The Key Studio Sessions: Grace Vonderkuhn

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Singer-guitarist Grace Vonderkuhn has been making weird and wild rock music out of her home city of Wilmington for a hot minute, and 2018 is poised to be a breakout year for her.

Her latest full-length, Reveries, is on the way via EggHunt Records, and it’s already attracted attention from tastemakers at GoldFlakePaint (which premiered the undeniable rager “Worry” back in December), NPR Music (which recently included “Bad Habits” on their All Songs Considered podcast) and The Grey Estates (which just yesterday unleashed the cosmic “Cellophane” into the world).

So, what’s different this time around that Vonderkuhn is getting all this love? The record collects ten of the best songs she’s ever written, for one thing. Her style has a newfound focus as well, moving from the trippy fringey home-recorded psych that marked her earliest jams (though, to be fair, Reveries is still plenty trippy) and into a hard-edged, hard-hitting take on punky fuzz rock (or fuzzy punk rock, if you prefer). And her lyrics are like elliptical puzzles; filled with detailed, vivid imagery about solitude, happiness, life, and death; “there is no pain when you’re wrapped in cellophane” is a macabre af hook that gives me serious Twin Peaks vibes. At the same time, her words are delivered in quizzical puzzles that remain so even after weeks of unpacking.

Vonderkuhn’s band is tight as heck, too, as we see in this performance recorded live in WXPN studios. With Brian Bartling on bass and Dave Mcgrory on drums, the music is alive and urgent, teetering on unhinged but solidly in control; the knockout four-song set kicks off with the hammering aggression of “Radio Silence” from Vonderkuhn’s 2015 self-titled album before launching into a pair of tunes from Reveries and closing on a solo performance of the self-titled record’s “God Bless Your Soul.”

Watch a video of the band performing “Cellophane” below, then listen to the entire session on Soundcloud. For more, pick up a pre-order of Reveries from EggHunt Records, and catch Grace Vonderkuhn live tomorrow night, February 3rd, at Everybody Hits with Cherry, Eight, and Lowercase Roses. More information on that show here; later in the month, Grace and the band play The Saint in Asbury Park (February 22), 1984 in Wilmington (February 23) and War3house 3 in Swarthmore (February 23); details at her Facebook page.

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