Big butch pop

Alt-rocker Bob Mould and electronica whiz Richard Morel join forces for a record that gets everyone's freak on

BY Advocate.com Editors

September 13 2006 12:00 AM ET

Bob Mould first
found renown as the singer-guitarist in punk trio
Hüsker Dü, then fronting ’90s
alt-rock faves Sugar. Richard Morel is a DJ-producer
with A-list remix credits (New Order, Depeche Mode, Nelly
Furtado). But putting either of these openly gay men in a
neat little stylistic box? Impossible, especially
after listening to the self-titled debut from their
collaborative recording project, Blowoff.

The album kicks
off with “Hormone Love,” a jolt of electric
guitar and vocal harmonies reminiscent of ’60s
acts like the Byrds, propelled by a sensual midtempo
beat. From there, the dozen originals keep making twists
and turns, moving through the slow and trippy
“Lemonade” to the percolating
“Saturday Night All the Time,” which layers
husky singing over a low-slung, groovy melody
that’s equal parts sinister and summery.

Morel first came
to the rocker’s attention in 2002, even as Mould was
testing his own parameters. “I had been spending
2-1⁄2 years in a vacuum, trying to merge
electronics with guitars and pop music. Then I heard
[Morel’s album] Queen of the Highway, and I
was like, ‘There it is.’ The work was strong
and masculine but also created by a
homosexual.”

Mutual friends
introduced them, and when Mould relocated to Washington,
D.C., he and Morel became tight, launching a small party
called Blowoff. Starting as a weekly event in a tiny
basement bar of the D.C. rock venue the 9:30 Club, the
party eventually became one of the hottest monthlies
on the East Coast (albeit in the much bigger upstairs
showroom).

Meanwhile, Mould
and Morel also began writing music together. Part of the
inspiration came from their party. “When
you’re doing an event where you’re
playing records, you get very keyed into what you want to
hear, so you start making records that you not only
enjoy listening to but that you want to play
out,” observes Morel. More important, Mould says,
what bonded them was their fundamental musical loves:
“Good guitars, the craft of songwriting, and
the history and tradition of the last 40 years of pop
music.”

These days,
Blowoff the party usually features a set from Blowoff the
band, with both men singing and playing live guitar. But no
matter what incarnation Blowoff takes, the duo are
wary of scrutinizing what makes it all click too
closely. “Blowoff is something we built from
zero,” concludes Mould. “We
didn’t start a club night to be part of a scene. We
did it so we could play music and make friends. And as that
continued to grow, that informed what happened in the
recording studio. And it all just keeps feeding on
itself…probably in ways I don’t even
realize.”

Tags: Music

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