Torres, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

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. Torres was recorded over the course of five days in a Tennessee home owned by fellow singer-songwriter Tony Joe White (he of "Polk Salad Annie" fame), and recorded live to tape with as few overdubs as could be managed.

"I wanted this record to be the most honest version of itself that it could be," the 22-year-old songwriter says, "and ultimately that meant that it needed to remain unpolished and fairly raw. I left in a few imperfect vocal takes because I thought it sounded more human that way."

The effect provides the album with a rough-hewn beauty. The cracks that sharpen the edges of songs like the pointed "Jealousy & I" or the drum machine-driven "Chains" gives listeners an even starker look into the heart of these deeply felt songs. And if you lean in close, you might be able to hear the creak of the wooden floors in the house and the hum of the tape machine capturing it all.

To preserve the sonic warmth and integrity of this gritty, heartfelt album, Torres will be available on double vinyl, as well as on CD and digital formats. No matter how you listen to it, though, the songs will cut right to the bone. Scott spills every inch of her soul on these tracks, reflecting the joys and sorrows, and the unpredictability and uncertainty of life and love.

TORRES is Mackenzie Scott

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

More than anything, Aly Spaltro has 20,000 second-hand DVDs to thank for her first album. Despite being recorded at a proper studio in her recently adopted home of Brooklyn, Ripely Pine showcases songs conceived during her tenure at Bart’s & Greg’s DVD Explosion in Brunswick, Maine. Little did customers know, the same store they’d drop off their Transformers movies was providing the ideal four-year cocoon for the development of a major musical talent.

Aly worked the 3pm-11pm shift. Each night, after locking up, she’d walk past Drama and Horror, pull out her music gear from behind a wall of movies, and write and record songs until morning broke. She did this every day, drawing strength from the monotony of her routine.

During those nightly creative spells, Spaltro tested out multiple techniques, approaches and instrumentation. She brought whatever state she was in that day to the music, which served as raw expressions of her lyrical thoughts. Anger, confusion, love, happiness, and sadness reigned, and the songs ran rampant, with little form or structure. Isolated for those many hours, Aly let melodies morph together, break apart, and pair up. This is how she taught herself to write music and sing.

Spaltro chose to give herself a band name, because she had only two outlets for giving out her music; Bart’s & Greg’s, and a record store next door, the beloved independent Bull Moose. She arranged her CDs on the counters as free offerings, and seeing how she was often the employee at the register, didn’t tell people it was her music.

That’s how Lady Lamb the Beekeeper became one of the most beloved performers in Portland. Her live shows were unhinged, as melodies followed an internal logic only apparent to Spaltro herself. She sang and played guitar, and the songs offered a vivid yet brief snapshot into her expansive world. Their full glory remained in her head for reasons of access and cost. And anyway, who the hell would be able to play along with her, seeing how they followed no formal logic? Thus, she developed as a solo performer, careening from hums to screams within seconds, but always maintaining self-control.

Mariposa

It's likely that Madeline Johnston didn't actually hole herself up for the winter with only her private thoughts and the company of a crate of records and books while writing this album. Just the same, these eight tracks have that sort of feel — a kind of lonely, minimalist, contemplative beauty that speaks of the rare delicacy of feeling required to articulate with grace and originality the intermixing of political issues with the inevitable emotions that accompany them. Using just an acoustic guitar, loops, a judicious sprinkling of reverse delay and nearly whispered vocals, Johnston, with a handful of guest musicians, has written an album dealing with recent political events and personal pain in a way that is exactly the opposite of heavy-handed. These songs demand, and reward, your attention.

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Torres, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper with Mariposa

Sunday, June 23 · Doors 8:30 PM / Show 9:30 PM at Hi-Dive

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