Front Page Reviews & AIR
Artist In Residence - June 2012 - Tristen
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Chances are that you haven’t heard of Tristen Gaspadarek. That’s because the Nashville based singer-songwriter is from the “other” Nashville, a burgeoning scene of independent rock acts that has little to do with the mainstream country hit-making machine that the city is best known for. In other words, she comes from the part of Nashville that is actually still producing some good music.
It’s no secret that Nashville is home to some of the best studios, best studio musicians, and a musical tradition that stretches back generations. And “Music City U.S.A.” has become a magnet for musicians of all kinds. In addition to the country divas like Faith Hill and Taylor Swift, there are countless aspiring rockers and indie scenesters. The mix is an eclectic one and its various subgroups don’t always mix particularly well, but this means that Nashville’s indie rock scene draws from an unusually talented pool. And with her debut full-length album, Charlatans at the Garden Gate, Tristen has emerged as one of this scene’s most promising artists.
The album playfully and masterfully combines disparate elements from throughout rock ‘n roll history – from the 70s ABBA-meets-Blondie pop hook of “Doomsday” to the Phil-Spector-by-way-of-60s-Brit-beat of “Baby Drugs” – all with a hint of Nashville country/rockabilly lurking in the background and unified by Tristen’s endearingly vulnerable-yet-powerful vocal delivery. It’s not unusual for kitschy indie artists to mine pop history for nods to trendy fads from the past, but it is unusual to hear rock homages rolled into an original package as refreshing as Charlatans at the Garden Gate. The album’s opening track “Eager For Your Love” is one of the most infectious rock tunes released this year, achieving that rare feat of sounding both eerily familiar and strikingly original. If you’re anything like me, it’s one of the many tunes on this album that you’ll have trouble keeping out of your road trip rotation for the next few months.