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Friday, December 2, 2016

Wives - Ask Me How

Name: Wives
Album: Ask Me How
Year:1995
Style: Punk, Alternative, Hardcore
Similar Bands: L7, Bikini Kill, Red Five, Jennifer Trynin
One Word Review: Brooding Commuter Traffic Punk
Based Out Of: NYC
Label(s): Go Kart Records, Reservoir
Ask Me How: Cover, Liner Photo, Record
Ask Me How: Back, Liner Notes, Record

Ask Me How (1995)
  1. Let Em Go 1:57
  2. Half 2:45
  3. Deserve 1:35
  4. Radiator 1:45
  5. 100 Sorries 2:20
  6. Smooth Stone 2:34/
  7. Rich 4:19
  8. Roam 2:50
  9. Lipstick 3:02
  10. Away 2:12
  11. 8ball 3:32
Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Susan Horwitz - Guitar, Vox
Mary Dunham - Bass, Backing Vox (Crystallize My Penis)
Tracy Almazan - Drums, Backing Vox (Transisters)
Danio Saratak - Digital Editing
Victor Luke - Engineer
Erika Noize - Asst Engineer
Tony Dawsey - Mastering
Dean Ripsler - Producer

Unknowness: Never heard of them, but from the cover and back band image, I can only assume this is an all group dirty grunge band. I expect lots of fuzz and droning guitars. But will it border on pop punk or straight gritty rock or something else, we'll see!

Album Review: Not much is out there about this band of three women, apparently hailing from NYC, and part of the hard stop hardcore scene there. It must have been quite the gimmick for three women in that scene, and I imagine it was not easy, but what do I know. Perhaps they shared a basement show with Life of Agony. I really wish it was a better album. Music and vocals just don’t go together all that well, and I think it was trying to appeal to too vast of an audience.

“Let Em Go” starts off the album with some pulse pounding, driving chords and drums. It is heavy and bombarding. The vocals don’t offer much  in terms of adding to the aggression. They feel lighter and although not very melodic, other than the chorus of Oh-Oh’s, they seem a little whiny.
“Half” is more power-rock, with a catchy riff. The vocals remind me of Jennifer Trynin, and are kind of layered over without much energy. The chorus brings the energy, with speed and tempo pick up, and the vocals also match the energy, rolling along, with the chorus echoing the title. The song delves back into the set-up verse, and stops and pivots again into the onslaught of the chorus…again not more than a pop-punk song.
“Deserve” takes off with a speedy bass and drum driven song. Tempo pauses are punctuated with lyrics in the chorus. By the third verse, fuzzy guitars playing in the foreground.
“Radiator” could be the same song, just another driving tempo with spoken word vocals layered over. The paces is more like commuter traffic, driving at one moment, then slowing down, then aggressively picking back up, trying to pick up lost ground.
“100 Sorries” has a three chord, dark tone, but is played fast, and comes off angry, even if the vocals don’t match the music’s pace. The tempo again has a wave form of speed. The chorus is more of a stomp, while the verse and bridges are all driving. The instrumental finds balance between the two styles.
“Smooth Stone” begins with a guitar riff. This song has a bit of a driving tempo, but would fall into much more of an alternative-rock genre, not as hardcore as the other tracks. There is a bit of Sleater-Kinney shared chorus vocals here and a little more energy, aside from the whiny vocal tone.

“Rich” borders on surf-punk, and the vocals tremble over the music. The bridge is driving, and builds up to the chorus, a staggering stomp, broken up by the vocal phrases. The instrumental is pushed along with the two chord bass line and is covered over with a ringing guitar. The lead vocals are low in the verse and give it a sinister, evil tone.
“Roam” is started with shattering, grinding guitar chords and a playful bass line. The pace of the song is quite jarring once the vocals begin. It feels like it can never quite get going, but that’s on purpose. Like its namesake, the melody roams all over the place, meandering here and there, driving ahead and pulling back at random intervals.
“Lipstick” has a lot of feedback and a tempo that tried to get started. The bass rounds things out, and slows the melody into a steady pace. Feedback still persists, but the song is far from hardcore, and one in their alternative arsenal.
“Away” begins to drive from the start and never lets up. Good for a circle pit, there is only a short full-stop, and restart as the chorus hits. After the instrumental, the music slinks down, but gets ready to blast off…and does. Not a big fan of the vocals in the chorus…just sounds half-hearted, and not right for the tone or pace.
“8ball” is a slower, building and brooding track. But it finds a steady pace, and at parts, reminds me a little of PJ Harvey. The melody and changing style makes it very hard to hold onto a purpose, and the album ends in a whimper.

Stand Out Track: Half

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