Haunted Shed Conjures Eerie Southern Gothic Sound on ‘Faltering Light’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

If the press materials are to be believed, Athens-GA-based Haunted Shed came to be when singer/songwriter Etienne de Rocher pulled together some local musicians to help provide some ambiance and spooky vibes for an impromptu haunted house in his backyard shed. Hence the band’s name, and regardless of the truth, always print the legend!

And when you hear their debut, Faltering Light, you can easily get a sense of the vibe he was going for – much more eerie Southern Gothic than fake blood and ghoulish make-up music of The Misfits. The record kicks off with the instrumental “Archipelago (Reprise)” before moving into the breezy, almost poppy “Collections,” one of the album highlights, along with “Christmas Store”. What follows is a mix of atmospheric indie rock with dips into psychedelia and moody pop for a mostly satisfying, but sometimes repetitive experience. 

Along with de Rocher – who relocated to Athens from San Francisco where he started his career with an LP in 2006 – Haunted Shed includes The Glands drummer Joe Rowe, guitarist Dan Nettles (Kenosha Kid) and bassist/cellist Jacob Morris (Vic Chestnut, Patterson Hood). The music of Haunted Shed is quite a big step away from the more folk-infused sound of his Bay Area output, but it’s obvious his confidence has grown as a songwriter in the decade-plus since that first effort.  

There are not any real deep themes to the songs here, as the lyrics seem pretty secondary to the music. That’s not necessarily a bad thing with a song like the infectiously addictive “Christmas Store,” told in first person from an employee setting up the instore decorations, with a pulsating beat threaded throughout. At times, de Rocher vocals are hard to hear, drowning in a swirl of guitars and synth.

The record itself is not exactly a passive listen but grows more and more satisfying with each successive listen.  

 

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