Local Wire

50 Foot Wave

From the bright crackle and spark-spewing pop of Throwing Muses to the smoldering intensity of her semi-acoustic solo career, the songwriting fire inside Kristin Hersh has burned for more than 20 years. Golden Ocean -- the debut longplayer from her new trio, 50 Foot Wave (following last year's self-titled EP) -- is the sound of a gasoline can being lobbed onto her glowing embers and blasting everything to kingdom come; it's easily the most savage, punked-out album she's ever crafted. Backed by Muses bassist Bernard Georges and Rob Ahlers on drums, Hersh tears through 11 open-throttled tunes with enough seething vocals and scything guitar to justify changing her last name to Harsh. Take "Pneuma," for example: Howling "Shut the fuck upppppppp!!" like someone on a steady diet of broken glass, heartache, and paint thinner, Hersh makes Courtney Love's old "Go on, take everything" refrain seem like a demure whimper in comparison. But once you get past the initial shock-and-awe phase, it becomes evident that 50FW is about more than just brazen immolation -- melody is on equal footing with noise, and irascible outbursts share space with an array of clever images and well-turned phrases. In other words, it's the same Kristin as ever, only cranked up to 11 . . . thousand degrees.
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Michael Alan Goldberg