Filthy Friends: Emerald Valley (Kill Rock Stars) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Filthy Friends

Emerald Valley

Kill Rock Stars

Jul 18, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Despite all the recent, exciting happenings surrounding Sleater-Kinney's imminent new album (St. Vincent on the boards), Corin Tucker recently also grabbed the microphone for another band. The Sleater slinger might be playing occasional guitar in Filthy Friends, but she's giving her unique voice to a well-structured bar band, which happens to have Peter Buck (R.E.M.) as the lead guitar player. Emerald Valley is album twoInvitation debuted in 2017-and Filthy Friends could be an extracurricular way for these rock veterans to stay active. The melodic pop does not stretch, but it has nice spirit.

Rounding out the group is Scott McCaughey (auxiliary R.E.M.), Kurt Bloch (once produced The Presidents of the United States of America), and drummer Linda Pitmon, who could have power if producer Adam Selzer (Esme Patterson, M. Ward, and Red Fang credits) didn't bury her instrument when recording Emerald Valley in August 2018 in Portland. Selzer buried the bass, too. Tucker and Buck are the epicenter of Filthy Friends, and that's fine; they're likeable bosses. The one time that Pitmon busts through is on "Break Me" with a frenzy of drum fills. Unfortunately, there are no notable basslines from McCaughey. Tucker, Buck, and Bloch sound separated from the rhythm section because Buck's guitar talent and Tucker's vocals are widely known, making a stronger connection. It's in the dirty, dusty opening of Emerald Valley; the chainsaw rev riff and cool command of "November Man;" or the high-pitched cuteness on "Only Lovers Are Broken."

Filthy Friends are suave, soothing, and anthemicespecially on "One Flew East"but Emerald Valley is caught in an awkward slowness. Maybe it is some recording trick to make the jangly blues timeless? On "Pipeline," a song about oil production and distribution, there's a tiny, shaking steel sound dropped in the middle of everything, but there is no telling where it is from. "Last Chance County" has a weird strain, as if the band is inebriated (Tucker references people being drunk in the lyrics).

Tucker's lyrical imagery pertains to ugly politics, the damaged planet, lost souls, and inequality. The devils make the rules, and the angels suffer; nothing new. It was guessed that "The Elliott" was an ode to the Kill Rock Stars legend, Elliott Smith, but the lyrics belong at a political rally: "a balance must be struck/enough, enough, the land has given up." An at-large political album of impact is out-of-cycle, and Filthy Friends doesn't have the reach.                           (www.killrockstars.com/artists/filthy-friends)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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