Kristin Hersh is not going gentle into that good night. She's reached the age when women decide to turn their backs on society's expectations (if they ever cared) --she's had her kids, she's had her strivings for mass acceptance, and now she's just going to turn that amp back up and rock you senseless. It's a beautiful thing in many ways, not the least of which is hearing her trademark Throwing Muses yowl wrapped around the phrase "how do you expect to keep this place clean"? Occasional house-wifely references aside, though, Golden Ocean
is a roiling, boiling, black-hearted stew of distorted guitars. From the wah-wahed opening groove of "Petal" to "Pneuma"'s metallic fuzz to "Long Painting"'s whisper-to-a-scream dynamic shifts, this is a rock album that takes no prisoners. Sure, Hersh could be your mom, but only if your mom routinely blows out big stacks of Marshall amps.
In 50 Foot Wave, Hersh is backed by Bernard Georges from her Throwing Muses days, as well as new drummer Rob Ahlers. (Golden Ocean follows, and incorporates three songs from, a six-song EP released in 2004.) Together, they make an unholy racket, the kind of din that takes several listens to sort into distinct songs. Individuality emerges from the murk gradually, first in the sweeping, anthemic "Sally Is a Girl", then in the ass-kicking "Petal", and finally in the domestically themed but hard-rocking title track. Life-wisdom spit hisses from Hersh's lips: "I've never been afraid to die / I've never been afraid to live. I've never been afraid before," she keens in "Petal", and it's a triumph of experience and strength over... everything.
Certain kinds of people will be threatened by a woman like Hersh, who refuses to back down, strutting and howling and busting guitar strings with her unladylike attack. They'll demand to know if it's right and proper that a late 30s/early 40s mom spends her time making balls-out rock records like Golden Ocean. The answer to these dickheads is right there on the record, in "Pneuma", when Hersh lifts up her head and screams, "You know what? You know what? You know what? Shut the fuck up!"