Liner Notes- 15. Sept. 2022
New Afghan Whigs, Ramsey Lewis, and more
Note: This year, I’ve taken on the challenge of listening to & reviewing 100 new (to me) records. This is the latest in the series.
Afghan Whigs- How Do You Burn?
Greg Dulli has seen some things.
Love, loss, stardom. Friends made along the way, and friends lost. Everything is ephemeral. So it stands to reason that How Do You Burn?, Afghan Whigs’ first record in 5 years—and the first since the death of guitarist Dave Rosser— doesn’t waste time getting down to business. The record opens with the dynamite “I’ll Make You See God,” a driving track with blast furnace intensity.
The shadow of that grief and the isolation of making a record during the pandemic color the record all the way through. The Whigs won’t ever be accused of making bubble-gum pop —and that’s part of their appeal- but the angst feels particularly acute on this release. Whigs tracks can always fit a bit like a fever dream, but never more so than on tracks like “Jyja,” where Dulli sings,
Look for the feminine, she is the medicine
I like to know where I'm going
Slip into the stream, you are the dream
I am the river that's flowing
Now we shall see, what it will be
And if the people are crying
Look for the evidence, forget the etiquette
I'm coming home
The track sweeps to a rousing anthemic conclusion, with him crying out Jyja! over and over.
In 30+ years, you make some friends along the way. And several appear here. Notably, the late Mark Lanegan who gave the record its name.
Marcy Mays is back too. Domino & Jimmy is a beautiful duet and picks up where “My Curse” from 1993’s Gentlemen left off. It’s raw, moving, and any other adjective you want to use to describe two people who know they’re bad for each other but can’t ever quite let go.
30 years on, there’s a lot of water under that bridge.
Dulli has always struck me as a bit mischievous. The kind of guy that’s a little bit sketchy. But hang around him long enough, and you’re bound to find adventure. Or absurdity. Or jail time.
I mean, does anyone else remember when he and Donal Logue hosted 120 minutes?
For that matter, does anyone remember when MTV would just give 2 hours of airtime to people who’d do things like reenact scenes from The Godfather before teasing upcoming videos from “The Radiohead & The Pavement?”
Not in 2022.
And not on a 2022 Afghan Whigs record, either. How Do You Burn feels much more introspective—like what you might see once the party stops, the mask drops, and he’s alone with a stream of his own thoughts. Gone are the white suit of Gentlemen, impish grin and sneer. In their place are themes of revelation and redemption.
30 years is a long time for anything. Congregation felt like the Dulli and the band making a statement to the world. How Do You Burn? feels like they’ve made peace with their place in it.
That’s not to say that they’ve mellowed; they haven’t. These ten tracks are a ride. The fury sounds more confident than performative and better than ever.
Top Tracks: I’ll Make You See God, JyJa, A Line Of Shots, Domino and Jimmy.
Below the jump for paid subscribers:
A Ramsey Lewis record you should hear
The upcoming reissue of The Police’s best album (this is a hill I will die on, btw)
A little bit of Bowie
All of that & more. Check it out!
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