Jeremy Messersmith

Jeremy Messersmith

On Heart Murmurs, Jeremy Messersmith can break your heart one minute, and then put those fragile pieces back together again the next. The Minneapolis singer/songwriter candidly chronicles the ups and downs of modern relationships, all within the simple but striking constructs of his indelible, poignant pop songs. On his assured and expansive forth full-length album, Messersmith moves past the existential, death-laden themes of his 2010 breakthrough, The Reluctant Graveyard, to focus instead on the broad topic of love and the eternal affairs of the heart. And this polished, impassioned new batch of songs represent another confident artistic step forward in Jeremy's flourishing career.

The 11 tracks that comprise Heart Murmurs, Messersmith’s debut release for Glassnote Records, have been slowly gestating over the past few years, gradually taking on a spirited life of their own like any proper romance. Messersmith drew inspiration for his new album from the Magnetic Fields' brilliant magnum opus, 69 Love Songs, while also realizing that more than enough pop songs about love have already been written. But Jeremy provides a fresh new twist on those familiar themes of affection and anguish, with an emotional vulnerability that will resonate with anyone who has ever once shared their heart with another.

The record bursts out of the gates with the swelling, exultant hooks of the Elliott Smith-esque "It's Only Dancing," and the pulsating lead single, "Tourniquet," getting the listener's attention straight from the start and never relinquishing it throughout the entirety of the perfectly paced album. And while these songs typically feature buoyant, effortlessly catchy melodies, the lyrics themselves explore much darker themes, providing a brooding, mercurial contrast to the tracks upbeat arrangements.

"I generally like to balance out the bitter and the sweet in my songs," Messersmith explains. "The happier something is musically, the darker it can be lyrically -- you can kind of sneak it in there. And that's a little more appealing to me. In order to have a big hook -- and I was trying to write some of them about as big as I can make them -- I tried to do most of the lyrical heavy lifting in the verses and bridges, and worked hard to earn those hooks."

The hooks throughout Heart Murmurs are indeed quite massive and relentlessly catchy, with acoustic and electric guitars blending elegantly with spiraling string arrangements and other sonic flourishes. It's the sound of an artist not afraid to go big in order to be heard, while also packing plenty of evocative substance within these soaring pop songs as well.

Messersmith's distinctive style and sound has gotten the attention of many prominent music fans over the years, including Jim McGuinn, the Program Director at Minnesota Public Radio's the Current, a radio station that has championed Jeremy's songs from the moment he first dropped off his debut album to the studio wrapped unassumingly in a brown paper lunch bag.

"The feelings in Jeremy's songs are visceral, relatable. He reminds us of our humanity. And he always has," McGuinn warmly explains. "There are loads of artists that record sweet indie pop. But one of the things that helps Jeremy stand out is the twinge of darkness or melancholy in his songs. Sometimes those feelings are overt, and sometimes we see it but the characters do not. Everyday we see our friends headed towards some kind of failure big or small, but we're often powerless to talk them out of it, to help them, to stop the reality from occurring. It's tragic, and it's real. And those kernels of heartbreak separates Jeremy from the pack."

On the mournful "Bridges," Messersmith sings plaintively, "Even though I love you, I break you like a promise," touching on a theme that courses through much of the record -- hurting the ones you love the most despite, or perhaps because of, your best intentions. But there is hope involved in those stark revelations as well, with characters working through past and present mistakes in order to finally become worthy of the love they have around them.

These are heady, substantial ideas to inject into pop songs, but the tracks never become bogged down by the weight of the subject matter due to Messersmith's vibrant arrangements, and the deft production of Jeremy's longtime musical partner, Andy Thompson -- along with the veteran touch of producer Ben Allen and the musical contributions of a talented host of Twin Cities musicians -- who all help perfectly capture the impassioned spirit of these songs.

"On Heart Murmurs Jeremy has opened up his music - painting sonic picture that are bigger and louder and wider than anything he's ever done," McGuinn effuses. "With choruses that expand the footprint of his songs, without sacrificing the potential for quiet intensity, humor, or reflection. Bigger drum sounds from longtime cohort and producer Andy Thompson are matched with lush string parts and impeccable vocals to create a pop album that's not afraid to rock, and a rock album that can be counted on to deliver thoughtful pop songs."

Jeremy Messersmith's first album for Glassnote continues the consistent rise of his burgeoning career while confidently adding to an already impressive back catalog filled with subtle hits just waiting to be discovered by a wider audience. Heart Murmurs is a bold, self-assured artistic statement by a musician who continues to craft lovely, unforgettable songs packed with equal parts ecstasy and grief, all of which leaves the listener reeling and wanting more. "The heart has a lot of secrets," Messersmith candidly admits. "And writing this record was just my way of unlocking them."

With her warm, guileless vocals and earnest, evocative songwriting, Tristen has emerged as a truly individual talent, bridging genres and emotions to create a distinctive sound all her own. The Nashville-based songstress' American Myth debut, Charlatans At The Garden Gate, is an ambitious and impassioned collection of finely honed modern pop, rich with exquisite arrangements and a remarkably intuitive lyrical approach. Weaving classic country, traditional rock 'n' roll, and reflective singer/songwriter balladry, songs such as the elegiac "Baby Drugs" and the spectral folk-tinged "Battle of the Gods" display an exceptional new artist opening herself to the world through heartfelt melodies and glorious hooks.

Born Tristen Gaspadarek, she grew up in the Chicago suburb of Lansing, Illinois, where her musician father, instilled in her a love of music. She began singing from the time she could speak, took up the piano at the tender age of 8, and, inspired by her local Oldies 104.3 and The Beatles, began writing her own songs. It wasn't long before she picked up the guitar and started performing her original material in local coffeehouses. Upon graduating DePaul University in 2007 – with a degree in Relational, Group, and Organizational Theories of Communication – Tristen decided to focus on her music and moved to Nashville.

"Nashville is a song town," she says of her journey, "and I felt like maybe I could give it a shot here, get away from home. You learn a lot about yourself by throwing yourself into a completely different environment."

Having previously recorded countless demos at her dad's home studio, Tristen now took control of her craft, cutting songs on a $200 Mbox Mini and posting them on MySpace. An album's worth of her home recordings, entitled Teardrops & Lollipops, were then packaged in handsewn sleeves and sold at shows. She soon became part of Nashville's emerging community of young artists, a loose collective of musicians and writers deeply connected yet simultaneously unbound from the city's country heritage. It wasn't long before her poignant, powerful songcraft caught the attention of local producer Jeremy Ferguson, who suggested they work together at his Battle Tapes Recording.

"People come out of the woodwork here," she says. "If you're playing shows and you're any good, people want to be involved and want to help you. Everybody's here for the same reason, to make great records."

Together Tristen and Ferguson recorded a 5-song EP, dubbed Deceivers Are Achievers, which drew local raves and serious blog love. For her debut full length, Tristen gathered together a number of players with whom she'd already shared stages at such local venues as The Basement and The Mercy Lounge.

"The people here, the musician community, has been so supportive," she says. Everybody here just wants to be a part of if they find it interesting. People just want to play, that's how it works."

The resulting Charlatans At The Garden Gate displays Tristen & Co.'s reverence for the 70s singer/songwriter sound, a naturalistic approach abounding with vintage organs, sweeping string arrangements, and intricate harmonies.

"You can't escape the fact that we all love and revere music made in the '60s and '70s," she says. "I'm sure that's why it came out the way that it did."

Songs like "Avalanche" recall the forlorn romantic sweep of Roy Orbison, while the album-opening "Eager For Your Love" is instantly irresistible with its timeless melody and haunting chorus. Though her songs are intensely personal, they are also populated with a cast of carefully etched characterizations that allow for intimate connection between artist and audience. What stands out is Tristen's consistent desire and determination "to say something. I'm interested in the story. That's how I approach it: what is this about and what needs to be said?"

"I'm bored of people's diary entries made song," she explains, "so I try to encompass broader ideas. I write about people, about how we relate to each other. You can analyze social dynamics and simplify everything into different patterns – sometimes people see themselves, sometimes they see others, either way I'm having a good time trying to figure things out.

$10.00 - $12.00

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Jeremy Messersmith with Tristen

Thursday, February 6 · Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at World Cafe Live Philadelphia - Upstairs