For the past couple weeks, my musical soul has been urging me to try and listen to some different music. Fitting for the aftermath of the Grammys, I’ve done just that. Some say I might have an extremely picky taste in music (some have even said that it takes less than 5 seconds for me to know if I like a band), but I have been slowly chipping away at my metaphorical musical walls. This first review occurring during my musical expansion has the honor of being my first featuring a female-fronted band. Congratulations! I can’t get enough of Chelsea Wolfe and her perceptive music.
Granted I have already touched on her ability in a previous post, Chelsea Wolfe deserves a post of her own. Residing in Sacramento, CA, Wolfe is the main contributor on this album, singing and playing the guitar. This album also includes guest musicians Ben Chisholm on piano, Kevin Dockter on guitar, Drew Walker on drums, and Addison Quarles on bass guitar. Her first album “The Grime and the Glow” can be categorized in many different types of music, but easily shows influences of folk, drone, neo-psychedelia, and experimental rock. The subtle nature of this album is extremely interesting, and I can’t help feeling emotions throughout the 40 minutes of air time.
I have actually heard this album a few times before I began writing this post. The reason it’s taken me this long to write about it? Simply put, it is so damn quiet! I have listened to this album repeatedly at work, but have been unable to hear it because of the daily office racket. One day, I decided to simply turn up the volume, and although my coworkers probably hate me now (or maybe they enjoyed her too?), I am finally able to hear the entire spectrum of her work.
Each song is different from the next on this album, and each song gives you a new reason to feel. I remember the first time I “heard” this album, I was reminded of walking through a dark forest, or sitting in a dimly lit room, or driving a deserted road at night. As you can see, the theme is dark; her vocals are gloomy yet divine, the lyrics dark yet touching. Wolfe’s voice is comparable to vocal styles like Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine and Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead, notably known for their high, breathy vocals, their great range, and experimental sound. One of my favorite songs is the 2 minute long “Fang,” a song so hauntingly beautiful that it gives me goosebumps every time I listen. Incorporating the entire band, the phased out and delayed lead guitar and simple snare-driven drum beat balance each other as Wolfe sings the only lyrics to the song:
“I was not lying when I said I would try / I was not lying when I said I would let you down / I turned my back on myself / I don’t want to hurt anyone else” (source)
The lyrics throughout this album are very gothic, and I will mention a warning to everyone due to the swearing that occurs in a few songs. With that said, though, Wolfe easily tugs at my heartstrings, and helps me to find that place of mourning or loss I’ve felt before. “The Grime…” is a great breakup or teenage angst album, but is also great for those who are just simply into something different.
My favorite aspect of this album, surprisingly, is the simple, low-fi sound. Normally I need an album with numerous solos and great production quality to interest me, but considering the tone set throughout this album, the low-fi sound is absolutely fitting. The original demos for this album were recorded on an 8-track recorder, which led to how the album sounded when finished. The haunting sound perfectly complements the lyrics and indie nature of this album. “The Grime…” is extremely simple, with most songs only featuring Wolfe on guitar and vocals. This album is a great reminder to me that not all music needs to contain several instruments and last over an hour. In fact, some of the simplest of music can be the most impacting, and “The Grime…” definitely does not fail here.
I recommend “The Grime and the Glow” to those who look for solace through lyrics. For those more interested in the sound, I would recommend this album to those who already enjoy female-fronted vocals and indie rock bands, such as the artists Florence And The Machine, Blonde Redhead, Le Butcherettes, Regina Spektor, The Dead Weather, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Please support Wolfe by checking out her Bandcamp page, which features her newest album “Pain is Beauty.” You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.