JEREMY MESSERSMITH - THE ALCATRAZ KID 



01. The Alcatraz Kid (:27)
02. Novocain (3:20)
03. Easy Lovers, Hardly Friends 3:21)
04. Snow Day (3:03)
05. Day Job (2:33)
06. Scientists (3:31)
07. Super Frog Saves Tokyo (:23)
08. Great Times (3:12)
09. Beautiful Children (3:55)
10. 7:02 (2:31)
11. Old Skin (4:13)

Recommended Tracks: 2, 6, 8
FCC Clean


Website:
www.jeremymessersmith.com
www.princessrecords.com


Onesheet:

Download here.

Check out Jeremy's new release, The Silver City, here.



 

 




You know a good song when you hear it. What you probably don't know is what went into creating that song. Songs from Scratch chronicles the songwriting process to find out what transforms a vague idea into a full-fledged tune.

Minnesota Public Radio gave three local musicians—Best Friends Forever,
P.O.S. (of Doomtree), and Jeremy Messersmith—two weeks to write a song. We assigned them a theme ("The Wizard of Oz") and a set of lyrics (penned by Honeydogs' front man Adam Levy) to up the difficulty level.

Songs from Scratch is documenting their techniques and inspirations, as well as their challenges, to get a first-hand look at how a song comes to life.

More info (and the final versions of the songs themselves) can be found
here.




March/April 2007
DIY Top 12 Picks



Jeremy Messersmith
The Alcatraz Kid

Remember the way you felt the first time you heard the amazing harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel? That subdued, magical sound lives once more on Jeremy Messersmith’s The Alcatraz Kid, but this time with a 21st-century twist.  Messersmith lulls with his gentle voice and overdubbed harmonies, easing the shock of his sometimes-harsh lyrics. On “Novocain,” he asks, “Could you pass me the needle, I’ve got a brand-new scar / I need a shot of Novocain to numb my heart,” against a lightly descending glockenspiel. Orchestral vocals on “Snow Day” call to mind the Beach Boys while Messersmith sings of those who tell him to “brush all your teeth and floss at regular intervals.” The experimental “Super Frog Saves Tokyo” is a 20-second exploration with acoustic guitar and xylophone while “Great Times” is a musical smorgasbord featuring trumpet, tenor guitar and tambourine. Quirky? Certainly. Will you like it? No doubt. -Mare Wakefield


WXPN



My Morning Download Jeremy Messersmith

This month WXPN and The Current in Minneapolis are showcasing some of the coolest and best new bands on the local music scenes from each city. The Music Exchange will feature both Philly and Twin Cities bands each day on each station's airwaves and in podcasts, however you can discover all these bands on our web site here.
Today The Current introduces you to Jeremy Messersmith
Jeremy Messersmith is an emerging Minneapolis based singer-songwriter. The Silver City is his second full-length album and will be released on Princess Records in September 2008. His new album was produced by Dan Wilson. -Bruce Warren


February 2008

Six MN Music Valentines


“Old Skin”
Artist: Jeremy Messersmith
Album: The Alcatraz Kid
Musical Mood: Anyone can write a song about love’s first blush, but it takes a more skilled artist to make matrimonial devotion in the senior years as compelling a topic.  Leave it to Messersmith, whose angelically boyish voice makes for a strange vehicle in which to sing about old love.
Hearts-A-Flutter lyric: “Our love was made to last/We fade like photographs/Wrinkled and worn/The edges are all torn/Unmistakable/I’ll love your old skin.”
- Rob Van Alstyne


SOME VELVET BLOG


Feeling Minnesota's Jeremy Messersmith

I was turned on to Minneapolis's Jeremy Messersmith by fellow Minnesotan Dan Wilson, a guy who knows a little about writing a crafty tune of two. Well, actually not a little, but a lot. So I immediately went out and after a listen to one song I bought Jeremy's self-released album, The Alcatraz Kid. You can't help notice some of the Elliot Smith, Eels, and teenage symphony to god influences, but Messersmith is definitely a guy to watch - particularly as he's working with Dan Wilson on a new record.
Originally from Washington State, Messersmith moved to Minneapolis in 1999 for school, started writing songs and playing in bands - all the while writing songs that he recorded and released on CD in brown paper bags. "The Paper Bag" was formally released in 2006 and now comes The Alcatraz Kid, a warm collection of concisely written and arranged "Garden State" sized pop gems.

There are more songs on Jeremy's myspace and while you're there buy the album.


THE WHOLE MUSIC CLUB



Drawing from classic songsters like Brian Wilson to basement recording mavericks like Elliot Smith, Jeremy Messersmith writes small, thoughtfully crafted songs. Based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jeremy's latest record, The Alcatraz Kid, features memorable lyrics and irresistible melodies in a bargain basement wrapper.



December 2006

The Outsider

Formerly a basement-bound songwriter, Jeremy Messersmith gets ready for the spotlight.
The best pop music has often been made by weirdos, outsides whose every song bears their idiosyncratic creative stamp.  Just look at Minnesota’s own legends, Prince, Dylan, Westerberg—a pack of social misfits who may have had an easier time penning genre-defining albums than, say, getting a date to the prom.  Jeremy Messersmith, a home recording addict whose songs offer both straightforward charm and dour moodiness, is the new weirdo in two, but a kinder, gentler weirdo with a lower commercial profile—at least for now.

Messersmith’s outsider credentials are beyond question.  Home-schooled by devout Pentecostal parents while growing up in Washington, Messersmith only got exposed to pop music in first and starts during his youth.  “As far as upbringing goes, I can only wonder what sort of weird person I’ve become as a result of home-schooling,” admits the affable 27-year-old, who moved to the Twin Cities area for college and now resides in Minneapolis’ Seward neighborhood.  “Musically it’s probably only stunted me.  If I had grown up listening to cool music, maybe I would be in some really cool band instead of being a solo guy doing stuff in my basement.”

 Messersmith’s “stuff” has only recently left his basement via his debut album, The Alcatraz Kid, a swift-moving collecting driven by acoustic guitar and Messersmith’s lovelorn boyish vocals (Elliot Smith comparisons are common in the local press, but Messersmith actually sounds a good deal more like local music hero Brian Tighe of the Hang Ups.) Where Messersmith flips the script and makes things more interesting is in his lush, albeit lo-fi, arrangements.  He dresses up his simple yet melodically mesmerizing tunes in a wide array of  unexpected accoutrements (trumpet, rinky-dink synth fills, drums, tremolo-heavy electric guitar) and bathes them in a sea of wounded-heart harmonies.  For good measure, he even throws in a pair of starkly cinematic instrumental cuts solid enough to make one thing he’s got a future in film scoring, if the whole singer/songwriter thing doesn’t work out. 

