(03.2007, Cardboard Records)
Like an army of dark clouds devouring a vast Midwestern skyline, Gowns' debut album, Red State, is a dark, brooding storm of dangerous Americana. Architected by Ezra Buchla and Erika Anderson, Red State feels like a dilapidated town in the middle of nowhere between Salt Lake and St. Louis. Aside from its inherent, decomposed beauty, Red State also contains a loosed beast whose tense presence reeks of an impending attack throughout the album. What Gowns have created here is something of a beautiful horror. The songs alternate succinctly between Ezra and Erika on the lead vocals over tormented guitar and a few ominous, broken electronics treatments along with occasional drum flourishes from contributing member Corey Fogel. The effect is simultaneouly minimal and overpowering. As an album, Red State is a masterfully series of emotional highs and lows, perfectly sequenced, working cinematically like a Darren Aronofsky film. By the time Ericka's voice desperately croons over the last half of the closing track, the completion of the album feels like some harrowing, unfathomable journey. Gowns play kind of like an amalgamation of PJ Harvey, Bonne ‘Prince’ Billy, A Silver Mt. Zion and Sonic Youth in their grittiest forms. Who knew folk and noise would create such a satisfying marriage? And, even with all its' austerity, Red State makes for a highly repeatable, beautifully fractured ride. Red State is an album to marinate with; perfect for Halloween too!
Gowns - "White Like Heaven"