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Pop - Released May 13, 1996 | Echo

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Two-thirds of Ash were born in 1977, which means that their latter-day punk-pop isn't very Catholic. Instead of sticking to the rigid rules of American punk-pop -- which means you can't stretch the song past three minutes -- Ash take a cinematic approach to their songs, throwing in elements of power pop, glam, post-Nirvana grunge, and post-Oasis rock. It's a melting pot of pop styles, basically because the members of the band are so young, they haven't conformed to the standards of the indie and punk subcultures. Sure, Ash still use loud guitars -- they're all over 1977 -- but they create a distinctive, melodic, and energetic sound that's equal parts heavy grunge and light pop. And while they may indulge in jamming a bit too much, they remain a pop band at heart, capable of turning out epic guitar pop like "Goldfinger," punk-pop like "Kung Fu," and the lovely but loud "Girl from Mars" with equal flair. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released February 14, 2020 | Echo

Celebrating 25 years since they formed, Teenage Wildlife brings together a selection of Ash's biggest hits. Included are songs from across their studio output, including tracks such as "Kung Fu," "Girl from Mars," and "Shining Light." © TiVo
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Pop - Released April 1, 2001 | Echo

This is a happy kick, with big guitars and big attack and onrushing energy, and it's no tedious retro punk record, either. Seven years out of high school, and high a-top the Brit charts in their teens, the mid-20s Irish boys (and English girl) haven't lost any of their pop (either sense of the word). No, they've stepped it up a notch, while adding layers of a post-Nirvana/Jesus & Mary Chain firewall that sounds modern. Most of all, leader Tim Wheeler's sunny melodies, so rare for music this aggressive and harsh, come to him so unequivocally that he should have to donate the excess he wrote for this LP to some public trust. Free's high-action burners would make anyone want to sing: big wall-bangers like the utterly panting, lascivious "Cherry Bomb," the 1964 Beach Boys-inspired "Pacific Palisades," the dashed love of "Nicole," the bravado of "World Domination," the Undertones-esque "Walking Barefoot," the nasty edge of "Shark," and most of all, this LP's out and out bomb, the well-titled "Burn Baby Burn." In the spirit of Hüsker Dü, China Drum, Compulsion, and Replacements, these songs are hard-hitting yet in the pocket -- and Ash adds its trademark youthful enthusiasm, shining out of these grooves like a signal flare. And to keep Free from getting samey, they add some full-on dreampop in the single "Shining Light," and lull-out in the sublime strings-comely "Someday," "There's a Star," and the demure, purring "Sometimes." And as a changeup, there's the way-kinky, dance-groove rumpshaker, "Submission," with drummer Rick McMurray and bassist Mark Hamilton pounding the funky rock groove like a sped up Stone Roses' Mani and Reni. These flavors insure that the bursting crank-up of the bangers are that much more electrifying. Ash are even more hot-rod now with more experience. They're a great rock 'n' roll band by any measure. © Jack Rabid /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 26, 2019 | Echo

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Rock - Released February 11, 2020 | Echo

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Rock - Released December 11, 2019 | Echo

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Pop - Released April 16, 2002 | Echo

Import? Is that all for this fabulous singles LP? Are they crazy? While the last two LPs have been pretty damn great, Ash has often seemed like a punky 2000s version of a '60s pop group, where each song takes over your radio for weeks. One sugar-rush melody melts into another wall-of-guitar burner with Tim Wheeler's "infectious" happy-go-lucky vocals, and you wonder why they never had a singles LP collection before this! Really, if Northern Ireland-bred and London-based Ash is like a lesser cross between the Buzzcocks' big power and their Ulster forebears the Undertones' "chocolate and girls" sunny disposition, then who put out better singles LPs way back when than those two bands? It's hard to get the unfamiliar to shell out for import LPs when cheaper domestic ones still peek out of the bins. But anyone still undecided or unenlightened about this delightful quartet is well served by this consistent 19-song, big-hook collection. Even the rougher, merely good earlier singles, when they were a kid trio, stand up in the best light. The old likes of "Girl from Mars," "Kung Fu," and "Jack Names the Planets" (all of which they kick harder on now as a quartet), as well as the Ride-like "Oh Yeah," are like a wild boy freshly scrubbed and dressed for a wedding when surrounded by the more recent wonders of the pulsing "A Life Less Ordinary," the breakneck "Burn Baby Burn," the toe-tapping "Walking Barefoot," and the twinkling "Shining Light." And if all that isn't enough, there's Cosmic Debris, a bonus disc of 22 B-sides going back a decade, including some highly unusual picks for covers. This serves the fans and newcomers equally, so there's no argument against it. [The Sony version of Intergalactic Sonic 7"s features two additional tracks, "Get Out" and "Cherry Bomb," that are not included on the Infectious label release.] © Jack Rabid /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 31, 2019 | Echo

