AFGHAN WHIGS

Do The Beast

Sub Pop

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Do to the Beast is the first new album by The Afghan Whigs in over a decade and a half. Founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1988, the band has long stood out from its peers, with their savage, rapturous blend of hard rock, classic soul, and frontman Greg Dulli’s searing obsessions. The new album serves as both a homecoming – it marks their return to Sub Pop, for whom the Whigs were the first signing from outside the label’s Northwest base – and a glimpse into the future of one of the most acclaimed bands of the past thirty years.

Do to the Beast proves an appropriately feral title for one of the most intense, cathartic records of Dulli’s entire career – one that adds fresh twists to The Afghan Whigs canon. On it, one finds the film noir storytelling of Black Love, the exuberance of 1965, the brutal introspection of Gentlemen, but rendered with a galvanized musical spirit and rhythmic heft that suggests transcendence and hope amidst the bloodletting. “A lot of records I’ve done stemmed from epochal experiences in my life – and this time I’ve used them all,” Dulli says. “These new songs are very visual to me. They come from the neighborhoods of my mind. It’s like Rashomon, with the story told from different points of memory.”

Do to the Beast was created in L.A., New Orleans, Cincinnati, and Joshua Tree – a virtual map of the band’s past and present homes. “The album was named in Cincinnati, which is especially fitting,” Dulli notes. “I was recording a beatbox track for the song ‘Matamoros,’ and my friend Manuel Agnelli (of Italian rock band Afterhours) was in the control room. After I finished, he said it sounded like I was singing ‘Do to the beast what you do to the bush.’ And I thought, ‘Brother, you just named the record.’”

Do to the Beast features Dulli and Curley joined by the Whigs’ current core players – guitarists Dave Rosser and Jon Skibic, multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson, and drummer Cully Symington. While original Whigs guitarist Rick McCollum does not appear on the record, a panoply of notable personages from the group’s past and present make memorable cameos: soul maverick Van Hunt, Mark McGuire (Emeralds), Usher’s musical director Johnny “Natural” Najera, Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys), Clay Tarver (Bullet LaVolta, Chavez), Dave Catching (QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal), Patrick Keeler (Raconteurs, Greenhornes), Ben Daughtrey (Squirrel Bait), Joseph Arthur, and a host of others. For Dulli, these outside collaborators add crucial dimension. “Someone like Alain is a great texturalist,” Dulli says. “He and Mark McGuire create these, womblike tapestries and nuances. And Johnny Natural blew our minds when we played with him and Usher at South By Southwest. They were all instructed to play guitar not as guitar, but to create a supernatural sound – and each one of them ran with that.”

Tracklist
1. Parked Outside
2. Matamoros
3. It Kills
4. Algiers
5. Lost In The Woods
6. The Lottery
7. Can Rova
8. Royal Cream
9. I Am Fire
10. These Sticks