Jeremy Messersmith

True Endeavors Presents / Jonk Music Welcomes:

Jeremy Messersmith


Thursday, February 13th 2014

8:30 pm

$12 adv / $14 dos

Tickets at the Door

This event is 18 and over

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."
"Her strength seems to reside in her ability to be musically versatile. Utilizing various orchestrations, Tristen weaves a glistening web of thoughtful and extremely mature melodies that tremble with undeniable power." -American Songwriter

"Pop hooks and pure inspiration" – NPR All Things Considered

Her addictive debut is full of such moments: catchy refrains with multiple meanings, ear-tugging melodies with hidden hooks. She flaunts a philosophy major's palette amidst echoes of vintage rockabilly and girl group pop: Gods battle, queens bid their rule, girlfriends enable druggy lovers. – Rolling Stone

"Tristen Gaspadarek has crafted a confident, poignant folk-pop debut that never wants for hooks, and manages to undercut its sing-songiness at every turn with unflinching lyrics and mature songwriting."
- The Onion AV Club

"She's been Nashville's best-kept secret, but this single-named chanteuse is poised for bigger and better things with the recent release of her sprightly new album of baroque folk-pop. "Charlatans at the Garden Gate'' glimmers with traces of Neko Case, the Shangri-Las, and maybe just a touch of Loretta Lynn.
– The Boston Globe

"With or without Tristen's acute capacity to portray relationships and ideology gone wrong, Charlatans is a musical document billowing over with rich, vintage hues and irrepressible hooks, her reverence for the lions of pop music and confident sense of self all meted out in the same breath."-Nashville Scene

"This week, with the release of her confident debut, Tristen reminds us just what it was we loved about her to begin with."- Paste

"She brings a blossoming pop sensibility to her witty, not-as-sweet-as-it-seems country."
-Wall Street Journal
Nashville-based? Singer-songwriter? … Goes by her first name? Do those terms fill your head with expectations of a precious, pint-sized female crooning middle-of-the-road pop with a precious tear-in-beer twang? Well, don't let them. Because, beyond Tristen's sharp-witted lyrical savvy and sophisticated song-craft, her innate ability to defy expectations will leave you hanging on her every note, even in Nashville.

"I'm not from here," she says of the city she migrated to in 2007. "We didn't wear so many dresses where I came from," she goes on, explaining how she pulls much inspiration from the blue-collar suburb south of Chicago where she grew up. "When you have to struggle for everything that you have, when you actually start getting opportunities, you're going to make sure to be completely prepared for them."

How the singer immersed herself in Nashville, building up her chops and experimenting with ideas in a competitive incubator of exceptional musicians and songwriters, while waiting tables and living hand to mouth to tour on a shoestring budget shaped the songs and sounds on her earthy, acclaimed 2011 debut, Charlatans at the Garden Gate. But if Charlatans was the story of Tristen finding her voice in Nashville, the singer's stunning new album CAVES is the sound of her defining that voice for the world, and setting it to some sleek, synth-pop-inspired tones, once again defying expectations.

In much the same way, "Forgiveness," off the album, is hardly a song about forgiveness. "That's my 'angry girl' song," she jokes, explaining that the song was actually inspired by an interview she heard with punk rocker/ writer/ pundit and pillar of male aggression, Henry Rollins, in which he says he forgives his dad by not finding him and beating him in the face with a hammer.

Not all of the songs on CAVES are as openly confrontational as "Forgiveness." Relentlessly infectious opening track "No One's Gonna Know" — which sounds like Kim Carnes taking on latter-day Leonard Cohen — is about gangsters. "Monster" is a menacing, minor-tinged stomper about having multiple personalities. By contrast, the gorgeous, lulling "Island Dream" plays like a spacey, sonic mini movie about existential dread and "searching for answers and not getting any."

There are break-up songs on the album, too, like "Easy Out" and "Catalyst." While songs like "House of War" and "Dark Matter" are sociological critiques about "being a terrible American," she says. "Winter Night" — the album's moody, resplendent centerpiece — was inspired by the Boris Pasternak poem of the same name.

Although, lyrically, CAVES covers a wide breadth of thematic territory, the album is unified by an aesthetic concept: She wanted to make a synth-pop record that combinedCharlatans' rootsy foundation by casting objects of obsessive Reagan-era influences like Kate Bush, Eurythmics and Echo and the Bunnymen in her own singular image.

"At first I wanted to make a dance record," she says. "That's where my headspace was. … I wanted to challenge the acoustic reverence of the Americana music world and I wanted to piss off the old folkies. Is there something wrong with that?"

Looking into Tristen's backstory, it's a musical Frankenstein that makes sense. "[Growing up] I had a Dolly Parton greatest hits album that I listened to on repeat," she recalls. "That and Madonna's Immaculate Collection, I always loved Madonna. And that's actually why I wanted to be just 'Tristen,' because I picked that up when I was 14 — [that's when] I started writing songs."

Later, much in the same away, she says a childhood obsession with '60s girl-group pop and the Beatles would blossom into an adult obsession with classic singer-songwriter troubadours and legendary art-rock pioneers. "I would want to be an amalgam of Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Dolly Parton," she says.

With a stellar set of songs locked and loaded for CAVES, the singer tapped luminaries from both ends of that musical spectrum to achieve a very specific goal. "I wanted to mix synthesizers with string arrangements and electronic drums with live drums so that you couldn't tell which was which — I wanted people that were anti-digital to listen to it and not be able judge its authenticity by its acoustics," she explains.

So, after tracking the record in Nashville with guitarist/husband Buddy Hughen and a hand-picked host of A-list Nashville indie-rock session vets, like Ben Folds drummer Sam Smith, she took the tracks to Bright Eyes producer Mike Mogis, who recorded Tristen's own lush string arrangements at his ARC Recording Studios in Omaha, Nebraska. And to achieve an authentic synth-pop sheen, she enlisted famed New Order, Pet Shop Boys and OMD producer Stephen Hague, a pioneer in the field of digital recording to mix. "That was a game-changer," she says. "Stephen gave the recordings dimension."

"Tristen is a rare combination," says Hague. "The lyrics of a real artist, the voice of a pop star, and the focus of someone who will always bring her A-game. It was a real pleasure for me working with someone who always has her eye on the bigger picture, and is always willing to try different approaches to the work."

Tristen is releasing CAVES on October 15 on her own PUPsnake records via ThirtyTigers.
Venue Information:
High Noon Saloon
701A E. Washington Ave
Madison, WI, 53703