Posted in Sunday Songs

Sunday Songs: 5/14/23

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles, and happy Mother’s Day!! Eternally grateful for my wonderful mom—who knows what I’d do without her. Love you 🫶🏻

Alas, even though “Cool About It” is still my most listened to song of the year so far, the Boygenius Breakdown™️ has made way for some Palehound Panic™️ (or, alternatively, a Palehound Party™️?) so I can catch up on everything before Eye on the Bat comes out this July (!!!!). Feast your eyes on the spring color scheme.

Enjoy this week’s songs!


“The Clutch” – Palehound

And just when I thought that I’d already gone through almost all of my most anticipated albums of the year…

Even though I haven’t filled in the sonic gaps between this new sound, Black Friday, and A Place I’ll Always Go, I’m all on board with this new Palehound! There’s power in every note of “The Clutch,” from first notes of Kempner’s voice to the unrelenting chords that follow the rest of the song. El Kempner has such a unique voice—it’s hard to think of any other artist whose voice is simultaneously whispery and rowdy, and she embraces the rough edges on every part of this song. Underneath all of the pounding drums and incredible guitar work is some of Kempner’s sharpest lyricism to date: “I didn’t mean to hurt you/You didn’t mean to show me how,” followed closely by “I’m glad that you know better now/And I’m glad that you found yourself/But you didn’t need my help…” WHEW those are some LINES right there…and what better way to close the song with a shouting outro of “you didn’t need my help”? If this song is any indication, Eye on the Bat is gonna be the perfect summer album—and a fantastic album in general. SO glad I got on this Palehound kick all the way back in September. Haven’t regretted a single minute of it.

“Humdrum” – Peter Gabriel

The only acceptable way to dance to this song is to dance like you’re one of those wooden snakes from the craft store. The ones that make those crack-crack-crack noises when you wiggle them around?? Please tell me somebody knows what I’m talking about, please…

right, THESE ones. Just gotta feel it. Flail. Castanets do that to a gal.

Usually I try to put my album listening in the hands of fate (read: the list randomizer), but after the Palehound Panic/Party subsides, I think it’s shaping up to become Peter Gabriel Summer 2: Electric Boogaloo. Why? It’s only taken 3 songs to convince me to listen to Peter Gabriel 1: Car (because he’s That One Guy who puts out 4 self-titled albums for kicks and giggles and refused to make any title more than one word long after that). I’d already heard this album’s iconic hit “Solsbury Hill,” but after hearing this back to back with the equally wondrously weird “Moribund the Burgermeister,” I just know that Car is gonna be a wild ride.

Fresh off of his split from Genesis, Peter Gabriel’s prog rock action has never quite ceased, but from just this song, it seems to have taken on a life of its own, morphing into something that’s purely him. It’s a song of many faces—starting with quiet synths and weary vocals for the first minute, and then breaking down into some absolutely INSANE castanet/accordion-aided craziness that lasts for all too short of a time. The instrumentals just feel so delightfully kooky (you know it’s gonna go nuts when the accordion comes out) before bursting out into some classically prog sprawl as Gabriel’s voice and lyrics deepen in scale: “from the white star/come the bright car/our amoeba…” And the amoeba, as it happens, was his first daughter, Anna-Marie Gabriel, who had just recently been born. I don’t know about you, but I’d be honored to have a song this weird to commemorate my birth. Just saying.

“Room” – Palehound

I was going to say that this was a left turn from the other Palehound song on this post, but…no, “The Clutch” is probably the one that’s a left turn, really, though I can’t say how much of one it is without having listened to Black Friday…nevermind, this is pointless without context…ignore me

After “The Clutch” came out, I made it my mission to start dipping my toes into more Palehound before Eye on the Bat comes out in July. A Place I’ll Always Go was next chronologically, so I went right in—I’m still torn on whether I like it better or as much as Dry Food, El Kempner’s debut, but it’s packed with songs that have kept me listening long after the first run-through. This one quickly became my favorite track off the album; it’s got a sound that’s so close to being fully-realized—all at once, it sounds purely like Palehound, but still reeks of Wilco influence. Kempner’s wry, meticulously constructed lyricism bursts forth in every measure (“Sun above her/never had a lover in my room”), but the instrumentation, even though it’s all her, just screams Wilco—the neat percussion and soft, restrained guitars have Jeff Tweedy written all over it. I can almost see the guy in a buttoned-up denim jacket and a beanie holding his acoustic guitar in a completely horizontal line somewhere in the background. But Kempner’s whispery rasp of a voice, slowing coming out of its burrow, makes sure that this track is all her own—and it’s an excellent one. I can’t help but nod at the endlessly hooky chorus—”she keeps me up/she keeps me up/she keeps me up/at night,” the last word drawn out intoxicatingly.

