one of the best things about finding a really good new album is that it makes you think of others that you know of with similar qualities. I’m pretty happy with what I wrote about Torres after a day’s listening, but it is a really astounding and outstanding album. here are three more that it reminds me of and that I think match up to it -
American Steel - Jagged Thoughts [sp]: this is one of my favourite punk records of the current century, but what I specifically like about it and Torres is how ‘big’ they seem; raw music polished up with beautiful production, heart-on-sleeve emotiveness reaching for grand gestures, a sound so good that it induces aural Stendhal syndrome. All terribly subjective, of course, and why I’m relatively alone in ranking Jagged Thoughts as one of the punk highlights of the 00s, but I still don’t know how you can listen to 'Shrapnel' and not feel the same way. The same intensity and beauty is omnipresent on Torres, and although the sole comparable rocker is ‘When Winter’s Over’ its warming, hyper-melodic guitar tone is worthy of Jagged Thoughts' punk-pop circling riffage. And as it is that album's 'bounce', its extra pop flourishes, that make it great, so it is with Torres' vibrant aural fabric.
Valerie Francis - Slow Dynamo [sp]: I meant to include this in the last post, since it was one of the most immediate comparisons that came to mind in the slower sections of Torres, and of course a superb album in its own right. An Irish artist who is also a sound engineer by profession (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen her behind the mixing desk at a few gigs in Dublin, including Xiu Xiu) this album is a wonderful mixture of acoustic and electronic instrumentation, verging on the sounds of musique concrète at times, and familiar to some as it shares a co-producer (Jimmy Eadie) with Si Schroeder’s wonderful Coping Mechanisms. But Slow Dynamo has a style all of its own, vocals and atmospherics mixing together to form a captivating and at times even surreal aural landscape. The video for ‘Punches’ is also a stunning visual introduction to the album.
David Grubbs - An Optimist Notes the Dusk [label]: The guitar tone is, as I say, one of the things I most love about Torres, along with its sense of space. I’ll admit that EMA and Torres aren’t actually slowcore, if anyone can even ‘be’ a genre by mere sonic association - they are languid but not disruptive enough to fit the broken meanderings of say, Codeine or the dizzying heights of Slint. Yet there is that feeling of guitar as an instrument of atmosphere to be stretched out and weighed down in its emotional potencies, or to burst through in the clarion purity of its natural, vocal sympathy. David Grubbs is I think the best guitar player I’ve ever seen play live, at an intimate-type show in Whelan’s with “candles in little glass jars, jazz-club style, and beermats on the table”, in a set that was more varied than I had expected. An Optimist Notes the Dusk is perhaps a hard album to fall in love with, but it has some amazing guitar work in it - and from Louisville to Nashville isn’t too far.