Photo by Ringo
San Francisco’s Grass Widow have spent the past few years quietly building up a following, releasing several albums and singles the DIY way. Their sound fixes Joy Division’s post-punk firmly in the garage, but recently the recordings have become clearer, all the better to highlight the trio’s exceptional three-part harmonies. Now bassist Hannah Lew is stepping out on her own with a new outfit called Cold Beat, whose debut album Over Me is out July 8.
Cold Beat pulls from a lot of the same sources as Grass Widow, but–intentionally or not–doesn’t sound quite so cold. Where Grass Widow could get lost in its own darkness, Lew and her new bandmates inject a little surf-rock sunniness into the mix. Still, the lyrics hint at a personal crisis of sorts; even with the sweet harmonies and reverb-drenched vocals, Lew can sound utterly alone. On “Mirror,” she sounds lost in her own hall of mirrors, unable to “see anything at all.” But the whole blood-letting is smuggled inside a summery jangle that’s a sugar-rush of a song, breezing past with the windows rolled down before screeching to a halt just two-and-a-half minutes in.