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With a sound rooted in '90s D.I.Y. indie rock and grungy low-key folk, Palehound emerged in the mid-2010s as the project of Boston-based singer/songwriter El Kempner. Evolving from their lo-fi bedroom pop roots, Kempner soon cemented Palehound as a rock trio and joined the Polyvinyl roster for albums like 2017's well-received A Place I'll Always Go and 2019's Black Friday. They later formed the duo Bachelor with Jay Som and released the 2021 collaborative album Doomin' Sun. Still evoking '90s inspirations, Palehound returned with a more impulsive-sounding breakup album, Eye on the Bat, in 2023. Kempner came to music early, writing their first songs at the age of ten. Citing influences like Elliott Smith, Angel Olsen, and Kim Deal, their songs are confessional and often caustic with a wry, offbeat edge. While studying music at New York's Sarah Lawrence College, they released their debut EP, Bent Nail, on Exploding in Sound Records. A quirky mix of grunge-folk and '90s-influenced indie, the release garnered some buzz and Kempner eventually dropped out of school to focus their efforts on songwriting and recording Palehound's first full-length. Working with producer Gabe Wax (Wye Oak, Speedy Ortiz) and a newly minted rhythm section of drummer Jesse Weiss and bassist Nick Koechel, Kempner recorded their first LP, Dry Food, which was released in August 2015 by Heavenly Records. After switching over to Polyvinyl in early 2017, Palehound followed up with A Place I'll Always Go, a reflective album about love and loss that continued to streamline the band's sound. Working again with Wax as producer, Kempner and their bandmates -- Weiss and new bassist Larz Brogan --headed to California's Panoramic House Studios to record Palehound's third outing, the ruminative Black Friday, which arrived in June 2019. Teaming up with fellow bedroom pop enthusiast Jay Som, Kempner formed the duo Bachelor, and they released their debut LP, Doomin' Sun, in 2021. Kempner's next Palehound project was an officially designated breakup album. Working with producer Sam Owens (Sam Evian, Big Thief, Courtney Marie Andrews) and Brogan, who played bass and drums on most of the album, they strove for a rawer, live sound captured both at home and at Flying Cloud Recordings in the Catskills. Eye on the Bat arrived on Polyvinyl in July of 2023.
© Timothy Monger /TiVo


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