One of the sad things in life is that we can’t have a new Throwing Muses album every year or so. Making up for that though is that there are Kristin Hersh solo albums (and books – and tours, sometimes combining readings/spoken-word and songs) and there are EPs by her other power-trio, 50FOOTWAVE.
Just over a decade ago Hersh indulged this side of her musical personality with the first set of recordings under the name 50FOOTWAVE. The trio also features the Muses’ great bassist, Bernard Georges. But if you thought that Wave’s only difference was having some other drummer (the kickass Rob Ahlers) you best listen again.
Never as knotty as the Throwing Muses’ dip-and-dive emotional weave and often twice as gnarled, the music of 50FOOTWAVE is still recognisably, distinctively Hersh-driven; that voice, her songs, her lick-and-curl-then-pounce guitar.
What I think I like most about 50FOOTWAVE is that, in keeping with the band’s name, this huge surge of sound comes crashing down and doesn’t outstay its welcome. This flood of noise is over after 20-30 minutes. There’s never been a giant long-player, they’re all album-quality but EP-length releases.
And so here we are with the latest, Bath White, six songs that crash down inside of 20 minutes. The opening title track feels like something from Hersh’s late 90s/early 00s solo albums. In fact it could have sat right in-between Sky Motel and Sunny Border Blue. When the rhythm section kicks in there’s a hint, too, of the 2003 self-titled Throwing Muses album, the (start of/return to) “comeback”.
God’s Not A Dick fires in with the snotty, punk/ish riffs we’ve come to expect from this incarnation of Hersh’s, well, muse. Human is a more straightforward rocker, it’s the vocal that provides the snot and spit and snarl here…the rhythm section tumbling along behind in an effort to keep up with the surge of the song as much as to propel it.
Ratted Out harks back to the pre-University era Muses, St. Christopher might have ended up, if it had arrived in an earlier dream, somewhere between Snakeface and Fever Few, the churn of its riff and rhythm reminding of that post-grunge world.
And then Sun Salute feels like an early 90s hurtle of speed-metal and punk influences in a way similar to how bands as disparate as Head Like A Hole and those attached to the Riot Grrl movement were lapping up and spitting out back then.
It’s another dive inside Hersh’s world and if this time it doesn’t seem quite as deep, only a surface skim, we’re thankful for the chance to keep breathing, awaiting the next deluge.