May 16, 2019
There is so much to explore in Karen Haglof’s career. She started out playing with a band called The Crackers in a Minneapolis scene that included Curtiss A, The Suicide Commandos, The Suburbs, and Flamingo before bands like Soul Asylum, the Replacements, and Husker Du put that scene on the map nationally. If, like me, you’re unfamiliar with that bit of history, seek out a new documentary called Jay’s Longhorn, for which Haglof is interviewed. It’s the most Midwestern story you could imagine – a bunch of writers and musicians and fans deciding they want a punk and indie music scene, and then forming committees and canvassing neighborhoods to find places receptive to hosting music. And it worked.
Haglof eventually left that scene to pursue music in New York City, where she joined Band of Susans and created some heavy music with fellow guitarist Paige Hamilton, later of Helmut. Haglof was a hired gun guitarist and working at restaurants when she decided she needed to grow up and have a career. She didn’t choose an easy path. She went to med school eventually became an oncologist, a job she still does full time in New York City today. She had left music behind while she studied and made her way into her profession, but got the itch to play guitar again after seeing the guitar documentary It Might Get Loud with Jimmy Page, the Edge, and Jack White. This time, she started making music for herself and writing her own songs.
The new album, Tobiano, shows a blossoming of Haglof’s skills as a songwriter. The style and feel shifts from song to song, from the cool and groovy indie rock of “Tobiano Twirl” to the twang and train beat of “Humbled and Chastened,” the bouncy country of “Foothold” to the Jimmy Page-esque riffing of “These Are the Things” and the charging Velvets sound of “Favor Favor.” She enjoys the contrast, which is the story behind the title “Tobiano,” a term used to describe a horse with white and brown contrasting colors. You could apply that more universally to Haglof’s life as a rock and roller and oncologist. She finds time for music and she’s always writing down ideas, but she would never tour while she had patients to tend to. You can <a href="http://karenhaglof.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">find out more about her work at karenhaglof.com</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/karenhaglof?lang=en" rel="noopener" target="_blank">find her on Twitter under @karenhaglof</a>.
This week’s featured track is “What Yer Doing To Me” from Florida’s The Woolly Bushmen off their brand new album, In Shambles. Got to love that twangy reverb right off the bat on this track. It’s a certified garage guitar rocker, and if the name Woolly Bushmen makes you think of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs’ hit “Wooly Bully,” you’re in the right territory. Singer Simon Palombi has that same kind of bit and playfulness in his voice. The background vocals are also drenched in reverb here, which makes me think of that eerie sci-fi sound of the Pixies on “Where Is My Mind?” It’s great new music for your hi-fi, and you can f<a href="https://thewoollybushmen.bandcamp.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">ind it on BandCamp,</a> which pays the artist a bit better than some other platforms, or <a href="https://open.spotify.com/artist/5fqNJSuavsDeVzMG3hBfYo" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Spotify</a> and <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-woolly-bushmen/868768127" rel="noopener" target="_blank">iTunes</a>, and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Woollybushmen/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">keep up with them on Facebook</a>.