The folk-rock trio will play an album release show at Natalie's in Grandview tonight
On Linden Hollow’s 2018 debut EP, Luna, the local trio wanted to get away from a singer-songwriter vibe and embrace a fuller sound. On new album Light the Lanterns, the band aimed to go a step further, viewing the studio as an open-ended place for experimentation.
“I kept saying, ‘I don’t want this album to sound like a live show,’” said bassist and viola player Emily Ng. “I saw it as a great opportunity to try to do more and see how much sound we can create with three people.”
And so, in early 2019, Ng, Rebecca McCusker (vocals, guitar, piano) and Paige Vandiver (percussion) began studio sessions with producers Cory Scott and Jeff Straw. This time around, McCusker, who originally wrote the songs on synth, didn’t play any acoustic instruments, and Vandiver embraced all sorts of auxiliary percussion. On the song “Cape Cod Girls,” she incorporated the sound of a giant chain hitting the hardwood floor. On others she used a singing bowl, wooden frogs and the shutter sound from a Nikon camera.
“When you were filling out the outro in ‘Salem’ with all this percussion, I was like, ‘I don't know why you're doing that. This is so full already,’” said McCusker, speaking to Vandiver in a group Zoom chat. “And then when I got it back and listened to it, I'm like, ‘Oh, my God. It sounds like a forest!’”
McCusker also experimented vocally. “I do a kind of character acting in my voice on this album,” she said. “I was inspired by Bjork — specifically her song ‘Hunter.’ I loved her creepy, childlike vocals.”
Linden Hollow will celebrate the new album with a joint release show alongside the Devil Doves at 6 p.m. tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 14) at Natalie's Grandview.Get news and entertainment delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our daily newsletter
The band managed to finish recording most of the album before coronavirus-related shutdowns went into place, and the downtime over those next few months gave the trio time to let the songs percolate. Sometimes, the best thing was to walk away from them entirely. “You know when you get a Yankee candle, and you smell all the candles, and then you can't smell anything anymore? That's how I felt: 'I don't even know what this sounds like anymore,’” McCusker said.
Even though the nine songs on Light the Lanterns originated from different periods in McCusker’s life (some are only a couple of years old, while others date back to her late teens), thematically, they ended up fitting well into the Dumpster fire of 2020.
“There’s this concept of, I'm going to do what I feel is right, and I don't care about the judgment that's going to slam down on me,” said McCusker, pointing specifically to “Salem,” “Never Worn These Boots” and the title track. “Those three songs are the keystones of this album thematically, because all of them are about doing shit that tangibly pisses off other people, but you feel like you have to do it because it's important to you and it aligns with your values. … It ended up being really topical for 2020, this whole concept of, other people are going to judge me and ridicule me for being who I am and making the decisions I make. And people are going to misunderstand me for the decisions I make. But ultimately, it's not their decision to make.”
“It was born out of getting in some difficult conversations with friends and family about what's going on in the world,” McCusker continued, “and difficult conversations with family about, ‘What are you doing with your life? You're a 30-year-old woman. Why haven't you done this yet?’ And just feeling judged by the life I have. I quit corporate [life] and I started my own business. ... I don't need to live the normal way.”