Retsin


Tara Jane O'Neil: guitar, vocals
Cynthia Nelson:
guitar, vocals
Greta Ritcher:
drums at some live shows
Todd Cook:
bass at some live shows

photo by Jessica Kourkounis 1998

 
 
 

Tara Jane O'Neil and and Cynthia Nelson eat, sleep and breathe music. Twelve hours a day, 7 days a week, out of bed and straight to the guitars. These women tap on anything in reach. They whistle and hum when walking, and they sing as much as they breathe. Whether it's divine inspiration or moody introspection that motivates these women, there is nothing tossed off or lightweight about their songwriting. From simple truths and lazy Neil Young-isms to driving and ominous, Retsin paint a broad range of pictures in a variety of musical styles. They march, they rock, they weave, they spoon, but mostly they tell stories in voices you recognize and appreciate.

Although Tara and Cynthia had met in indie circles and their bands Rodan (Tara) and Ruby Falls (Cynthia) had played shows together as far back as 1992, it wasn't until the whirlwind of activity surrounding the filming of the underground movie Half Cocked in 1994 that they realized they wanted to write and record together. Both women had lead roles in the movie and spent most of the spring traveling through the South, filming scenes and hanging out together. As Tara Jane described it..."It wasn't as creative an artistic environment as, say, the expatriates in 1945 Paris or the Harlem Renaissance of the 20s, but there's a lot of down-time when you're making a movie and you have to fill that down-time or you're gonna be seriously bored. We spent our down-time writing songs."

Their first collaboration, recorded in a basement in Louisville, appeared on the Half Cocked soundtrack CD released by Matador and cemented their commitment to record together again. After the film was complete, Cynthia returned to New York and Tara to Louisville with plans to meet again in August to enact "The August-Plus Plan". They would record an album of "good time" music and do the entire thing themselves. The plan manifested itself as travel: first Tara went to New York City to finish writing the songs, then Cynthia drove to Louisville for a week to record. They rented an 8- track machine from the Doo Wop Shop and spent a week recording Cynthia's tracks in the basement of the Rocket House. Cynthia returned to New York, but the tape machine in Louisville was mysteriously destroyed beyond recognition. It was now Tara's turn to travel again to New York City where they rented another tape deck, finished the basic tracks and spent a month mixing, drawing graphs of the project's 80 tracks and re-mixing in Cynthia's bedroom studio. In early 1995 they moved the entire experiment into the capable hands of Geoff Turner at WGNS in Washington, DC, who turned up the Dionne Warwick and put on the polish. The result was Salt Lick, Retsin's incredible eight-song debut CD.

Between writing and recording all the material for Salt Lick and their second LP Egg Fusion, Tara and Cynthia toured with bands like Ida, Tsunami and Antietam, often with Louisvillians Greta Richter on drums and Todd Cook on bass. Tara also released the debut CD for her other band Sonora Pine, while Cynthia and the other gals in Ruby Falls released their second CD Heroines on Silvergirl. Tara also played bass on Come's Don't Ask Don't Tell, and on many Danielle Howle projects, while Cynthia has released two books of poetry on Softskull Press. After many long van trips between New York and Louisville, Tara and Cynthia currently reside in New York City. In 1998 they collaborated with fellow New York music lovers Ida and Beekeeper on the Ida Retsin Family Album - an incredible joint venture. Where else can you hear fifteen songbirds warbling through the BeeGees "How Deep is Your Love"? Expect more from Retsin in 1999.

Simple Machines Releases

SMR 42 Retsin
Salt Lick CD.10"
1995
CD: $11 10": $9

Retsin is the song writing/recording collaboration of Tara Jane O'Neil and Cynthia Nelson. Both women are well known in the indie-circuit as bass players and songwriters for the successful, respected and innovative bands Rodan, Sonora Pine and Drinking Woman (Tara), and Ruby Falls (Cynthia). While filming the independent movie Half Cocked, Tara and Cynthia started writing songs together. For Retsin, both picked up guitars, writing loping, "good times" songs, and recorded the entire thing themselves on various 4-tracks between NYC and Louisville. Eight long songs on this stunning debut CD EP.

Review

SMR 46 Retsin
Egg Fusion CD.LP 1996 CD: $11 LP: $9

From the simple truths and lazy Neil Young-isms of "Kangaroo" to the driving and ominous "Hottie Titmouse" Retsin paint a broad range of pictures in a variety of musical styles. They march, they rock, they weave, they spoon, but mostly they tell stories in voices you recognize and appreciate.

Review

The Retsin Discography

1995

Half Cocked movie soundtrack CD

Matador

contact Matador

1995

Salt Lick CD

Simple Machines

available

1996

Egg Fusion CD

Simple Machines

available

1997

Songs of the Geographically Challenged LP

Temporary Residence

 

1998

The Ida Retsin Family CD

Muss My Hair

contact Muss My Hair

1998

The Sweet Luck Of Amaryllis CD

Carrot Top

contact Carrot Top

1999

June Single of the Month 7"

Kill Rock Stars

contact Kill Rock Stars

1999?

Tea at the Palaz of Hoon comp. CD

Hozomeen

contact Hozomeen

2001

Cabin in the Woods CD

Carrot Top

contact Carrot Top

For more info, please visit Retsin's website.

Tara is also in Sonora Pine and was in Rodan. Both bands have releases out on Touch N Go. Cynthia was previously in Ruby Falls, which has records out on Villavillakulla and Silvergirl, and releases her own books of poetry through Softskull Press.

You can get any of the Retsin titles listed as available from Dischord mailorder.

Check Tour Dates for Retsin.

 

 


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