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Young Widows, "Old Wounds"

Nobody has ever been able to explain to me just how we went from the awesome diversity and promiscuous intermingling of '90s alternative music to the present day's drab dichotomy of wussy hipster twee and cathartic yet indigestible metal. Specifically, I lament the loss of that seemingly dying animal known as noise rock, its Amphetamine Reptile and Touch & Go fueled heyday woefully behind us. Yet thankfully there are more than a few pilgrims to the jizz-soaked shrine to The Jesus Lizard, the obsidian monolith of The Melvins, and the crumbling temple of Girls Against Boys.


Temporary Residence

No Fun Fest friendly outliers like Hair Police and Lightning Bolt hold court at the fringes, to be sure, yet I'm far fonder of those who remember to actually, um, rock amidst the sheer hellish miasma that too often entices artists into more abstract and masturbatory directions.  Recent years brought breakout sensations Pissed Jeans along with a number of grimy local heroes and zeros eager to grab that brass ring of indie stardom.  As this appropriately brief new album makes clear, Young Widows possess the necessary aggression, attitude, and craftsmanship to resolve the gap that less impressive and comparatively weaker players like No Age fail to bridge.

Interestingly, the blogosphere, caught navel gazing in the self-referencing and self-legitimizing echo chamber that characteristically insulates it from so much great music, has taken to these Louisville sludgers like a newborn to a plump nipple or an unqualified Alaskan governor to a porcine congressional earmark.  Arguably, advance word of Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou's role in the producer's chair for Old Wounds, while perhaps immaterial to the final results, added more of that intangible commodity known as credibility to the latest work from the Jade Tree alums, now safely housed at Temporary Residence.  Unafraid of influences and hungry for progression, Young Widows plow through eleven heavy frenetic cuts that induce a tilt-a-whirl effect, simultaneously ebbing and flowing with concurrent waves of euphoria and nausea.  While neither as nastily confrontational as David Yow nor as aurally hideous as Buzz Osborne, the members evidently hold these archetypes in high regard without succumbing to sloppy emulation.  Opener "Took A Turn" blends the raw ingredients from the aforementioned with remarkable restraint and unsubtle mirrorglass shards of grunge era pop.  "Old Skin" lurches from the Churchill Downs manure with stoner-grade headbanger potential, while comparatively subdued "The Guitar" maximizes the impact of its sparse instrumentation with hypnotic vocal repetition.

As much as these tracks invigorate and delight, there's truly nothing more gratifying for an AmRep enthusiast here than the raw bloody stinking meat of upbeat, downtuned grinders like "Lucky And Hardheaded" and "Delay Your Pressure", or even the familiar belligerence of swaggering standout "The Heat Is Here".  With a noise rock resurgence of refurbished pioneers and teeth grinding youngbloods coming down the pike, Young Widows assertively assume dominant roles in the unexpected revival, reeking of promises to bring down as many lazy, cross-armed bloggers along the way.



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Review of the Day

Delicatessen / City of Lost Children
This weekend at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, they were showing the two French surrealist films by the same people, Delicatessen and City of Lost Children. Delicatessen, while I've seen it before, was definately something different to see on the large screen. A dark, bleak and surreal view of a French urban wasteland, Delicatessen is one of those stories where the distinction between good and evil is a grey area. Cannibalism, an underground society, a circus performer, mischievous kids, the butcher, the mailman and many others make this an enjoyable spectacle. City of Lost Children, also by Caro & Jeunet, also takes place in a surreal, dark and bleak world. This one, however is more of a fantasy adventure and takes our main characters through the dark underground worlds of criminals and evil scientists (who kidnap children to steal their dreams) to rescue their orphan friends. Quite a wonderful film with a fairy-tale theme. Highly recommendable on a larger screen, however.

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