Ash

Trailer

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Imagine classic punk maneuvers crossed with Nirvana- and Dinosaur Jr.-style leanings, goosed by a bolt of Mega City Four, and you've got this Irish trio's reference points. Such a blueprint sounds unimaginative on paper, but singer-guitarist Tim Wheeler's relentlessly catchy confections stand up to the Britpop vanguard's finest hours. Not surprisingly, then, the band's recorded debut emphasizes stripped-down velocity over finesse. Such priorities aren't surprising, since the band began racking up U.K. indie chart hits before graduating high school! (The original version of Trailer appeared in 1994, on Infectious Records.) Still, why quibble about Ash's influences, when the goods are so emphatically delivered? "Punk Boy" and "Jack Names the Planets" could give Green Day a run for its pop-punk roses, while grungier tracks like "Hulk Hogan Bubblebath" stay heavy, without losing their melody. "Day of the Triffids," which references the similarly titled English thriller, points to the band's love of all things extraterrestrial. The standout track is "Petrol," a characteristically deft exercise in soft-loud, start-stop dynamics that points to the band's maturity -- which included second guitarist Charlotte Hatherley, layered harmonies, greater tracking of guitars, and even orchestration, if required. More than a decade after they formed in their native Belfast, Ash's rugged individuality remained intact; here's where it all began. Heavy guitar devotees shouldn't miss this one.

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