Powder Burns, All of This and More – Harp
The Twilight Singers, Powder Burns
The Afghan Whigs were one of the 1990s’ most improbable successes—pregrunge, postpunk rock band with a soul subtext and the cojones to play it straight. After the Whigs’ official dissolution in 2001, frontman Greg Dulli remained visible, fronting the Twilight Singers and working on various music, film and production projects. Bassist John Curley produced regional groups at his Cincinnati studio and the remaining Whigs kept low profiles.
Dulli’s work with the Twilight Singers has been fascinating and diverse, and with Powder Burns, his fourth Singers effort, Dulli has created his most majestic, sprawling and yet intensely personal album to date. For the first time, Dulli has fully integrated the Whigs’ elemental rock personality with the Singers’ adventurous musical nature, and the results are magnificent. The tumult of “Underneath the Waves” and the title track are beautifully balanced with the quiet reflection of “The Conversation” and the pop noir of “Forty Dollars,” with its sly Beatles references.
Meanwhile, Curley’s first post-Whigs band, Staggering Statistics, finds the uncommonly powerful bassist aligned with another manic muse in vocalist/guitarist Austin Brown. Like a wild blend of Public Image Ltd.’s antirock (“Embrace Your Decay”), the Teardrop Explodes’ noirish new wave (“We Celebrate Your Mistakes”), Guided by Voices’ Who fixation (“Objects in the Mirror”) and the Violent Femmes’ folk punk (“LCD”), the Statistics’ stripped back and sinewy pop/punk is shot through with adrenaline and perspective.
By Brian Baker