Tag Archives: Torres

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Five Questions with Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison

May 26th, 2017

For more than a decade, Frightened RabbitScott Hutchison (vocals and guitar), brother Grant Hutchison (drums), Billy Kennedy (guitar and bass), Andy Monaghan (guitar and keys) and Simon Liddell (guitar)—have been making global noise on the strength of soaring, melancholic arena rock with resonant lyrics that stay with you. Since then, the Scottish rockers (above, doing “I Wish That I Was Sober” live for KTBG FM) have become as equally well known for their fiery live performances as for their recorded output. The band’s fifth LP, Painting of a Panic Attack (stream it below), which came out last spring, was produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. “Though Hutchison’s talent for crafting beautifully dark stories hasn’t changed much, Frightened Rabbit’s sound most definitely has, thanks in part to Dessner behind the mixing desk,” said the Line of Best Fit. “The usual aching melancholy that has the capability to flip to captivating exuberance at a moment’s notice is ever present but Dessner’s experience with the National gives a whole new, often gloomy, depth to their sound.” Frightened Rabbit play Brooklyn Steel next Tuesday. And ahead of the band’s North American tour, The House List contacted the frontman to answer Five Questions.

Painting of a Panic Attack features electronics more than your other albums. Was that a conscious choice ahead of time or is that just the way things went as you wrote? I think we all wanted to move in that direction a little more with this album, but it wasn’t forced. Through necessity, I was figuring out how to use music software for the first time and exploring the raft of sounds held in Logic. Andy has always been interested in electronic music, so for him it was a natural place to go.

So many Frightened Rabbit songs are anthemic, somehow sounding like upbeat tales even when they’re about downer topics—not many bands could get crowds to lustily belt out lyrics about loneliness or “It takes more than fucking someone you don’t know to keep warm.” Is that something you set out to do? I’ve always been looking for that contrast within the songs. From very early on I knew I wanted the melodic qualities of the music to act like an open door, warm and welcoming, sometimes anthemic. Then once you’re in the room, you hear all these dark lines and it might be a little jarring, but we’ve already shut the door behind you. Ha!

What’s your process for recording new material? Is everything written and fleshed out in advance of going into the studio? Or do you just have sketches and ideas of songs ready to go? We’re usually relatively well prepared but recently we’ve enjoyed developing songs from rough sketches in the studio. Being overprepared or too certain of the songs can result in losing those little moments of studio magic. That’s our excuse for not knowing what the fuck we’re doing.

Once a track is recorded and released, does it stay like that in perpetuity, or do songs grow as you play them live? They always grow, they absolutely should. Often it’s just through boredom within the band, but sometimes the audience drives it forward. I never thought “The Loneliness and the Scream” would be a set-closer, but that had nothing to do with us. It was the crowds latching on to a melody and sticking with it. That was a surprise.

Do you have any crutches when writing a song—are there certain words or styles you feel you lean on too much? Absolutely. It’s a big danger and I’ve caught myself repeating themes again and again. However, I do think it’s important to develop your own world within the songs, and repeated lyrical themes are a big part of that. And the thing is: I am still a bit of a drunken failure. I’m not making it up. —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

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Overcoats Sound Right at Home at Sold-Out Rough Trade NYC

April 21st, 2017

Overcoats – Rough Trade NYC – April 20, 2017

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Sisterhood runs deep between best friends Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell, a bond so strong it’s birthed a band, Overcoats. The New York City–based duo’s debut, Young, is a reverie of R&B soul folktronica coproduced by Nicolas Vernhes (Daughter, Torres, Dirty Projectors, Cass McCombs) and fellow singer-songwriter Autre Ne Veut. NPR’s Bob Boilen recently described the record as “driven by ambition and passion, not craft … the emotion in their harmonies and the space they give each other is filled with compassion.” Last night, the inseparable pair graced a sold-out Rough Trade NYC on the eve of their new EP’s release, donning white jumpsuits and silver platform boots. Microphone stands adorned with flowers and garlands of cameo silhouettes set the stage as their first headlining tour opened with the rhythmic “Smaller Than My Mother.” The crowd swayed to the lullaby of “Hold Me Close” before Elion exclaimed, “We are so fucking excited to be here.”

Covering the entirety of their album with the exception of one track (“Father”), the kindred spirits garnered much love from fans as the mutual admiration between each singer was palpable. They embraced often in between songs and danced side by side without a care in the world. When introducing the debut single “Little Memory,” Elion confessed it was the first one the girls had written together. The duo covered Hozier’s “Cherry Wine” midway through the set. Elion laid her head on Mitchell’s shoulder to preface “Siren,” as she proceeded to sing, “I feel many weights of many worlds on my shoulders.” In a speech that was carved out on the set list, Mitchell offered their gratitude to touring drummer Joao Gonzalez, Andy on sound and their agents. An overwhelming acknowledgement of the upcoming year ahead left the women truly humbled before an encore of the hymnal “Mother” and the rollicking “Leave the Light On” concluded the performance with a fever pitch of participatory claps. —Sharlene Chiu

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Tegan and Sara Play the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Friday

November 2nd, 2016

Calgary, Alta., twin Quin sisters Tegan and Sara have been making music together professionally for more than two decades. Their first full-length, Under Feet Like Ours (stream it below), came out in 1999 when they were still in their teens. “Tegan and Sara are the real deal, not another Ani Difranco pretender trying to be political by writing songs about freedom,” according to Exclaim. “The evidence in hand, their debut album, shows an emotional and musical progression quite remarkable for their age, as if they’ve managed in one go to shake out the cobwebs of their folk/rock roots, and their Lilith Fair/Indigo Girls tendencies, and are merging fully formed, ready to take the next step.” And in the ensuing years, Tegan and Sara (above, performing “Boyfriend” live in studio for KCMP FM the Current) have changed their sound and taken that next step from niche singer-songwriters to mainstream-pop success. Their eighth studio release, this year’s Love You to Death (stream it below), is “an album packed with shimmering highlights,” according to NME. “This is pop music that is all heart all the time, and for that, the sisters deserve every accolade that comes their way,” per AllMusic. It just so happens that they’re coming our way this week to play the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Friday. And as an added bonus, Brooklyn singer-songwriter Torres opens the show.

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Torres Celebrates Her Birthday Early at The Bowery Ballroom

January 22nd, 2016

Torres – The Bowery Ballroom – January21, 2016

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Mackenzie Scott, better known as Torres, was brought up in Georgia as a Baptist and attended a Christian university. During that time, she recorded her first album, Torres. Scott then traveled to England to compose her sophomore full-length, Sprinter, the lyrics drenched in her religious upbringing. It’s exactly this openness that entices listeners to Scott’s haunting yet powerful voice. Torres’s bare, emotional pang harkens to singers like Sharon Van Etten (whom she’s opened for) and Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee). She wrote on her Tumblr, “Playing my favorite room in NYC, The Bowery Ballroom, two days before I turn 25. I am, to borrow the colloquialism, pumped.” So last night, Scott took to the stage of her choice venue, which she sold out, for an early birthday party.

Clad in white, Torres and her band opened with “Mother Earth, Father God,” from her self-titled debut. Apart from a two-year difference, the lyrics “In January I will just be 23” rang especially true on “New Skin.” Scott proceeded to hit her most recent catalog of songs from the pulsating, bass-heavy “Cowboy Guilt” to the crowd favorite “Sprinter.” The singer-songwriter seamlessly moved from heavy rock to hushed lullabylike coos. After a quick guitar change, delicate strums for a solo on “Strange Hellos” quickly blossomed into some serious shredding, causing the audience to erupt in applause. Torres couldn’t help but note that this was her favorite show and a homecoming of sorts making the evening extra special. A few fans punctuated the occasion with birthday wishes. Scott closed her set with “The Harshest Light” before returning to encore with an oldie but goodie, “November Baby.” Here’s to a most happy birthday, Ms. Scott. —Sharlene Chiu