Music

Relative Ash: Our Time With You

Devon Powers

Relative Ash

Our Time With You

Label: Island
US Release Date: 2000-08-15
Amazon
iTunes

I hate to have to invoke a tired cliche, but here goes: Looks can be deceiving.

Did that hurt too much? Hope not. Anyway, my point is this: gazing on the album insert, with its soft script, green pasture languidly stretching, cherubic little girl shyly opening a wooden box, a naive listener might think they're in for something dulcet, demure, dainty even. Even most of the song titles, "Pout," "6 Miles to Learn," "Charmed," seem to signal something softer. And well, you'd have to be one sick puppy to think you're about to descend into a screaming hellish mire, where somebody sure sounds like they're in a hell of a lot of pain.

Welcome Relative Ash, the newest edition to the "rocker" family. I won't go so far as to mention their genre-mates, but you know the sound—bloated guitar, power chords abundant, vocals somewhere between rap, metal, and agony. It's animal, mineral, minor Megalife, and mucho gusto. And though the basic rubric under which Relative Ash fit is pretty standard, what these guys do differently is sing songs that actually are chock full of genuine ache, not just machismo and pissed-off-ness.

The music and lyrical juxtapositoin is like borderline personality -- one second Mark Harrington's moaning that makes you empathetic, the next his distressed screaming just makes you want to run away. Instead of too much on babes, boobs, and bawitdaba, they instead that sort of late night, private, journal poetry. Songs search for comfort: "Sensation overwhelms / Explain how they just don't love them / Let's cure the blind and kick our dreams" ("Pout") while they also struggle with confused, anxious, and often fucked up images and urges.

While Relative Ash hasn't converted me to the new rock religion, they incite empathy for those tortured guys you knew in high school, who sat alone in the corner because his pencil drawings on desks in homeroom freaked everybody out. That guy in my high school class ended up killing a few people in Washington, D.C. I'm glad these guys found let their aggression out with music -- and what they create, though disturbing (like those drawings), is actually sort of beautiful.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image