August 5, 2017 | doors at 9:00pm
Sharing is Caring
The Bowery presents:
Moses Nesh | Big Brutus
  • $10
  • $12
Adam Torres
In 2006, 20-year-old Adam Torres released his debut album Nostra Nova. The album’s 11 songs are
idiosyncratic and varied – as are many great songs – with each existing as its own little world. It’s
influenced by the works of visual artist Adolf Wolfli and C.G. Jung, and it’s the sound of Torres making
something beautiful. With many truly breathtaking moments throughout, it feels full of promise, and is
simultaneously weathered and young. A DIY self-release, Nostra Nova found deep, long-lasting roots
within the small Athens, OH community at the time, but didn’t resonate farther until much later.
Following its release, Torres went back to college and turned his focus to other interests. But all the while,
he never stopped playing music, writing songs, or performing, even while living in Ecuador on and off for
two years, teaching English and volunteering in rural villages in the Ecuadorian Andes, among other things.
In 2011, Torres moved to Austin, TX and enrolled in graduate school at the University of Texas, and upon
finishing, spent two years working for the state of Texas on a project aimed at cleaning the water quality of
the Rio Grande River in South Texas.
Having penned more than 100 songs since 2006, he quietly released his first music since Nostra Nova in
2012 through DC cassette-label DZ Tapes, which featured tape-recorded demos made inside the
apartments he lived in during his time in Ecuador.
In 2015, Nostra Nova saw a small reissue. Called a “cult classic” by The A.V. Club, the album finally achieved
its due, earning additional praise from Stereogum, VICE, Popmatters, All Music Guide, and Flavorwire,
which wrote of Torres as, “…someone who was, at an early age, able to connect his own odd experiences
to the concept of life itself in an almost innate way.”
In many respects, that description is a good start at capturing the magic of Torres’ music. There’s a
persisting theme that threads through his own story as well as his forthcoming new LP, Pearls To Swine.
Within the cosmos of the album, characters experience a sort of misadventure and persevere, casting light
on the way life can lead you down a path that’s far from where you wanted to be. Pearls To Swine maps
Torres’ complicated history as a songwriter and musician: it’s the sound of someone who discovered the
value in his own devotion to music, and how writing and songs are extensions of his own journey. He
embeds his own folklore within his high-lonesome sounding, deeply felt and moving brand of folk music.
Across the album, Torres crafts uniquely cinematic soundscapes, ranging through a thoughtfully languid
waltz “Juniper Arms” (inspired by Edward Abbey’s iconic book of nature writing Desert Solitaire), and on
the evocative, uneasy “Some Beast Will Find You By Name.” It wends through the lush, gently undulating
“High Lonesome” to the lonely sweep of the Raymond Carver-signaling “Where I’m Calling From,” and
travels from the foreboding, sinuous “Outlands” to the deceptively buoyant cascade of “Mountain River.”
Nature abounds on Pearls To Swine – which also examines the tension of the natural versus the
constructed, and survival – filled with imagery of juniper trees, deserts, blood moons, rivers, plains, and big
western skies that gives it a distinctively southwestern feel. His style acknowledges the classic singersongwriter
tradition, allowing the rhythm sounds to support the structure of songs, while his affecting
falsetto conjures the spirit of traditional vocalists such as John Jacob Niles and Robbie Basho.
Pearls To Swine was recorded over eight days in January at Austin’s Cacophony Recorders, which overlooks
the Colorado River valley. Working alongside co-producer and mixer Erik Wofford (Bill Callahan, Black
Angels, M. Ward, Okkervil River), Torres chose the analog route, recording and mixing directly to tape to
allow for more finality and less overthought. This method in turn lends a natural, warm, and almost magical
realism atmosphere to the songs – like a high-stakes live show captured in a fantastical setting. The core
rhythm was captured live and augmented by a few overdubs, and Torres is joined on the album by the
players in his band: Thor Harris (of Swans; on conga drums, vibraphone, and percussion), Aisha Burns
(violin), and Dailey Toliver (bass/piano), with drum kit performances by Matthew Shepherd and Rodolfo
Villareal III.
Moses Nesh
Bluesman from the future
Big Brutus
I have always been a firm believer that people don’t learn all that much about themselves when they are happy. More often than not it takes change, sometimes miserable, heart-wrenching change for true growth to occur. Relationships, once rosy-cheeked and blithe, can so quickly falter, turn claustrophobic, become toxic water to the mouth of the thirsty. Yet even as people go their separate ways, they are still connected. Few songwriters know this better than Big Brutus, the solo project of Sean Bryant. Throughout two albums of beautiful, memory-laden songs, the life-cycle of emotions plays a starring role. Melancholy, isolation, and despair make us recognize the pain we’ve felt before. In 'Backyard Song (A Dream Turns)', from his first album, '[Tiny Box]', released in March of 2016, Big Brutus reckons with the gulf between the expanses of nature, and the inner isolation of its viewer. What begins as a gentle song still as snow, morphs into a coda of fearfulness and anxiety. It’s a fantastic example of Big Brutus’ ability to fight artistically with isolation and melancholy, to lose himself in these emotions, and to come out stronger on the other side. Refreshingly, '[Tiny Box]' never succumbs to clichéd old platitudes about love-lost or hope-regained, but presents the bullshit and frustrating grey areas that make up a life lived.

“Sometimes you gotta let them go,” Big Brutus sings on the Appalachian-tinged song 'Louise' from his sophomore album, 'The Odd Willow', releasing on March 5th, 2017. There is the evidence of growth in these new songs, of acceptance, of unwithered passion. While acoustic guitar is still present, Sean has made more room for electric guitars, less angry than affirming. On 'Games for Nameless Things' and 'Bury Bone', Big Brutus presents his more hardened and scarred persona. These are undoubtedly fun songs, but they explore the residues of anger that remain no matter how much time has passed. 'The Odd Willow' finds the songwriter in new headspace, but still capable of producing gorgeous, endearing and emotional music. Whether good or bad, hope or loss, expansion or isolation, Big Brutus implores us to “carry it all back home.” It’s hard not to.