Palehound

Photo Credit: Bao Ngo

Palehound, the project of Ellen Kempner, is back with their third album, Black Friday. Palehound is one of my favorite bands that I’ve yet to see live. I hope to right that wrong this go-round. Here’s some more info from the PR squad on the song below.

A song Kempner wrote for her partner in the midst of his transitioning process. “Aaron is a character that represents my partner, who is trans. It’s not specific to his experience though, the song is about change in relation to our bodies in general,” she says. “It’s about learning to be comfortable in our skins, whether that means changing our bodies or mindsets. Robert Kolodny directed the video and captured this theme perfectly through portraying physical insecurity as living in an unruly, amorphous body and gradually shedding it.” The video is a House of Nod Production, directed by Robert Kolodny and with masks created by Gaudmother. With her hushed yet urgent vocals, Kempner harnesses her ability to draw so much power from a single word, turning “Aaron” into an indelibly tender expression of devotion and love.

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Palehound is here

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CREDIT: Shervin Lainez

A Place I’ll Always Go is the follow-up to 2015’s excellent Dry Food. Led by Ellen Kempner, Dry Food was an easy album to become enamored with. Chock full of 90s riffs and Kempner’s spot-on lyrics; it was and is on constant rotation.

A Place I’ll Always Go is a little tougher to connect with initially but no less rewarding. The album was born during a time of loss and new love. Kempner lost not only her grandmother, but a very close friend; tough at any age but especially so at that bullet-proof part of your life known as your 20s. As all this was going on, Kempner began a new relationship. “The album is also about learning how to find love, honestly, after loss,” says Kempner.

Feeling Fruit is among the best work Kempner has done. It is a gentle ballad where Kempner emerges into the world after a time of mourning. Supported primarily by her able picking, Kempner’s whispered lyrics really pack a punch. If You Met Her is another gut-punch of a tune. Wishing for her deceased friend to meet her new love, Kempner’s lyrics speak to someone wise beyond her years.

Mixed in with the ballads, there are a couple of fuzzy rockers. The lead single Flowing Over is about using sad songs as a coping mechanism. The fact that its a rocking tune really works here (and the video is outstanding as well). Carnations is another winner. Its another rocker but it feels like Kempner is letting is on some secrets as she delivers her vocals in a hushed manner; almost hiding beneath the backing music.

On my review of Dry Food, I said Kempner has the chops to be a force for years to come. If she keeps knocking out efforts like Dry Food and A Place I’ll Always Go, I see no reason that doesn’t come true.

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Palehound is here

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photo credit: Shervin Lainez

I became enamored with Palehound, the band fronted by Ellen Kempner, when her debut Dry Food came out in 2015. I wore that record out for a few months and have come back to it regularly since. They play a great band of 90’s influence indie and Kempner is a boss on the guitar. A Place I’ll Always Go will be out on June 16th via the fine folks at Polyvinyl. Here’s some info on the record and the lead single.

The collection is a frank look at love and loss, cushioned by indelible hooks and gently propulsive, fuzzed-out rock. As Kempner explains, “A lot of it is about loss and learning how to let yourself evolve past the pain and the weird guilt that comes along with grief.”

“Flowing Over” rides a sweetly hooky guitar line, with Kempner using her upper register as an anxious vocal counterpoint to the riff’s infectious melody. The video offers a look at the tight-knit community, showmanship and sportsmanship of the bombastic Boston League Of Women Wrestlers (BLOWW). “The first time I saw BLOWW perform, their energy was so intoxicating that I couldn’t get them out of my mind for days” says Kempner. “Watching other women/non binary people exert so much of their time and energy into their passion, I immediately felt inspired to step up my game.”

“Working on this video was a dream come true,” added Heather Mack of BLOWW. “It was so cool to have a chance to document the real life, behind-the-scenes process of stepping into our badass rasslin’ personas, from wig taping to trash talking to the main event, where we got to show off our chops in a fun, supportive environment. We are huge fans of Palehound and were so honored to be asked to represent the energy of this song in such a unique and powerful way. Cheers and chokeholds!”

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Palehound is here

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Palehound – Dry Food [album review]

by Woody on August 13, 2015

Palehound
I don’t know what it is about this year. It seems every month, a female-fronted act that was greatly influenced by 90’s college rock kicks out a killer album. Whether it be Waxahatchee, Bully, TORRES, Speedy Ortiz, etc., the new one seems to hit at a point where I have listened to its predecessor to death. As I was just thinking I can’t listen to Foil Deer one more time without Sadie Dupuis taking out a restraining order on me, Dry Food arrived in my inbox.

And now, Palehound’s Dry Food is part of that excellent list above and it very well may be my favorite of the lot. Palehound is the moniker of 21 y/o Ellen Kempner who does it all on the album, other than the drumming. Calling her precocious would be insulting. Calling her talented would be an understatement. Calling her a potential force to be reckoned with for years to come sounds about right.

Dry Food’s inspiration came from a tough time in Kempner’s life. As a 19 y/o, Kempner left college and was caught in the limbo between being a kid and an adult. “The year between 19 and 20 is this weirdly insignificant time — you’re kind of an adult, but not a real adult. That was kind of hard for me, to think, ‘I’m not a kid, and there are things in my life making that very, very obvious to me, but I also can’t really fathom being an adult yet.'”

While Kempner’s lyrics are great throughout, her guitar playing is what will really stand out. Its almost surreal that she’s just 21 and can play so well. And play so well while incorporating numerous influences – Elliott Smith’s finger-picking, Wes Montgomery’s jazz influence and the fuzz of 90’s stalwart Kim Deal. I love it when she cranks it up on Molly & Cushioned Caging. But the highlight of the album is Dixie. Kempner is alone with guitar, playing impeccably, while questioning her worth. Its amazingly poignant and just flat out brilliant.

To be that young and good at something blows my mind. To think she’s only going to get better gets me excited. But don’t wait for that, get on board with this album and go them on tour. She’s put together quite the nice touring band.

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Palehound is here

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