Posts Tagged ‘Dry Food’

Ellen Kempner of Palehound.

Finding a songwriting voice takes time and then there’s also the process of pinpointing the best way to send that voice hurtling through speakers. Palehound’s Ellen Kempner has long had the words: scathing and evocative, And with every live show, she’s finding surer and surer footing as the central focus in a band that marries rock muscle with her bedroom folk’s wiry vulnerability.

At an NPR Music showcase recorded live at New York City’s (Le) Poisson Rouge in the fall of 2015, Kempner opened with a quick confession  “I’m really nervous” before channeling those nerves into her raw, powerful songs, accompanied by bassist Davood Khoshtinat and drummer Jesse Weiss. That rawness can take several forms, from the kiss-off brutality of “Molly” to the gnarled slow burn of “Seekonk” and “Dry Food,” the title track from Palehound’s excellent 2015 album.

  • “Healthier Folk”
  • “Molly”
  • “Psycho Speak”
  • “Dry Food”
  • “Cinnamon”
  • “Drooler”
  • “Cushioned Caging”
  • “Seekonk”
  • “Pet Carrot”

The introduction to “Pet Carrot” is pretty neat, but that bass line is absolute fire.

Ellen Kempner – guitars//vocals//bass on tracks 2 and 4
Julian Fader – drums//recorder//melodica
Carlos Hernandez -bass on tracks 1 and 5//misc. noise on track 1


Since forming in 2014, Palehound have taken their plainspoken, technique-heavy indie rock from the basements of Boston to festivals around the world. Boston’s Palehound, lead by fierce vocalist and prolific creative force Ellen Kempner, Their second album “A Place I’ll Always Go”,  released June 16th on Polyvinyl Record Co. The collection is a frank look at love and loss, cushioned by indelible hooks and gently propulsive, fuzzed-out rock. As Kempner explains, “A lot of it is about loss and learning how to let yourself evolve past the pain and the weird guilt that comes along with grief.” 

Creative force Ellen Kempner is revered for her distinct, whispery alto, sterling musicianship and honest, wry lyrics. Very proud to share this new video for “Room” animated/directed by the amazing Rozalina Burkova.

Rozalina captured femme friendship/love in such a beautiful way that I feel perfectly represents the song. so lucky to have worked with her.

“Room” is taken from Palehound’s new album ‘A Place I’ll Always Go,’ out now!

Have you heard the new Lomelda album yet? I’m streaming it right now and on the verge of tears, it comes out really soon you have to check it out.

Other things you should check out are the new Tall Friend and Thunder Dreamer! Why? Because they rule AND they’re both coming on tour with us soon which is awesome.  I really can’t wait to play with/forge deeper friendships with them. I can’t wait to tour again in general, our last tour with Waxahatchee was super fun.

Ellen Kempner of Palehound.

Palehound is the songwriting project of Ellen Kempner, who began releasing solo material under the name in 2013. She formed a touring band in the fall of that year, and released a 7″ through Exploding in Sound Records a few months later. Kempner has been lauded for clever, introspective lyricism which sits at the forefront of the band’s official debut, “Dry Food.” Nearly every note on the release was played by Kempner herself, and her personal touch lives in all eight tracks. “Dry Food” is barely half an hour, which is not for lack of material, but is a reflection of Kempner’s skillful songwriting. She doesn’t waste a single measure, dishing out somber, poignant declarations with a simple clarity of thought.

Kempner studied jazz and classical guitar at Sarah Lawrence and the influence finds its way into the core of Palehound’s style. Kempner’s guitar work is colorful, tactile, and frenetic. She noodles over hazy melodies, climbs scales, and bounces between expressive chord progressions with so much ease that it exists as an extension of herself. The way in which Kempner delivers powerful guitar work as a complement to her dark, flowering voice is where Palehound truly shines. At times she’s all-out shredding, showing her command over the fretboard while adding an uplifting edge to the track. She combines this with a booming rhythm section and creative song construction to create bedroom pop in its most refined form.

Watch the three-piece perform tracks from their debut on Audiotree Live.


