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Rock - Released May 31, 2019 | The Echo Label Limited

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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
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Pop - Released April 16, 2002 | Echo

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Pop - Released July 31, 2018 | 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
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Pop - Released September 2, 2011 | 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
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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
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 18, 2018 | Infectious Music

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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
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Pop - Released July 2, 2007 | Echo

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 8, 2018 | Infectious Music

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Pop - Released September 2, 2011 | Echo

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 10, 2018 | Infectious Music

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 11, 2018 | Infectious Music

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 8, 2018 | Infectious Music

$15.49

Pop - Released May 6, 1996 | Echo

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Pop - Released September 2, 2011 | Echo

$1.49

Pop - Released July 19, 2010 | Echo

$12.99

Alternative & Indie - 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