If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts on the Cincinnati, OH-based, JOVM mainstay act The Afghan Whigs. Currently comprised of founding members Greg Dulli (guitar, vocals) and John Curley (bass) along with Dave Rosser (guitar), Jon Skibic (guitar), multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson and Cully Symington (drums), the band can trace its origins to when its founding trio of Dulli, Curely and Steve Earle (drums) founded the band in 1986, after the breakup of Dulli’s previous band The Black Republicans. Interestingly, the band has the distinction of being one of the first bands that Sub Pop Records signed outside of the Pacific Northwest, as well as being one of the more highly-regarded and critically applauded bands of the early 90s, with 1993’s Gentlemen landing at number 17 on The Village Voice‘s Pazz and Jop critics list and 1996’s Black Love, which landed at number 79 on the Billboard Top 200 — all while going through several lineup changes.
After the band’s initial breakup in 2001, the members of the band went on with other creative pursuits — with Dulli famously collaborating with Mark Lanegan in The Gutter Twins, his other post-Afghan Whigs project, The Twilight Singers and with a lengthy list of contemporary artists and others. But after occasionally reuniting for one off shows and festival sets, the band released 2014’s Do To The Beast, which marked both the band’s first proper release in over 16 years and the band’s return to their original label home, Sub Pop Records. While being one of my favorite albums that year — and one of the more forceful albums that year, the album’s material was primarily rooted around Dulli’s angst and bile-fueled lyrics, focusing on some of his long-held obsessions.
Slated for a May 5, 2017 release through Sub Pop, In Spades is the band’s second post-reunion album, and the album, which was produced by the band’s Greg Dulli reportedly finds the band emphasizing a decidedly pop/arena rock-friendly sensibility while retaining the dark, seductive and urgent feel that they’ve long been known for. “It’s a spooky record,” notes Dulli. “I like that it’s veiled. It’s not a concept album per se, but as I began to assemble it, I saw an arc and followed it. To me, it’s about memory — in particular, how quickly life and memory can blur together.” Earlier this month, I wrote about the album’s first single “Demon In Profile,” a single that evokes life’s long-lingering ghosts — the electric touch of a lover’s skin against your own; your former lover’s smell and the sense of loss that seems to permeate everything, once they’re no longer in your life; how loss and longing are inescapable and make simply letting go difficult. And while clearly drawing from classic soul, thanks to an explosive horn line, the song possesses an anthemic hook and a sweaty, seductive nature.
In Spades‘ latest single “Oriole” pairs Dulli’s occult riddled lyrics with a gorgeous and moody arrangement featuring acoustic guitar, xylophone and a gorgeous and soaring string section with a power chord-based, anthemic hook and chorus, and as a result, the song manages to sound as though it subtly nods at both 60s bubblegum pop while drawing from 90s alt rock, thanks to a quiet, loud, quiet song structure.
Directed by NYC-based director and artist Amy Hood, the recently released video is a straightforward visualization of the song’s occult references as it follows Hood, who stars as a 60s horror movie-like protagonist, who leaves her life behind for a life of a somewhat sapphic cult full of dark, psychosexual fantasies and desires and a bloody sacrifice — but told within a horrifying series of acid-tinged/hallucinogenic fueled flashback.
The band will be embarking on a European tour to support their new album, but it begins with a May 23, 2017 stop at the world-famous Apollo Theater. Check out tour dates, below.
May 23 – Harlem, NY – The Apollo Theater
May 26 – Manchester, UK – Cathedral
May 27 – Glasgow, UK – ABC
May 28 – Dublin, IE – Academy
May 30 – London, UK – Koko
Jun. 01 – Barcelona, ES – Primavera Sound Festival
Jun. 03 – Bologna, IT – Zona Roveri
Jun. 04 – Zagreb, HR – Tvornica Kulture
Jun. 06 – Warsaw, PL – Palladium
Jun. 07 – Berlin, DE – Kesselhaus
Jun. 09 – Aarhus, DK – Northside Festival
Jun.10 – Oslo, NO – Vulkan
Jun.12 – Hamburg, DE – Gruenspan
Jun.13 – Frankfurt, DE – Batschkapp
Jun.14 – Antwerp, BE – Trix
Jun.15 – Brussels, BE – Ancienne Belgique
Aug. 04 – Vienna, AT – WUK
Aug. 05 – Prague, CZ – Lucerna Music Bar
Aug. 06 – Zurich, CH – Mascotte
Aug. 08 – Munich, DE – Backstage Halle
Aug. 09 – Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso