Young Widows: Playing on Prefix

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Young widows

Playing on Prefix is a feature on KCRW’s Music Blog in which writers from the eclectic music site Prefix hip you to what’s coming out of their computer speakers each week.

Since signing with Temporary Residence in 2008, Louisville’s Young Widows have been on a creative spree, releasing a full-length album (Old Wounds) and a four-volume split-7-inch series that found them paired with Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Melt-Banana, Pelican, and My Disco. Being prolific is one thing, but these releases did more than just pad out an already great discography — they chronicled the band settling into their own niche, less reliant on their considerable influences, and more poised toward becoming one of the more impressive bands in heavy music today.

In 2011, the band returns with In And Out Of Youth And Lightness, and if first single “Future Heart” is any indication, their first transitive phase has reached its very thrilling conclusion.

The trio spent their first album (2006’s Settle Down City) slowly ripping themselves from the shadow of their previous band, the chaotic mathcore act Breather Resist, but quickly found themselves saddled with a lot of the same comparisons Breather received near the end of their run, namely the Jesus Lizard and the collected works of the Amphetamine Reptile label (a noise-rock mecca, for those who do not know).

Old Wounds represented a gutting of their established sound, making great use of empty space, new drummer Jeremy McMonigle, and an innovative recording technique that seamlessly combined performances recorded while on tour with in-studio work.

“Future Heart” fills the holes made by Old Wounds with an invigorating mix of new elements. It’s a swaggering, bluesy chunk of post-punk that fuses their blunt-force sound with the menace of the sadly departed Hot Snakes and an unabashed embrace of melody.

Young-Widows-In-And-Out-Of-Youth-And-LightnessStream “Future Heart” below and download here

Nick Theineman continues to prove that he has one of the best senses of rhythm when it comes to modern bassists, his low-end rumble pulsing and twisting below the shimmering guitar work of Evan Patterson. For a song that showcases Patterson’s considerable increase in confidence as a vocalist, there’s an instrumental section in the middle of the song that almost manages to say more than any of the vocals. Patterson lays down a simple riff that Thieneman works his bass parts around, the whole thing culminating in what might just be the most major-key moment in Young Widows’ entire catalog.

“Future Heart,” along with the rest of In And Out Of Youth And Lightness, was recorded in a Louisville funeral home by the band and producer Kevin Ratterman (My Morning Jacket, along with many, many others), which is a little ironic for a song that finds Young Widows coming into full bloom as a band. Other songs from the album that have been played live indicate a continuation of this growth, making this trio definitely one to watch in 2011 on a larger scale than their noisy reputation might suggest.

— Erik Ziedses des Plantes

In and Out of Youth and Lightness track list
1. Young Rivers
2. Future Heart
3. In and Out of Lightness
4. Lean on the Ghost
5. The Muted Man
6. Right in the End
7. Miss Tambourine Wrist
8. White Golden Rings
9. In and Out of Youth