Young Widows is a three-piece rock band from Louisville, KY. Since they are from Louisville, the music that they play has a bit of post-punk in it as well as a bit of that mathy riffing that Louisville is famous for. They have been around since 2006 and Easy Pain is their fourth record, although I had not heard of them before a bit of buzz erupted on the internet for this record.
I was able to track down a copy on sweet delicious vinyl. The album has eight tracks, and the download coupon that comes with it includes two more "bonus" digital only tracks.
The record starts with a few seconds of intense tremolo, just a reverbing, wavering sound, then the band tears into it, the guitar whirring, the bass thumping, and drummer Jeremy McMonigle beating the hell out of his kit. And then the music slows, parts, and a voice howls, "He said, 'God, man, don't be so cruel'" and the song grinds along from there. Godman reminds me a bit of slower Soundgarden -- that kind of heavy, overdriven guitar noise thing. And the vocalist, whichever one it is (the bassist and the guitarist split vocal duties and i don't know who sings what), sounds vaguely like Chris Cornell. I mean, he doesn't sound exactly like him, but he has a dramatic, big-voiced kind of gaspy singing style, and it reminds me of Soundgarden.
The Soundgarden comparison was my initial reaction to the band, and let me say here that this is a good thing. I really like Soundgarden -- they made several great records.
However, i am not the only one to think this. Young Widows played Atlanta the Saturday before Memorial Day. Now, Saturday is the night that my girlfriend does not have custody of her children, so we normally go and do something, and i thought about taking her to see this show. However, this was only a few months after i dragged her to see Russian Circles, a show which i adored but which bored her. So, i thought better, and just skipped the show, sacrificing seeing Young Widows as the price of romance.
I ordered the record, and when it came i played it for her. "Oh," she said, "This sounds like Soundgarden. I like Soundgarden!" Which means that we probably should have gone to the show. Argh. Oh well...
Moving on, the second track starts with tinkling guitar, the bass throbbing deeply, and the drum keeping a monotonous rhythm. This is sparse, the guitar barely there at times as the bass keeps a heartbeat. It's called Cool Night, and again the vocals remind me of a gaspy Chris Cornell. On the bridge of this song, the guitar positively soars, a tight shoegaze riff while the rhythm section rumbles along. Lovely.
Track three is the classic song off of this record, the unstoppable Kerosene Girl. This utterly rocks, with an amazingly driving beat powering it along as guitar chugs, then thunders on the chorus. I cannot help but bounce along to this one, as Young Widows grind along. I bet this got the crowd going at The EARL back in April. Sigh.
Doomed Moon starts with some odd pulsing tones, then the guitar comes grinding in accompanied by overdriven bass and scattered, heavy beat drumming. This song is noisy and discordant and howling, the vocals ripped out and thrown on the ground in front of you as the guitars swell up to drown them out. Perhaps the hardest song on the record.
The next song starts off shoegazery with a simple bright keyboard riff looped until the band tears into it, guitar whirring and bass throbbing. Gift of Failure has a really great bass riff, Nick Thieneman showing his stuff.
Young Widows play more sparsely on Bird Feeder, the music here is spacious as the vocalist gasps and bellows his way along, the guitar a simple jangly riff.
On King Sol the band channel shoegaze, the bass and guitars effected, but more overdrive than chorus, channeling Swervedriver instead of Slowdive. The guitar riff that Evan Patterson plays in the middle is sublime, the guitar plinking high notes over the bass rumble, steady drumming, and echoed voice. Beautifully heavy music.
And finally the record itself ends with The Last Young Widow. This has a great bass riff, and is sparse and smoky, a honky-tonk tune for a punk metal band. The way the bass drives this reminds me of another great Lousiville band, Rodan.
Now, my download came with two "bonus tracks". The Money is slower and more ponderous than the rest of the record, with a dark, sparse intro that reminds me of Slint. But then, the chorus hits, and the guitar whines a distorted bluesy line. It's a solid tune, if a little more melancholy than the rest of the record.
In My Living Room is another almost shoegaze tune, the guitar here echoed and distorted like Devics or some of the slower moments of SIANspheric. A xylophone tinkles along, until the band tear into it with their normal heavy riffing. The bass line that Thieneman plays here is very mathy -- i think you'd need a slide rule to figure out how to dance to that beat.
Overall, i am impressed, very impressed. Young widows take pop grunge, metal, post-punk, math rock, and shoegaze, throw in a little bluesy riffing, and create something dense and beautiful and catchy all at once. This album has been on nigh-constant rotation for this warm, very humid summer.