As Tracy Shedd (a relatively new Tucsonan) preps for the release of her fourth record (Cigarettes and Smoke Machines, produced by Craig Schumacher at Tucson's Wavelab Studio, due out Sept. 23 on Teenbeat Records), the singer-songwriter is making her previous release available as a free download.
Louder Than You Can Hear, released in 2004 by Devil in the Woods Records, has a sound that spans from spare singer-songwriter material to the noisy end of shoegaze, and throughout Shedd has a sharp sense of how to blend melody with distortion. She has a dreamy, languorous vocal style, which blends well with buzzing, feedback-prone guitars and the looping, urgently propelling drums.
The album opens with the percussive and mesmerizing "Inside Out," a head-nodding tone-setter with the repeated line "You're the only one that ever mattered" fading into the swirl of guitar noise.
The record's highlight is the six-minute third song, "If You Really Cared About Me You Would Have Kept In Touch For All These Years," which starts with a build-up of guitar and drum noise, then slows to just one strumming guitar as Shedd starts singing. The distorted lead guitar breaks back in as a soaring echo that intertwines with Shedd's understated vocal.
Next is the up-tempo "Try And Get Some Rest" and Shedd settles into a groove that stands next to the best early Liz Phair tunes. The album's title comes from the chorus to "Wednesday's The New Thursday," another song built upon layers of guitars and a thumping drum beat.
The closer "Blue (The Blues Explosion Version)" is another perfect example of what Shedd does best on this record: wrap a delicate song inside screaming guitars with a balance and tension so captivating that six minutes pass unnoticed. It starts slow, with finger-picked guitar and Shedd singing the opening lines ("If it takes me all night, I'll get it wrong") with an air of forlorn detachment. The explosion part of the song hits after a beautifully hypnotic three minutes, with a squeal and crash that breaks the quiet but leaves the song's hypnotic core intact.
The previews on Shedd's MySpace page point to an even better record, a tighter and more assured batch of songs that could very well make her one of the buzz singers of the fall.
Tracy Shedd - If You Really Cared About Me You Would Have Kept In Touch For All These Years
Tracy Shedd - Blue (Blues Explosion Version)
Download the whole album from TracyShedd.com.