Throughout 2010 and 2011 the Northern Irish band Ash released the ‘A-Z Series’- a total of 26 singles released in the course of one year, with each single representing a letter of the alphabet, and one release every fortnight. I have been a long term fan of the band from an early introduction via my brother, but during the early part of 2012 I realised I hadn’t kept pace with the band’s output and hadn’t gotten around to buying the two CD’s of of Ash’s A-Z series (Vol. 1 & 2) (and, yes, I still buy CD’s).
It is clear from listening to the tracks that the band put a hell of a lot of effort into each song, and the music positively fizzes with excitement, invigoration and seemingly effortless natural songwriting abilities. It is hard to pick out some favourite tracks but among the top track for me are ‘Return of White Rabbit‘, ‘Arcadia‘, ‘Spheres‘, ‘Dare to Dream‘ and ‘True Love 1980‘. These songs, I believe, help to capture the essence of the band from the ‘A-Z’ series, and indicate the high standard of musicianship that is prevalent throughout, from each of the band member’s input.
However, for me, the highlight of the 26 songs chosen for the A-Z series was the song ‘Sky Burial’. It encapsulates the raw energy of the band without the usual fine songwriting capabilities of the front man Tim Wheeler, but what it lacks for vocally, it more than makes up for in fizzing and bubbling energy from all of the band members; perhaps best captured through the arcing guitar lines and thrashing drums, and the utter release of the guitar solo’s throughout. It is a bombastic highlight, and to play it loud is to become enveloped in it’s soundscape, and it is a beauty to behold.