» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
50 Foot Wave
Golden Ocean
4AD/Throwing Music

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

March 9, 2005
While most people in this day and age can look back on the pop-metal craze of the 80s and see it as a bit silly - sorry to all those Winger fans out there - but I still know quite a few people who have an undying love of the harder edge of metal. While I'm not one of them (I didn't know what Lewis Black's obvious theme music was until someone told me), I can see where it comes from. It's unbridled and raucous and primal, but with all the pomp that comes from the post-glam scene. Plus, there are killer guitar lines, which as any Hendrix fan can attest, can definitely make or break a legend.

When we last heard Kristin Hersh's primary band, Throwing Muses, they'd given us the rock album they were destined to create. It was perfect, and still is almost two years later on so many repeat listens. It was furious but accessible, stylish but sludgy in all the right places. But whereas Throwing Muses 2003 was rock that made good on Throwing Muses' loose threads, picking up at the high points of each of their albums, her new project, 50 Foot Wave, is not just rock; it is ROCK. It's the kind to make you bang your head and throw up the sign of the devil. It's got the skreeing guitars and throaty epithets to make you shout until you taste blood in the back of your throat. It's metal.

Granted, most people haven't lived the sheltered-from-metal life I have, but as the smirkingly-calm titled Golden Ocean blasts out of the gate, it's enough to take my very breath away: Woah, is it ever tough, but wow, is it ever great.

It's a perfect mess. It's artwork made of garbage, where each soiled and pungent piece is laid with great precision to create something great, then lit on fire for dramatic effect. Each step is planned to look drunk and uncoordinated, each breakdown, dropout and rebel yell is right on target. They make visceral trash rock look easy, and what's more, they make it stick to your fingers, clothes and subconscious.

"Long Painting" starts things off in a very telling fashion - it stirs furiously, but then stops abruptly and turns to the moody, brooding shadows. After a foray in the darkness, it lets loose, and becomes a metaphor not only for the album, but for Hersh herself. As a lady who's known as much for her DSM-IV diagnoses as her music, it's very evident that she uses her artistic outlet as a release, a salvation and a source of freedom. The screaming power of Golden Ocean is likely cathartic, showing how good it feels to let it all out. And really, is there anything more metal than that?

From there, we get the smoothly masculine, "Bone China," with its flawless guitars and its patron saints of Hendrix and Cervenka, the stinging death knell of "Pneuma" and the muddied, heavy "Sally is a Girl," which sounds like a tightly finished product, painstakingly sullied.

Add to this the disc's most blindingly magnetic tracks, the single "Clara Bow" and its partner in crime, "Dog Days," and you've got the heart of the beast. "Clara Bow" ranks with Hersh's most intelligent creations, the words "Your voice has a sing-song quality" delivered defiantly off-key, and its punky beats energizing every angry swing. "Dog Days" is a punchy jig, an in-your-face melee with surprising nods to Stevie Nicks, as if the faerie queen were pummeling through the sludge of abrasive rock.

While Golden Ocean trades in the usual ups and downs for ups and recharged ups, working initially as a batch of full-on, wild singles, we get thematic closure at the disc's end with its title track. "Golden Ocean" is a bounding, surreal piece, putting the rest of the disc in a mystical perspective. As it suggests, it moves and rolls like the tides, and as Dali would paint a shining seascape, brimming with irony, so has Hersh created her very own Persistence of Memory. So simple and identifiable, yet so cerebral and strange. We know by now that when we take on Kristin Hersh, we get more than meets the ear, but with her growling take on remotely feminine metal, we get one more genre-bending reminder.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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