Thursday, September 8th, 2011
In The Pines
Review of Widowspeak’s Widowspeak and giveaway
Sebastian 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.
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.
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.
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”
Video: Wye Oak – “Holy Holy”