Yonkers, New York-native Ellen Kempner is pretty wise for her 19 years. She’s been penning tunes since she entered double-digits, and with her newest outfit Palehound, Kempner manages to fuse off-kilter, lo-fi folk with angsty, grungy rock made famous before she was born.
Kempner already has groups to to her name, the delightful lo-fi pop outfit Cheerleader, and her own solo project Kempa. In her first year of college she decided to get another band together. She recruited some friends, and began recording in Brooklyn with the help of Julian Fader and Carlos Hernandez of the band Ava Luna. The result is the Bent Nail EP, Palehound’s upcoming debut. The record clocks in at less than 20 minutes, and Palehound (and their label Exploding in Sound) is taking an old and new approach to the October 22 release. The EP’ll be available digitally, and on limited-edition cassette.
But one of Bent Nail‘s tracks has already been making the rounds on blogs and music sites. It’s a tune called “Pet Carrot,” and if the name didn’t tip you off, it’s a delightful song–at least it begins that way. Kempner opens the song with just an acoustic guitar, and a woozy little vocal line that lifts like helium. It would be too precious, almost twee, if it weren’t something about that guitar. There’s something heavy about the simple lick. She goes minor when you’re thinking major. Then at almost exactly the halfway-point on the song Kempner shifts gears. The bass and drums drop in, and this sweet little lo-fi folk tune morphs into a groover, but only for a moment. The electric guitars crash and bang in, and this is a completely different song than when it started. On “Pet Carrot,” Kempner takes you on a journey to places you’d never expect to go. At 19, Kempner is already a pro.