 “Most of the time if you’re playing acoustic guitar, you get lumped into the folk category by default,” says Messersmith.  “I’m not really a folkie.  I’m more of a pop person stuck with an acoustic guitar and what I could afford to have in the basement.  All of my songs are written pretty quickly, like in a day or so; then I have to do a fair amount of deconstruction during the recording process to see how I want them to end up.”

Helping Messersmith do the deconstructing these days is Dan Wilson, a multi-platinum artist with Semisonic who lately has spent his time co-writing chart-topping his for the Dixie Chicks and others.  They’re currently recording in significantly nicer digs than Messersmith’s basement crash pad.  It’s all pretty heady stuff for a guy who still has to trudge to work at this cubicle every weekday for his gig as a tech support guy. “I find constant inspiration in the drudgery,” says Messersmith, only half joking; the most affecting track on his debut is called “Day Job.”  “I find it interesting that the majority of musicians who have day jobs aren’t willing to sing about it.  That’s not the image they want to project.  Sure, if I were to somehow write a hit song, maybe I wouldn’t have to wake up at 6:30 in the morning and go into work.  But for me, making music is about escapism.  If I didn’t have a job to escape from I’d need to find something else.” -Rob van Alstyne

 

NUVO
 

The Alcatraz Kid
Jeremy Messersmith
(Princess Records)
Four stars

The simplicity of Messersmith’s “Scientists” and “Beautiful Children” provide harmonies emanating warmth. His poignant voice delivers broken hearts and solitude, yet leaves you wanting to replay the album again and again. See Jeremy Messersmith live Thursday, Aug. 9 at the Melody Inn at 8:30 p.m.
Sounds like: Damien Rice, The Shins, Remy Zero -Kristin Riccardo





Jeremy Messersmith
The Alcatraz Kid
(Princess Records)
Although “All songs written, preformed, and recorded” on Jeremy Messersmith’s album, “The Alcatraz Kid” were by him (with a one song exception of keys), he is first and foremost a singer.  His voice rings out paramount during the length of the CD.  Messersmith could almost just survive with his smooth tones alone, in some new age a capella venture.

This isn’t to say that he’s not a great guitarist (there are some beautiful strums on the album), or a great lyricist (more about that later), but even without his voice being mixed louder than any other instrument, one can tell that that’s really what this album is about.  His sound is reminiscent of The Postal Service/Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard.  Messersmith knows he doesn’t need to take his voice to the limit, that he sounds perfectly wonderful just keeping it in the mid-level.

This is, to some extent, a break up album.  Tracks like “Novacane” talk about numbing his broken heart.  The next song, “Easy Lovers, Hardly Friends” is pretty self-explanatory.  And “Beautiful Children” contains some of those impressive lyrics mentioned early.  After being sure the relationship is over, he walks home, “sewing tear drops in the snow,” which is heart rendering whether you’re in the middle of a break up, or have never experienced one.

There are a couple of weird notions that Messermith seems somewhat obsessed with.  The concepts of ‘scientists’ and ‘jobs’ crop up every few songs.  Jobs, well, those are a bane of every musicians life.  But the scientist thing?  In “Snow Day”, a song that seems to be about childhood, he croons “you’ll be a scientist, our little scientist.”  Later, in the aptly named “Scientists” Messersmith tells, well, I’m not entirely sure who he’s telling, “You should’ve made me a drunkard, made me a liar, made me a preacher with a head full of fire” and so on, until “But I chose water over wine, jars of formaldehyde, think of all the things I’ve missed, why’d you make me a scientist?”

Well, I’m glad that he’s a musician not a scientist, so that he could create this lovely album.
—Amber Henson



NPR.org
Jeremy Messersmith: 'Beautiful Children'

Open Mic, November 8, 2006 · Singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith found his path after auditing a songwriting course at North Central University in Minneapolis. The class encouraged him to start writing songs of his own and experiment with different styles and genres than he experienced as a music major. The songs from his album The Alcatraz Kid reflect some of his influences: Elliott Smith, The Beatles and Brian Wilson. With Messersmith on acoustic guitar, the track "Beautiful Children" showcases the emotional depth of his lyrics and vocals.

Originally from Washington state, Messersmith moved to Minneapolis in 1999. After his songwriting interest sparked in 2002, Messersmith played in some local bands. He went solo in 2004, handing out free copies of his music in brown paper bags.

Either by fate or skill, or a little of both, a bag found its way into the hands of the Minneapolis-based Princess Records, which released Alcatraz in the Fall of 2006. On tour to support the album, Messersmith is working on a follow up record with producer Dan Wilson, who has also worked with Semisonic.
-Nick Schubert




Jeremy and 89.3 DJ Mark Wheat stopped by KARE 11's Showcase Minnesota to talk about the upcoming Rock The Cradle event at the Children's Theater.  Jeremy even played the song "Light Rail."  More info can be found here.




Twin Cities singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith has been likened to Elliott Smith for his confessional and well-crafted songs, but most reviewers are quick to point out that Messersmith seems to have a somewhat sunnier take on his circumstances than Smith did. His new album "The Alcatraz Kid" showcases the delicate acoustic arrangements and hushed vocals you expect from the sub-genre, but it's the literate and sincere foundation of those songs that really set them apart. -Rob Thomas

Messersmith will be at Cafe Montmartre, 127 E. Mifflin St., at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $5 through www.virtuous.com and Daredevil Chris Wright will open the show.
 



Jeremy Messersmith

The Alcatraz Kid
Princess Records
originally published July 25, 2007

Minnesota's Jeremy Messersmith has recently finished his first full-length album full of melodic, heartfelt odes and catchy simplistic ditties about life, love, work and self-medicating. Airy vocals and acoustic instrumentation mixed with melodramatic orchestral arrangements automatically make this a necessary indie/ baroque pop album to own. The best thing about The Alcatraz Kid is the balance it's able to strike between the hauntingly morose and somewhat dark lyrics and the beautiful sanguineness of the music, a rather perfect melding of melancholy and mirth to take its place alongside The Decemberists and Badly Drawn Boy. Messersmith also draws comparisons to bands like The Doves, Sufjan Stevens and The Shins. But more than anything else, from the very first riff of Messersmith's well-crafted and thoroughly intelligent songs to their absolute last chords, the presence of Elliott Smith pervades The Alcatraz Kid.