Healthier Folk, Molly, Psycho Speak, Dry Food, Seekonk, Dixie,

Palehound perform on Audiotree Live, November 20, 2015.

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“A Place I’ll Always Go” is the follow-up to 2015′s excellent debut “Dry Food” . Led by Ellen Kempner, Dry Food was an easy album to become enamored with. Chock full of 90s riffs and Kempner’s spot-on lyrics; it was and is on constant rotation.

A Place I’ll Always Go is a little tougher to connect with initially but no less rewarding. The album was born during a time of loss and new love. Kempner lost not only her grandmother, but a very close friend; tough at any age but especially so at that bullet-proof part of your life known as your 20s. As all this was going on, Kempner began a new relationship. “The album is also about learning how to find love, honestly, after loss,” says Kempner.

“Feeling Fruit” is among the best work Kempner has done. It is a gentle ballad where Kempner emerges into the world after a time of mourning. Supported primarily by her able picking, Kempner’s whispered lyrics really pack a punch.“If You Met Her” is another gut-punch of a tune. Wishing for her deceased friend to meet her new love, Kempner’s lyrics speak to someone wise beyond her years.

Mixed in with the ballads, there are a couple of fuzzy rockers. The lead single Flowing Over is about using sad songs as a coping mechanism. The fact that its a rocking tune really works here (and the video is outstanding as well). Carnations is another winner. Its another rocker but it feels like Kempner is letting is on some secrets as she delivers her vocals in a hushed manner; almost hiding beneath the backing music.

Kempner has the chops to be a force for years to come. If she keeps knocking out efforts like Dry Food and A Place I’ll Always Go, I see no reason that doesn’t come true.

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The debut LP from Boston indie rock band Palehound is inspired by leader Ellen Kempner’s breakup. But like her former camp counselor and roommate, Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis, Kempner never lets a sad jam wallow. Her songs are full of odd little about-turns that elevate Dry Food above the usual plainspoken acoustic indie fare.

On 2013’s Bent Nail EP, Palehound’s Ellen Kempner sang about taking a carrot for a pet in order to stave off late-teen loneliness. She makes similarly childlike gestures on her debut album. “You made beauty a monster to me, so I’m kissing all the ugly things I see,” she seethes at an ex in a so there voice on Dry Food’s title track. It’s the most deliciously futile form of revenge and reclamation: doing the opposite.

Dry Food is partially a product of the 21-year-old Boston-dwelling songwriter’s first big breakup—the deeper kind of solitude of having known and lost someone. Its sound captures the Herculean efforts required to survive the ensuing slump: “All I need’s a little sleep and I’ll be good to clean and eat,” she sings in a medicated sigh on “Easy”, her acoustic guitar rising and dipping with the methodical pace of someone trying to make a new routine stick. But like her former camp counselor and roomate Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis, Kempner never lets a sad jam wallow: she kicks the end of the song into shape with a zippy electric guitar motif and some awkward, itchy squall.

It’s followed by “Cinnamon”, which takes the opposite tack, hooked around the kind of amiable, waterlogged psych burble that Mac DeMarco noodles in his sleep. Kempner sings dreamily about her worst self-defeating impulses, but is stirred from her reverie by a divine revelation that her life is becoming “a pretty lie”. Frantic drums force the song somewhere agitated and ascendant, but instead of bursting into some bright new phrase, the furor falls away like a captivating slo-mo bellyflop.

Kempner has a knack for these odd little about-turns that elevate Dry Food above the usual plainspoken acoustic indie fare. And like her old roommate, she often obscures her intentions between appealingly twisty language. “Mouth ajar watching cuties hit the half pipe/ I only feel half ripe/ Around healthier folk,” she sings on “Healthier Folk”. She distils her disgust at her own post-breakup malaise with perfectly understated images: “The hair that’s in my shower drain/ Has been clogging up my home,” she sings on “Dixie”. “And I try to scoop it up, but I wretch until I’m stuck.” It’s maybe the most straightforward song here, just fingerpicked acoustic guitar, but she messes at it like a cat dragging a mouse into a dark nook.

