Filthy Friends - Emerald Valley - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Filthy Friends - Emerald Valley

by Tim Sentz Rating:8 Release Date:2019-05-03
Filthy Friends - Emerald Valley
Filthy Friends - Emerald Valley

Many might approach a band like Filthy Friends with reservation. The two primary songwriters come from beloved rock bands – Corin Tucker fronts Sleater-Kinney and Peter Buck of R.E.M. fame. And while R.E.M. might be on an indefinite hiatus, Sleater-Kinney has been rumored to have started work on the follow-up to 2015’s stellar No Cities to Love. Back in 2017, the supergroup Filthy Friends delivered a quaint debut, one that highlighted Tucker’s songwriting and penchant for folk-tinged rockabilly, while still sprinkling in that riot-grrl approach. The result was mixed.

Thankfully, two years later, Filthy Friends return with a refreshing update to their sound. Not a Sleater-Kinney-like appetizer, Filthy Friends separate themselves from the herd with Emerald Valley, a sophomore album that takes the best parts of each songwriter’s talents, and melts them all down, then chisels out the core to get to the meat and bones of what we love about both. The title track opens the album, hearkening back One Beat-era bar-rock, but featuring Tucker’s evolved perspective.  Meanwhile, Buck’s riffage is just as pensive as ever, matching Tucker’s delivery on “Pipeline” wonderfully.

But after the first two tracks, Filthy Friends get filthy, with the grungy, lo-fi-ish “November Man” forging a new path for themselves that’s not like R.E.M. or Sleater-Kinney. Razored riffs that sound like Buck handed his beloved guitar over to Kim Gordon and her screwdriver, the strained strings are piercingly fun. Elsewhere on the record, Tucker shows off her balladeering, with “Angels” she surfs between sun-beamed melodies ala Bob Mould and bar sobbing heartache via Titus Andronicus. It’s a testament to the talent involved just how tightly wound Emerald Valley is.

Content-wise, Tucker takes things more outwardly political than she’s been in some time. Songs like “Pipeline” and “the Elliot” have a direct motive behind them, the latter particularly goes for the throat on deforestation. By the time we reach “Last Chance County,” it’s a bit exhaustive, but Tucker’s always held little back in her songwriting, which is one of the reasons she’s so adored. With “Last Chance County” she belts out “we go around in circles” while spitting out vitriol like her early SK days like on The Hot Rock or Call the Doctor.

All in all, Emerald Valley is a tremendous improvement over invitation. Its coarse edges are a welcome change, and Tucker’s lyrics are biting and witty. She’s completely in her element on Emerald Valley, and even if the title promises a shimmering scope, this valley is full of heavy themes that fans of Sleater-Kinney have come to appreciate and adore. It’s not a taster of things to come from the next Sleater-Kinney album – instead, Emerald Valley established Filthy Friends as a supergroup that isn’t just a one-off, with the staying power of other supergroups like A Perfect Circle or even the Dead Weather and The Raconteurs. In the end, it’s another example of how great both musicians are in their own right, whether under the guise of their established veteran bands or under a new moniker.

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