The song, "Easy Lovers, Hardly Friends," describes how physical desires sometimes/ somehow outweigh emotional needs despite our best efforts. "Scientists" is probably not the best song on the album, depending on what your mood is, but it is the best written song, with its sturdy melody and enchanting choral harmonies; even the lyrics are above par. However, the piece that takes the cake would be "Old Skin," a proclamation of love enduring till death, and a perfect ending to an already charming album. - Charley Lee

Jeremy Messersmith is playing at Farm 255 on Saturday, July 28.




Jeremy Messersmith
The Alcatraz Kid
Princess Records, 2007
 

Never underestimate the power and efficiency of simplicity and minimalism. Take for example in the subject of toking: gravity bonging (Google it or something) is one of the absolute simplest ways of smoking “the dope” (or tobacco, but I don't know who would want to hit tobacco that hard), yet thanks to the physics behind it, getting high has never felt so advanced in the past.

In terms of music, Jeremy Messersmith has mastered this art of simplicity and minimalism. His debut album The Alcatraz Kid is a perfect easy listening album based on acoustic guitars, keyboards, and light percussion; accompanied by storytelling lyrics a la Elliot Smith presented in that much desired ethereal voice of his.

There's a lot of really nice vocal melodies in this album. Actually I think “really nice” is seriously downplaying it. It's more of the kind of vocal melodies that we ache to hear on a bad day, or everyday for that matter, you know? I think it's also the perfect instrumental harmonies that he accompanies them with, adding the icing to the cake and all. Songs like 'Novocain' (undoubtedly the best song on the album) and 'Scientists' start off with simply pleasant melodies during the verse, and then move onto the most catchy and beautiful choruses that makes the listener want to hear more and more of.

The thing I love most about Jeremy though, is that he integrates certain continuous elements that are heard throughout the album which strings it together as a whole and makes it worth listening to in its entirety. The album is based mainly in major keys played with acoustic guitars, keyboards, and really awesome percussion instruments (you know, xylophones, triangles, tambourines and what not). The subjects of the songs are fairly depressing. Not the kind of sappy depressing shit that people like to brag about, but the personal things that many people can really relate to and feel good about when heard in music - a very personal feel that is quite rare.

Now I'm not saying this album is a masterpiece, as a matter of fact it does sag a bit as it gets to the end. But I can definitely tell that Jeremy has all the potential in the world to create masterpieces of all sorts. So make no mistake in looking forward to whatever Jeremy Messersmith has to offer next with his minimalistic music for such a complicated personality. Of course it certainly doesn't hurt to check out this album - especially for the melody savvy and anyone who enjoys intelligently simple music, this album can really knock you off your seat (in a really pleasant way). - Henry Shi




"Soft, pretty vocals within generally fragile acoustic arrangements…reminiscent of more recent Badly Drawn Boy."





Jeremy Messersmith
Alcatraz Kid
(Princess)

December 07, 2006

It's hard not to be caught off-guard by Jeremy Messersmith’s Alcatraz Kid. Granted, the Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter is far from a household (or “blogosphere”) name. But what really provides cause for surprise is how the first three or four songs on the record will have gone by without you noticing what light, enjoyable listens they really were. Perhaps this has something to do with how unassuming, acoustically driven songs rich in melody that muse about matters of love and existential angst are not always immediately striking in their adventurousness or unique sound. Admittedly, this record isn’t really either, but it is deceptively difficult to write songs of this nature without coming off as overly syrupy or dull. This is a task Messersmith has demonstrated he can ably accomplish, as evidenced by standout tracks like “Novocain,” a worthy exercise in juxtaposing downcast lyrics with a peppy tune, and the harmony-dappled wistfulness of “Snow Day.” Yes, this is a singer-songwriter record, but Jeremy Messersmith would like to remind you that the term isn’t always a four-letter word. -Pras Rajagopalan


Jeremy Messersmith
Princess Records
Drawing from classic songsters like Brian Wilson to basement recording mavericks like Elliott Smith, Jeremy Messersmith writes small, thoughtfully crafted songs. Based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jeremy's latest record, The Alcatraz Kid, features memorable lyrics and irresistible melodies in a bargain basement wrapper. Originally hailing from the deserts of southern Washington State, Jeremy moved to Minneapolis in 1999 and studied music at North Central University, eventually graduating in 2002. An audit of a songwriting course sparked Jeremy's interest in songwriting and soon he began to experiment with styles and genres. After playing in a few local bands, Messersmith started playing solo shows in the fall of 2004 and handing out free copies of his music: intriguingly packaged in a brown paper bag. The Paper Bag soon caught the attention of Minneapolis based Princess Records, who released the long awaited full-length record in the Fall 2006. Jeremy is currently touring to support The Alcatraz Kid as well as working on a follow up record with local producer Dan Wilson (Semisonic, Trip Shakespeare).


INDIE MUSE
October 2, 2006

Jeremy Messersmith
Alcatraz Kid
(Princess)


I have a very exciting artist to share with you today. Singer-Songwriter Jeremy Messersmith is one of Minneapolis’ hidden gems, and it will not be surprising if he soon blows up in the indie scene. To give you an idea as to just how “underground” Jeremy currently is, he only has 590 MySpace friends. He seems like a laid back guy, and in today’s over-produced world, his music is considered very minimalist.

Jeremy’s songs are thoughtfully played both instrumentally and lyrically. You don’t see that much anymore. More often than not, you have songs that have great potential but are ruined by meaningless, and immature lyrics. Sometimes you’ll find a talented lyricist, yet he doesn’t have the melodies to carry the songs. In those instances, the songs are disregarded because they’re songs–not poems. Jeremy has eloquently produced an album that is enjoyable to listen to, and lyrically, he improves the songs. It does not appear that he is trying to knock off Elliott Smith, but he does share a similar sound. His lyrics are not nearly as gloomy as Smith’s.

