Over the past handful of years, I’ve written a handful of posts featuring the Cincinnati, OH-based, JOVM mainstay act The Afghan Whigs. Currently comprised of founding members Greg Dulli (guitar, vocals) and John Curley (bass) along Jon Skibic (guitar), multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson and Cully Symington (drums), the band can trace their origins to when its founding trio of Dulli, Curley and Steve Earle 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, landing 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; however, the members of the band would occasionally reunite for a series of one-off shows and festivals sets that eventually lead to 2014’s Do To The Beast, which marked the band’s first proper release in over 16 years, and the band’s return to their original label home, Sub Pop Records. And while being one of my favorite albums that year — and one of the more forceful rock album of 2014 — the album’s material centered around Dulli’s long-held obsessions.
Released earlier this year, In Spades is the Cincinnati-based indie rock 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 populist, arena rock-leaning sensibility while retaining the urgent, dark and seductive sound they’ve long been known for; but with an underlying spectral vibe. ““It’s a spooky record,” Dulli remarks in press notes. “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.”
Now, as you may recall, I wrote about the album’s first single “Demon In Profile,” a single that evokes the lingering ghosts of one’s life — but in particular, the electric touch of a lover’s skin against your own; that lover’s smell and taste, and the sense of irrevocable loss that permeates everything, once they’re no longer in your life. But interestingly enough, it may be the rare Afghan Whigs song that directly reveals a classic soul influence, as they paired their enormous sound with an explosive yet strutting horn line. The album’s second single “Oriole” featured Greg Dulli singing occult and death riddled lyrics paired with a lush and cinematic arrangement of acoustic guitar, xylophone and a soaring string section paired with a power chord-based anthemic, electric guitar-based hook — with the result being a song that meshes 60s bubble gum pop and 90s alt rock.
The Cincinnati, OH-based band’s latest single “You Want Love” was originally released by the New Orleans-based Pleasure Club on their second and final album together, and the Afghan Whigs’ rendition of the song features the song’s original vocal and songwriter James Hall — and interestingly enough, the song has become both a staple of their live set during their ongoing tour, and a tribute to the band’s Dave Rosser, who recently died after a battling colon cancer. As the band’s Greg Dulli has recently mentioned publicly, he and Rosser had been fans of the long defunct New Orleans-based band, and they had talked about covering the song for years; but they just never found the opportunity to put it on wax — until recently. Of course, once you hear the original, you’ll know why Dulli and Rosser dug the song so much; it sounds and feels much like it should have been a Whigs song.
Next week will begin another extended leg of touring, which will have the band in Europe throughout August, including a stop at the gorgeous Paradiso in Amsterdam and a handful of festival sets, followed by some extensive North American touring, which will have the band playing Brooklyn Steel on September 16, 2017. Check out tour dates below.