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Golden Ocean

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Album Review

50 Foot Wave's plan to produce an EP every nine months is sort of thrown out of whack by Golden Ocean. Roughly nine months after the first release, they instead return with a whole album of songs, three of which are reprised from that disc — so fans probably see this as a new EP with bonus tracks they already have. (New major-label distribution is likely the reason for the recycled material.) The walloping force heard on the debut turns out to be no fluke; the trio turns it up higher with energy that's even more ill-tempered. From the first note, you're put in a stranglehold that doesn't slacken off until a minute into the third song. In a brief reprieve, the instruments cool off long enough for Kristin Hersh to ask softly, "You know what? You know what? You know what?" Just as you have your ears cocked closer to the speakers, thinking, "No, I don't know what," Hersh screams "Shut the f*ck up!" at the top of her lungs as the instruments blare again, loud enough to drain out anything you might have to say — or even think of saying — in response. When performed live, songs like this one have flung more than a few admirers of Hersh's quiet solo albums back onto the street, hands on ears. Even those who know the last three Throwing Muses albums inside-out will think they're hearing everything at double speed and double volume. Hersh's songwriting is as detailed and dynamic as ever, but the intricacies are less apparent when delivered with such heat-seeking power. Power-drilling bassist Bernard Georges (who deserves to be thought of as a dynamo as much as Hersh should gain equal acknowledgment for her guitar sorcery) and drummer Rob Ahlers deserve much credit for aiding their partner in this unexpected direction. The three songs plucked from the first EP are smart choices, especially in the case of lead emphasis track "Clara Bow." It wouldn't be surprising to walk into the Hersh household and see the song's key line, "Bones were made to be broken," on one of those flowery placards that normally say "Bless this mess."


Formed: 2003 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

50 Foot Wave took form after the release of Throwing Muses' second self-titled album, in 2003. Though the trio did contain two former members of that group -- tireless singer/songwriter/guitarist Kristin Hersh and bassist Bernard Georges -- an effort was made from the beginning to make the separation of the two groups very distinct. Hersh and her bandmates (rounded out by drummer Rob Ahlers) vowed to play around 100 shows a year and release an EP every nine months. The first EP came out in early...
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Golden Ocean, 50 Foot Wave
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