Spider Silk Dress
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Spider Silk Dress

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


So I am sitting in this decrepit Spanish harbor bar, hanging out with carnies and sipping on straight moonshine, when the sultry voice of a gypsy singer hits me softly. Okay, I am not really in Spain. But I am really listening to the last Spider Silk Dress record, 'Tincture', released at the beginning of the year, and that's pretty damn close to the Spanish dive experience. In a good way. If you've never been to a Spanish dive, you can also imagine what the music would be like at an old freak show, to David Lynch's Elephant Man, or to the French movie City of the Lost Children. Hopefully, you see where this is going. Spare bass lines that sound like they could come from a standup bass, parsimonious drums in Ringo Starr fashion (when less is more), eerie, borderline nightmarish harmonies and Spanish guitar riffs. 'Tincture' is all that, arranged brilliantly or darkly rather. It will a;so astound you with solid guitars, which are reminiscent of the latest, most shadowy Queens of the Stoned Age stuff, and dizzy you with echoey Elliott Smith-esque pianos, played in an empty room, as in the track "Precious Fear." It can also make you shake your hips with happier tracks like "Behind the Piano", which has some of the coolest dancy bass lines in the genre. The album seamlessly flies by through all sorts of emotion. Front lady Amber Padgett, can really do it all. She channels Nancy Sinatra at her saddest and most intense, in the first track "Too Bright" and again on "Be Careful." She can also be Rock 'n' Roll as in the songs "Starlette," and "Paper Dolls." Think of a more talented and much nicer version of Courtney Love. 'Tincture' is definitely one of the most original, well-produced, must have albums of 2005, and is sure to satisfy your Rock 'n' Roll urges while indulging you with the ancient European folk vibe revival, headed by bands such as a Hawk and a Hacksaw or Neutral Milk Hotel. It's pure somber goodness, mixed with a dash of hopefulness. Yes, it's that good.
- Alive & Kicking / Corine Stofle


It is spring, and Amber Padgett's Ireland--a dream of green hills, oily brown whiskey and thick-voiced brogue--is turning out to be a bit more real than dream. Of course, much of what we think of as “Irish” is certainly present, but the enjoyment is somehow stifled when one is homeless and sleeping on the street or, in this case, in a bus station with an acoustic guitar strapped to one’s leg, a foil against the possibility of Irish theft. One person’s means to make a meager afternoon’s living playing on street corners is another person’s quick trip to the pawnshop for a pocketful of jingling coins.

That was the story of Amber Padgett’s life for a few months at the turn of this millennium. She was literally living on the streets in Ireland, having fled Folsom for no other reason than the fact that she had grown to loathe it. It may be that the experience provided the turning point for Padgett’s life, although she doesn’t quite put it in those terms herself. Nonetheless, her experience in Ireland represented a period of time in which she relied heavily on playing her acoustic guitar and wrote what would be the first of many songs.

There’s more to the story--a brief and ruinous relationship with another Sacramento expatriate named Jacob Golden, for one--but the important point, for the time being, is Padgett’s songs. When she returned to Sacramento, she rented a room from longtime friend and studio owner Jason Sewell, owner-operator of Boogie Dungeon and member of prog-rockers Sadly Temporary. She recorded her first song with Sewell on bass and current boyfriend Sam Coe (of Low Flying Owls) on drums. Then, she wrote another and recorded that. Then another. Before long, she was fast on the way to recording an album and started thinking in terms of putting together a band.

The end result is Spider Silk Dress, a band that is a vehicle for Padgett’s songwriting (although the band is moving in more collaborative directions with its newer material). The once-solo CD project Padgett had recorded with Sewell and Coe has become the band’s first release, Tincture. Although the current band (with Sewell on bass, singer-songwriter Kevin Dockter on guitar and Sadly Temporary’s Al Martin on drums) isn’t represented on the release, it’s an interesting--if somewhat scattered--listening experience. Imagine a band of ghosts playing sad love songs in a circus. If you’d prefer a worldlier example, it’s like Tom Waits arranging Kurt Weill songs for Marianne Faithfull, with occasional blasts of noise from the Jesus and Mary Chain.

“I guess the sound I’m aiming for is a dark, sexy, circusy kind of thing,” Padgett explained. And then she added, giggling, “But then, I’m a dumb girl with bleached hair.” She has a certain youthful and artistic energy about her. It manifests itself in her clothing (a sort of thrift-store-meets-punk-rock aesthetic), her hair color (blue one week and cotton-candy pink the next) and especially her broad, infectious smile and laughter.

That laughter is masked somewhat in Spider Silk Dress’s music. Although there isn’t a lot of Irish musical influence present on Tincture, there is a sense of loneliness in the music, as if the shuddering isolation of those nights in an Irish bus station never quite left Padgett’s soul.

“So, when you see the sun,” Padgett croons on “Too Bright,” Tincture’s opening track, “go push through everyone, and tilt your head up high and say the sun’s too bright.” The line is, in some ways, a nod toward a sort of willful depression à la the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black.” It’s also quite effective, particularly given Padgett’s relatively upbeat vocal style.

In the end, it’s that mixture--the light and the dark--that makes the music of Spider Silk Dress so compelling. It’s a mixture well worth listening to. - Sacramento News & Review


Discography

-"Tincture" LP
-"Behind the Piano" has been in regular rotation on and streamed on popular Sacramento station kWOD 106.5
-"Because" has been streamed on Internet Radio Station 3wk
- two tracks on the 2004 The Americans Are Coming Recordings compilation "Talent Show"
- one track on the 2006 the Americans Are Coming Recordings compilation "Round Up"

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Once upon a time, in a land not unlike Sacramento, CA, two little musicians tripped over each other and into a project called Spider Silk Dress.
Amber Padgett, a young vivacious lass, brought to the table the influences of Bjork, Fiona Apple, Tom Waits, and Ella Fitzgerald, paired with a cruddy old accordian that was salvaged from a demolition site. Kevin Dockter brought with him the influences of Blonde Redhead, Modest Mouse, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Elliott Smith. His dichotomous guitar work embraces both the complex and serene aspests of songwriting.
As a complete piece of musical art, Spider Silk Dress plucks dark and hauntingly beautiful strands of a tightly woven web, vibrating with the unforgettable melodies and choruses, adamantly sticking with the listener long after hearing the music. the songwriting embraces these darker elements in an innocent almost childish manner, evoking images of a Tim Burton-like landscape. Sinister circus tones, twisted hooks, and complex melody and harmony interaction guide one through unique and off kilter indie pop experience.
Sacramento News and Review described the music as "... a combination of ugly chords and pretty harmonies, unpredictable vocal lines and solid musicianship."
Alive and Kicking reviewed the album, "'Tincture' is definitely one of the most original, well-produced, must-have albums of 2005, and is sure to satisfy your rock n' roll urges while indulging you with ancient European folk vibe revival..."
Spider Silk Dress has played a variety of venues since the end of 2004 and has shared the stage with such musical acts as Black Eyed Snakes (featuring Alan Sparhawk from Low), Cake, Dandy Warhols, The Court and Spark, Low Flying Owls, and Frank Jordan.
Spider Silk Dress will be recording a new LP in the spring of 2006 after completing a two week two of the west coast.