Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “The Dark Age” by Widowspeak from the 2013 album Almanac on Captured Tracks.
A memorable guitar riff is one of the strongest weapons in a rock band’s arsenal. Sure, the vocal melody is king in pop music. But the guitar has the amplified power to burn an earworm into our brains. Classic rock was built on the institution of six strings delivering four hooky notes. It’s a lesson Widowspeak appear to have taken to heart with the iconic guitar riff introducing “The Dark Age.” Glued to Molly Hamilton’s ethereal, breathy, Mazzy Star-esque vocals, Robert Earl Thomas’ guitar riff takes on a lush shimmer that pushes the song into a dream-like state. The Brooklyn-via-Tacoma duo formed in 2010, releasing two singles in 2011 (“Harsh Realm” and “Gun Shy”), followed by their self-titled debut album that summer (all on Brooklyn label Captured Tracks). On 2013’s Almanac, Widowspeak continue exploring their dreamy, atmospheric indie pop melding Hamilton’s haunting vocals with Thomas’ Morricone-inspired guitar lines and lush production.
Widowspeak are currently touring the United States with a Seattle stop on Wednesday, March 27 at Chop Suey. After the U.S. tour ends in mid-April, the band flies to Europe for several more dates. Keep up with the band on their Facebook page and website. In the meantime, here’s a video of Widowspeak performing live on KEXP: