October 16 — “Dog Days” by 50 Foot Wave

50 Foot Wave

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Dog Days” by 50 Foot Wave (2004, from the 50 Foot Wave EP).

50 Foot Wave (who I will mostly refer to as “Fippy”) is a power-pop trio that sort of uses Los Angeles as its base. The band was founded in 2003 by Throwing Muses frontwoman Kristin Hersh as a different outlet. She’d made several records over a nearly 20 year span with the Muses and several more on her own, and this is something radically different from all of that. By 2003, the Muses released their last proper album, and her focus was on her solo career. The bulk of that material is based around an acoustic guitar. And a lot of 3/4 timing. Soft and gentle.

Eager to do something completely new and different, Hersh decided to found her own label –Throwing Music– instead of waiting around for 4AD or Warner Brothers or whoever to green-light the project. She brought longtime Throwing Muses bassist Bernard Georges with her to start 50 Foot Wave. They recruited drummer Rob Ahlers, who played on one album with the band Chalk FarM.
50 Foot wave is a much louder, faster, harder band than the Muses, and with an entirely different mentality. Fippy is much more raw. Not as sensitive. Purely carnal. The band name, by the way, has something to do with the wavelength of the lowest humanly audible tone.

In the spring of 2004, the band released a six song mini-album, which was met with critical indifference, but gobbled up by Hersh’s faithful followers. They toured pretty extensively with that EP, and that was the plan for the future. They were supposed to release an EP every nine months and embark on a 100-show tour with each EP. Than plan never really went into action.

In the spring of 2005, with distribution help from 4AD Records, the band released their first (and only) long player —Golden Ocean. That record featured two of the songs from 50 Foot Wave, including today’s song.

“Dog Days” by 50 Foot Wave

There’s no messing around. It hits the ground running, and then gets chaotic at 0:15. And, really… What a vocal line to start:

Rats scatter after waves on the dirty beach

I like the little break at 2:50, and it brilliantly sets up the sonic assault that begins at 3:17.

I really like the line at the end of the second verse

Don’t touch me: I don’t know where you’ve been

That line may or may not be an intentional nod to the Muses song “Dirty Water”, when Kristin sang:

Don’t touch me. There’s history on your hands

I actually get those two mixed up sometimes.

Apart from the noisy coda, my favorite bit is the third verse:

Simultaneously attracted and repelled
If you don’t know by now, I’ll never tell
I wake up a ton of un-kissed guilt
Just keep telling me this is life, we didn’t miss it
Just keep telling me this is life, we didn’t miss it

After the Golden Ocean album, they again toured pretty aggressively, but I still never got the chance to see Fippy.

In the spring of 2006, the band released their next EP —Free Music! through their website. It was, as you might guess, available as a free download. This was done in conjunction with Creative Commons, which helps musicians freely share their work with their fans, encouraging their fans to share, while still protecting their own intellectual property rights under flexible copyrights. This helped Hersh found her own similar platform called CASH Music. The idea there is that fans support their favorite artists via quarterly “subscriptions”. Hersh’s “Strange Angel” program keeps her afloat and lets her do what she does. She is 100% listener funded. See the details of her “Strange Angel” program here.

Radiohead got all the glory for releasing their 2007 album In Rainbows using the “pay what you want” model, but loads of other bands including 50 Foot Wave were already doing this.

Through the Fippy CASH music page, all of their stuff is available as free downloads. With the suggestion that you leave something in the tip jar or purchase physical copies via the Kristin Hersh web store.

Download your free copies of 50 Foot Wave, Golden Ocean, and Free Music! in one convenient package here.

Download the 2011 EP With Love From The Men’s Room (song-by-song) here.

Get physical copies of those things here.

A new Fippy EP has already been completed and should be released some time in 2013, but not before the first new Throwing Muses record since 2003 gets its release probably in the late winter or spring.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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