Tag Archives: Friend’s Records

Introducing: Jenny Besetzt

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Jenny Besetzt. Photo by Cole Giordano.

In North Carolina’s research triangle of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, where Piedmont blues and psych-leaning indie rock are popular (Merge is headquartered in Durham), Jenny Besetzt stands out. Listening to the first two tracks on their latest album Tender Madness, it’s tempting to file Jenny Besetzt alongside the droves of Joy Division and Cure sound-alikes that have popped up over the past year on Bandcamp. But frontman John Wollaber will be the first to admit that his heaviest influences don’t come from early post-punk. Instead, he found inspiration in the way pop songs were used to create dark moods in the soundtrack to Donnie Darko.

He’s also drawn to the melancholy voice of Scott Walker, particularly on Walker’s critically maligned 1984 record Climate of Hunter, of which Wollaber says, “it sounds like he just stumbled out of the ‘70s into a studio in the ‘80s that was full of really dated synths.” There’s a similar progression in the sound of Jenny Besetzt’s latest album, Tender Madness, which landed at the number six spot on our Best 100 Albums of 2016. What starts out with dark soundscapes and wiry basslines ends up, by the end of the album, in a much lighter place, culminating in a closing trio of synth-driven pop songs that wouldn’t feel out of place on an ‘80s teen film soundtrack.

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