I would also like to note that Jeremy seems to be a very down to earth guy. You see many artists today who express their feelings through their songs, yet there is no supporting evidence that their lyrics represent how they truly feel. For example, there are many artists who talk about their opinions on love, yet don’t really have the slightest idea what love is. It’s harder to accept those songs, because it feels more like the artists is trying to woo the listener, instead of writing out of passion. Jeremy has a blog on his site, where he expresses his feelings outside of his songs. His feelings on everyday life help support that his lyrics are honest. We learn his opinions on Chicago’s deep-dish pizza’s, cubicles, and Star Wars to name a few. I personally feel closer to music when I trust the artist singing.  Purchase this album from Jeremy’s website! -David




Jeremy Messersmith
Uncommon Ground; Sat 2


As a twentysomething, white singer-songwriter from the Midwest who counts Elliott Smith as an influence, Jeremy Messersmith stands in a crowded field. There are better guitarists, better singers and better engineers, all doing what he does. But on his arresting 2006 debut, The Alcatraz Kid (Princess Records), Messersmith excels in the one category that can’t be taught: songwriting. Raised in Washington State by Pentecostal parents, Messersmith grew up surrounded by hymns and ecstatic worship music. It was only at 15 that he discovered the oldies station. He later moved to his current home, Minneapolis, to attend a Pentecostal university, but any missionary impulse seems to have been submerged—his laconic songwriting style fits in perfectly amid Twin City heroes such as Dan Wilson.

With his gentle hush of a voice, Messersmith’s most affecting when detailing ennui and disappointment. In “Day Job,” he describes a woman who desperately “wants more bugs on her windshield.” By the first person–tense chorus, though, he admits to himself that he’s unwilling to undertake the same adventures: “I could leave tomorrow but I won’t/I’ve still got my day job.” There’s profound sweetness on Alcatraz, too: In a marriage tribute that rivals George Strait’s “I Cross My Heart,” he repeatedly intones to his wife, “I’ll love your old skin.”

Live, Messersmith uses delay pedals to create percussion loops not only on his guitar—a common enough trick for singer-songwriters—but also on keyboards and on glorious, four-part background vocals. Compared to the spartan sound of Alcatraz, the cumulative effect sounds, well, ecstatic. -Matthew Lurie




April 27, 2007
Best albums
Jeremy Messersmith, "The Alcatraz Kid" (Princess) -- A downbeat tunesmith for the wool-scarf indie-rock crowd, Messersmith's playfully arranged, retro-styled folk-pop fits in somewhere between Sufjan and Cat Stevens.





City Pages A-list Pick 12/29:
"Jeremy Messersmith writes laconic, meticulously crafted pop-folk songs with a major dose of Brian Wilson-like pop smarts and quirky introspection laced with literary turns...." - Rick Mason


POWERPOPAHOLIC
Power pop music and an honest opinion.


Jeremy Messersmith
Alcatraz Kid
(Princess)

Jeremy Messersmith is an Elliot Smith-styled singer, with a gentle wistful voice that make his new album "The Alcatraz Kid" easy to follow and enjoy. Wonderful lyrics and thoughful melodies that have just enough hooks to keep you involved. "Old Skin" is a heartfelt love theme and very memorable here. Bits of Sufjan Stevens, The Eels and even Bowie peek through as influences other than the late Mr. Smith. The instrumental tune on "Day Job" would fit fine on an Apple iphone commercial, but the story in the lyrics is compelling here as well. "Snow Day" is an upbeat tune here and conjures up images of warm cozy nights in front of a fire place, looking for that first snowfall. "Novocain" is also another keeper, with a great chorus about deadening heartache by "Passing another needle..." My only issue here is that album is pretty downbeat, all the way through without anything that exciting to get your blood pumping. But thank goodness the lyrics are not all bleak.This is a great start for Jeremy and hopefully we'll hear more from him in the future. Purchase the album straight from MySpace or itunes.







Jeremy Messersmith
The Alcatraz Kid
Princess Records

Jeremy Messersmith writes about Everyman's fat cousin, the one who does something with computers, maybe, and whose social life makes Walter Mitty look like Keith Moon. The singer-songwriter's cautious heroes come home not around seven, but precisely at 7:02. When urged to follow a lover to the West Coast, they hop in the Focus, and head in early for work. The Alcatraz Kid, Messersmith's basement-bred debut, also features a science prodigy's forlorn waltz, and a grown-up scientist's soft-voiced jeremiad, sung to a You we can presume to be divine. There are other heartbroken nebbishes, all interesting in their own dull ways, all granted canny melodies underneath which Messersmith strums and plucks his 3:00 a.m. acoustic. The losers win in the end, causing an ad hoc street choir to chant "Gimme Indie Folk!" until well past nine thirty. —Dylan Hicks





Jeremy Messersmith
The Alcatraz Kid
Princess Records
www.jeremymessersmith.com






Since his brief yet memorable appearance at the Rock For Pussy III concert back in April, Jeremy Messersmith has been somewhat of a musical legend in my mind. During his cover of Bowie’s “Starman,” Messersmith’s voice was both haunting and heartbreaking, and I have been trying desperately to learn more about the singer-songwriter ever since my ears had the pleasure of making his aural acquaintance. It was a delight to find, months later, that Messersmith is ready to unleash his first full-length solo album, and though I had only heard him for a few minutes I was convinced that the collection of songs would justify my increasing anticipation. His record, easily one of the best local releases of the year, proves that his songwriting abilities measure up to the beauty of his captivating, ethereal voice. Messersmith follows in the footsteps of many great Minnesota songwriters before him by providing listeners with a candle to carry during the dark months of the impending winter. Like a safe haven hidden away beneath a snowbank, his voice is pliable and comforting, with music tucked into so many layers that new sounds unearth themselves with each listen. And it’s not just my imagination (or frustration with the August heat) that The Alcatraz Kid carries such wintery themes—on “Snow Day,” Messersmith yearns for a break from the mundane and an excuse to go out and play in the white fluff, while “Day Job” laments the 9-to-5 shackles that keep him from leaving the state all together and heading toward sunshine. Other standout tracks on the album like “Novocain” and “Scientists” feature intimate lyrics that beg to be taken away from the drone of the overworked air conditioner and fed a hot cup of cocoa. As a complete package the album is introspective and delicately hopeful, providing the kind of warmth suitable for all seasons. The CD Release Show is on Sat., Sept. 2 at the Acadia Café with Chris Koza. 8 p.m. $5. All Ages. 1931 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls. 612-874-8702.
ANDREA MYERS

 

Jeremy Messersmith
The Alcatraz Kid
Princess Records
www.jeremymessersmith.com

 
Alcatraz Kid begins with a stellar single in "Novocain", a splendidly breezy pop tune about incurable heartbreak and disappointment with an unforgettable, singalong-worthy chorus.  Imagine Elliott Smith driving in a convertible, the wind flying through his hair, singing about sadness and somehow creating joy enough to forget his troubles for a while.
CHRIS BAHN

 
 
 







