atomic heart records

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Today, October 2nd, is the 46th birthday of “Atom Heart Mother”.

Pink Floyd’s 5th studio album, “Atom Heart Mother” was recorded between February and August 1970, and was released in the same year. It is notable for being their first album not to feature the band’s name on the cover, which would eventually become a trend for Pink Floyd. The album sold about 900,000 copies worldwide, and peaked at 1st in the UK charts and 55th in the US Billboard 200.   

Ash At Atomic Heart Studios (NYC)

Ash are about to release the best album that they’ve ever created. Normally this type of hyperbolic statement would make me sigh and roll my eyes, but after hearing their new album I am fiercely confident that their dedicated fanbase will be more than pleased with what Ash have created. It’s been an interesting thing to see how Ash has changed over the years, along with the self-imposed challenges they’ve put before them. They’re a band that has never utilized the easy route when it’s come to the music they’ve made/released. They’ve also dipped their toes into many genres over the years, genres such as punk, pop, indie, electronica, alternative, straightforward rock, and everything in between. It’s brought them success, dedicated fans, and respect among critics and peers alike. All of that has left us Ash lovers wondering desperately: where do they go from here? I ventured out to Atomic Heart Studios (all the way from Upper West Side yo) to find out.

When I got there it was a joyous reunion with hugs and storytelling, and then our attention turned to the open laptop of Darth Mark Hamilton. He could tell that I wanted to ask about the new album, and before I could his hand was already on his touchpad to play some of the songs destined for their next album. So what did I hear? I heard a blistering song that sounded a bit like The Vaccines locked in solitary confinement with only their instruments, The Smiths albums, and Free All Angels to kill time. This particular tune is destined to be Ash’s comeback single, and it’ll remind everyone as to why they fell in love with Ash in the first place. There was a song called Shut Down, which reminded me of instances where The Lemonheads and Weezer would allow themselves to be heavier than usual. It’s a heavily guitar driven song, and that right there is a major factor of the new albums sound: guitar driven. It doesn’t feel like a reminiscence of ‘what was’ but rather a true love letter to the instrument, and how a guitar can be a crucial component to carrying a song from start to finish. The album features numerous ballads, and while these songs are heavily emotional, they don’t call for the power of the instruments to be compromised. Ash have always known how to write songs that would be considered 'soft’ while allowing their instruments to be loud and victorious (think ’Starcrossed’ and ’A Life Less Ordinary’) and these new ballads are a great expansion of those principles. There’s a ballad that feels like a throwback to 1977 but with an exhilarating sense of new life. Again, another immensely guitar driven track that features a great contrast of sincere emotions and monstrous drums. 

My favourite of the ballads was one called Don’t Break My Heart, a slow ballad that featured the type of honesty that’ll make their peers jealous. I can already see Guy Garvey and Paul Banks flooding Tim Wheeler’s inbox with both questions and praise. The songs climax has more of a stronger punch than you’d expect it to but that only makes you love it more.I noticed that I keep going on about the guitar portion of the album, and as fantastic as Tim’s guitar playing is it really is helped greatly by the synergy of Mark Hamilton’s Bass and Rick McMurray’s drumming. Rick’s playing style has been a monumental component of Ash for years, and the new album immensely showcases the wide variety of range that he can delve into. Marks bass playing is as grand as ever and his basslines continue to have his trademark tone; but the most brilliant thing about it all is how perfectly in sync all the instruments are. With the ballads this comes across beautifully, but it’s also noticeable on the heavier side of things. There’s an instrumental song that had the type of guitar playing you used to expect from Matthew Bellamy of Muse. In fact, this tune somewhat sounded like a distant cousin of Knights of Cydonia, but with a bit more….’weirdness.’ This is one of those songs where the guitar and bass are in a constant fury for your attention.

As of now the album has no title, but if Ash ever wanted to release a self-titled album this would be the time. To me, their best album was Twilight of the Innocents, due to how much personal growth and passion they were able to convey both musically and lyrically. The idea of them surpassing that album didn’t seem possible to me, yet I can gladly say that they’ve not only surpassed that album, but they’ve also made the most fully realized album of their career. The major talking point about this album will undoubtedly be the striking contrasts they’ve achieved with the lyrics and the instruments. These lyrics (for the most part) are full of wonderment, confusion, yearning, lust, emotional frustration, and just a general sense of being lost, and the lyrics are contrasted with instruments that sound incredibly assured and full in both tone and presentation. I also found myself shocked by how 'Ash’ these songs were in general. If you would’ve asked me ‘describe the ‘Ash’ sound’ I wouldn’t have an answer, but thankfully this new album will fix that. Ash’s new album could be best described as a mixture of 1977 and Twilight of the Innocents, in that you can tell that they’ve rediscovered their love of being in a band/making music. Their maturity as musicians and men is now fully alive in their music. This is Ash delving into new waters, while utilizing everything they’ve learned in the past. This is an album you can tell they made 100% for themselves, but it’s also an album that’ll make you proud to be a fan. It’s an album that feels like a victory, regardless of how it does in the charts, because it’ll undoubtedly be a standout album for many music fans out there. The new songs reminded me of acts like The Cribs, The Vaccines, Pixies, Johnny Marr, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Queens of the Stone Age, The Smiths, but most importantly; it reminded me of Ash.

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Also before you checkout my photos from the studio, here’s more of what you can expect from the new album:

A song that’ll make fans of Twilight of the Innocents and 1977 supremely happy. This is another slower song that still has that signature Ash energy. The synergy between the vocals and the drums were the biggest standout for me, and the guitar playing after the second verse reminded me why I love Tim Wheelers guitar playing. This is also one of those songs that reminds you how essential it is to have a strong bassline, nice one Mark.

A ballad of a track that has lyrics full of confusion and questions, yet the instruments sound so assured and realized. Somehow, this all sounds cohesive, and the lyrics and instruments are never at war with one another. This will be the song that you’ll find yourself listening to with your eyes closed.

Do you like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club style guitars? Good, this song was made for you. This is a tune that sounds aggressive during the verses and near disarming during the choruses. It’s a track made solely for the purpose of being played live, so let’s hope the band obliges our hunger for such a powerful track (fans of ’The Dead Disciples’ will be very happy with this). The guitar solo here is sure to become a new fan favorite.

A highly straightforward rock tune, probably the most straightforward they’ve ever been. I want to say more about this tune but it’d be impossible to do that without overusing the words 'awesome’ and 'kickass’ A tune solely made for the purpose of driving with the windows down. It’s anther straightforward rock tune, but one that music fans will fiercely headbang to with no restraint. This tune also depicts just how masterful Rick McMurray has become as a drummer. Get ready to stomp your fucking feet.

And lastly, a tune that will feel a lot more sincere than you’d expect it to. Again the lyrics are on the realm of contemplation while the instruments sound so assuring. It’s a track that further proves how powerful of a tool Tim Wheeler’s guitar is. In fact, the guitar acts like a conduit for the whole tune, and there’s a great moment near the end where the guitar playing becomes an epic soaring solo.

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My name is Ken Grand-Pierre and I take photos. Thanks for checking out my stuff; you’re awesome. Remember that you can always hit the ‘Follow’ button on the upper right portion of the screen to be kept in the loop about my work. Also be sure to follow me on twitter.