Featuring two married couples — Christina Carmona (vocals, bass) and Noe Carmona (guitar, keys) and Michelle Soto (guitar, vocals) and Jacob Soto (drums), the Austin-based dream pop/shoegazer outfit and JOVM mainstays Blushing can actually 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. Tether was released to positive reviews across the blogosphere, including this site.
Building upon a growing profile in the shoegaze and dream pop scenes, the members of Blushing returned to the studio to write and record their sophomore EP, 2018’s Weak, an effort that saw them cementing a sound indebted to Lush, Cocteau Twins and The Sundays but while also being a subtle 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. The Austin-based shoegazers supported their recorded output with several tours, 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 the middle of last year, 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 as a result of last February’s winter storm that wrecked havoc across the region.
When it was finally finished, the album revealed itself as being heavier at points and at other points much lighter. Thematically and lyrically, the album reportedly sees the band embracing the full and complicated spectrum of life and relationships 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 “Blame” and RIDE‘s Mark Gardener, who mastered the album at his OX4 Sound in the UK.
In the lead up to the album’s release next month, I’ve written about two of the album’s singles:
- “Blame,” which fittingly features Miki Berenyi is 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 . . . “
- “Sour Punch,” a woozy and 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.
Possessions‘ third and final single “The Fires” may arguably be the darkest and most brooding track on the album. Featuring Michelle Soto’s chiming reverb-drenched guitars and a motorik groove built around Christina Carmona’s propulsive bass line and Jacob Soto’s metronomic four on the floor, “Fires” sees the JOVM mainstays pushing their sound into post-punk, goth and even coldwave territory while retaining their unerring knack for rousing hooks and ethereal harmonies.
The recently released video for “The Fires” also serves as a counterpoint to its brightly colored counterpart “Sour Punch” with the video featuring the band’s co-vocalists and the rest of the band in a brooding monochromatic color schemes.