Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of 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 Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Brass Bed” by Widowspeak from the 2013 EP The Swamps on Captured Tracks.
Formed in Brooklyn in 2010, Widowspeak’s gauzy guitar-driven songs split the difference between shoegaze haze and folk rock rhythms. Led by singer/guitarist Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas and supplemented by other musicians in a live setting, the duo’s 2011 debut album was acclaimed for its hushed, nearly mellifluous textures and Hamilton’s breathy vocals (along with more than a few comparisons to Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval). In summer 2012, the duo retreated to a barn in New York to record their second album, Almanac, which released in January 2013 and supported with rigorous touring. During that jaunt, Hamilton and Thomas recorded an EP intended to bridge Almanac and its pending followup, resulting in this month’s The Swamps. “Brass Bed”, bounces with more jangle than most of the band’s catalog, but Hamilton quickly subdues any concerns of the band abandoning their foggy melancholy in the opening line: “Baby, can we play dead?/Sleeping in our brass bed”. “Brass Bed”, and specifically Hamilton’s performance, is sweet but far from saccharine. Instead, her girlish melody flows with a kind of calm conviction that straddles the line between intensity and innocence. Fitting snugly alongside a guitar-led breakdown from Thomas, Hamilton’s impressive performance shows that the band is gradually moving outside of their comfort zone. “Brass Bed” highlights how the band as a whole is learning how to write with a more direct approach to songwriting, but even with less than three minutes to work with, they remain as skilled as ever at capturing a potently tranquilizing haze.
Widowspeak is currently finishing up their third LP, so they’re not on the road right now, but it likely won’t be long before they are, so keep an eye on their website and Facebook for any tour announcements or updates on the record. For now, watch the band play “Gun Shy” live on KEXP at CMJ below: