Tag Archives: St. Vincent

June 7, 2017 — “Skim” by Torres


If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Skim” by Torres (2017, from the standalone single “Skim” and forthcoming album).

Torres is the stage name for indie rock musician Mackenzie Scott. She’s originally from somewhere in rural Georgia, and she got her start in Nashville. Her 2013 debut TORRES was my second favourite album of that year. Her sophomore release Sprinter was my 18th favourite album of that year. I also had the pleasure of seeing her at the 2013 Hopscotch Music Festival. Read about that here.

I didn’t have it on my radar, but Torres released a single and accompanying video yesterday via 4AD Records. I didn’t even know that she had signed with 4AD until I saw the video pop up in my twitter feed. She hasn’t divulged any details, but there apparently is a new album on the horizon.

I’ve only watched the video about a thousand times since last night. While the first record was more “indie folk” than rock and the second record was more “indie rock” than folk, it sounds like this might be something different entirely. It’s just one song, but this sounds like a new direction for her. This song reminds me quite a bit of St. Vincent’s marvelous 2011 album Strange Mercy. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that Annie Clark played guitar on this. If she didn’t, Torres is taking a page straight out of her book and a line from her page. Incidentally, I think Annie Clark has gotten a little weird since Strange Mercy, but that’s a different story for a different day.

This video has some strange direction, but it’s brilliant. It’s mysterious and sexy and dark and confusing. And I love it.

“Skim” by Torres

I absolutely love the line “There’s no unlit corner of a room I’m in”, and the line “I know every tense in which I cannot exist”. At least I think that’s what the line is.

The video was directed by Ashley Connor, who has directed lots of videos for Angel Olsen, as well as a few for Jenny Lewis, Jenny Hval, Julianna Barwick, and others. She also did the creepy/sexy/magnificent video for “Your Best American Girl” by Mitski. If you haven’t already, you should take the time to watch that video here. Just as she did with “Your Best American Girl”, Connor wants us to feel like creepy, filthy voyeurs with “Skim”. She also wants us to be confused. About a lot of things. No matter what, it’s a wonderfully shot video that has a few surprises in it. Also, as an added bonus, those scenes in the shower are also a subtle echo of some of the press photos from the first album. I like that.

As I said, there’s no word on when the new album is out, or even what it’s called. For the time being, we should just enjoy the video again and again.

Notes from Hopscotch Day 2

My adventures at Hopsctoch continued on Friday, and it was a very long and very hot day. Like Thursday, it was a day that was full of surprises, but it also had its share of disappointment. Unfortunately, the biggest disappointment came at the end of the night. It involved an artist that I like very much being a bit of a prima donna, the crowd turning on him, and a really weird and really uncomfortable vibe.

When I woke up Friday, I felt absolutely awful. I skipped my traditional visit to watch the Carolina Hurricanes at their unofficial practice session, and I stayed in bed much later than I wanted to. I wrote the Day One recap, took a shower, packed some coolers full of water and Gatorade, and just before the crack of noon, I headed back into downtown. Of course I stopped to get some Biscuitville.

I milled about, doing nothing for a little while, then I headed up to King’s. They were having sort of a big day, which was being highlighted by Little Black Egg Big Band. Little Black Egg is a band that you probably don’t know the name of, but you know the band members. The band consists of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew (all of Yo La Tengo), plus guitarist Steve Gunn (who used to play in Kurt Vile’s band), William Tyler (who was in Lambchop and Silver Jews), and one other musician who I don’t recognize. I don’t think they’ve recorded anything, and I know that this was the first time they’ve ever played as Little Black Egg Big Band. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really liked what they did. It was all ambient and guitar loop-y and super-spacey. And with no vocals. Not much like Yo La Tengo, except maybe the 17-minute song at the end of And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out).

I had a good time with that, and I thought about staying put at King’s for the rest of the day party stuff, but there was a thing or two that I wanted to do. Plus, it was jam-packed in there and it was getting really sweaty.

I walked around for a little while, then I went and ate some lunch. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I knew that I had to eat then or not for several hours. I made my way down to CAM, which I think is a terrible place for a band to play. Over the years, I’ve seen a few bands play there, but the space is so big and open, it just isn’t a good sound space. The acoustics are awful and the size of the space makes it worse.

Anyway, I was at CAM because I wanted to see Eternal Summers. I really like that band, and I missed my chance to see them back in March. They’re playing a “real” show tonight (actually in the last time slot of the festival), and I’ll be there for sure, but I wanted to see them twice. They played well, but the sound in that space is terrible, so it didn’t do them justice.

I started to head back to King’s because I wanted to be in there for the show that featured Thurston Moore with harpist Mary Lattimore. I got there about 30 minutes before the scheduled start of that set, and the line was at least 30 deep to get in on a one out-one in basis. I knew it wasn’t going to happen, and I ran into my buddies in the stairwell. We decided to go blindly try a few things, and we got into a few clubs just as a band was playing the last notes of their last song. We didn’t see much, but we had a few beers and a few laughs.

We did, though, get to see one and a half songs from Greensboro band Bronzed Chorus at the Pour House. That was really good, and I wish we had gotten there sooner instead of wasting so much time at other places seeing nothing.
Dinner before heading into City Plaza once again had less to do with being hungry and more to do with “now or never”.

We went into City Plaza for the big show Spoon and St Vincent.

While my friends were unimpressed with the St. Vincent portion of the night, I really loved it. I’d seen her once before in a club setting, so it was a different experience to see her on the big stage. She’s incorporated more choreography and more stage antics into the show, and while I’m not sure how I feel about that, I still really enjoyed the show. Except for the drummer. Matt Johnson is her live drummer, and he’s a really good drummer. He’s played with Jeff Buckley, Dean and Britta, Rufus Wainwright and lots of others. He plays well, but my problem was that he was trying too hard. He was playing drum solos during the guitar solos. I don’t like the direction that’s gone in. People go to see St. Vincent because she’s a masterful guitarist. They want to see her, and not a drummer. Despite that, I loved the set, and it really is a treat to see her play.

After that, we all agreed that Spoon was incredible. The sound was amazing, they were amazing, they played a mix of old and new tunes. It was just great. When you’ve been around for 20 years and you still crank out good records, you get pretty good at the live performance thing. And they were ON POINT.

My buddies and I kind of went separate ways after the City Plaza stuff. My “plan A” and “plan B” stuff both fell through because the clubs were so crowded, so I went for the “plan C” plan which was also the safe plan. That was to to to Lincoln Theatre and stay put there for the rest of the night. Loamlands, Mark McGuire, and Sun Kil Moon were all on my short list anyway, so it was a safe and good choice.

Loamlands played a solid set. I didn’t know anything about the Durham alt-country/folk band, but I liked what they did.

Mark McGuire was a guy who I didn’t know what to expect from. I’d heard a song or two before, but I still didn’t really know. One of my friends had said that this was one of the most anticipated shows of the festival for him, so I wanted to go just based on that. I was completely exhausted by this point, and I had stopped drinking hours ago. I found a place in the balcony to sit for a little while and I ended up “watching” his set from up there. His blend of electronics and guitar/effects was pretty cool. People sometimes describe him as “new age”, but I don’t really get that.

Last up was Sun Kil Moon. I really like Mark Kozelek. I’ve been a huge fan of his music over the last 20 years. Red House Painters, his solo stuff, and the first couple of Sun Kil Moon records have all been big hits at my house. I’ve been really critical of the new album, going so far as to say that I “hate” it. Still, I wanted to see him play because he’s such an interesting cat and I love the back catalog so much I was hoping to hear some of it.

Things didn’t go so well during the Sun Kil Moon set. There was a really bad vibe in the room, and the Lincoln Theatre was the wrong place for that show. It should have been at Fletcher Opera Theatre, where the crowds are always quieter and it’s seated and nice and everyone is respectful. I’ll write about what happened in a separate post.

The night ended with me eating a slice of bad food truck pizza and having nice conversation with a stranger while sitting on the ground.

Look for the post about Sun Kil Moon in a few minutes.

Bonus video : St. Vincent

Because we’re not working at our paying job today, and because we’re back on track with early morning posts, we have some time on our hands.
Our friend over at 70dayweekend posted a brilliant video of Annie Clark (St. Vincent) chatting with that gal from tuneyards. Yes, I know I’m supposed to type it in that goofy stylized fashion, but I refuse to. Anyway, it’s a neat conversation about classical music and the awkward questions that they both get asked by interviewers who have 1950s-style ideas about the way women are supposed to behave.

Watching that video got me even more excited than I already am that I’m going to see a sold out St. Vincent show next week. Then, I saw an even more incredible video over at Pitchfork. It’s Annie having a quick chat with Aaron and Bryce Dessner from the National. It’s pretty much those guys, who are one of the best things going right now, pumping Annie’s tires. She totally deserves it. It seems like no matter how many completely awesome records she puts out, she’s treated like “a woman in a man’s world” (whatever) instead of respected as a really amazing guitar player.

Anyway, she talks a little bit about how she puts together her performances, which are notorious for her high energy levels. She says “I try to make each show stand out, and be a little wilder than the one before”

You can sort of see what she’s talking about at the end of the clip as she works (and surfs!) the crowd during the incredible new song “Krokodil”.

This is too good not to share:

I’ll be at that St. Vincent show next Wednesday at the Cat’s Cradle. If it’s even a little like what I’ve seen in videos like this one, it’s going to be incredible.

%d bloggers like this: