Last year, Palehound, Ellen Kempner’s DIY indie rock project, released the album Black Friday, and it was great. Since then, Palehound have come out with the singles “See A Light” and “Your Boyfriend’s Gun,” and they’ve also released a series of covers: Yo La Tengo on the “Your Boyfriend’s Gun” B-side, Karen Dalton on Polyvinyl’s Stay Home compilation, Mirah on the You Think It’s Like This, But Really It’s Like This reissue. Today, Palehound have taken on a big one. They’ve covered Elliott Smith.
Specifically, Palehound have covered “Southern Belle,” the intense, seething track from Smith’s classic 1995 self-titled album. Kempner is a big, vocal Elliott Smith fan. Last year, she appeared on the podcast My Favorite Elliott Smith Song. This year, she wrote about Either/Or for Under The Radar. She doesn’t go into this one lightly.
Palehound’s version of “Southern Belle” just rules. Kempner keeps the teeth-gritting fury of the original, and she fleshes it out with full-band dynamics, building to a real clangor that was always under the song’s surface. She makes it sound like a Palehound song. Listen to the Palehound cover and the Smith original below.
Palehound’s “Southern Belle” cover is out now on the streaming platforms.