New Music: Sharon Van Etten – ‘Serpents’

Sharon Van Etten
Photo by David Greenwald

I saw Sharon Van Etten in a beautiful church at SXSW this year. She got a standing ovation. I couldn’t believe it, nor how consistently boring her songs were — I spent the whole set waiting for something other than an open chord to happen. “Serpents” solves that problem, surrounding the singer (whose vocals here ascend in distinguishability from “Is that Cat Power?” to “Is that the new Widowspeak? Pretty sure it’s not Cat Power”) with electric guitars that’d give Smokey the Bear nightmares and drum hits (from the Walkmen’s Matt Barrick) that land like Arctic hail. To Van Etten’s credit, even the lyrics bite harder: “You enjoy sucking on drinks / oh I will fall asleep / with someone other than you / I had a thought / you would take me seriously.” Suck on this, Lana Del Rey.

Sharon Van Etten – “Serpents”: mp3

(Tramp, which features every relevant Brooklyn indie rocker, is due Feb. 7, 2012, on Jagjaguwar)