Saddest of all is closer “Seakonk”, where Kempner protests that she’s not alone, actually; she’s home watching TV with her parents, sister and their dogs. There’s a blithe fairground pirate ship sway to the song, which she closes with a jaunty “doo doo doo” that could have come from the credits of one of the cartoons she’s watching—only she lets the final note deflate with a groan. It’s at this point that Dry Food confronts the point it’s been evading: kidding yourself is no way to recover, and comfort offers little impetus to move on. Palehound’s discomfiting, unflinching debut suggests she knew it all along.

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I became enamored with Palehound, the band fronted by Ellen Kempner, when her debut album “Dry Food” came out in 2015. They play a great band of 90′s influence indie and Kempner is a boss on the guitar. A Place I’ll Always Go will be out on June 16th via the fine folks at Polyvinyl Records. Here’s some info on the record and the lead single.

The collection is a frank look at love and loss, cushioned by indelible hooks and gently propulsive, fuzzed-out rock. As Kempner explains, “A lot of it is about loss and learning how to let yourself evolve past the pain and the weird guilt that comes along with grief.”

“Flowing Over” rides a sweetly hooky guitar line, with Kempner using her upper register as an anxious vocal counterpoint to the riff’s infectious melody. The video offers a look at the tight-knit community, showmanship and sportsmanship of the bombastic Boston League Of Women Wrestlers (BLOWW). “The first time I saw BLOWW perform, their energy was so intoxicating that I couldn’t get them out of my mind for days” says Kempner. “Watching other women/non binary people exert so much of their time and energy into their passion, I immediately felt inspired to step up my game.”

“Working on this video was a dream come true,” added Heather Mack of BLOWW. “It was so cool to have a chance to document the real life, behind-the-scenes process of stepping into our badass rasslin’ personas, from wig taping to trash talking to the main event, where we got to show off our chops in a fun, supportive environment. We are huge fans of Palehound and were so honored to be asked to represent the energy of this song in such a unique and powerful way.

“Flowing Over” is taken from Palehound’s new album, A Place I’ll Always Go, out June 16th, 2017.

Palehound -

The Boston-based band Palehound released their debut full-length, Dry Food during the summer by way of Exploding In Sound Records. Since then, we’ve seen inventive videos for singles “Healthier Folk” and “Molly” and heard Ellen Kempner’s excellent cover of Kelly Clarkson’s “Miss Independent” This new video for “Cushioned Caging” was created by teens involved in Raw Art Works’ Real To Reel Film School, which is based in Massachusetts. Most of the clip takes place in a nameless waiting room somewhere.

This is your brain on drugs! The video for Palehound’s “Molly — off Ellen Kempner’s excellent Dry Food debut LP from last year — takes that age-old scare tactic and infamous PSA quite literally. It stars a cute little dude named EggGuy that gets fried up and served on a sandwich. After being eaten, he has some weird hallucinogenic effects on the consumer, which mostly involve deep thoughts about the circle of life and a lot of freaky moving images. Sounds like any trip ever! “EggGuy was concocted during a late morning brunch mishap,” co-directors Lara Jean Gallagher and Brian Kinkley explain. “We wanted to explore the frailty of life, what it means to have consciousness, and how much we could care about a pair of eyeballs. ‘Molly’ has just the right amount of weird sweetness to make this all seem really fun.”

From the debut album “Dry Food”, produced by Palehound and Gabe Wax. Released Aug 2015 on Exploding in Sound (US), and March 4, 2016 on  (ROW).

Palehound Dry Food

Sometimes Ellen Kempner spits words out like she can barely stand the taste, and her debut album Dry Food certainly covers disgusting things. Kempner cleverly dissects life’s wrinkly underbelly with light and airy folk-rock that oozes empathy and loathing in equal parts. There’s something animalistic about her music, a muted savagery that recalls our own evolutionary roots. Then her razor-sharp wit will reemerge, with a line like, “you made beauty a monster to me,” and her pointed intelligence snaps back into focus. Listening to Dry Food reminds you of the care that humans require though, and the oozing pain that results when we’re mistreated. Here, Kempner has issued a rebuff that’s vulnerable and strong-willed. That’s only natural.