Yes, Shirley Manson-led Garbage is coming to the Fox Theater tomorrow [10/7] to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of its '90s alternative rock defining self-titled debut. So many memories of being an angsty teenager and worshiping the ground that Shirley and drummer (not to mention Nirvana producer) Butch Vig walked on come swirling back to me when that record plays. But Torres, the artist who will warm up the stage for Garbage, has us equally as excited and is just as much a part of Wednesday's prize.
Torres is the solo project of Brooklyn-based, Georgia-born Mackenzie Scott. She put out one of this year's best albums in her sophomore effort, Sprinter, which was recorded in Dorset, England and also at Portishead's Adrian Utley's Bristol studio. It was co-produced with Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey). As expected, Sprinter has a bold and defined sound, perhaps best displayed by the riveting title track:
Scott is a powerful vocalist, with a menacing tone that conveys her theme of displacement and constantly looking to make sense of the world around her. What sets Torres apart is that where other vocalists are putting out albums with a kitschy theme like “the dynamics of a relationship” or “love and stuff,” Torres introduces us to her Americana. We grow up with her in the Baptist south and traverse the country to lay down her roots New York, all just by pressing the play button.
Throughout Sprinter, the 23-year-old Torres shows a hyper-awareness of the nuances of life and culture across America. She often questions how she fits into it all. On the brilliant “New Skin,” she asks: “Who’s that trying to speak for me? / What kind of love do they claim to be?” As if she's embodying the metamorphosis of a young fundamentalist American becoming the independent free-thinker, that Craig Thompson so masterfully described in his acclaimed graphic novel Blankets.
She maintains her wit, in the midst of some heavy themes on “Cowboy Guilt,” poking fun at a Bush-ian character: “Wrapped in my Sunday best with…. The king of Fort Worth, Texas.” The harrowing drum beat and bass-ed up guitar stand out:
Wednesday's bill is a very creative one. The unforgettable '90s vibes of Garbage, with the confident and honest musings of one of this year's most compelling songwriters, Torres. And if you really want to get your brain twisted, Torres just released a cover of Garbage's “Special.” I'll just leave this here.
Garbage w/ Torres
Fox Theater Oakland
Wednesday, October 7th