Palehound "Dry Food"
FORMAT | LP
On her new album, Palehound singer/guitarist Ellen Kempner sounds like someone who's spent a lot of time alone in her bedroom. That comes through in her melancholic, openhearted lyrics, but, more pointedly, in her impeccable musicianship (she played every note on the album, save the drumming), which bears out intense practicing, deep-seated passion, a keen knowledge of indie rock touchstones, and an impressive versatility, all in equal measure. Kempner's dazzling playing leads the way on Dry Food, but the 21-year-old's tender, honest lyrics follow closely, burning softly amid the splashes of dramatic guitar. The unexpected twists and turns of the compositions may steal the show, but her simply stated emotional explorations glow low and constant, embers at the center of the bonfire. Much has been made of Kempner's ties to Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis. Though the bands share some interests and influences, Palehound isn't a Speedy knockoff. "We'd drive around Connecticut, listening to bands like The Pixies and Pavement," Kempner told American Songwriter in 2013 of a time when Dupuis was her camp counselor. "Sadie got me into pretty much all the music I'm into now."