This Week in the Mercury


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tonight in Music: Ash, Shells

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 10:24 AM


ASH, DEAF HAVANA, VENDETTA RED
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Britpoppers Ash might have a ravenous following and a ton of hits in their native UK, but here in America they've always been more of a secret-handshake band. The group's first full-length, 1977 (released in 1996, confusingly), is one of the most underrated and critically under-discussed—in the US, at least—pop-punk albums ever released. But it's a pretty staggering achievement, especially considering the group's collective immaturity at the time of its release. (They were only teenagers, and it shows: The record opens with a TIE Fighter sample and the squeaky, friable guitar tones almost sound like they're at the tail end of puberty themselves.) Ash was never really able to better themselves artistically, which is not to say they ever took a misstep, either—but it's the wide-eyed and ultimately ephemeral pop naïveté of songs like "Girl from Mars," "Goldfinger," and the eternally gorgeous ballad "Lost in You" that makes 1977 so timeless in the first place. Pop is the province of the young, after all. MORGAN TROPER


THE WOOLEN MEN, SHELLS, BREAKUP FLOWERS, CHARLIE SLICK
(Red & Black Café, 400 SE 12th) Shelley Salant is a music-scene mover and shaker from Ann Arbor who's won the hearts of DIY-minded folks far and wide for her tireless work supporting bands and shows in her home region. She's also a musician; she has played in indie bands like Tyvek and Saturday Looks Good to Me, and she's currently touring the West Coast behind In a Cloud, the debut album of her solo project, Shells. On it, Salant unfurls nine lo-fi psalms of meditative, reverberant electric guitar, each built around a pattern of notes that act as a foundation for her groggy, addictive tunes. In a Cloud feels like a companion piece to Drifter's Temple, the excellent 2013 album from Portland psych-folk act Plankton Wat. Except with Shells, it's not desert canyons that fuel these transportive jams, but afternoon daydreaming under the slate skies of winter. BEN SALMON

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