Release Date: Oct 29, 2013
Record label: Captured Tracks
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Widowspeak first made a name for themselves with their EPs, and Swamps shows they can still deliver an enticing handful of songs. Here, Molly Hamilton, Michael Stasiak, and Robert Earl Thomas balance the more traditional songwriting they embraced on Almanac with a lighter touch in the studio. As good as that album was, it sometimes seemed a little weighed down by how much structure and slickness it had compared to their earlier work.
Spanish moss, brass beds, overgrown yards, burning sage. To Widowspeak, these artifacts represent the hazy, lazy birthplace of swamp rock and Delta blues, which singer Molly Hamilton and multi-instrumentalist Robert Earl Thomas fell in love with last year after touring their sophomore LP Almanac across the American Southeast. The duo incorporated these sights, sounds, and smoke into a six-note guitar riff they had been sitting on for awhile.
The words 'shoegaze' and 'Brooklyn' - when combined - are often greeted with a knowing disbelief with regards to the authenticity of such a combination: a combination of words which has all the hallmarks of PR exaggeration and tomfoolery. The reality is, of course, that few of the many, many acts who claim this once derided genre as their own actually adhere to many of its characteristics - it is often merely a term used to lazily group acts together who sometimes use reverb and pedals. Mixed with the ultra cool connotations of Brooklyn you have a recipe for a hipster induced rash which no amount of guitar effects will soothe.
From London Grammar to Daughter, certain bands sound like they’re drifting along a misty lagoon at midnight. But what happens when their punt hits a rock and sinks in a flailing panic? ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ happens: a dense, torrid quicksand of clattering shoegaze chaos at the heart of this six-track stopgap between Brooklyn duo Widowspeak’s celebrated second album ‘Almanac’ and their soon-come third.It quickly gives way to calmer and more familiar waters, though: ‘Calico’ is a psych-blues slither dripping with Deep South swamp-rot, and ‘Brass Bed’ and ‘True Believer’ are both slices of country whimsy lamenting the sweet air of romantic stagnation, like Mazzy Star lounging in a tin bath full of poppers.Mark Beaumont .
Following the bright haze of last year’s great Almanac, Widowspeak is back with The Swamp, a companion EP of sorts. It’s not so much a stopgap as it is a progression of Almanac‘s sound that could lead into the next record the pair have, apparently, already started on. The EP begins in the same bittersweet gauze the last record gave us on the dusty and jangling “Smoke and Mirrors”.
The debate over lo-fi recording techniques has raged for years now; it’s near impossible to tell when it’s being used out of necessity, or as some sort of claim at indie authenticity or as an aesthetic choice. Whatever the reason may be, it’s gotten to the point of saturation. In fact, a friend of mine recently stated that “reverb has become the hipster’s auto-tune.
opinion byMATTHEW M.F. MILLER When Widowspeak released their second full-length album, Almanac, in early 2013, the band looked up from their shoegazing past – a home-recording, low-fi origin story – to gaze toward a structured, cleaner horizon that more closely aligned their sound with Cowboy Junkies and Mazzy Star. The streamlining was due in part to the losses of founding drummer Michael Stasiak and bassist Pamela Garabano-Coolbaugh and in part to the keen production ear of Kevin McMahon (Swans, Real Estate), who kept the core in tact while rightly emphasizing the 70s folksiness and Fleetwood Mac undercurrents.