Outer edges: True Widow, Dum Dum Girls

True Widow

As mentioned from Day 1 of this site, we’re here for meat, mead, and metal, but we also reserve the right to visit some music that isn’t necessarily metal but that we like and that maybe you’ll like as well. Sometimes there’s some really obvious crossover, and sometimes there isn’t. But whatever.

Today, we have two bands to talk about, one of which could be right up the alley of a doom and drone fan, while the other … well, let’s just say I’m going to have a tougher time justifying its presence on this site but that I’m going to tie to a record that certainly DOES have a clear home on Meat Mead Metal. Again, metal absolutely rules my life, and I’m sure there are many of you who frequent this site daily who feel the same way. But I also have interests that go elsewhere, and for those who also have a wide variety of tastes, check out either, or both, of these albums because they are highly recommended.

First up is Dallas, Texas, trio True Widow, who we discussed earlier this year when they dropped their excellent full-length “As High as the Highest Heavens and From the Center to the Circumference of the Earth,” a record that’s a serious contender for my year-end top 10 list and is one hell of a mouthful to say. The band’s shoegazey, slo-core, droning rock sound is intoxicating, and the dual vocals of guitarist Dan Phillips and bassist Nicole Estill make their mix even more satisfying. Their singing is fairly laid back, by the way, and you don’t get a lot of energetic volts from the band, but you’re not supposed to get that here. Instead, the adrenaline comes from how they make your mind wander.

True Widow are now releasing a new EP called “I.N.O,” made up of songs from the “As High as the Highest Heavens …” session, as well as some material they drummed up in their practice space. It’s only five songs long and runs about a half hour, but it’s another glimmering collection from the band that’s certainly worth your while. The piece kicks off with a folk acoustic instrumental piece that leads you into the 14 minute, 25 second title cut, which Estill leads vocally and that bleeds at a blissful mid-tempo pace before eroding into noise as the song concludes. “Bathyscaphe” has Phillips in control of the singing, and the piece is a fuzzier, more up-tempo number that reminds a bit of Sonic Youth. “S.Y.B.” rumbles and plods along, feeling warm and sugary; while closer “S.F.H.D.” has more of a ’90s college rock feel, with both Phillips and Estill blending their voices and drummer Timothy Starks driving them home.

This is a fantastic stop-gap release from a band that’s become one of my favorites this year. You can find their stuff on Kemado, a label that houses metal powerhouses such as The Sword and Saviours, bands whose music sound nothing like True Widows’ but certainly makes sense being played next to theirs.

NOTE:  The original post said the band is from Austin. They’re from Dallas. I corrected it above. I suck.

For more on the band, go here: http://truewidow.com/

To buy “I.N.O.,” go here: http://www.kemado.com/shop/true-widow-i-n-o/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.kemado.com/home/

Dum Dum Girls

So, the sophomore album from Dum Dum Girls probably doesn’t scream headbanging magic, and it shouldn’t. I also admit I’m really pushing it by including them on what’s mainly a metal site, my tastes aside, but I can’t help but champion this album. “Only in Dreams” is a great collection, one that takes the band’s girl-group throwback aesthetic and adds more elements, such as ’70s and ’80s rock such as the Go Go’s and the Pretenders, punk, and even shoegaze cloudiness reminiscent of Mazzy Star. I admit I’ve gotten caught up with a lot of other artists often related to the Dum Dum Girls, such as Vivian Girls and Frankie Rose, but these ladies just go above and beyond here and rise well above those other acts.

Noticeable right away is the focus placed on Dee-Dee Penny’s vocals, which have a far greater presence this time around and often just soar out of your speakers. She sounds amazing here, and her singing is back to what is was like when she was with Grand Ole Party, only with more confidence and a total grasp of pop sensibility. Much of the record, thematically, focuses on Penny’s mother’s death to cancer, and in case you’re not aware, a vintage photo of her mom was on the cover of the band’s first full-length “I Will Be.” So as bustling and hook-filled as much as this sounds, and as great as it would feel playing loudly at a party, there’s an inescapable sadness that permeates the mood. Listen closely to songs such as “Caught in One” and “Hold Your Hand,” and it becomes clear she’s in mourning. Now, a loose association to the metal world is what, thematically, comprises the debut album “A Fragile King” from death metal supergroup Vallenfyre. That band’s singer Greg Macintosh (Paradise Lost) lost his father to cancer, and much of what you hear on this record also is awash in mourning.  I’m not suggesting the two bands’ fans will want to party down together, but what you hear lyrically on both records aren’t all that different from each other.

Yes, as noted, “Only in Dreams” is poppy and uptempo, with the exception of crushing gaze ballad “Coming Down,” but anyone with an open mind who likes great songwriting and powerful hooks should be able to get into “Bedroom Eyes,” the buzzy, dancey “Wasting Away” and hand-clap powered “Just a Creep.”

For more on the band, go here: http://wearedumdumgirls.com/

To buy “Only in Dreams,” go here: http://www.subpop.com/releases/dum_dum_girls/full_lengths/only_in_dreams

For more on the label, go here: http://www.subpop.com/

OK, so hopefully I didn’t lose you on this one, and if I did, then that’s just silly. Great music is great music. But if you’re still uncertain, come back tomorrow when we discuss a cement truck explosion of a sludge metal album.