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Thursday, September 8th, 2011

In The Pines

Review of Widowspeak’s Widowspeak and giveaway

Photo By Sebastian SlayterSebastian SlayterI’ve read a few things about Pacific Northwest by way of New York trio Widowspeak that reference the darkness of their music; the haunting tones, yearning vocals and occasional forays into guitar squalls. Perfectly fair. And most everything written about them mentions the smoky vocals of Molly Hamilton and its immediate reference points of Hope Sandoval and Cat Power. Also totally valid.

And yet listening to their self-titled debut, despite the truth of those points and the fact that I like amounts of all of these things in my music, what stands out the most to me is how much more they have to offer beyond those talking points. Though her voice has that alluring eyes-half-closed quality, she sounds far more awake and engaged with the song and melodies than Sandoval ever has (save, perhaps, her turn on “Sometimes Always”) and evokes neither the suicide-watch despair of early Chan Marshall nor the soul-diva stylings of her now. And musically, though perfectly capable of evoking sadness, they’re much more familiar with the major keys than some would have you believe. There’s a distinct ’50s doo-wop winsomeness running throughout, the guitars are as likely to throw off a twangy spaghetti western lick as drone menacingly and tunes like “Puritan” and “Fir Coat” are downright bouncy. All of which is to say that the critical praise they’ve garnered based on those aforementioned qualities are wholly deserved – they’ve just got much more to offer than you might expect.

Widowspeak are currently touring with Vivian Girls and will be at Parts & Labour in Toronto on September 16. Tickets for the show are $15.00 in advance but courtesy of Embrace, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Widowspeak” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, September 13.

MP3: Widowspeak – “Harsh Realm”
Stream: Widowspeak – “Nightcrawlers”

The deluge of streams for September 13 releases mentioned earlier this week continues; Girls are offering a sneak preview of their sophomore effort Father, Son, Holy Ghost. Billboard talks to bandleader Christopher Owens, who leads his band into The Mod Club on September 27.

MP3: Girls – “Vomit”
Stream: Girls / Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Over at Rolling Stone, you’ve got a stream of Mountaintops, the latest from Mates Of State, a week before its release. They’ll be at The Phoenix on September 28 and Ology has an interview with band he-half Jason Hammell.

MP3: Mates Of State – “Maracas”
Stream: Mates Of State / Mountaintops

Wild Flag jumped the gun and put up a stream of their self-titled debut last week, but held a little something back for this week – their first video. Wild Flag are at Lee’s Palace on October 12.

Video: Wild Flag – “Romance”

Wilco offered up a stream of The Whole Love, out September 27, for a 24-hour period this past weekend and are prepping for next week’s kick-off of their tour with a fan video project wherein you can help them decorate their stage setup by submitting videos of the town in which they’re playing. And perhaps as a bit of inspiration, they’ve released a video from the new record and if that’s still not getting your juices flowing, dose has those video clips of Jeff Tweedy covering Black Eyed Peas last weekend that have been circulating. In any case, I’ll be interested to see what Toronto sends in for their September 16 and 17 shows at Massey Hall. And if you missed the stream, it’ll be back up on September 19.

Video: Wilco – “Born Alone”

Stephen Malkmus has put out a new video from Mirror Traffic and there’s an interview at The West Australian. He and The Jicks are at The Phoenix on September 21.

Video: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Tigers”

Wye Oak have a new video from their latest album Civilian. They’re at the Sound Academy on October 7 opening up for Explosions In The Sky, with whom Beatroute has an interview.

Video: Wye Oak – “Holy Holy”

Writers On Process gets into the creative space of Crooked Fingers mastermind Eric Bachmann. Their new record Breaks In The Armor is out October 11 and they play The Drake Underground on November 8.

The AV Club talks Archers Of Loaf reunion with bassist Matt Gentling.

The Baltimore Sun talks to National bassist Scott Devendorff.

Clash, Glide and Beatroute talk to Peter Silberman of The Antlers while The Georgia Straight chats with Darcy Cicci.

Salon and American Songwriter get some phone time with Zach Condon of Beirut.

NPR has a World Cafe session and CityPages an interview with Bon Iver.

Blurt documents two decades of the ups and downs of Superchunk.

The Big Takeover has posted the first part of an interview with Jonathan Donahue of Mercury Rev about their masterpiece Deserter’s Songs.

By : Frank Yang at 8:27 am
Category: General

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