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Grass Widow

Album Review: Grass Widow's 'Internal Logic'

There's two ways to look at space travel, one resting in reality, the other in romantic fantasy. The act of shooting into space is laborious, requires a lot of heavy machinery and is god awfully expensive. Yet metaphorically, it isn't all that hard to spend a few hours within the cosmos. San Francisco's own Hannah Lew, Lillian Maring and Raven Mahon of Grass Widow explore this dichotomy on their third full length, Internal Logic, the first on their own imprint HLR. Easily sloughed into the post-punk genre for its characteristically angular guitar and bass lines, the girls play both rigid and dulcet in the interstellar realm they craft.

The opener "Goldilocks Zone" wafts into existence with eerie space age warbling reminiscent of the Forbidden Planet soundtrack, pointedly alerting the listener (along with the lunar cover art) of the record's theme. The driving guitar, propulsive drumming, and multifarious vocals reveal themselves, and we hear the Grass Widow we know and love. This track is one of the best on the album in showcasing the abilities of the trio; toward the conclusion of the song, a massive wall of guitar is built and adeptly switched on and off.

Grass Widow is a band that speaks to the unique ebullience of San Francisco--all at once jangly and simple, grimy and larger than life, but always charming. "Hang Around" evokes the straight-up indie rock of another famed trio (plus one), Wild Flag. Galactic ennui is developed on "Under the Atmosphere," noticeably slower in tempo, lending a dreamy air. The lyrics and delivery are not simply carefree on this one. "Gone are the days of melting in the sun" affirms that the girls are in fact recovering vampires (joke) and that darkness is a part of syrupy melody. Heights are further reached with a nod to gospel-like vocal elevation. "Disappearing Industries" may be a critique on the lack of innovation in our bleeding Internet age, but I didn't notice what with its inquisitive guitar work and overall bop-ability. Also note the track entitled "Spock on MUNI," which might be the best image I've thought about in a while.

Its shtick revolves around effortlessness--a triad of ethereal vocals blended and laid atop the anchoring cacophony of guitar, bass and drums all diverging and coming back together. The voices of Hannah, Lillian and Raven are effectively one voice overlapping, punctuating and "la la la"ing through nine tracks that when listened to in succession, unfortunately begin to muddle. Even though there are eleven total songs, the gorgeous Spanish guitar-filled "A Light in the Static" and the morose piano plunking of "Response to Photographs," in my mind, don't fit. I'm unsure what purpose the two instrumental, antiquated attempts fulfill. Perhaps they are intended as interludes or escape from the general palette of overstimulation and sameness found on the other tracks, aligning with the desire to be upon any other world than this one.

Catch Grass Widow at its record release party on Friday, July 20 at Rickshaw Stop with American Splits, Wax Idols, and The Worlds Longest Guitar Solo With Breaks.

--Julianne Wagner

Vinyl Alert! In A Cloud II: New Sounds From San Francisco

The Bay Area’s Secret Seven Records vinyl label (whoa, I just typed that in 2012) are releasing a who’s-who of the Bay Area compilation featuring unreleased tracks from Ty Segall, Vetiver and Sonny & The Sonsets, among others.

The record, titled In A Cloud II: New Sounds From San Francisco LP, is a follow up to – you guessed it – In A Cloud (Vol. I). After taking a listen to the A and B sides of this collection, if you’re a vinyl type of guy or gal you’ll want to get your hands on one of the 650 copies that will be pressed.

The album is pretty diverse, spanning the likes of lo-fi haze rock (“People Like Us” by Tim Cohen of Fresh & Onlys) to garage surf rock (“Gotta Get Back” by Chuck Prohet) to my personal favorite, girl group swooning (“Octopus Via Satellite” by Hanna Lew of Grass Widow) which you can take a listen to below.

In A Cloud II: New Sounds From San Francisco LP comes out July 17th and you can preorder the record here.

--Justine Fields

Hannah Lew (of Grass Widow)- Octopus Via Satellite by Secret Seven


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