There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Lately, Bob Mould has been hedging about whether Sugar’s short run is indeed over, but the release of Besides seems to indicate that the band is done. As almost advertised, most of the cuts here have already appeared as latter-day B- sides on the CD-singles Mould has always been so fond of putting in the bins. The new collection’s best track is also the first, “Needle Hits E” (from the “Helpless” CD-single), a power-pop gem that Mould originally introduced during his post-Hüsker Dü solo acoustic tours. Neither of the remixes of popular Sugar fare included on Besides—dressed-down versions of “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” and “Believe What You’re Saying”—holds the power of the original renderings. The same is true of most of the live redos: Only “Explode and Make Up” and the dark, extended closer, “The Slim,” are particularly intriguing. The first run of Besides includes a bonus CD of an unedited, and not particularly inspired, Sugar show taped live at a Minneapolis club. Maybe Mould was summing up what’s left in the band’s creativity tank during the oft-repeated chorus of “Needle Hits E”: “It’s empty, empty, empty, empty, empty!”