Tag: Tempe AZ

New Video: Mexican-Panamanian Singer Songwriter and Multi-instrumentalist Michelle Blades Releases a Topical Post Punk Anthem

Michelle Blades is a Mexican-Panamanian singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, who grew up in a family of salsa musicians — and as a result, a young Blades soaked up notions of her heritage, studio life and production. When Blades was seven, her family fled Panama as a result of the vestiges of violence and unrest left by Manuel Noriega, eventually relocating to Miami, where they all learned English and lived in different recording studios and apartments. 

Ironically, music was all but forbidden at home and many of Blades’ artistic aspirations were halted by the family patriarch until she moved out when she turned 16. She then spent time juggling a number of different jobs including — being a journalist for the local CBS affiliate, producing a biweekly show, Focus on South Florida, selling smoothes, working for MIA Skatepark, and pursuing a passion for film and video by producing skate videos for her website 2TEN AM Productions. Interestingly, this love of film would wind up being important for her aspirations and her career, as it paved the way for her to direct and produce music videos for several artists. 

After buying a ukulele with her first paycheck, Blades relocated to Arizona, where she immersed herself in Phoenix’s and Tempe’s DIY scenes, learning guitar, drums, synths and bass, eventually recording and releases EPs under her own name and with the noise punk trio North Dakota. Along the way, Camaraderie Limited Records, a small Paris-based label invited Blades to go on a month-long tour of house shows and while discovering Europe for the first time, she also made friends, who would change her life. As the story goes, during her third tour of France, Blades befriended the team at Midnight Special Records — and it prompted a move to Paris, where she created the bulk of her work to date, collaborating with the label and artists in a familial sort of collective of like-minded souls. 

Since relocating to Paris, Blades has been rather prolific as she has released 2015’s Ataraxia, 2016’s Polylust EP, and 2017’s Premature Love Songs EP, written music and arrangements for Laure Briard, played bass in Fishbach, put together a Transatlantic band Michelle Blades y Los Machetes, and directed videos for Clea Vincent’s “Retiens mon desir” and “Chateau Perdu” among a list of others. 

Slated for a March 29, 2019 release, Blades’ forthcoming album Visitor continues the Mexican-Panamanian multi-disciplinary artist, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s ongoing collaboration with Midnight Special Records. The forthcoming album’s third and latest single “Politic” is a remarkably topical song that to my ears sounds like a seamless synthesis of campy B52s-like garage rock/garage pop, angular and neurotic More Songs About Food and Buildings era Talking Heads-like post punk and Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs as the song is centered around arpeggiated synths, looping garage rock guitar lines, a propulsive groove, an infectious hook and lyrics delivered in wild yelps, squeals and howls. At its core, the song expresses an anxious, existential frustration — with everything. The recently released video is centered around live footage of Blades and her backing band performing the song shot with trippy filters and colors and strobe lights galore. 

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Founded by Captured Tracks‘ label head and founder Mike Sniper, Omnian Music Group is a label group, whose goal is to further develop and strengthen its pre-existing imprints (Body Double Records, Fantasy Memory Records and Squirrel Thing Recordings) and partnerships (with New Zealand’s Flying Nun Records) of Captured Tracks, while seeking out innovative labels, who would benefit from the larger Omnian Music Group structure to partner with, and creating new and distinct labels. Since its formation, Omnian has also partnered with Australia’s Dot Dash Records, New York’s Sing Sing Records, and created three new labels — Sinderlyn, 2MR Records, a dance music label founded by Italians Do It Better‘s Mike Simonetta and Captured Tracks’ Sniper, and Manufactured Recordings, a label that specializes in re-issues across a wide variety of genres.

Manufactured Recordings has developed a Shoegaze Archive Series, a re-issue series that focuses on under-appreciated and/or overlooked shoegaze and noise rock bands. On May 19, 2017 the re-issue arm of Omnian Music Group will be releasing re-issues of three largely overlooked shoegazer rock bands of the 90s — Alison’s Halo’s 1998 release Eyedazzler, a compilation of singles that the band wrote between 1992 and 1996; KG’s Come Closer, We’re Cool, a compilation featuring early tracks, unreleased material and material from a shelved Slumberland Records effort; and lastly, Bethany Curve’s mid 1990s debut, Mee-Eaux.