“Dawncolored Horse” – Fenne Lily

I haven’t made a habit of consulting any of Apple Music’s auto-generated playlists like I used to when I first started using the platform. But sometimes, when I’m in a musical drought, or if I’m just bored, I’ll have a look. Usually, I only ever find one or two interesting songs, but sometimes there are ones worth keeping.

All I knew about Fenne Lily beforehand was that she’d toured with Lucy Dacus somewhere along the line. But this song is so calming; sometimes, songs linger on the precipice of exploding into sound without ever getting there, but this song never feels the need to stretch itself to places it can’t go. It’s subdued, but subdued in the exact way that it should be. Lily’s voice is smooth like mercury, whispery at the edges but moving along like frigid water in a creek—the perfect indie-folk kind of voice. The song’s title was what originally grabbed me, but from what I’ve heard of her newest album, Big Picture, I love its thesis—trying to write songs about the small things and forgettable days that we let fly by. There’s a comforting coziness to everything about “Dawncolored Horse”—the soft, sparkly guitar riffs scattered throughout, Lily’s voice, and the gentle percussion. It almost feels like I’m in the tiny, model house on the album cover, looking through the glass. And just like the album cover, it really does feel like a tiny memory under a glass case.

“Times to Die” – Car Seat Headrest

And now, let’s end with a relic from my “not-like-other-girls” period in 8th grade trawled up by the enigmatic deep-sea fishermen of my iTunes library on shuffle, shall we?

I got swept up by Car Seat Headrest right in the middle of middle school (and not because of my early teenage crush on Will Toledo…yeah), and if I had to put a soundtrack to 8th grade, they would dominate the glut of it. Every bus ride, vacation, and absentminded hum were probably along to them—probably kind of concerning, given their lyrics, but we all do weird stuff in middle school. I’m almost positive that I bought this one off of an iTunes gift card that I’d gotten for…graduation? Maybe? It’s a distinctly April-May 2018 song for me—I can’t place a specific memory to it, but the feeling is so distinct that it’s become its own little time capsule.

And now, having not listened to it in years, some of these lyrics remind me of what endeared me to Car Seat Headrest all that time ago. Even though I didn’t quite understand it at the time, I still smile at a particular line near the end of the song—”most of the time, I’m just getting older/but I’ll get to heaven standing on your shoulders.” Despite most of this song’s complex grappling with religion (with the many references to both Judeo-Christian religion and Hinduism scattered throughout—he really just loaded this one up, no wonder it’s almost 7 minutes long) and life itself, there’s a darkly humorous element to it; “God” isn’t always God, but Chris Lombardi, the founder of Matador Records (“got to believe that Lombardi loves me”), and the strained chanting of “hey man, we listened to your demos” throughout. This one’s definitely a little contrarian as far as lyricism goes—early on, Toledo claimed that he was attempting to let the lyrics flow naturally and let the words speak for themselves without putting symbolism in beforehand. And yet…after that first verse, he just stuffed it with enough references and idiosyncrasies to fill a Thanksgiving turkey. It’s a rich song, from the callbacks to so much of his earlier catalogue to the thick web of lo-fi instrumentation surrounding his muffled, honeylike voice.

Or maybe that’s all for naught. Maybe it’s just as he claims:


Since this post consists entirely of songs, consider all of them to be today’s song.

That’s it for this week’s Sunday Songs! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!



book blogger, aspiring author, music nerd, comics fan, stargazer. ☆ she/her ☆ ISFJ ☆ bisexual ☆ spd ☆ art: @spacefacedraws pfp by @cybersoybean (picrew)

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