50 Foot Wave

50 Foot Wave

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If Throwing Muses was Kristin Hersh's Hüsker Dü, 50 Foot Wave is her Sugar, which makes this six-song EP her Beaster. 50 Foot Wave is the first in a promised series of short EPs from the group, so in a sense that would actually make it Hersh's first of many Beasters. (And right on for that.) OK, some explaining now: Hersh formed this group, filled out by supreme Muses bassist Bernard Georges and powerful drummer Rob Ahlers, with the intent to play 100 gigs annually and conceive an EP every nine months. The parallels with Bob Mould's Sugar are all but inevitable, whether we're talking about the format of the band itself (Ahlers is a muscular, punishing, and agile drummer, much like Sugar's Malcolm Travis, while Georges' low rumble can be busy and riff-oriented, similar to Sugar's David Barbe) or, more importantly, this release. Since Hersh began making music, she's been no stranger to intensity, but these songs boil over with more direct, compacted assault and bash-bash-bash energy than listeners have ever heard from her. Most of the songs take the forcefulness of Throwing Muses' 2003 album a couple steps further, which has as much to do with Ahlers (whose approach is much, much more straightforward than the Muses' crafty David Narcizo) as Hersh, who wails and seethes through just about every line. She delivers another bunch of lyrical zingers that stick in the head. There's the unforgettable couplet that goes "Your voice has a singsong quality/And bones were made to be broken," and when she spews "You have a stone-cold picture of a girlfriend," you could easily be forgiven for hearing "picture" as "bitch." Those craving the intricate swirling side of Hersh's always under-recognized guitar playing will just have to settle for these chunky, blasting riffs for now. Song by song, there are no true standouts. Blame the band's consistency, not the lack of tunes.

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