By – Jackie Lo
For those that love: Bachelor, Jay Som, Grandaddy, Elliott Smith, Waxahatchee, Soccer Mommy
The first song I ever heard from Palehound was “Holiest” off their Kitchen 7” back in 2014 and that one song made me an instant fan. Since then, their music has been a constant in my playlists with their 2015’s Dry Food, 2017’s A Place I’ll Always Go, 2019’s Black Friday, and Doomin’ Sun by El Kempner’s side project Bachelor (with Jay Som) which made my album of the year in 2021 . I’ve seen Palehound at Saturn twice, once opening for Waxahatchee in 2017 and once with PUP last year. It’s a beautiful experience watching the crowd mesmerized by El’s guitar slaying while everyone sings along to their favorite lines. It feels more like a living room show but on a big stage. We all feel like we know El. We all feel like we are El. When an artist is as open and intimate with their subject matter, you can’t help but feel a deep-rooted connection.
As someone who is accustomed to their Palehoud/El Kempner “fix” every two years (for the last 8 years) I was so ready to listen to the new Palehound album Eye On The Bat that is out today on Polyvinyl Records. El explains, “In the past, I’ve taken myself really seriously in the studio, and I’ve ended up with really serious-sounding records, this one – it’s a break up record. I wanted it to sound raw. I wanted it to sound like I was feeling – very much in control, and out of control, at the same time.” And it does just that.
Eye On The Bat opens with “Good Sex”, an intimate and brief peek into a relationship trying to hang on and resolves into “Independence Day”, a song that will make any Grandaddy fan feel right at home, where the relationship comes to a fiery crash. The imagery of breaking up on Independence Day with celebrations happening outside while your life is falling apart and the line, “Living life like writing a first draft/Cuz there is nothing to it if I can’t edit the past and/Even if I could it would kill me to look back/No I don’t wanna see the other path” makes this song one of my favorites.
Following is the apex, the first song written for this album, and still my favorite track, “The Clutch”. It’s definitely going to be one of my favorite songs of the year and it’s everything I love about a Palehound song including the present and powerful vocal delivery, guitar riffs, solos, and bends that I can’t wait to see live and it ends with a beautiful break, “You didn’t need my help. You didn’t need my help.” that will absolutely break your heart.
I saw Killer Mike perform this week and he said “You’re going to be the villain in someone’s story”. We’re all the bad guy sometimes and Palehound isn’t afraid to admit it in “My Evil”. They take you through opening up and trying to trust (and be trusted) again in “Head Like Soup” that will have you singing the “Oooos” in this song to the top of your lungs, and “Route 22” that has gorgeous Beatles-esque harmonies, and again in “Right About You” with Elliott Smith/Jon Brion melodies that feels like a small fading window into every beautiful memory you don’t want to lose.
The chorus of the title track “Eye On The Bat” is one of my favorite lines and perfectly sums up the album. “Cuz suckers will all tell you to keep/Watching for the ball/Better than that/Keep your eye on the bat”. Eye On The Bat is a lovely and introspective journey through the human experience. It will make you feel like a teenager opening your favorite CD just to unfold the liner notes to read them again and again with every listen. It’s a breakup album that will make you reminisce about every relationship you’ve ever had including with yourself. The good, the bad, and yes, sometimes even the ugly.
Pick up your copy of Eye On The Bat today at your local record store and if you are in Birmingham only at SEASICK RECORDS
Written by: Jackie Lo
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