The Evening Drag
On The Evening Drag, Torrez comes riding out of the desert, having traversed that mysterious axis of Southern California and Arizona, a region so long a source of inspiration for hundreds of rock bands that it has become almost a cliché. In the music of Torrez it once again assumes a mythic quality. It is as much a source of inspiration as it is a metaphor for longing, desperation and foreboding. Of course, their vision remains distilled and is seen through the unique prism of experience that Sidney Alexis (guitars) and Kim Torres (vocals) bring from their vantage point in New Hampshire. The Evening Drag remains equal parts a mixture of Twin Peaks chill, the slow-core dynamic of Low and the sexiness of Mazzy Star, and yet Torrez most closely resembles the Cowboy Junkies after imbibing a fistful of spoiled downers.
The album begins with the harrowing “The Girls will Haunt You,” as Kim’s vocals shimmer and flow over the dry cadence of John Geiner’s drums and the languid interplay of Chris Geiner’s bass. The song, in effect a cautionary reminder, is chilling in its interplay of elements. I can imagine a middle-aged salesman taking a drink of watered down whiskey in a nameless town on an abandoned stretch of highway: Sitting in a lounge of the local Holiday Inn, making eyes with the waitress when this song comes on, sending a palpable chill over the room.
“After the Carnival,” finds the band working a similar theme, this time with an edge, with some teeth. As Kim sings, “spin me around/make me dizzy,” Sidney’s guitar and mellotron only heighten the effect. The rhythm section provides the counterpoint and warning with Chris’s bass lines pulsing out a code of danger. “Spin me around,” Kim sings again, and anyone who’s ever been in a relationship that is equal parts love and fear, hate and delight, sorrow and joy will know what she means. The vertigo and attraction as the relationship disintegrates and oscillates between attraction and repulsion, faster and faster in a fevered pitch before the final collapse. “Spin me around/make me dizzy.” Ah yes.
“Trembling/Freezing” sounds like the counterpart to the classic “Long, Black Veil.” As if the unheard-of lover is finally given her chance to right the record and reveal the truth. Sitting beside the river and reminiscing of times gone past, of journeys and returns, as she sings, “I would jump so far, I would jump so far,” before Sidney’s elegiac guitar solo closes out that track.
If there was one track that summed up this album it would most likely be “The Evening Sun,” as Kim sings, “I like your mistakes, I like the way you cover them up,” accompanied only by the mournful strains of a cello. When the band finally enters the song, it retains a respectful distance from Kim and the cello before finally attempting to catch up with them towards the conclusion of the track. Positively cinematic in scope, one can imagine the opening interplay of Kim and the cello as taking place in some dusty, seventies late model sedan, speeding down an empty highway. From behind, rising up over the hill, timed perfectly with the entrance of the rhythm section, with a fleet of highway patrolmen arise in pursuit, fading off into the sunset and distant horizon.
Musically then, The Evening Drag is a perfect antidote to the current crop of staggeringly mediocre artists. Sublime, literate and crafted by the amazing musicianship of Torrez, The Evening Drag, signals the entrance of a talented band to the wider world. They evoke the dark storytelling of such luminaries as Morphine or Nick Cave, yet retain the compassion others often lack. This is a great record.
Kim Chee Records: http://www.kimcheerecords.com/