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Palehound Music I’m Playing on Repeat

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

Over spring break, I saw my favorite band, Sleater-Kinney, in concert (which was a life-changing experience and is likely the subject of a forthcoming article). Opening for Sleater-Kinney was the four-piece rock band Palehound, fronted by El Kempner. I wasn’t previously familiar with Palehound, but in preparation for the concert, I checked out their music. “Eye on the Bat,” the title track from their most recent album, ended up being a January-defining song for me, but I still went into the concert ready to be fairly surprised by their set; I hadn’t dug too deep into their discography. 

My friends and I were blown away by Palehound; their performance definitely made a fan out of me and I knew I must listen to more of their music. Here are a few of my favorite Palehound songs at the moment:


It’s not an exaggeration to say I’m obsessed with “Room,” a track off of Palehound’s 2017 album A Place I’ll Always Go; I’m continually finding the verses swirling around in my head, but that’s not enough—I want to truly get my fix by listening to the song. Through lyrics like “Sun above her, never had a lover in my room,” the song reflects the feeling of newness and significance that comes with a young relationship and the presence of another person in your life. In a bittersweet way, it also reflects part of the queer experience: “Call us sinners but we eat all our dinners in my room.”

“The City”

“The City” comes off Palehound’s 2019 album Black Friday. Like “Room,” it’s quiet and melodic, driven by the lyrical narrative. “The City” imagines the speaker’s lover as their city, but one who is pushing them out; it opens with the lyrics “My body grows, my city shrinks / I feel her hands around my waist / Not like we’re dancing, / Like she’s pushing me away.” As the speaker moves throughout the city, they acknowledge the seemingly imminent end of the relationship. The mundanity of the city streets makes the song feel universal; although I can’t quite make out the story, I feel like I understand it.

“The Clutch”

Off of Palehound’s 2023 album Eye on the Bat, “The Clutch” reflects the band’s current sound more so than the other songs on this list. “The Clutch” tells the story of a relationship fraught with issues: “You’re driving me with every limb / My face in the glove / And if you release the clutch / We’ll both come to a screeching halt.” El Kempner’s vocals convey the simultaneous anger and hurt felt as a result of this relationship. The song culminates in its outro, where the phrase “You didn’t need my help” is repeated 23 times before trailing off as a guitar brings the song to a close. I remember this in their opening set at the Sleater-Kinney concert, and it was so powerful to hear in person; the emotional intensity and tension as the song progresses was palpable in the way that it only can be when performed live. 

Honorable mention: “If You Met Her” off of A Place I’ll Always Go. This one is about the grief following the death of a friend, and the lyrics tell that story pretty explicitly. Oftentimes I’ll superimpose a song’s lyrics onto a situation in my own life, to personalize the song’s meaning. But, with “If You Met Her,” it’s different. When I listen, it feels as though Palehound is intimately letting me into their story, and I find the song beautiful. 

Since their formation ten years ago, Palehound has compiled an impressive oeuvre, showcasing a range of sounds and narratives. Live in concert, they brought a striking energy and amazing sound; they’ve cemented themselves as a band I’m playing on repeat and as a formidable figure in Indie Rock.

Raised in Southern California, currently studying English Lit at UC Davis. Banana pudding enthusiast and aspiring corgi owner.