Much like Chris Koza, with whom he'll perform Saturday at the Acadia Café, newcomer Jeremy Messersmith should quickly turn some heads with his sophisticated, downbeat pop debut, "The Alcatraz Kid," out this week on Princess Records. The CD is full of literate, languid but warm acoustic ditties with traces of Elliott Smith and the "Garden State" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" soundtracks.
CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER
 
 




Charming local singer/songwriter Jeremy Messersmith, who is reminiscent of a less-morose Elliott Smith, debuts his new disc, "The Alcatraz Kid," on Saturday at the Acadia Cafe with support from Chris Koza. The prolific Messersmith already has a follow-up, co-produced by Dan Wilson, that should be out later this year.  -
ROSS RAIHALA




A home-schooled innocent joins the local folk-pop fraternity
Speaking in Strums

by Dylan Hicks
August 30, 2006
 


Jeremy Messersmith: Sure, he made a record—but he's not gonna shove it down your throat, for Pete's sake
 
Jeremy Messersmith
The Alcatraz Kid
Princess Records
 
About a year and a half ago I decided that Chris Koza, on the strength of his tuneful, self-produced, Elliott Smith-influenced debut album, Exit/Pesce, was the premier under-30 singer-songwriter in Minneapolisland. Koza's a real talent—please buy that record and join his mailing list—but his second album was a bit slick and occasionally overwrought and generally less memorable than his first. And so I have switched allegiances. I am a fickle man, and also a hapless Othello competitor, but let us not dwell on my many faults. (No, seriously— back off.)

About a week and a half ago I decided that Jeremy Messersmith, on the strength of his tuneful, self-produced, Elliott Smith-influenced debut album, The Alcatraz Kid, was the premiere under-30 singer-songwriter in the Twin Cities. (During the past year and a half, I was persuaded to swear off the coinage "Minneapolisland.") Messersmith writes purring ballads of love gone south (or, occasionally, north) and forlorn waltzes about adolescent science geeks, and records them in his unimpressive basement studio. His music is, in the parlance of the gyne- and homophobes of my youth, for fucking wimps. I have heard harder rocking from wind chimes. But rarely is it self-conscious or cute or feckless. Mostly it is just pretty, finely crafted, and cleverly played and arranged despite Messersmith's lack of attention-grabbing chops.

So you should see his next show and/or give him a five-album record deal with full creative autonomy. At the very least, you should check out his song, "Novocain," available free of charge on Messersmith's website (www.jeremymessersmith.com).
 
For those of you too lazy to take even that measure, I will attempt to entice you with the following description: First, the song pays off your Visa bill. Then, Messersmith gives two trebly acoustic guitars a bouncy strum reminiscent of the Beatles' "I've Just Seen a Face," over which he sings, straining appealingly on the chorus, a melody seemingly composed on a drive through the rolling hills of some rolly-hill place. (If you care to picture this drive more vividly, note that Messersmith drives an early-'90s Civic.) The melody is a happy one, in contrast to the lyrics. Summary: world supply of Novocain insufficient when pitted against narrator's broken heart.) In the background an organ drones, some spare electronic percussion hisses, and a simple counterpoint melody leaks from a bell-toned keyboard. The song's winding yet repetitive tune, coupled with the recording's impoverished fidelity, reminds me of Georgian cult idols Neutral Milk Hotel, but Messersmith says any similarity is coincidental. Any connection to the Eels' parallel alt-radio hit "Novocain for the Soul," is also coincidental, the songwriter maintains. "I try not to use the word 'soul' in songs," he adds.

Well, shit. Having just made a few phone calls, I've discovered that Messersmith's tune does not, after all, pay off one's Visa bill. Jeez, that puts me in something of a bind. Stupid! But my financial woes are of no concern to most of you, and besides, it's high time we delved further into Messersmith the Man.
 
MtM lives in a duplex apartment in the Seward neighborhood with his wife Vanessa, who was celebrating her 27th birthday when I visited the couple. Vanessa works with schizophrenic patients for a large health-services outfit. She also rents space in an antique shop, and so the apartment is handsomely equipped with cheap but not tacky garage-sale finds. Messersmith and I sit on the couch, and as a sort of parlor game I lob guesses regarding the 26-year-old singer's influences (some mentioned above, plus others), speculating wrong every time, with the exception of Smith.

"The music I listened to as a kid was pretty restricted," explains Messersmith in his even, open voice. "I wasn't really allowed to listen to the radio, so it was pretty much a steady diet of hymns, worship choruses, occasionally contemporary Christian music." Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Messersmith grew up in Washington's Tri-Cities of Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick. His dad worked for a nuclear power plant, and his mom home-schooled the four Messersmith kids. (Jeremy also attended a private Christian school for a few years, and in his late high school years took classes at a community college.) The family's social life was centered on the local Assemblies of God church. For those inexpert on Protestant denominational distinctions, that means Messersmith was raised with Pentecostalism and its characteristic speaking in tongues, emphasis on the Holy Spirit, and late-night services. Plus lots of music, not of the staid Presbyterian cast. "At our church basically everybody played an instrument," says Messersmith, who took trumpet lessons as a boy and trots out the horn for a few Alcatraz Kid tunes. "You're playing hymns, but it's almost Dixieland, with everyone playing at once. We'd have drums, bass, saxophones, two piano players, organ—sometimes the band would outnumber the people."
 
"At 15 or so I started sneaking listens to the radio. But the radio stations were limited, too, so I listened to a lot of oldies. Probably I learned something about melody from those. I can't really hold conversations very well with people who've been listening to music since they were kids, because there are just huge gaps for me. I always wonder how that shaped my development."
Messersmith moved to Minneapolis to attend North Central University, where he and Vanessa met. Though isolated from Hipster Nation as a kid, he now mixes nicely with local indie-folkies such as Koza and Jeff Hanson, as well as one-man-band eccentrics such as Andrew Broder and Martin Dosh. In performance, he mainly sings and plays acoustic guitar but also screws around with samplers, Casios, and other staples of the looper-songster-possible-crazy-genius subgenre.
 
During our interview, Messersmith is mild-mannered, intelligent, and self-effacing. You might mistake him for a tech support worker. He is, as it turns out, a tech-support worker. But surely not for long. (Or, perhaps, forever; I cannot predict such things.) He and Vanessa and I walk over to a coffee shop for lunch. They interact the way one hopes couples will interact, which is to say, as if they are in love and seriously comfortable with one another.
 