Originally formed by the husband and wife duo Catherine Cooper (vocals, guitar) and Adam Cooper (guitar) along with Lynn Anderson (bass), the Tempe, AZ-based shoegazer trio Alison’s Halo derived their name from the name that had given their drum machine — Alison. As The Big Takeover‘s Jack Rabid noted “Alison’s Halo trafficked in spectacular, effects-laden, ethereal guitar majesties, but were distinguished by Catherine’s lovely vocals as their six-string melanges.” And as a result, the band found themselves opening for internationally known acts including Ultra Vivid Scene, Curve, The Verve, The Boo Radleys, Bailter Space, and Stereophonics, and played at several music festivals including SXSW and CMJ. As a trio, the band recorded two demo cassettes Slug and Halo, but before the recording sessions for their debut single “Dozen,” the band recruited Thomas Lanser (drums), expanding the band to a quartet; however, before the release of 1998’s debut effort, Eyedazzler 1992-1996, a compilation of singles written and recorded between 1992 and 1996 the band went through several lineup changes. After the band’s breakup in the late 90s, the members of the band went on to other creative pursuits — for several years the duo of Catherine Cooper and Adam Cooper spent several years writing and recording Burt Bacharach-inspired pop under a number of names, and Adam Cooper has also released a solo album of ambient music. In 2009, the Coopers resurrected Alison’s Halo and released several digital compilations of old material through their website, including three live albums and the The Jetpacks for Julian demos EP, and “Dozen,” the band’s debut single was included in 2016’s Still in a Dream: A Story of Shoegaze 1988-1995 box set compilation. They also released a digital 7 inch “Some Heaven”/”The Hardest Part” from the Eyedazzler demos.

Naturally, it shouldn’t be surprising that “Dozen” is the first single off the Eyedazzler re-issue and the single should immediately bring memories of 120 Minutes-era MTV as the rousingly anthemic yet dreamy song features Catherine Cooper’s ethereal vocals floating over shimmering power chords and a propulsive rhythm section consisting of thundering drumming and a gently throbbing bass line. Interestingly, while clearly sounding of its time, being reminiscent of A Storm in Heaven and A Northern Soul-era The Verve and My Bloody Valentine, the band’s sound also nods at contemporaries like Overlake and others.

 

Deriving their name from street sign, near the cliffs of Monterrey Bay, the Santa Cruz, CA-based space rock/shogeazer trio Bethany Curve — comprised of Richard Millang (vocals, guitar), Nathan Guevara (guitar) and David Mac Wha (drums) — are part of a second, somewhat more American-leaning wave of shoegaze and noise rock, forming in 1994, around the same time time that a number of the British shoegazer pioneers including Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Lush and others had split up. The band has developed a reputation for crating dark, moody space rock-leaning shoegaze full of shimmering guitar chords led through tons of delay pedal and throbbing, tweeter and woofer rocking bass — or as they’ve dubbed their approach “Atmosphere | Arrangement | Sound | Layering | Noise,” which they’ve used on the band’s four full-length releases, 1994’s Mee-Eaux, 1996’s Skies Crossed a Sky, 1998’s Gold and 2001’s You Brought Us Here and their 2013 EP Flaxen. Along with that, the band released a cover of Cocteau Twins‘ “Ivo,” which appeared on Dewdrop Records’ 2002 compilation Half Gifts: A Tribute To The Cocteau Twins. And much like Alison’s Halo’s “Dozen,” “Mey Voy,” Mee-Eaux‘s final track was also featured on 2016’s Still In A Dream: A Story Of Shoegaze 1988-1995 box set compilation.

For Manufactured Recordings reissue of Mee-Eaux, the first single is the slow-burning, brooding and cosmic instrumental “Out of the Curve” which features a dreamy and shimmering guitar melody paired with propulsive drumming and droning vocals — and while being atmospheric and ethereal, the song possesses a forceful, enveloping character.

 

Initially started as a bedroom-based solo recording project of the Mulhouse, France-born, Strasbourg, France-based multi-instrumentalist Remy Bux in 1988, the project involved Bux’s early experimentation with a two-track recorder, a rigged synthesizer and a great deal of ingenuity. Eventually purchasing a four-track recorder, Bux took writing and recording much more seriously. And after a 1991 relocation to Strasbourg, where he studied musicology, Bux recorded the KG debut 7 inch featuring a full band at Downtown Studio in 1993. The same lineup followed that up with a 1996 single co-released by Lo-Fi Records and Orgasm Records — and their Manufactured Recordings re-issue, Come Closer, We’re Cool is a compilation of their early singles, and tracks from a shelved Slumberland Records full-length effort. Interestingly their output has been compared to Isn’t Anything-era My Bloody Valentine and Psychocandy-era The Jesus and Mary Chain but with the immediacy and minimalism of punk, and as you’ll hear on “Love Me Forever,” an anthemic track that features a quiet, loud, quiet structure in which strummed acoustic guitar is paired with blistering power chords. And while clearly nodding at The Jesus and Mary Chain, the song also reminds me of early Blur.