Monday, May 31, 2010

Michelene Cherie

Razor Wind (1990)

"Razor Wind" is a rare find from the '90s four-track scene, a well-produced pop song that actually sounds huge and timeless, almost like Neko Case or something.  I got in touch with Michelene Cherie, who now works as a wardrobe and pop stylist in LA, to find out more about the song which I found on the B-side of her only single "Sincerely."

"[The single] was recorded and produced by Dave Peterson who played all the instruments," Cherie wrote me. "His sisters are Debbie and Vicki Peterson from the Bangles. Since I had a good relationship with the Bangles and I also worked for them, I asked them if I could release my single on their label Down Kiddie Records and they agreed to do it.

"We recorded it on four track in our apartment. 'Sincerely,' the original Dwight Twilley song, was recorded on 48 tracks and produced by Twilley. We knew him peripherally through Susan Cowsill and Vicki Peterson. Both he and Roger Linn (yes, the Linn drum Roger) called us to ask how we did it on only 4 tracks and how we figured out the backwards guitar solo played by Linn. We really tried to do a note-perfect version and according to the original creators and we pulled it off.

"'Razor Wind' was originally recorded by Dave's band The Howling Dogs, from Los Angeles. They were ahead of their time and people didn't really get them, which was a shame, because they had some cool songs. I fell in love with 'Razor Wind' and wanted to cover it.

"I released the single in 1990 and immediately went on tour with L.A's. Redd Kross as a backup singer in support of their Atlantic Records release  Third Eye. We toured the US and Canada supporting Sonic Youth (Goo era) and The Go-Go's first reunion tour. While on this tour, I met the Posies, from Seattle and after leaving Redd Kross I moved to Seattle to hang with my new pals."

After moving to Seattle, Cherie performed as a solo artist and eventually formed Michelene Impossible, who scored some critical notice for their sole release Aquamarine. They disbanded in 1999, but Cherie maintains their myspace page here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Trick and the Heartstrings

Music U Want 2 Dance 2 (2003)

Alexander Gedeon, Leif Young Huckman, and Peter Hale first met at the Experimental Theater Wing at NYU.  There, they chain smoked cigarettes, talked endlessly about their favorite albums by the Police and the Talking Heads, and occasionally jammed.  After graduation, they agreed to form a band.

Gedeon, the band's singer and guitarist recalls, "I was envisioning a name, something silly and explosive and vulnerable. The first thing I said was "Bitch Ass Trick and the Heartstrings". Which would have been a complete joke. But I do have a penchant for long-winded and verbose titles and names, and the somewhat shorter 'Trick and the Heartstrings' stuck."
The trio began playing out in New York, building up a devoted following for their tight playing, choreographed dance moves and an irresistible groove that owed a sizable debt to Prince.  They started out by releasing a 6 song EP on their own label which they sold at shows.  They followed this two years later with "& I Feel" on North Street Records which featured the popular live staple "Joga," a funked cover of the Bjork classic.
In 2006, the band was riding high and played a series of shows in England. NME gushed, calling them a "perfect" band. 679 Records showed interest, but a deal never materialized. According to Gedeon, "The big brass didn't feel like any of our songs would make strong radio singles, so they kept throwing money our way, hoping that we would develop more. But there was too much tension in the band at that point anyway.  We had other options for label support, but it didn't matter by that point. We were over it."

Although they went their separate ways, the old theater buddies remained friends after it was all over and are still on good terms.

Monday, May 17, 2010


This is Not a Test (1989)

Christmas was a true anomaly. With their dadaist sense of humor and restless musical exploration, they never fit into any scene comfortably and were hard to take seriously. And yet, the talent of main members Michael Cudahy and Liz Cox was undeniable, even on the early singles and compilation appearances. As a part of the Boston scene in the mid'80s, Christmas easily stood out from the packs of generic bar bands and REM clones, and Gerald Cosloy helped them secure a spot in history on his influential "Bands That Could Be God" compilation. Christmas seemed to have momentum as they released their debut full-length In Excelsior Day-Glo on Big Time, but the album fell flat and failed to deliver on the buzz.

Christmas fled to IRS for their second album Ultraprophets of Thee Psykick Revolution, a much-improved effort that propped up the band's offbeat lyrics with the catchiest melodies of their career. However, critics hated it and IRS dropped the band soon after the album's release.

Frustrated, Cudahy and Cox broke up Christmas and moved to Las Vegas, where they had more success with their new band Combustible Edison.