Later I listen further to The Alcatraz Kid's closing song. It's a straightforward love song, a wedding song, even, sung in a Paul Simon croon—the kind of thing indie-rockers are often squeamish around. "I'll love your old skin," Messersmith sings, "love your old skin, love your old skin, I'll love your old skin," giving each pass through the line a distinctive lilt or quaver. I, too, am suspicious of sentimentality and will not credit lines such as "Our love was made to last" with great originality. Nor will I deem this song the finest or fourth finest on Messersmith's record. But I admire it: It's both crafty and sincere, and I think it illustrates this guy's talents as well as some of his artier efforts do. You've heard the one about the singer talented enough to turn the Trenton telephone directory into a very long and beautiful aria. Well, here is a songwriter talented enough to take a greeting card and make it smart and correct and pure.

Calendar Info: Jeremy Messersmith with Chris Koza - Saturday, September 2 - Acadia Café - 612.874.8702
 




Jeremy Messersmith - "The Alcatraz Kid" - Not knowing what to expect from this CD, Messersmith suprised me with some great songs. I like the low key production, melodic vocal lines and it's simplicity which makes my ears happy.





Low-keyed singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith celebrates the release of his first album, The Alcatraz Kid, and joins the chorus of local folkies crooning in the key of (Elliot) Smith. A-LIST


SUBBA-CULTCHA



Jeremy Messersmith
The Alcatraz Kid
Princess Records

Minneapolis troubadour’s debut album, now available in the UK

Minnesotan song smith Jeremy Messersmith has already begun to rise up the ladder in his native US, where this album was actually released back in 2006. Something about his mix of earnest lyrics, soulful music and inclination to muse on subjects from love to Chicago Deep Dish pizza to Star Wars have endeared him to audiences wherever he has played. Most of all though, there is an honestly in Messersmith’s quavering vocal and an integrity in his song writing that gives him the strength to marry his sometimes downbeat words to tunes that carry sunshine inside, as if there’s light at the end of each of his musical tunnels. As befit’s a man who used to hand out copies of his music in brown paper bags after each gig, Messersmith comes off as humble, almost shy, but is unafraid to bare his soul on tracks like ‘Easy Lovers Hardly Friends’. That he is already hard at work on his sophomore album lets us know he’s going to be a name to look out for.  -Matt Merritt

If you like the sound of this, then check these out?
Elliott Smith, Chris Koza, Mark Mallman


INDIEMUSIC.COM



I have a very exciting artist to share with you today. Singer-Songwriter Jeremy Messersmith is one of Minneapolis’ hidden gems, and it will not be surprising if he soon blows up in the indie scene. To give you an idea as to just how “underground” Jeremy currently is, he only has 590 Myspace friends. He seems like a laid back guy, and in today’s over-produced world, his music is considered very minimalist.

Jeremy’s songs are thoughtfully played both instrumentally and lyrically. You don’t see that much anymore. More often than not, you have songs that have great potential but are ruined by meaningless, and immature lyrics. Sometimes you’ll find a talented lyricist, yet he doesn’t have the melodies to carry the songs. In those instances, the songs are disregarded because they’re songs–not poems. Jeremy has eloquently produced an album that is enjoyable to listen to, and lyrically, he improves the songs. It does not appear that he is trying to knock off Elliott Smith, but he does share a similar sound. His lyrics are not nearly as gloomy as Smith’s.

I would also like to note that Jeremy seems to be a very down to earth guy. You see many artists today who express their feelings through their songs, yet there is no supporting evidence that their lyrics represent how they truly feel. For example, there are many artists who talk about their opinions on love, yet don’t really have the slightest idea what love is. It’s harder to accept those songs, because it feels more like the artists is trying to woo the listener, instead of writing out of passion. Jeremy has a blog on his site, where he expresses his feelings outside of his songs. His feelings on everyday life help support that his lyrics are honest. We learn his opinions on Chicago’s deep dish pizza’s, cubicles, and Star Wars to name a few. I personally feel closer to music when I trust the artist singing.


 

Best Of Minneapolis- BEST SONGWRITER

Jeremy Messersmith
www.jeremymessersmith.com

After a few years spent quietly distributing CD-Rs of his basement-bred folk-pop, Bible college bad boy Jeremy Messersmith made his official debut last year with The Alcatraz Kid. With their rubber-soul melodies and corduroy melancholy, Messersmith's songs purr like Elliott Smith beset with plain-old sadness rather than dangerous despair. The album's first and premier song is called "Novocain," the irony being that it makes you feel. Both blue and bubbly, it's the sort of tune the word "lilting" longs to modify. Elsewhere Messersmith offers fragmentary narratives about unassuming dreamers and losers whose names are rarely remembered accurately. There's a science prodigy's forlorn waltz and a grown-up scientist's soft-voiced jeremiad. Underneath, Messersmith lays on a balm of canny melodies, 3:00 a.m. guitar strums, and bell-like electric piano. Is he writing the liveliest funeral dirge or the most melancholy coronation fanfare? Only Messersmith knows for sure.




Jeremy Messersmith
The Alcatraz Kid
(Princess, 2006)

Minneapolis based singer/songwriter Jeremy Messersmith has recorded an album that sounds like it could’ve been released back in the late 60’s.  This is what I call an analog recording without today’s digital effects in cubase, simply a basic and naked pop album full of acoustic instruments.  Jeremy writes music with influences of Brian Wilson, Neil Young and Paul Simon but with the modern songwriting style of Denison Witmer and Faris Nourallah.  "The Alcatraz Kid" is a nice album that is a safe buy for x-mas if you’re into the artists above, the second track "Novocain" is a lovely song worthy of its place on your iPods. -Kaj Roth





Hot Tickets for January 3-January 9, 2007

 

Thursday: Jeremy Messersmith @ 7th Street Entry

You've probably heard Jeremy Messersmith; his song "Novocain" is all over radio right now, and why not? It's a fairly incredible song, leavening a sensitive guy refrain ("I need a shot of Novocain / to numb my broken heart") with a toothsome melody that keeps it from getting maudlin. What you might not know is that it's followed on his debut disc, The Alcatraz Kid, by another fantastically winsome tune, "Easy Lovers, Hardly Friends." Messersmith has a gift for taking the everyday and making it seem quietly epic, spanning the gap between the reality of our fairly boring lives and the glossy way we feel about the movies with a few chords and a skippingly descending melody. "Started with a tiny whisper / in my ear," he sings in "Easy Lovers," "Ended like a roller coaster / at the county fair." Caught in the push-pull of an off-again, on-again relationship with nothing at the core, he makes a situation that most of us would just whine about to our friends into a beautiful slice of pop perfection. And then he does it over and over again. I can hardly wait for the follow up. The pairing with Chris Koza is an inspired one, as Koza busted out of the gates with a killer debut album and has since followed it with a strong second effort and a just-released EP—in essence, he's running the same race as Messersmith, just a couple laps ahead. Also with The Winter Blanket. 8 p.m. $6/$8. 21+. 29 N. 7th St., Mpls. 612-332-1775.


