All I have to say about Widowspeak, the opening act for Vivian Girls on the evening of September 6th 2011, is WOW!
Widowspeak on stage at JB's
No, no. That’s a lie. There is so much more to be said. This newly minted group of three has just embarked on their first tour in support of their two 7″ singles and full length LP put out on the incomparable Captured Tracks Records. Hailing from Brooklyn by way of various locales, this trio put on an amazing show that captivated all in attendance. Talking to them after the show I found Molly, Rob, and Mike to be fantastic people, a true compliment to their musical talents. I look forward to seeing what comes next for these guys. Widowspeak truly has an amazing live sound that captivates and grabs the listener, gently enveloping him/her in lo-fi goodness. Check out a sample via their Bandcamp page:
Trying to define these guys is difficult so I will take the highroad and re-purpose a snippet from their press release.
To say that Widowspeak is a Northwest band is to tell a half-truth. After all they formed in a Brooklyn apartment thousands of miles to the east, and their guitarist has never even seen the Pacific Ocean. There are aspects of the band’s sound—abrasive guitar hooks, immediate drumming, and incessant codas—that speak to living in a big city. But there’s also a dreary sparseness, a David Lynch-esque darkness, culled from the other members’ native Washington.
The band’s skeletal sound began to take shape, with Robert’s rust-belt guitar parts lending a restless, sinister edge to Molly’s subdued melodies and soft vocal style. Writing became a collaborative effort, and Widowspeak racked up an arsenal of songs. By fall the trio had recorded a six-track cassette using only a built-in laptop microphone and Garageband. The self-released October Tape, as it was called, fell into the hands of Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks. Weeks later, after only their sixth show, Widowspeak recorded the 7” single, “Harsh Realm,” in anticipation of a full LP.
That album, recorded at Rear House with Jarvis Taveniere of Woods, documents Widowspeak’s inaugural year. In a relaxed studio setting songs born from those first jittery practices could breathe. The trio expanded their modest instrumentation while retaining a sparse aesthetic. The resulting record offers an eerie ambience, at times channeling 1950’s jukebox pop, at others, 1960’s psychedelia. While garnering comparisons to slow-moving 1990’s acts such as Mazzy Star or Cat Power, Widowspeak have defined a sound that’s earnestly nostalgic, and increasingly confident. Even so, these are songs about heartache. They are songs about homesickness, about longing for pine forests, reckless youth, and dark nights in strange cities.
Hearing them play was truly a treat and I look forward to catching them again. Below are some videos from their show; the first of which is a gorgeous rendition of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game – a song which I am not even that fond of. The version performed by Widowspeak is an exception.