San Francisco’s Grass Widow is a lovely mess. At first listen, skittery drums underscore rumbling bass lines. Wiry guitars entwine with angelic female harmonies that make sense in that universe ruled by the B-52s. And ultimately it feels like it’s all going in different directions, functioning with its own internal logic “like outsider art,” says Grass Widower Hannah Lew.
On second listen, the disparate elements start to snap into focus. There’s some vintage surf-rock and girl-group sounds in Grass Widow, along with some arty post-punk experimentation (think Joy Division, or The Fall). Like fellow garage-rock/girl-group revivalists Vivian Girls and Best Coast (but minus the warm fuzz those bands utilize), Grass Widow breaks rock ’n’ roll down to its DIY elements — which is pretty punk rock.
“We’re all equally dedicated to the band,” says Lew, who also mentions that the band members gather inspiration from one another rather than outside influences. She says the three-piece is definitely inspired by the punk-rock ethos. She says she likes to feel “this person had to make those sounds” when listening to music, and to be reminded that “anyone can do it … Which is a nice thing to hear,” she adds.
Grass Widow toured with Wild Flag after opening on the Portlandia live tour and appearing in a Portlandia skit. In May the group releases Internal Logic (all puns intended) on its own label HLR Records.
Grass Widow plays 7:45 pm Saturday, May 5, at the Willamette Valley Music Fest on campus; FREE. — William Kennedy