s music—the band that springs to mind when I listen to A City of Unsolved Mysteries is Hüsker Dü. The singer sounds kind of like Bob Mould, the guitar sounds tend toward the tinny, and my favorite songs feature big, melancholic pop hooks that wouldn’t have been out of place on Zen Arcade or New Day Rising. “Get Used to It” is the best example of this, but even sunnier-sounding tracks like the surveillance anthem “Eyes Everywhere” and the synth-forward “She’s a Vamp” bring to mind the ‘Dü, though perhaps Grant Hart’s songs more than Bob’s. There’s also a killer cover of the Alice Bag Band’s “Prowlers in the Night,” a song you’ll remember from The Decline of Western Civilization. Throughout the record, the songwriting is top-notch, the energy level high, the lo-fi textures innovative and surprising… A City of Unsolved Miseries is a quiet masterpiece, its understated sleeve and modest 300-copy pressing barely hinting at the brilliance in its grooves. If you have a place in your heart for the best late 80s and early 90s indie, give this a listen… if you’re anything like me, it might not blow your mind on the first note, but you’ll think, “that was a fantastic song,” after pretty much every track.

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