Salem "Brustreet"

Salem "Brustreet"
I’ve always wondered how Bruce Springsteen would sound if one of his songs was covered by a gothy bunch of shoegazers, and low and behold, now I know!

Salem are a twosome from various cities across the U.S. who are probably the greatest thing I’ve discovered this summer. I say they’re gothy shoegazers but that’s only half of their deal. They also screw and chop their shit, adding a strong and otherworldly crunk element to their sound. It sounds pretty fucked up, but that’s because it is fucked up — beautifully fucked up.

Having just signed to the newly launched Acephale (founded by Patrik North, who worked for Summer Lovers Unlimited), they recently released their unfairly limited edition EP, aptly titling the thing Yes I Smoke Crack. And oddly the duo have two MySpace accounts. Fittingly it’s a "his” and "hers” arrangement, dividing the individual styles. "He” likes the Southern hip-hop flavour, slowing everything down to give the vocals a demonic overtone, and truth be told, it has as much in common with dubstep as it does anything. "She” favours haunting melodies and ethereal textures with programmed beats that suggest Liz Fraser is now fronting the Knife. This divide will no doubt produce a very interesting full-length, if and when the time comes.

This tribute to the Boss, however, is "her” song, and also an interpretation of the heartbreaking "Streets of Philadelphia.” Keeping that famous slow beat for the opening, once the synths come in, it’s as if you’ve been struck down by that twist in a David Lynch film. The vocals are icy but not detached, almost like an angel in a meat locker laying down her track. It’s barren, spooky, unsettling and sublime.