"...The decidedly debilitated ‘Healthier Folk’ smacks of B-Movie sleaze balls as swampy acoustic guitar goes head to head, with batshit redneck electric, becoming more unhinged by the second..."
Massachusetts based lo-fi outfit Palehound are on the face of it, pretty much a lone vehicle for singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ellen Kempner. Although barely able to legally purchase a drink in her native Commonwealth, the octet of songs comprising ‘Dry Food’ represent a startlingly assured debut that belies her comparatively youthful years, endorsed by the fact that the publishing label in question this side of the pond are none other than Heavenly Recordings, not a lot wrong with their quality control in most instances including present company. Kemper is also responsible for every bit of sound on ‘Dry Food’ apart from the drums.
Opener ‘Molly’ provides a taut grungy road trip finishing with a deliciously lopsided time change. The decidedly debilitated ‘Healthier Folk’ smacks of B-Movie sleaze balls as swampy acoustic guitar goes head to head, with batshit redneck electric, becoming more unhinged by the second. ‘Easy’ is mellower in tone as Ellen’s breathless yet slightly vulnerable low end voice combines with all manner of electronic tomfoolery.
The soft focus of ‘Cinnamon’ dishes up a quirky slice of pure indie-pop with a generous dollop of lounge thrown in so have those lighters ready, after which we’re suddenly waltzing through the rather marvellous break up number and title track. When you hear the ‘You made beauty a monster to me, so I’m kissing all the ugly things I see’….one firstly realises how downhearted our heroine must have become, whilst appreciating her wordsmithery, not to mention the clever electronica outro.
‘Dixie’ delivers a soothingly stripped back acoustic number eerily reminiscent of a certain former Boston alumnus Aimee Mann both in terms of sound and indeed quality as little flourishes of multi-track vocal lift the song from above average to memorable.
Penultimate offering ‘Cushioned Caging’ is another that wouldn’t feel out of place on a David Lynch movie soundtrack before another ode to lost love(s) ‘Sea Konk’ brings things to a close.
Dry Food is released 4th March on Heavenly Recordings
Palehound play Leeds' Headrow House Sunday March 6th (dates below)
Tuesday 1 March – Gullivers, Manchester
Wednesday 2 March – Start The Bus, Bristol (free show)
Thursday 3 March – Shacklewell Arms, London
Saturday 5 March – Rough Trade Shop in-store, Nottingham
Sunday 6 March – Headrow House, Leeds
Monday 7 March – Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton
Thursday 10 March – The Monarch, Berlin
Friday 11 March – London Calling, Amsterdam