June 27 — “Fir Coat” by Widowspeak


If you only listen to one song today, make it “Fir Coat” by Widowspeak (2011, from the album Widowspeak).

Widowspeak is a dream-pop quartet from Brooklyn. Founding members Molly Hamilton (vocals, guitar) and Michael Stasiak (drums) are natives of Tacoma, Washington and have been friends for some time. After recruiting guitar player Robert Thomas, they recorded two 7″ singles and an album for the fledgling Brooklyn shoegaze-centric label Captured Tracks. Following the release of the album, they also brought on bassist Pamela Garabano-Coolbaugh. They’re scheduled to have a new album out this autumn.

Captured Tracks is quickly becoming a favorite label of mine. They’ve released records by Blouse, Wild Nothing, The Soft Moon, DIIV, Beach Fossils, and the 7″ singles by Veronica Falls. In addition, they re-issued and remastered the entire catalog by legendary California noise-pop/shoegaze band Medicine.

I discovered this band the way I discover many bands these days. I was on the label’s website for some other reason, and started snooping around. Poking this and prodding that. I was amazed when I found Widowspeak that way. Amazed.

A lot of people have said that Hamilton’s voice is reminiscent of Hope Sandoval. I don’t really get that. There’s one song on the album that sounds musically like a Mazzy Star song, but I don’t think that the voices are similar. That said, Hamilton’s voice reminds me of a lot of different singers who don’t sound like each other. At times, I’m reminded of Debby Vander Wall from Butterglory, or Mary Lorson from Madder Rose. Or Anita Robinson of Viva Voce. Mostly, though, I’m reminded of Miss Charlie Hilton from Blouse.

On this song, the guitar work reminds me a bit of Pavement. Sometimes, the music reminds me of Camera Obscura. I guess what I’m saying is that Widowspeak remind me of a lot of things that I like a lot. And I only discovered them because of dumb luck and curiosity.

Anyway, here’s today’s song:
“Fir Coat” by Widowspeak

The word on the street is that Molly Hamilton had a few reservations about moving east and starting this band. She wasn’t very comfortable with the electric guitar. Also, she suffered from stage fright pretty badly. When the band had just started, she had a hard time even singing and playing in rehearsal. One story even has it that she would rehearse on her own, then the rest of the band would rehearse around her rehearsal tapes. As the band started to book more shows and they had to actually practice and play as a unit, she’s learned to overcome the stage fright.

There’s something comfortable and familiar about this song and about the whole album. In that way, it sounds like an old favorite tee shirt feels.

I’m sure there’s a story behind the intentional alternate spelling. This isn’t “fur coat”. This is “fir coat”. Like a tree. I don’t know what the story is, but there’s probably something interesting behind that.

You can and should order Widowspeak directly from the Captured Tracks web store here. They have your choice of vinyl, CD, or digital download.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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