Akron-based guitarist and vocalist Rachel Carano has a voice and style that encapsulates all that is revered about timeless rock ‘n’ roll. Her blend of divine falsettos and gritty melodies, intertwined with blues-driven guitar, could place her music in any decade. A few minutes into the listening experience of her latest release, “Evil Hides,” recalls the energy and power of modern female rock icons like Bonnie Raitt, Veruca Salt and The Gits. But stepping back to view the full picture, this is not Carano’s solo endeavor. This is Miss Dreadful, where Carano is joined by her partner and bass player Johnathan Hatter, creating highly conceptual tunes with a perfectly palatable garage-rock sound.
The band’s B-movie-inspired lyrics, horror-rock aesthetic and dark song names that sound more like titles of Ed Wood films introduce a fresh perspective when listening to the 11-song rock release. “Evil Hides” kicks off with the album’s eponymous track, which opens with tribal drums and moody guitar chords. Carano’s vocals slither in to set a dark, velvety tone, which is then shaken alive as the speed picks up, and soon the drums and vocals complement to create an unmistakable classic rock chorus. The track then slides back into the dirge-like tone of its opening and volleys again to the point where it picks up. The ebb and flow, mixed with honeyed vocals and dynamic instrumentation, make this a powerful opening track.
The album carries on to the hyper-bluesy “Leave Your Friends Behind,” followed by drum-heavy “Howling” and standout track, “Schizophrenic Psychopathic Love.” It isn’t until halfway through the album with “Bitches’ Blood” that the horror-themed lyrics overshadow the tight blues chords and aggressive drum beats. Suddenly, Miss Dreadful’s outward appearance while performing — black lipstick, kohl-rimmed eyes and vampiric clothing — brings elements of darkness to the forefront. Without a careful listen to Miss Dreadful’s penned words, the band is a tight, polished, female-fronted blues-rock outfit. A deeper dive unveils the evil hiding below the surface, which makes for a more inspired and focused listening experience.
Like any good piece of horror-related media, there’s no shortage of twisted humor and tongue-in-cheek aspects of Carano’s songwriting throughout “Evil Hides.” The blend of goth sensibilities and skillful blues songwriting elevates Miss Dreadful from prosaic local rock band to memorable group of performers. Live performances can range from a fully-fleshed rock group to a stripped-down acoustic duo, adding to Carano and Hatter’s eclectic yet universally appealing musicianship.
Hear the 11-track album at missdreadful.bandcamp.com.