Sat, Apr. 6th, 2013 · Mercy Lounge · $10

Tristen, TORRES & Forget Cassettes

Sat, Apr. 6th, 2013

Tristen, TORRES & Forget Cassettes

$10
Doors: 9:00pm
Show: 10:00pm
Ages: 18+
Mercy Lounge

Sat, Apr. 6th, 2013

Mercy Lounge
Doors: 9:00pm
Show: 10:00pm
Ages: 18+
$10
Get Tickets


Tristen, TORRES & Forget Cassettes

Tristen


→ Official Website

“If someone says, ‘That’s a trite, pop chord progression that everybody uses and it always sounds cheesy, then I want to try and use that, and make it sound good,” Tristen says. It’s that kind of contrarian spirit and confident moxie that makes the Nashville-based singer-songwriter stand head and shoulders above her Music City peers.

Nashville-based? Singer-songwriter? … Goes by her first name? Do those terms fill your head with expectations of a precious, pint-sized female crooning middle-of-the-road pop with a precious tear-in-beer twang? Well, don’t let them. Because, beyond Tristen’s sharp-witted lyrical savvy and sophisticated song-craft, her innate ability to defy expectations will leave you hanging on her every note, even in Nashville.

“I’m not from here,” she says of the city she migrated to in 2007. “We didn’t wear so many dresses where I came from,” she goes on, explaining how she pulls much inspiration from the blue-collar suburb south of Chicago where she grew up. “When you have to struggle for everything that you have, when you actually start getting opportunities, you’re going to make sure to be completely prepared for them.”

How the singer immersed herself in Nashville, building up her chops and experimenting with ideas in a competitive incubator of exceptional musicians and songwriters, while waiting tables and living hand to mouth to tour on a shoestring budget shaped the songs and sounds on her earthy, acclaimed 2011 debut, Charlatans at the Garden Gate. But if Charlatans was the story of Tristen finding her voice in Nashville, the singer’s stunning new album CAVES is the sound of her defining that voice for the world, and setting it to some sleek, synth-pop-inspired tones, once again defying expectations.

In much the same way, “Forgiveness,” off the album, is hardly a song about forgiveness. “That’s my ‘angry girl’ song,” she jokes, explaining that the song was actually inspired by an interview she heard with punk rocker/ writer/ pundit and pillar of male aggression, Henry Rollins, in which he says he forgives his dad by not finding him and beating him in the face with a hammer.

Not all of the songs on CAVES are as openly confrontational as “Forgiveness.” Relentlessly infectious opening track “No One’s Gonna Know” — which sounds like Kim Carnes taking on latter-day Leonard Cohen — is about gangsters. “Monster” is a menacing, minor-tinged stomper about having multiple personalities. By contrast, the gorgeous, lulling “Island Dream” plays like a spacey, sonic mini movie about existential dread and “searching for answers and not getting any.”

There are break-up songs on the album, too, like “Easy Out” and “Catalyst.” While songs like “House of War” and “Dark Matter” are sociological critiques about “being a terrible American,” she says. “Winter Night” — the album’s moody, resplendent centerpiece — was inspired by the Boris Pasternak poem of the same name.

Although, lyrically, CAVES covers a wide breadth of thematic territory, the album is unified by an aesthetic concept: She wanted to make a synth-pop record that combinedCharlatans’ rootsy foundation by casting objects of obsessive Reagan-era influences like Kate Bush, Eurythmics and Echo and the Bunnymen in her own singular image.

“At first I wanted to make a dance record,” she says. “That’s where my headspace was. … I wanted to challenge the acoustic reverence of the Americana music world and I wanted to piss off the old folkies. Is there something wrong with that?”

Looking into Tristen’s backstory, it’s a musical Frankenstein that makes sense. “[Growing up] I had a Dolly Parton greatest hits album that I listened to on repeat,” she recalls. “That and Madonna’s Immaculate Collection, I always loved Madonna. And that’s actually why I wanted to be just ‘Tristen,’ because I picked that up when I was 14 — [that’s when] I started writing songs.”

Later, much in the same away, she says a childhood obsession with ’60s girl-group pop and the Beatles would blossom into an adult obsession with classic singer-songwriter troubadours and legendary art-rock pioneers. “I would want to be an amalgam of Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Dolly Parton,” she says.

With a stellar set of songs locked and loaded for CAVES, the singer tapped luminaries from both ends of that musical spectrum to achieve a very specific goal. “I wanted to mix synthesizers with string arrangements and electronic drums with live drums so that you couldn’t tell which was which — I wanted people that were anti-digital to listen to it and not be able judge its authenticity by its acoustics,” she explains.

