50 Foot Wave
/4ad; 2004/

more info:

Some time ago we received an ep by The Lilas -Lauren Hoffman’s last band- which was praised by Angus Anderson. He wrote a cellar column as well to explain his metaphysical link to her songs, a link that I understand and respect. But once he had me listened to The Lilas, I lent him The Real Ramona and University by The Throwing Muses to make him aware of who influenced his favourite female singer and how much. He wouldn’t want to realize it though, like a kid who wants his hero to be perfect, and idly listened to these great albums using the shuffle option!

Anyway, here comes back Kristin Hersch. 50 Foot Wave is her new band. It sounds like The Throwing Muses but it’s called 50 Foot Wave. Hersch intends to release an ep every 9 months. Let’s hope that these future efforts will be such pregnant moments as this one. The line-up has changed a bit compared to last year effort from The Throwing Muses. Out Tanya Donelly. Out drummer David Narcizo replaced by Rob Ahlers.

The sound is similar to The Throwing Muses: overdriven channels with an angelic voice on top but the angel’s innocence has really been altered by the vagaries of life and its voice is raspier, and way louder. In fact, Kristin Hersch is yelling more than in The Throwing Muses heydays. And it sounds good. It sounds like healthy rage.

Bug ep is a bit less raw than The Throwing Muses and a bit catchier, which makes it close to albums such as The Real Ramona. The catchy grunge technique is still nicely delivered: quiet verse/agitated chorus tool decorated with nice bridges. All the songs sound great and urgent. We’re back in the early nineties. And that’s good. Here are 6 grungy head-bopping power-pop songs whose hooks are incredibly appealing. ‘Bug’ is supposed to be the hit but the real stand-out song is ‘Clara Bow’ thanks to its chorus sing-along quality. It’s going to be my 2004 summer song.

Of course, as usual, there are always some incredibly touching lines in Kristin Hersch’s lyrics, which makes this ep even more praiseworthy. For instance, in the outstanding ‘Dog Days’, she deals with uncertainty in love relationships through the need in believing in someone else: “ Coffee and vitamins / Breakfast of champions / Don’t touch me I don’t know where you’ve been / Simultaneously attracted and repelled / If you don’t know by now, I’ll never tell / I wake up a ton of un-kissed guilt / Just keep telling me this is life and we didn’t miss it.” In ‘Long Painting’, the lines “News is bad news / I look to my beer for solace / Drained again” seem commonplace but their utter sincerity and universal aspect make up for it.

I’ve been really partial to Kristin Hersch for a long time now and the only shortcoming I would mention concerning all Throwing Muses releases is their excessive length. This idea of just releasing eps and touring a lot is good news because this format suits Hersch’s catchy songs very well. It sounds coherent without ever becoming unpleasantly homogeneous. So forget her ersatz and epitomes, be they nice like Lauren Hoffman, and get hold of a Bug ep copy.

I’ve never liked summertime for various reasons which would take too much space to discuss but I’ll have Bug ep to help me complain. I’ll sing along to ‘Clara Bow’: ‘All right… I can… bitch about another…. stupid summer’.

-SEB ‘delighted’ Woooood

PS: Check www.throwingmuses.com for regular news about 50 Foot Wave and Kristin Hersch. The band just recorded 9 songs. The second ep is on its way…

/aug 1st 2004/