Ash and the Endings

Ash and the Endings: “Victor’s Trap”

In the eons since Prometheus’ divine theft, we’ve figured out that starting a fire from anything is better than completely starting from scratch, even if it’s a step up from a random damp spot to a ring of rock. It’s true; even if your last burn didn’t leave any charcoal, the ashes of the past can still kindle in new contexts. And that’s not just Camping 101. It also rings true for a local outfit.

And that’s Ash and the Endings, founded and fronted by namesake lead singer Ashton Chase alongside four embers…er…members. Ranging from quadruple digit sessions and concerts, to acting and penning theatre, to running a floral design company, each member’s background lends itself to Ash and the Endings’ eclectic style and ability to give old experiences new beginnings. Starting off with their eponymous Summer 2022 LP, this quintet’s continued to dust off nooks of psych rock, three-part harmonies and all, across their expansive alt-rock attic.

If you want to catch Ash et al live, they’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day 8PM next Wednesday at Far Out Lounge with openers Betty Benedeadly at 7 and closers NSFWho at 9. And although their latest studio offering doesn’t officially drop until tomorrow, the band was gracious enough to pry back the spring and let us crawl into “Victor’s Trap”. A perfect preface to Valentine’s Day, this reflection on intrinsic attractiveness, dating apps, and sex appeal in commercial music will easily infiltrate any ’90s grunge playlist. It might not be as romantic as a Victor Hugo novel, but it kicks off with a stirring bass line, that gears you up for gritty guitar, impressive vocal intervals, obliterating drums, and one heck of a long tail after a rolling cadence of a bridge. Not a fan of Ash and the Endings yet? “Victor’s Trap” might just snatch you up.

Ash and the Endings: “Squelching Sneaks”

Some of the most upbeat, major key arrangements in blues music can still back some of bleakest yarns, ranging all the way from heartache to institutionalized oppression. So even if the traditional scales and chord changes behind with this landmark genre may not appeal to everyone, its anguished lyrical standards will always present a primitive yet therapeutic option for an artist in pain, no matter their main stylistic preferences. Take for example relative newcomers Ash and the Endings and their eponymous frontwoman Ashton Chase, whose compelling contralto crosscuts between Patsy Cline, Dusty Springfield, and Karen Carpenter. This Austin five-piece offers up harmony-heavy alt-rock with cinereous traces of psych and indie, placing them approximately in the same pack as Dr. Dog, The Cranberries, and Paramore. And last June, Ash and the Endings’ debut self-titled EP showed off a ton of range on a seven-song set, illustrating a mastery over slow, fast, loud, and soft. But after the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the opportunity to unabashedly share opinions on the poisonous patriarchy that permeates throughout the Lone Star State was too poignant to pass up for Chase. And what better avenue to express that than the blues? You’ll learn more about that inspiration in an upcoming article for Sidecar Junkaroo, but sonically, this follow-up to spring’s “Austin Flower Co.” hears Ashton’s typically tame vocals take on more of a tortured Janis Joplin-esque moan, similar to what we’ve already heard on “Shake Shake” and “Woman (It’s Up To You)”. Between that and its straight-ahead blues rock approach, “Squelching Sneaks” shows how capable this quintet is when it comes to expanding their idiosyncratic formulas to fresh-yet-familiar territories. And since we’d far prefer splashing in puddles over protecting paws from scorching pavement right about now, go ahead and lace up “Squelching Sneaks” and put it on repeat.