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Pop - Released October 5, 1998 | Echo

While Nu-Clear Sounds lacks the immediate appeal of Ash's previous outing, 1977, over the course of repeated listens it emerges as the group's most bracing effort to date; the opening maelstrom of "Projects" immediately sets the tone for the record's snarling approach -- while there are a few gorgeously pensive moments, like the aptly titled "Folk Song," it's otherwise the raw, straight-ahead rock album the band always threatened to make. The addition of second guitarist Charlotte Hatherley galvanizes Tim Wheeler's songs, giving them a dimension and scope they previously lacked -- Nu-Clear Sounds is above all big and loud, but under its tumultuous surface lies Wheeler's most mature and poignant material yet, from the grippingly elegiac "Low Ebb" to the sweetly romantic "Aphrodite." Subtleties aside, however, Nu-Clear Sounds is first and foremost a rock & roll record, with all of the snotty swagger and attitude that the label implies -- at a point in pop history at which old-fashioned noise and bombast were at their most unfashionable, Ash bravely made an album that demands to be heard at maximum volume, and it's a glorious thing to behold. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Rock - Released December 2, 2016 | Atomic Heart Records

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Pop - Released May 17, 2004 | Echo

By Meltdown, Ash were establishing a pattern: each odd-numbered album has been a difficult, rockier affair, while each even-numbered album showed off their sublimely poppy side. So this being their fifth record, it's easy to guess where Meltdown falls -- and if you still hadn't figured it out, just check out the faux-metal cover art! Fans of the unexpectedly great comeback Free All Angels might be worried that this is a return to the minor stumble that was the dark and difficult Nu-Clear Sounds -- the last "rock" album -- but thankfully Meltdown bursts with the hooks and little musical flourishes that have made the more mature Ash records such a treat, and has little of the meandering malaise that marred Nu-Clear Sounds. Lead single "Orpheus" sets the tone -- while the verses rage with '70s metal-derived licks, the choruses burst with one of the sunniest and catchiest tunes that Tim Wheeler and company have ever committed to tape. So while "Clones" and the awkwardly political title track rage as hard as anything they've ever recorded -- and admittedly sound a bit more AC/DC than Undertones -- there's plenty of good songwriting, like on the sweet (really) "Evil Eye," the staccato guitar work on the verses of "Renegade Cavalcade," or the honest-to-goodness string-laden power ballad "Starcrossed." The real shame is that Kinetic Records went broke just before the album was to be released, again robbing the U.S. of a timely release. But Meltdown's quality justifies a hefty import price tag: it's a surprisingly strong and assured record, the kind that -- while not the highest point of the band's catalog -- will help shore up their building legacy as one of the most consistent bands to emerge from the British Isles in the '90s. © Jason Damas /TiVo
CD€23.99

Pop - Released May 6, 1996 | Echo

Two-thirds of Ash were born in 1977, which means that their latter-day punk-pop isn't very Catholic. Instead of sticking to the rigid rules of American punk-pop -- which means you can't stretch the song past three minutes -- Ash take a cinematic approach to their songs, throwing in elements of power pop, glam, post-Nirvana grunge, and post-Oasis rock. It's a melting pot of pop styles, basically because the members of the band are so young, they haven't conformed to the standards of the indie and punk subcultures. Sure, Ash still use loud guitars -- they're all over 1977 -- but they create a distinctive, melodic, and energetic sound that's equal parts heavy grunge and light pop. And while they may indulge in jamming a bit too much, they remain a pop band at heart, capable of turning out epic guitar pop like "Goldfinger," punk-pop like "Kung Fu," and the lovely but loud "Girl from Mars" with equal flair. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 6, 2020 | Echo

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 18, 2018 | Infectious Music

Ash's transformation from a teenage phenomenon into a working band didn't do much to change the form of their music, just their execution. Everybody's pace slows once they leave their twenties, so the general deliberateness that characterizes 2018's Islands -- along with its predecessor, 2015's Kablammo! -- isn't a surprise, but the trio is otherwise light on their feet. This deftness, along with a willingness to add slight hints of color throughout the album, gives Islands a cheerful buoyancy. As ever, Tim Wheeler -- who produced the record on his own -- is as much a craftsman as a songwriter, hammering out melodies and riffs, and his resulting tunes aren't fashionable, but they are sturdy: they don't evoke a specific time, just a classicism that sounds better with each successive spin. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 31, 1995 | Echo

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Rock - Released November 4, 2019 | Echo