So, after tracking the record in Nashville with guitarist/husband Buddy Hughen and a hand-picked host of A-list Nashville indie-rock session vets, like Ben Folds drummer Sam Smith, she took the tracks to Bright Eyes producer Mike Mogis, who recorded Tristen’s own lush string arrangements at his ARC Recording Studios in Omaha, Nebraska. And to achieve an authentic synth-pop sheen, she enlisted famed New Order, Pet Shop Boys and OMD producer Stephen Hague, a pioneer in the field of digital recording to mix. “That was a game-changer,” she says. “Stephen gave the recordings dimension.”

“Tristen is a rare combination,” says Hague. “The lyrics of a real artist, the voice of a pop star, and the focus of someone who will always bring her A-game. It was a real pleasure for me working with someone who always has her eye on the bigger picture, and is always willing to try different approaches to the work.”

Tristen is releasing CAVES on October 15 on her own PUPsnake records via ThirtyTigers.

TORRES


→ Official Website

When does a musician finally hit upon his or her particular "sound"? For some, it bursts forth from their body fully formed; for others, it takes months or sometimes years of trial-and-error. For Mackenzie Scott, the singer-songwriter from Nashville who performs under the name Torres, the foundation and framework of her distinctive sound were already in place but it just needed that one crucial final piece.


"My family pitched in to get me a Gibson 335 last year for Christmas," she says. "I didn't quite find the sound I was looking for until I started playing electric." Listen to her self-titled debut album and you'll hear just how crucial that instrument is to her songs now. The delicacy and intimacy that was born from acoustic roots are still there, but now that she's fully plugged in, her music has intensified, with deeper shades of darkness creeping into the mix.


The album also carries with it a rawness and humanism that only serves to increase the feelings of isolation, longing, fear, guilt, revelation, and resolution that Scott expresses beautifully throughout.

Forget Cassettes


→ Official Website

Forget Cassettes is clearly not the same band it was almost a decade ago. The new record O Cursa (Theory 8 Records), with its heavy drum samples, synthesizers, and use of manipulation, marks a new sonic direction for the band, better known for its driving guitar in Instruments of Action and Salt. For Beth Cameron, Forget Cassettes’ sole proprietor, O Cursa is a metamorphosis; a chance to emerge after a hiatus with a new focus. The album features a vibrant palette of electronic sounds which lends greater physicality to this album’s themes of heartache and loss in its many forms and fashions. Whether exploring sexuality and its feral foibles, apocalyptica, chronic illness, the search for one’s own mental and physical truths, Cameron continues to explore the relationship between inner and outer worlds. In yet another departure from previous records, O Cursa is, in a sense, a conceptual record, with the songs grouped categorically from the dense, chaotic aural forest of “Catecholamines,” to the hopefully peaceful minimalism of “All of Creation.” In a break from the traditional releasing of the album as a simple CD/download/vinyl, O Cursa is being released as a monthly series of 3 digital EPs (O Cursa I-III) beginning in October 2012, then compiled into a vinyl record (with additional songs) in January 2013.

Formed in 2002 in Nashville, Forget Cassettes began as a solo project for Beth Cameron after the dissolution of her former band Fair Verona. She was soon joined by Doni Schroader on drums and Rhodes piano for Instruments of Action, who left in 2005 to drum for ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. Beth recruited Jay Leo Phillips (Apollo Up!) on bass and Rhodes and Aaron Ford on drums for Salt in 2006. Doni and Beth reunited in 2007, and the pair began work on what would become O Cursa in 2008. A serious scooter accident in Austin, TX while working with producer Mike McCarthy derailed recording for the duo in the summer of 2008. Moving to Chicago in late 2008, Beth and Doni continued work on the album in their studio. After Doni’s final departure in early 2012, producers Mike McCarthy and Jeremy Ferguson facilitated finishing the album, as an interesting full circle path back to the beginning of the band a decade prior. Beth has since assembled an adroit team of Nashville musicians to help her perform the album live: Keith Parish on synth and piano (Roy Ira), Jessie Friedman on synth and background vocals (Blue Heart Hour, Team Illuminati), and Guy Lemon on drums (Uncle Skeleton and Nahnee Bori).

In much the same way that the songs of O Cursa plot a mental and musical course from thick anxiety about existence to serenity and acceptance about events in one’s life, Beth is using this album not as a projection of worries of the future, but as a dictum of loving what one has in the now and tolerance of the unknown. Part of life, and the art that reflects it, is this recognition.