Album Review: Grass Widow's Past Time Puts Them in Sleater-Kinney League

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Artist: Grass Widow

Album: Past Time

Label: Kill Rock Stars

Release date: August 24

Rating (Skip, Stream, or Buy): Buy

Download: "Fried Egg"

Local show: Healthy Times Fun Club on September 17 with Coasting and Broken Water

"Uncertain Memory," the first track on the San Francisco girl-punk trio Grass Widow's new record Past Time, starts out with an ominous yet sexy guitar lick from Raven Mahon before whipping into a quick, airy melody as girlish vocals shower down. The song sets the tone for the rest of the record -- the guitars drill furiously, Lillian Maring thrashes her drums at a rapid pace that never really slows down. Hannah Lew can play the hell out of the bass, and the band smartly seems to have written rhythm-heavy songs that showcase that. I haven't heard a rock record this bass-centric since I don't know when. Instrumentals aside, the neatest trick up Grass Widow's sleeves is their vocal parts -- all three sing, and in harmony they sound shadowy and mellifluous, but mostly their voices blend and overlap each other, dropping in and out at various points in a song, in a way that resembles the uneven pattering of rain against a roof. The method is best exhibited on tracks like "11 of Diamonds" and "Give Me Shapes." Past Time's songs are distorted and rough around the edges -- see the gleeful fist-pumper "Fried Egg" and the galloping "Shadow" -- but there's an irresistible spirit about them; there's not a slow or a low point on this album. I hesitate to speak too soon, but these girls are seriously rocking songwriters and performers -- we might have another Sleater-Kinney on our hands.

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