Down The Wire #6

Boris

Every fortnight, The Corner’s Gavin Coughlan will highlight the latest indie music releases with his new column Down The Wire. For the latest in the series, he focuses on tracks from Boris, The Afghan Whigs, Bob Mould, Echo & The Bunnymen, and Thee Oh Sees.

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Boris – Quicksilver

You never know what you are going to get with a new Boris album. It could be drone, metal, shoegaze or even J-Pop. Based on the first single from their upcoming album, Noise, it’s going to be a balls-out aggressive riff-fest.

I was lucky enough to see these guys play Wellington few years ago, and I think the skin on my face was rippling backwards with g-force throughout the entire show. And it’s a pleasure to report that it’s almost the same effect with this track, a relentless seven minutes of bludgeoning guitars and drums which leaves you feeling a little weak by the time it’s all over.

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The Afghan Whigs – The Lottery

My first experience of The Afghan Whigs was the song ‘Retarded’ from Sub Pop compilation The Grunge Years. That cassette was on high rotation for me in 1991, and their contribution stood up with the best tracks on there.

Sadly I never found much of their other material to be quite as engaging, and they went off my radar soon afterwards. But they made a big impact with many other people until they broke up in 2001, and lead singer Greg Dulli has had success with both The Twilight Singers and The Gutter Twins (with Mark Lanegan) since.

Now the band is back together and have a new album on the way, Do To The Beast. The first single sounds like classic Afghan Whigs, which also means it doesn’t really grab me, but it should keep the old fans happy.

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Bob Mould – Hey Mr. Grey

Indie legend Bob Mould has a new album on the way. Beauty & Ruin is due out June 9th, and, rather impressively, it will be his eleventh solo album.

The first track to grace our ears is ‘Hey Mr. Grey’, an upbeat and nicely concise rocker. It seems to be about life as what Bob Mould is these days, an old rock musician. It starts off with him amusingly telling the kids to get off his yard, but ends a little melancholically with Mr. Grey slowly fading away and trying to find his place in the world. So, for a catchy little pop punk number, it sure has left me feeling a little down.

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Echo & The Bunnymen – Market Town

Sounding surprisingly spritely for a band that has been around (albeit intermittently) for over 35 years, Echo and The Bunnymen bring us ‘Market Town’, the first single off upcoming album Meteorites.

Part of me is impressed when bands keep going for so long and maintain a certain quality, and part of me wishes they would call it a day. Similar to The Cure, Echo and The Bunnymen have never embarrassed themselves, but their best is undeniably behind them. ‘Market Town’ continues that trend, it’s pretty good but not as good as hardcore fans may try to make themselves believe.

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Thee Oh Sees – Drop

Thee Oh Sees are one of the most prolific bands around, seemingly so prolific that they even release albums whilst on indefinite hiatus. The latest one, Drop, comes out April 19th.

The title track is a very mid-sixties garage rock affair which has all the usual Thee Oh Sees positives and negatives. The positive, it’s good. The negative, it’s not as good as it should be. The issue I have with the band is that they are a jaw-droppingly good live band, and I have never heard any of their studio output come close to capturing that brilliance. Perhaps it is just down to the songwriting not being strong enough, something that can be compensated for in a live situation with energy, attitude and some virtuoso musicianship.

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