It’s not hard to give a ballpark description of Young Widows’ sound, but pinpointing it is a whole other ball game.
“It’s heavy rock music, but it’s not classic rock and it’s not metal,” singer and guitarist Evan Patterson said. “There’s this gray area that doesn’t get explored because people want to belong to these genres or subgenres, but they lose sight of making new music, and that’s my whole goal with all of this: to make music I haven’t heard before.”
The core of Kentucky musicians used to have a more clear-cut sound. Young Widows arose from the shell of hard-core’s Breather Resist after its front man left. When Patterson and bassist Nick Thieneman took to sharing vocal duties, the sound became an amorphous blend of Swans, Nick Cave and Pink Floyd, while retaining something specific to only them.
“I want to be in a band that you can’t really compare to anything else,” Patterson said.
The only overarching theme is heaviness, which grew into darkness with the band’s latest disc, “In and Out of Youth and Lightness,” as Patterson fought through major life changes in the time between it and 2008’s “Old Wounds.”
“It was an important record for me to get out there. I went through a divorce about two years ago, and this kind of got it off my back,” he said. “My mood, as far as I was emotionally and physically, kind of came through in the songwriting. I was in a dark place, and I’m not going to be writing happy songs when I’m drinking all day and barely getting by, really.”
The result is the darkest, but also most progressive album yet, as the crew tinkered with vocal distortion and guitar-track layering for the first time in the studio.
“There were doors that were opened,” Patterson said, “a sound that we never had before that we can dip into and do more things with. Those sort of things were exciting to do and try out, because in the past, we haven’t tried those things out at all.”
The group took the new songs out on an East Coast jaunt weeks ago, which now brings them to the west, including Thursday’s stop at The Conservatory. Already, Young Widows salivate at the prospect of recording a new album, one that likely will carry forward with sonic changes, but somewhat ease out some of the gloom.
“All you do is grow in life, and it’s always going to progress, whether fans like it or not,” Patterson said. “It’s only natural to make a record that doesn’t come from the same ideas we used in the past. I want to play music I can play when I’m 50 years old, not music that I’m playing to 18-year-olds in an all-ages club in the middle of nowhere.”