1965 by The Afghan Whigs
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For close to a decade, Cincinnati-based alt-rock combo Afghan Whigs created music that hurt so good. Rooted in an emotive hybrid of self-loathing punk and exhibitionistic soul, the band's tunes writhed and roiled, cutting to the core of dysfunctional relationships. But after their bleak, bitter 1995 release, Black Love
, was met with general disinterest, the discouraged band took four years off to reevaluate its art. 1965
indicates that if the Whigs were suffering identity crisis, they've certainly found themselves. Instead of wallowing or brooding, as they did on past efforts, the band struts and staggers lustfully, coming across with the drive and vibe of the Rolling Stones' hormone-fest Some Girls
. Many songs on 1965
are augmented with braying horns, gliding strings, and jaunty piano, and the hedonistic mood clearly reflects the downtown New Orleans environment the record was created in. High points include the swarthy surge of "Something Hot," the torch-lighted drama of "Crazy," and the sleazy pulse of "66," which begins with a 23-second recording of one of frontman Greg Dulli's intimate encounters. --Jon Wiederhorn