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 22, 2015 | earMUSIC

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When they first arrived in 1994, Ash's energy couldn't be denied. They sounded like the teenagers they were, something that gave their records considerable kick, but such enthusiasm was bound to wane as they grew older. Certainly, Kablammo! -- a record that arrives 21 years after Trailer -- has a different feel than the band's mid-'90s work even though Ash stay true to their enduring love of punk-pop and classic guitar pop, a decision that can't help but focus attention on how they've turned into expert craftsmen. It's not just that they're fine songwriters, either. Kablammo! is nicely paced, bursting out of the gates with big hooks and thunder beats, finding space to breathe with an instrumental called "Evel Knievel" (a neo-surf number that keeps the '90s nostalgia humming by seeming tailor-made for the Pulp Fiction soundtrack), then ending with a pair of bittersweet elegies. It's a record that moves briskly and knows how to entertain, testament to the fact that Ash have moved from spunky carriers of the flame to a well-seasoned old guard. What they lack in adolescent kick they more than compensate with savvy, smarts, and muscle, sounding like passionate survivors who are happy to fight for what they love in an era that takes such spirit for granted. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
CD€12.49

Pop - Released June 30, 2007 | Echo

Their last release before becoming one of the first bands to abandon the concept of the traditional studio album, Twilight of the Innocents is also Northern Irish outfit Ash's first new material since the departure of Charlotte Hatherley. Recording as a trio for the first time since their mid-'90s number one 1977, their sixth LP wisely avoids attempting to recapture the raw energy and punk-pop sound of their teens, and instead focuses on a mature, emotive, and cinematic direction which showcases frontman Tim Wheeler's underrated songwriting abilities. There are still flashes of the Californian hair metal leanings of its predecessor, Meltdown, such as the crunching riffs on the muscular "Blacklisted," and the Guitar Hero-style solos on the ska-tinged "Ritual," while their indie rock credentials still remain fully intact, as displayed on the anthemic opening number "I Started a Fire," which recalls the raucous blues of Kings of Leon's "Sex on Fire," and the grungy Foo Fighters-esque "Shattered Glass." But elsewhere, Twilight of the Innocents feels like it should have been the natural successor to 2001's return to form, Free All Angels, thanks to its blend of high-octane power pop (the thumping indie-disco of "You Can't Have It All," the driving "Palace of Excess"), melodic midtempos (the jangly "Dark and Stormy," the Brill Building-ish "Shadows"), and widescreen orchestral ballads, (the gorgeous piano-led "Polaris," arguably their finest single, and the epic prog rock inspired closing title track). Wheeler's lackluster vocals remain a constant hindrance, his thin, reedy tones often struggling to make any impact above Michael Brauer's emphatic production, while the formulaic "End of the World" sounds like a lazy retread of early hit "Goldfinger." But overall, Twilight of the Innocents is a reassuringly strong collection of potential hits which, as the band claim, turns out to be their last conventional album, it's a pretty accomplished swansong. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 1, 1994 | Echo

Imagine classic punk maneuvers crossed with Nirvana- and Dinosaur Jr.-style leanings, goosed by a bolt of Mega City Four, and you've got this Irish trio's reference points. Such a blueprint sounds unimaginative on paper, but singer-guitarist Tim Wheeler's relentlessly catchy confections stand up to the Britpop vanguard's finest hours. Not surprisingly, then, the band's recorded debut emphasizes stripped-down velocity over finesse. Such priorities aren't surprising, since the band began racking up U.K. indie chart hits before graduating high school! (The original version of Trailer appeared in 1994, on Infectious Records.) Still, why quibble about Ash's influences, when the goods are so emphatically delivered? "Punk Boy" and "Jack Names the Planets" could give Green Day a run for its pop-punk roses, while grungier tracks like "Hulk Hogan Bubblebath" stay heavy, without losing their melody. "Day of the Triffids," which references the similarly titled English thriller, points to the band's love of all things extraterrestrial. The standout track is "Petrol," a characteristically deft exercise in soft-loud, start-stop dynamics that points to the band's maturity -- which included layered harmonies, greater tracking of guitars, and even orchestration, if required. More than a decade after they formed in their native Belfast, Ash's rugged individuality remained intact; here's where it all began. Heavy guitar devotees shouldn't miss this one. © Ralph Heibutzki /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 19, 2010 | Atomic Heart Records

In 2009, Irish punk-pop trio Ash ditched the album concept and began releasing a new single every two weeks, with plans to compile the songs into two separate packages. 2010’s A-Z, Vol. 1 collects A through M, and the results are top-notch, blending gritty, lo-fi electro pop with soaring, Franz Ferdinand-inspired dance punk. A-Z, Vol. 1 is the work of a band that sounds like it's been rejuvenated, and while it presents a frantic, fairly schizophrenic vision, there’s a sense of boundless creativity at work here that suggests a wealth of solid future endeavors. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo