Tuesday, October 29, 2013

PALEHOUND - Bent Nail EP + Interview!

Palehound is a band getting some serious buzz. They are on Exploding In Sound Records (label home of Ovlov, Fat History Month, Pile, Speedy Ortiz, and most of the other ground breaking music happening in New England) and rumor has it they were a "Band to look out for" at this years CMJ. While they hail from several locations, one of those locations is CT. I had the chance to do an email interview with the band and review their debut EP "Bent Nail". Check it out below!

Adam: First things first, tell me about your time at Buck's Rock Camp in New Milford, CT. and how you all met?

Ellen Kempner: We actually didn't all meet at Buck's Rock. Max and I met while we were in high school and started playing together during my junior year and his freshman year in a guitar/vox/drums duo called Cheerleader that would basically just miserably play local teen centers. One of our music teachers used to constantly harass us about needing a bass player but we completely ignored him until I met Thom last summer while working at Buck's Rock with Ben, who I've known for a few years now. When I got signed to Exploding In Sound I was totally band-less and looking for a new lineup so it was basically a no brainer to have Max play and I'd always really respected/admired Ben's playing so I asked him to get involved. As for Thom, I'd never even heard him play bass when I asked him to join, I just knew that he was a super awesome dude and had been playing in bands with Ben for years so totally trusted that he'd be a good fit. The four of us are now crazy close and I really could not have asked for better musicians to play with.

Adam: Are there any particular places/venues in CT that you really enjoy performing at?

Thom Lombardi: My favorite place where Ben and I performed Blue (Da Ba Dee) - Eiffel 65, was at a bar called S.J. Barrigton's. They host this really crazy karaoke night on Saturdays. It's right off the main drag on Kent Rd. If you happen to plop by on a Saturday night over the summer, almost the entire Buck's Rock staff will be there. It sure is a sight to see

Ben Scherer: lol @ thom
karaoke night at barrington's is a sight to see. you get lots of backdoor connecticut country fanatics singing toby keith. one of them bought me a shot of j├Ąger because he found out I'm a mets fan and then proceeded to pry me for hard drug connects that i don't have. other notable karaoke performances of mine from last summer include but certainly are not limited to "teenage dirtbag," wheatus, "in the air tonight," phil collins, "everybody (backstreet's back)," backstreet boys,  & "hello," lionel richie.
as far as conventional venues in ct, I have yet to perform with palehound but thom and I have performed together in another group at university of new haven numerous times (my alma mater), which has always sort of been a cheap thrill. we also played what may have been the worst performance of all time at the space in hamden back in 2010.
Adam: Care to expand on this "worst performance ever"?
Ben Scherer: the issues arise really from the get-go at the notion that we were performing under the moniker "beneficial tomatoes," but it was a bill that some camp friends and i had set up. julian from ava luna and SaDiE from speedy ortiz used to play in a band called quilty, and we played with them and our friend eno's dance project "analog fire." besides being a sort of funny clash of genres, i'll keep it simple in that this was before either thom or i had procured tuner pedals.
Adam: What music are you guys all listening to right now?
Max Kupperberg: Recently I've been listening to a lot of smog. 'You Think It's Like This, but It's Really Like This' by Mirah is a new favorite of mine.
Besides that local CT bands Failures Art and Ovlov have been getting a lot of playtime on my iPod.
Ellen Kempner: Yeah I've also been listening to a lot of Mirah recently, but more along the lines of "C'mon Miracle". Besides that I've been obsessively listening to the mind-blowing "Dripping" by fellow Exploding In Sound dudes, Pile and this really cool band Helvetia that I discovered via a typo trying to look up that documentary about fonts... Totally recommend listening to their album "Nothing In Rambling"!
Ben Scherer: literally "right now," i'm playing gillian welch, "the harrow & the harvest." otherwise, recently it's been pavement, "wowee zowee." pile. porches. frankie cosmos.
Adam: What was the recording process like for your new EP? Any interesting anecdotes? 
Ellen Kempner: Recording the EP was the funnest time ever of all time! I basically just hung out and ate egg sandwiches with Julian Fader and Carlos Hernandez (who engineered the session/ performed on some of the songs) for two days in their awesome studio, Gravesend Recordings, at The Silent Barn in Brooklyn. My favorite anecdote has to be when their super talented and cool artist friend Greem Jellyfish came to hang one of her collages in the studio. She was hanging the piece high up on the wall over one of the doors while balancing on a ladder and would drill in between takes so inevitably we all came to a mutual agreement that the ladder and the drill had to make appearances in the recordings. We ended up recording Carlos banging on the ladder with a drumstick and used the drill for that high-pitched windy screech at the end of "Drooler". 
Adam: OK so, this is more for Ellen I imagine but how does the song writing process go for you?
Ellen Kempner: Typically songwriting is actually a pretty inconvenient process for me! A song will usually start as a melody/lyric combo that just kinda appears while I'm doing something like riding a bike or sitting in a class. I'll usually then do a quick voice recording on my phone so I won't forget it and then expand on it later once I have time/am by a guitar.

Drooler opens up the EP with dreamy guitar and vocal melodies and then the drums and bass kick in and bring this to a full groove. The hazy and affecting vocals of Ellen Kempner fill the song with vibrato. This song works through several layers of style, from jangled pop to noise and further still.

Psycho Speak has a more folky flavor but is still very engaging. This song despite being very poppy is a very "outsider music" type song, with awkward lyrics and timing changes. It is an absolute gem of a song.

Harvest, while sparse on accompaniment is crazy gorgeous. I think the vocal work on this song is especially wonderful, Ellen knows exactly when to show off and when to recede.

Pet Carrot should be a lead single for this band. Full of tight beats and blasts of fuzzed out guitar, this song is solid and strong. Doubled falsetto vocals make this track stand out with a real attitude. The composition itself is wonderfully groovy. The bass work on this song is superb!

I Get Clean is dark and sweet with a "home recorded in the 90's" vibe. The vocal melodies and even some of the guitar work is very reminiscent of Speedy Ortiz in the best ways. It also has some strong Sebadoh vibes. More amazing bass work in this song!

Flytrap closes out the set of songs with a fluttering and awkward bass line and vocals about regret. It is an unsettling way to end this collection of "damaged" pop, but I always like a challenging conclusion. One thing is for certain, it leaves you wanting so much more!

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