BABYSUE.COM REVIEW
November 2006
 


Jeremy Messersmith
The Alcatraz Kid
Princess

A wonderfully entertaining solo album from Twin Cities newcomer Jeremy Messersmith. This young fellow has a sound that combines the warmth and creativity of underground pop with slick melodies usually associated with commercial hits. This is a true one man project as Jeremy wrote, performed, and recorded this album entirely on his own (the only thing he didn't create was the cool cover art provided by Nick Schubert). Messersmith's tunes recall a variety of artists including Sufjan Stevens and Elliot Smith. His pensive thoughtful lyrics and sincere voice make his tunes easily stand out from the pack. The Alcatraz Kid is a multifaceted album that gets better the more you spin it. With the release of this disc, Jeremy Messersmith immediately shows the world that he will indeed be a force to be reckoned with in the years ahead. Killer tracks include "The Alcatraz Kid," "Easy Lovers Hardley Friends," "Super Frog Saves Tokyo," and "Old Skin." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)


DULUTH BUDGETEER

Messersmith proves himself as Minneapolis’ next great singer/songwriter
Matthew R. Perrine Budgeteer News
Published Saturday, October 07, 2006
 


Melancholy has a new best friend forever in Jeremy Messersmith.
Although he probably wasn’t attempting to record an anti-Mason Jennings album, that’s exactly what “The Alcatraz Kid” is. While both singer/songwriters operate out of the Twin Cities, two very different — and two very real — outcomes emerge when they commit their lives to tape. Jennings is happy in love, soaking in the sun (even when he’s trying to hide it) while Messersmith is left beaten down and brokenhearted.

More akin to select Pacific Northwest troubadours, Messersmith’s songs run rampant with loneliness and self-medication. The aptly titled “Novocain” may start out with some powerful acoustic strumming that seems uplifting enough, but the lyrics quickly remind listeners who’s between their ears: “I need a shot of Novocain / To numb my heart / Could you pass me the bottle? / Make it something hard.”

Similarly, the album’s most contagious rock chords (found on “Great Times”) are slightly dampered by lines like “If I had a slightly better job / Would it make you proud of me?”
It’s not to say that Messersmith isn’t entitled to write complete downers, but one definitely has to be in that kind of mood to fully appreciate this album’s stark intricacies.

Even in the quietest moments, though, the songs still shine. Messersmith, sounding eerily like Paul Westerberg on the Replacements’ “Skyway,” is both poignant and poetic, accompanied by not much more than his gentle acoustic strumming on “Day Job.”

And while much of “The Alcatraz Kid” plays to those subdued pop tendencies, traces of the Beach Boys’ grandeur masterpiece “Pet Sounds” can be heard on the album’s closer, “Old Skin.” While not necessarily upbeat by any means, scattered thoughts about growing old with a loved one quietly run together, culminating with the repetition of the words “I’ll love your old skin.”

Taken at face value, that line doesn’t scream “play me at your next wedding anniversary,” but, given the 10 oft-dreary tracks that preceded it, the fact that Messersmith may hold the 21st century’s answer to the Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty-Four” is only further compounded. It’s incredibly endearing and, most important of all, it gives the album a heart for listeners to hang onto.

While we’ll still turn to Jennings for that eternal glee and untarnished optimism, it’s good to know that we can listen to Messersmith for more than a sharp comedown.

Messersmith will perform at 8 p.m. Oct. 27 at Beaner’s Central. Jennifer Daniels and Amy Speace are also on the bill.




Hot Tickets for November 1-November7, 2006
Jeremy Messersmith @ Nomad World Pub

I’ve had Jeremy Messersmith on the brain lately. I don’t know if you’ve read “The Twenty-seventh City” by Jonathan Franzen (don’t bother, by the way—it was terrible), but in it, a successful man is brought low by a carefully orchestrated set of disasters that appear to him to be mere chance. Occasionally, I feel that bands are doing this to me, albeit with less disastrous results than the death of my dog or the wooing of my daughter by some ne’er-do-well. Since the first time I caught wind of Mr. Messersmith’s disc Alcatraz Kid via a CD review by Andrea Myers here in the Pulse, he’s gotten love in the City Pages and various other pubs in town, and his careworn blend of introspection and pop savvy has been popping up everywhere I’ve turned. There he is on the Current, and there he is in the pile of CDs I’m about to bring to Homegrown to play this week, and there he is appearing live in person on Homegrown this very Sunday. Not that he should have to embark on a clandestine campaign to win the affections of music critics: His tuneful melodies are the kind that make you stop short when they come on the radio, beguiling and enchanting, but straightforward and honest. You’ve done it, Mr. Messersmith: You’ve won me over, so you can tell your goons to stop rooting through my trash. With Jayber Crow, The Dale Hush Hush (Coach Said Not To side project) and Harbor. 9 p.m. $5. 21+. 501 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls. 612-338-6424.  -Steve McPherson


SLIVER MAGAZINE
By Kyle Frenette
Contributing Writer



In the past three years, the music world has experienced something of a neo-folk out-break, with artists like Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens, Bright Eyes, Elliot Smith and M. Ward becoming hugely popular. As a result, it has become very difficult for emerging acoustic artists to trot past their local coffee house scenes. Jeremy Messersmith, however, is an exception. The Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter has recently started to generate quite a buzz and receive the recognition he deserves with the release of his full-length debut, The Alcatraz Kid.

Messersmith generates a crisp and homey sound, one that is sure to awaken and rejuvenate the average listener, much like the effects of caffeine but without the jitters. His music is nothing new or revolutionary; it is simply traditional acoustic pop with a touch of electronic diversions - it seems that in this day and age, more and more folk/acoustic artists feel it necessary to incorporate technology into their sound. You can hear smooth Casio-keyboard tones weave in and out of songs like "Day Job" and "Easy Lovers, Hardly Friends," providing the melody over the lightly strummed guitar. In fact, the opening track, conveniently titled "The Alcatraz Kid," is nothing more than a 27-second introduction made up entirely of these keyboard sounds - a preview for what lies ahead.

