Independent music is no different from the mainstream in at least one respect. There are records released that sound timeless after 25+ years (Damaged, the Faith/Void split), there are those that sound embarrassingly dated (Break Down the Walls...shit, most of the early Rev catalog), and there are those that make you shake your head and wonder exactly what the hell was going on. They are the proud products of the times...the Spice Girls, the Ray Stevens, the "One Night in Bangkok"s that you'll never be able to shake out of your head, the seemingly-disposable songs and the singers that, ten years since you last heard them, invoke a certain place and time unlike the "greatest" artists.
And while I never saw them live, D.C.'s Ashes is one of those bands for me. I don't know anyone who'd hold them up as some shining paragon of what HC was circa '93, or name them as an inspiration for some current leading light of the scene. Shortly after moving to the Baltimore suburbs someone played me a second generation tape of Hiding Place, and I really fell in love. In many respect, Hiding Place (and all of Ashes' limited output) is an impossible record to release today. Even the most amateur HC record released in 2008 has a global sensitivity that just wasn't present back in 1993. In my not-so-humble opinion, nobody's naive or sensitive or young enough to make this happen nowadays. This is emotive without turning melodramatic. It's fast enough to mosh to, yet you could still slow dance with your girlfriend to it (you know, if you weren't too self-conscious about it, and you didn't treat your significant other like a coat rack at shows). I'll let you decide for yourself, but this sticks in my brain unlike so many other records that came out around the same time.
Hiding Place was initially released by Network Sound Records back in early 1994, about a year before Ashes broke up. Guitarist Brian McTernan would later compile it with Ashes' s/t 7", demo and 2 unreleased songs on a CD entitled Wisconsin Avenue Tour. He would co-release W.A.T. with Revelation Records in 1999. Where singer Elena Ritchie disappeared to is one of the more interesting mysteries of early 90's HC. Word on the street is that she moved to Boston and started working in the film industry. A cursory Google glance reveals little. Maybe the most interesting fact about Ashes is that, between McTernan and drummer Matt Squire, they are responsible for producing a big chunk of the mainstream emo-pop currently populating the airwaves.
Ashes - Hiding Place 12"
RIYL: Farside, the Safari Club, chest tapping during a song, letters to HeartattaCk