Brooklyn Queer Country Band Karen & the Sorrows Release Debut Album
Voted one of FAR Chart’s best debut albums of 2014.
“The debut album by Brooklyn’s queer country dynamos Karen & the Sorrows is perfect for purists who like their twang with the torch-song grit of Dolly or Loretta rather than the pop-star polish of Miranda or Carrie. Their antique sound comes in equal measure from Elana Redfield’s haunting pedal steel work and from singer/songwriter Karen Pittelman’s unvarnished heartbreak.”—Bust Magazine, #6 on The Hotness List, August/September 2014
“Karen Pittelman leads the quartet in slow songs about heartbreak while Elana Redfield plays the pedal steel guitar to perfection.” AfterEllen
“Some of the best alt-country being made. Twang-drenched drown-your-sorrows music about bad relationships, abandoned lovers and endless heartbreak. In other words, pure country.” (Billings Gazette)
“Allusive, attractive but distantly menacing songs. Country keeps evolving, and Karen & the Sorrows are taking it to a place it’s never been before—a good and creepy one.” New York Music Daily
“Soaring tributes to lost love and charming ballads.” No Depression
“They write loss and heartbreak, and goddamn are they good at it. The songs are quiet, but devastating, with a good mix of dirty electric guitar and absolutely haunting pedal steel.” Fuck Yeah! Queer Music
“The best word I can think of when describing these talented musicians is ‘graceful’—everything simply fits into place.” Adobe and Teardrops
The Names of Things is the debut full-length album from Brooklyn queer country band Karen & the Sorrows. Shaped around the high, lilting vocals of singer-songwriter Karen Pittelman and Elana Redfield’s lonesome pedal steel guitar, these are tales of broken hearts, broken bones, and the languages that get lost when love is gone. There’s a strain of ghostly prettiness running through these songs that calls to mind Julee Cruise. But that softness is paired with a dark twang and a strong beat that roots the band in the tradition of the 1970s country rock—from Pure Prairie League to Neil Young—that Redfield and Pittelman grew up with. Working together with engineer Charles Burst (Crystal Stilts, The New Pornographers, Gang Gang Dance) at Brooklyn’s Seaside Lounge, the Sorrows have created an alt-country sound that is all their own.
The band is also at the center of a growing queer country scene, building community for people who love country music even if country music doesn’t always love them back. They co-produce an annual Gay Ole Opry music festival, sharing the stage with bands like Mount Moriah, Humble Tripe, and local favorites My Gay Banjo, and host Branded Saloon’s popular Queer Country Monthly. When the time came to record, Pittelman called on many of their local friends to help out, including a chorus of musicians who have played the Queer Country Monthly and who close out the album’s final song “Star.”
Though Pittelman grew up in New York City, far from country’s stronghold, her father was traveling to Nashville for much of her childhood, shooting commercials with legends like George Jones and the Oak Ridge Boys for his company Heartland Music’s compilation albums. She was singing in a punk band when her country past first caught up with her in 2009. After a year of secretly writing country songs and dreaming about the sound of the pedal steel, she took it as fate when her band was booked to share a bill with the Low & the Lonesome—a local country group featuring Redfield on the pedal steel guitar. The two formed the Sorrows in 2011, joining forces with drummer Tami Johnson and bassist AJ Lewis and, in 2014, bassist Braque Hershberger. In 2012, they released Ocean Born Mary, a four-part song cycle EP based on a ghost story from Redfield’s New Hampshire hometown. A constant fixture in New York City’s clubs and bars, the Sorrows have since built a strong local following. The band completed an 11-date east coast tour in support of the album after its release in the summer of 2014. They are currently planning a New England tour for August 2015 and hoping to revisit the south this fall.
Download and Streaming
Suggested tracks: Just a Little Heartbreak, Around the Bend, and Star.
(click to download)
If you’d like more information, or to schedule an interview with the band, please call Karen Pittelman at 212-729-8845 or email karenandthesorrows[at]gmail.com.