It's the extra instrumentation that gives the songs their character. "Great Times" bursts into a solid trumpet introduction played by Messersmith himself. In "7:02" a Fender Rhodes spills over a jumpy guitar as he sings and sways through sincerity. "Old Skin," the record's closing track, begins with the gentle hum of an organ and builds in complexity with the gradual addition of voice, guitar and shaker; the song then ends abruptly leaving only the organ's hum left in the speakers.

The album's percussion is mostly provided by the strumming or picking of a guitar, and otherwise limited to just a clap of the hand or hit on "one" from a tambourine or drum machine. The songs contain very little bass, but it's made up for with the multiple guitar tracks pacing back and fourth from fret to fret, providing the necessary amount of low-end. This minimal approach makes Messersmith's sound unique; he has successfully molded his songs together with a less than typical assortment of instruments. I admire his craft, as it is very easy to subject a song to the traditional guitar, drums, and bass.

From a literary standpoint, The Alcatraz Kid is full of light-hearted tales of love, addiction, and the woes of one’s career choice. In "Novocain" Messersmith regretfully announces in an un-country-like-twang-y-ness, "I could’ve been someone but now my name is just a ghost," which seems easy for him to admit, like a modest statement of failure. "Day Job" pokes fun of the nine to five crowd in a resentful tone. And, "Beautiful Children" tells the envious tale of mid-western love lost in the winter's snow.

Messersmith has been described as the reincarnation of the now two years' diseased, Elliot Smith with an added degree of hope, but not much - in "Even the good times could be so much better," he sings in the up-beat melancholy melodies of "Great Times." You can hear a resemblance between the two artists, but I would also add the songwriting of underground indie sensation, Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel) and singer-songwriter Josh Rouse to the mix. These comparisons come through with similar intervals between words, choir-like vocal arrangements, jingly guitars and sparse instrumentation. However, The Alcatraz Kid truly does holds it's own. The record has been an occupant of my stereo for well over a month. It plays short, only about 30-minutes in length, making it the perfect feel-good, morning-wake up-shower-get dressed-and-out the door listening.


KCMP 89.3 THE CURRENT


Jeremy Messersmith Creates Dark Lyrics and Sweet Melodies
by Mary Lucia, Minnesota Public Radio
January 4, 2007
St. Paul, Minn.

Minneapolis singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith claims to be a hermit. Indeed, he's probably not exaggerating; although he moved to Minnesota in 1999, he only made it to the 7th Street Entry for the first time in 2007, and that was only when he was invited to play the venue.

The lyrics of his songs also suggest that he's a little on the glum side of things, although those dark lyrics all come supported by a musical spoonful of sugar: beautiful, catchy melodies. Messersmith dropped by the Maude Moon Weyerhaeuser studio to play a couple of tunes from his Alcatraz Kid CD for Mary Lucia.




Radio K's Best New Bands Showcase at First Avenue on 01/17/07

Second on the bill, Jeremy Messersmith played a hushed set to a surprisingly full main room, and it was a treat to hear his tender vocal melodies ringing through the big room.  Armed with only an acoustic guitar, a very small keyboard and a pedal that allowed him to loop his guitar and voice, he effortlessly created complex arrangements of harmonies and guitar work that made it easy to forget that he was all alone on the stage.  Messersmith has a plush sound that reminded me at once of John Lennon, Robert Skoro and Conor Oberst, but his songwriting and lyrics are so unique that it is impossible to confuse him with any of his possible music mentors.  During his self-proclaimed "quiet set," a funny concept for such a subdued singer, he played the delicate "Beautiful Child" and the all-too-real lamentation "Day Job," before ending with a more upbeat looping number that was set to the beat of his hand hitting the body of his guitar.




Year-End Best: The 20'06

Jeremy Messersmith :: "Beautiful Children" :: The Alcatraz Kid

"Beautiful Children" is the kind of carefully constructed crystalline song that only a handful of songwriters can carry off. It's a ripe opportunity for sentimentalism, but Messersmith plays it close to the chest, milking the setup for all its worth. A late night visit from a man suffering from unrequited love for his best friend opens the song, and the chorus is an all-too familiar one for many: "We'll be friends forever / but you'll never love me." The girl falls for someone else, and it's devastating, but the hammer really drops in the bridge: "Does he love you? / Does he love you? / I hope he loves you," sings Messersmith, "If he doesn't / At least you'll have beautiful children." Ouch. Someone take this knife out of my eye, please.


RON SCHULER'S PARLOUR TRICKS

On the evening of August 2, Jeremy Messersmith, on something of an extended national tour, opened for The Donuts and Alyssa Jean and the Gypsy Blue Band at The Fire on Girard Street in Philadelphia. The gnome-like one-man AV club spent most of his set crawling around on stage pulling cables, kicking footpedals and pushing buttons, but the ultimate effect was presumably as intended by Messersmith -- small lyrical gestures and the voice of a bunny rabbit over a raft of electronica that single-handedly calls to mind the stuff of Matt Hales (Aqualung).




Ben Connelly CD Release Party w/ Jeremy Messersmith at The Varsity Theater on 9/25/06

Two stellar Minnesota songwriters shared the spacious Varsity Theater stage Monday night in a cabaret seating style early evening show. First on the bill was Jeremy Messersmith, whose recently released debut album The Alcatraz Kid is one of my favorite local discs of 2006. (You've probably heard "Novocain" on 89.3 The Current and loved it.)

Live, Messersmith does a bit of the Joseph Arthur thing, playing along with looped guitar pat sounds and singing along with his own on-the-fly created harmonies. On stage Monday, he was joined by Andy Thompson on xylophone, second guitar and melodica (yep, that air organ you blow into through a tube.) It was immediately apparent that Messersmith has done a lot of touring; his performance was relaxed and captivating. At times his mannerisms exuded the same sort of confidence that Robert Skoro has in his solo shows.

Messersmith said the Varsity was "easily ten times the nicest place I've ever played," a theme Ben Connelly would return to later recalling (with something that might be called fondness, if you really stretch it) the bathrooms at the 7th Street entry during his days with Steeplejack many years ago.
Highlights of Messersmith's set included many songs from his record, including the aforementioned pop song "Novocain" as the second song, "Snow Day," which he called a "kids song," and "Day Job," one of my favorites from the new disc, during which he smiled as he sang. (Perhaps he wasn't joking when he asked before playing the song how many of us had "day jobs" and said that he loved his.) Before "Beautiful Children," another album standout, Messersmith had to think for a minute to remember which key he normally sings it in; for his benefit I put in my notes that it's capoed at fret 7.

 

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