Louisville Noise Rock Trio Young Widows Finds Order in Chaos

In Music Stories by Mike Gibsonleave a COMMENT

Louisville rock trio Young Widows has forged an impressive nine-year career—including four fine full-length albums and an unwieldy armload of split releases—by finding order in chaos, beauty in cacophony.

Formed by members of erstwhile Louisville math-rock outfit Breather Resist, the band brings to bear a clangorous mix of left-of-center musical influences, goth and math rock and shoegaze and, most conspicuously, Dischord Records-style noise and punk. Co-frontman Evan Patterson says he and his fellows naturally gravitated toward playing noisy yet cerebral music because it afforded broader creative license.

“We were into heavy math rock and the hardcore punk of the late 1990s,” Patterson says. “I was always attracted to that music when I started playing guitar. It seemed like there were no limits to what you could do. I grew up going to all-ages shows in Louisville, punk and noise rock, and that world seemed like it was creatively the best for me to explore what I wanted to do on my instrument.”

The Widows’ aesthetic was probably best expressed on their second release, 2008’s Old Wounds, on Temporary Residence records. A fan favorite, Old Wounds is a seething, scabrous affair, full of torturous riffs and jarring textural shifts and vocals that weave through alternating fits of melody and dissonance. But Patterson says the Widows have evolved as they’ve gotten older. And their latest release, 2014’s Easy Pain, stands as their most focused and accessible record to date.

“At some point, I realized you didn’t need 60 riffs in a song,” Patterson says. “You need one riff that can create a mood, that has some soul to it. I’ve always been a fan of traditional choruses, traditional pop and rock songs. And I’ve never strayed too far from that formula. It’s still a matter of finding that element that is wonderful and catchy on some level.”

To be sure, no one will mistake the music on Easy Pain for light-hearted power pop. Still redolent of Dischord influences and marked by the occasional math-y turn of phrase, Easy Pain is a challenging record by most ordinary reckonings. But the rough edges on the latest platter are buffered, smoothed out by a polish that wasn’t present on earlier records, and the skronkier moments more often find a resolution that satisfies the ear without ever quite placating it.

Having served as the band’s primary songwriter for most of the Widows’ career, Patterson says he shared songwriting chores with bassist/vocalist Nick Thieneman and drummer Jeremy McMonigle in creating Easy Pain. The result, he says, is an album that is not only more cohesive and focused but was easier for the band members to record.

“The record before that was tough,” Patterson says, referring to In and Out of Youth, from 2011. “I had very specific ideas for how I wanted songs and arrangements, and it was very intense to work on. There were long rehearsals, and work that went on for weeks. For Easy Pain, it was much more straightforward and collaborative, so even though the music is sometimes harsh and abrasive, the record itself was a more relaxing experience.”

Patterson seems to feel the Young Widows are just getting started, nine years in. “I’m still finding new ways to use my voice,” says Patterson, who had never sung before the making of the Widows’ debut, Settle Down City, on Jade Tree Records in 2006.

“This record, I got to spend more time really figuring out what to do with my voice. My approach to songwriting, the specifics of how parts work together—the whole process has gotten more enjoyable.”


Young Widows play with Reverse the Curse at Pilot Light (106 E. Jackson Ave.) on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10. Admission is 18 and up. 

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