MP3 50 Foot Wave - ROCK: Punk
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6 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Punk, ROCK: Hard Rock
In a career full of busy years, 2003 stands out as a very busy year for Kristin Hersh. In March of 2003 Hersh put out not one, but two full-length releases -- The Grotto, her fifth solo record and an all-new Throwing Muses record for the first time in seven years. Add to that the birth of her fourth son (Bodhi), months of touring, a cross-country move, and the formation of her first new band since she began making music with Throwing Muses in the early eighties: 50 Foot Wave.
This new band - consisting of Kristin, Throwing Muses bassist Bernard Georges, and drummer Rob Ahlers - sounds like nothing she's done before, but listening to the two records released in 2003, it's possible to see how she got there.
"Throwing Muses" was the work of a musician clearly delighted to be reunited with her electric guitar and her band. The angular, furious songs on that record, shot through with rock-goddess guitar work by Kristin was both a return to the band's roots and a jumping off point for something new altogether. "The Grotto" showed us a woman profoundly in control of her music -- each sound as well as each silence. 50 Foot Wave takes that exquisite control and infuses it with an energetic intensity -- The urgency and freshness of these songs is palpable in 50 Foot Wave's rock-assault.
Throwing Muses' dark, jagged sound had its roots in the musical outpourings of a young woman at war with herself, giving release to the songs that plagued her. An astonishing twenty years into her musical career, Kristin is writing new songs for a decidedly new band, one that springs out of her experience and her power. Listening to the first blistering 50 Foot Wave songs, it's clear; this is still war but now she's winning.
"50 Foot Wave" is propelled by the racecar engine of Kristin's guitar and her explosive, feral vocals. Bernard's bass, as always, is a muscle, undulating through Kristin's wall of sound. Ahlers drumming is ferocious and unbridled, at once supporting and keeping pace with Kristin's driving and relentless sound. The trio are tight and powerful, creating music that is precise, emotional and seemingly on the edge of control.
Built from the ground up to be an overwhelming live experience, 50 Foot Wave plans to tour extensively, playing upwards of 100 shows a year in the US alone. Additionally, rather than the standard music-biz cycle of a full-length CD every 2 years or so, the band plans to self-release 5 or 6 song recordings every nine months. This approach complements the band's energetic and urgent sound. Hersh explains, "The current state of the music business leaves us with fewer choices. A band can't just release a record and wait for the fans to "show up". Independent radio has been all but wiped out and independent retail is in even bigger trouble, so it's pretty simple really. Without radio we have to be the broadcast, without retail we have to be the means of distribution. Both of those realities mean that comprehensive touring is no longer optional, but required for a band that wants to play an active rather than a passive role in their own business."
The band will continue to build on the innovative work Kristin has been doing since the mid-nineties, finding new and exciting ways of involving fans in the music. They've provided early versions of songs as mp3s for download and opened one of the band's early rehearsals to interested fans -- 120 people, some from as far as 3,000 miles away traveled to the practice where they were served pizza and beer in an atmosphere that was decidedly more "living room" than rock club. Hersh says, "We're very lucky to have these people who care so much about us. Since 1994 we've had a web community (https://www.tradebit.com) of involved fans who've been there day in and day out. It's been a great thing for us. We love the idea of one-to-one relationships driving the music business instead of marketing dollars, and the ThrowingMusic Online community helps make that possible."
All of this seems to indicate that 2004 will be another busy year for Hersh. Hearing the fresh, vital music being created by 50 Foot Wave, it's clear that she wouldn't have it any other way.
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