Grass Widow

Past Time

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It would be easy to look at Grass Widow and lump them in with all the noisy girl pop bands of 2010; they certainly are noisy and poppy enough (and the ubiquitous Frankie Rose played drums in an early incarnation of the group). What makes them stand out from the crowd on their first record for Kill Rock Stars, Past Time, is the care they take with their vocals. All three of the bandmembers sing and their sweet, unschooled voices dart and weave around each other magically. When they join in three-part harmony, the effect can be breathtaking. Placing the vocals over skittery, post-punk-influenced guitars and drums only makes the effect stronger and more mysterious, sounding like a strange and wonderful blend of late-'60s psych-folk and early-'80s post-punk -- like Wendy & Bonnie fronting the Raincoats maybe. Just as important as the sound the trio gets is the fact that they write very strong songs. Melancholy but not morose, and suffused with a warmth and simplicity of emotion, they aren’t exactly summer jam mixtape material but they would sound good as the sun is going down over the beach and campfires are being lit. Dusk jams isn’t a term you hear very often but most of the songs on Past Time would fit that bill. The fragile way the instruments interact and the tender construction of the vocals may not stand up to the heat of the day, but may be a little too spooky in the dark. “Shadow” is the theme song for the in-between feeling the band conjures up, but many others vie for that spot. “Submarine” in particular, with its restraint and very moody melody. Grass Widow set the mood masterfully and never break it. Past Time may be a short album that seems slight on first listen, but as you play it again and again, it sinks in deeply and magically.

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