Over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to spill a copious amount of virtual ink cover the Austin-based dream pop/shoegazer outfit and JOVM mainstays Blushing. Featuring two married couples — Christina Carmona (vocals, bass) and Noe Carmona (guitar, keys) and Michelle Soto (guitar, vocals) and Jacob Soto (drums), the JOVM mainstays can trace its roots back to El Paso, where Jacob Soto and Noe Carrmona grew up as lifelong friends and musical partners.
Jacob Soto and Noe Carmona relocated to Austin around 2009. Coincidentally, they both met their wives at The Side Bar and according to the band, “naturally all four of us became close friends.” As Michelle Soto was learning guitar, she also began writing material, creating guitar parts and vocal melodies in her bedroom. Christina Carmona, who is a classically trained vocalist, was recruited by Michelle Soto to contribute vocals; but Christina then taught herself bass and helped flesh out Michelle’s songs. Shortly after, Jacob and Noe began to notice how much potential the material had, and they joined in on a practice session to help further flesh out their arrangements. And from that point on, Blushing was a full-fledged band. Their natural simpatico and like-minded musical influences helped to solidify their ongoing creative process.
The members of the Austin-based shoegazer outfit spent the bulk of 2016 writing and refining material, which eventually led to their debut EP, 2017’s Tether, which was released to positive reviews across the blogosphere, including this site. Building upon a growing profile in the shoegaze and dream pop scenes, Blushing returned to the studio to write and recored their sophomore EP, 2018’s Weak, an effort that saw them firmly cementing a sound indebted to Lush, Cocteau Twins and The Sundays but while also being a subtle (and gentle) refinement. They ended that year with the Elliot Frazier-produced and mixed “The Truth”/”Sunshine” 7 inch, which featured what may arguably be the most muscular and direct song of their catalog to date. They also managed to spend the year touring to support their recored output, sharing stages with Snail Mail, Sunflower Bean, La Luz, BRONCHO, Illuminati Hotties, JOVM mainstays Yumi Zouma and others.
2019 saw the release of their self-titled, full-length debut, which they supported with an extensive US tour with Ringo Deathstarr that included a stop at Saint Vitus Bar that November. Although touring was on an indefinite hiatus until recently, the Austin JOVM mainstays have been busy: they signed to Kanine Records, who will be releasing their highly anticipated Elliot Frazier-produced, sophomore album Possessions.
Slated for a February 18, 2022 release, Possessions is an album born out of incredible patience and perseverance: The earliest tracking sessions started in 2019 and continued in fits and starts through the quarantines, lockdowns and re-openings of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a break in production while Frazier welcomed his second child, and that was followed by the massive blackouts across Texas resulting from the February 2021 winter storm across the region. Interestingly, when the album was finally finished, what revealed itself was an album that reportedly is at points heavier and at other points lighter. Thematically and lyrically, the album sees the band embracing the full and complicated spectrum of life and relationship but while recognizing the need for escape and whimsy.
The album also sees the band collaborating with two shoegazer legends — Lush and Piroshka‘s Miki Berenyi, who contributes vocals on an album track and RIDE‘s Mark Gardener, who mastered the album at his OX4 Sound in the UK. Fittingly, Possessions‘ first single “Blame” featured the aforementioned Berenyi. The collaboration can trace its origins back to when Blushing covered “Out of Control” for a Lush tribute album in 2018. The cover caught the attention of Berernyi, who tweeted her appreciation — and a friendship began.
As the band continued to track material for Possessions, the JOVM mainstays approached Berenyi about the possibility of her working on a song, and they were thrilled to find that she shared their excitement about working together. The band then sent Berenyi the track and lyrics digitally with the request that she add any vocals she’d like. The end result was a lush, densely layered song featuring glistening and reverb drenched guitars, an enormous hook and some eerily spectral harmonies and counter melodies between Christina Carmona, Michelle Soto and Berenyi. But just under the shimmering surface is a subtle sense of menace, expressed by the refrain “Stick around and find out . . . “
Possessions‘ second and latest single, the woozy “Sour Punch” is a seamless synthesis of 90s indie pop and grunge centered around reverb-drenched guitars, crunchy power chords, propulsive drumming and hazy yet ethereal vocals. But underneath the shimmering melody and power chords,
“Sour Punch” as the band explains explores inequality and striving for independence in a relationship. You can feel the song’s narrator bristling from being hemmed in while desiring some space to herself, to be herself.
The recently recently DIY video sees the band paying a loving homage to the fun, strange and decidedly low-budget videos that they grew up watching during MTV‘s heyday. Within the world of the video almost anything can happen — from a neon colored, cartoon world being just outside of one of your window, to a enormous pug sitting outside another. And it includes the band performing in a mirror ball-like room. Sure, the budget may have been low but the video explodes with a playful creativity and ingenuity.