19 April 2014

The Afghan Whigs - Do To The Beast


I have an almost unbreakable smile whilst I am typing this sentence - The Afghan Whigs are back! Whilst they may not have been one of my most important bands I have ever heard, they have always been interesting.  Now in an earlier blog about their album 'Black Love' I did state that the band had big idea which did not quite work out.  I sort of feel bad for that one now, as I was obviously having an off day in some ways.  But I do stand by the opening sentence that this is one of the best named bands for this writer; also I still love the vocal talent of Greg Dulli has an incredible and very distinct vocal range.  Now this is the first album since the '1965' which was released in 1998.  Since then they have got back together to record a few tracks for a retrospective before reforming in 2012, there has been a few new members since then but it still feels like the same band.  I also like the fact that this release is on the grunge label - Sub Pop (well, sort of as it is now owned by Warner Music Group).  But still, it is the place with history that suits the band.  Now I have a great feeling I am about to be fed a huge slice of humble pie after my last review of the band, but let's see how it goes from here....

The album starts off with "Parked Outside" which has the swagger that used to be delivered by QOTSA until recently.  It is something that The Afghan Whigs have always had in spades, they have always been a band which would steal your girl, beer and money (probably the twinkle of your eye as well).  They have managed to combine all that into their first song, still sounding fresh and relevant in an age where the guitar band is supposed to be dead (which is bollocks).  "Matamoros" has a more laid back and subtle vibes, exploding with riffs every now and then to great effect. The fiddle solo in the middle is fantastic and the fact this is one of the short songs in the album means it is over far too soon for my liking (but this is just me being greedy). Flowing into the piano entrance of "It Kills", the band are not showing any let up and has a glorious bridge in the middle toward the final ending of the song which has a gentle ending which is sorrow and pain in a beautiful ball of emotions for the heart.

"Aligers" has an almost Atlantic R&B opening, then the castanets start and it just have this sort of modern western cowboy vibe about the song.  Another different aspect for the band and a sign that the time apart has actually been of benefit to the band as it is a glorious gem that should be played to everyone who is blessed with the gift of hearing.  Starting off with creepy piano and mournful vocals "Lost In The Woods" is a dirty and dark little number, the chorus might sound light in places but it has a sinister heart at the middle of the song of jealousy and bile.  Of course I love it and would be hard pressed to find a more cheerless and glorious number from 2014.  "The Lottery" starts off which that 70's cop show vibe that was the main calling card of 'Black Love' and it is a great reminder of their obsession with film noir and that genre.  "Can Rova" feels like it is the music for a film credit and has an empty and mournful soul, it is not my most favourite moment here but it is still a think a beauty.

"Royal Cream" is next and it is another song which shows one of the places where QOTSA have stolen some of their (to quote-unquote) style and vibe.  It is a great showcase for the band and just another track on an album full of show stoppers that is vying for your attention (and deserving so).  It merges effortlessly into "I Am Fire" in some sort of coda moment to the song which makes you wonder why they were released as two separate songs; but it still works and makes for a glorious build towards the ending of the album.  This comes in the form of "These Sticks" and it is as good ending to an album as I have heard so far in 2014.  It building up to a mass of instrumentation then it plunges into a more quite and subtle ending which just show the nature of the band in full glory; they are changed and whilst still loud and brash, they also have the ability to make those wonderful and painful moments in the most quite of ways.

I have just been served a huge slice of humble pie and I have no problem with this when an album sounds as gigantic as this.  I said in my other review that some time a band shoots above their ability and I have been proven wrong in a manner that is truly fascinating.  It is good to see another band come back with their mojo still intact and to also have the balls to release a truly awesome album that will be difficult to beat over the year.  It is loud, brash, subtle and beautiful in a massive ball of rock n roll which the general masses are missing out on due to modern radio only playing the hits; what a fantastic record. Welcome back sirs and thank you for proving me wrong.

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost....

Top Song - Aligers

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can also purchase the album directly from the band's label Sub Pop here

You can visit the Afghan Whigs website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

For Deezer reader, here is your link

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