Michelles is a band out of Chicago, playing what has been variously called psych-pop, baroque-pop, art rock, and other misleading hyphenated genres, all of which fall under the general category of semi-radio friendly rock music with guitars and keyboard textures with singing and verses and choruses, some catchier than others. Not to be too persnickety, but it is also bit of a stretch to call Michelles a band, as it is the singular vision of Michael Daly, who writes and plays nearly every sound heard on every recording. The sole exception is the drums, which for the last three releases were handled by Ryan Farnham.
Daly and Farnham first started collaborating in 2013 after listening to a version of what would become the eponymous first record, with both agreeing that a qualified drummer would help things immensely. Working back to front and from around the bend, in what would become a consistently inefficient workflow, new drums were layered onto existing tracks, and stretched, twisted, and edited into an entirely new recording. The rest of a band was recruited, and the quartet spent the next two years playing in all of the usual Chicago haunts. For reasons that are still unclear, half of the band decided to stop returning phone calls, and Daly went back to the studio to begin putting together another record.
2017 saw the release of Dark as a Daisy, a stylistic jump featuring more expansive song structures and instrumentation, and a fresh batch of players was found to fill out the group. Following a handful of live outings, this new lineup soon dissolved as well, but in a much more copy-worthy fashion than the first, with one member moving to Ghana to join the peace corps, and the rest heading to Massachusetts to start a farming co-op selling honey and micro-greens. Back to where it all started yet again, Daly continued writing and recording.
Arriving five years after the previous release, the newest record, titled The Empty Promises of Rock and Roll, took its time finding the light, due to circumstances both personal and global, with entire versions of the album being discarded and redone, and lyrics and arrangements constantly shifting and evolving to reflect whatever state of mind or the world one currently finds oneself in, until you finally say ENOUGH. In a cultural landscape that values an unceasing torrent of content above all else, nurturing scarcity and practicing patience become revolutionary acts.
So here it is, nine songs about all of the usual things; love and loss and change and regret, moving away, staying put, book reviews and half remembered New Yorker articles.
“The Empty Promises of Rock and Roll” reminds you of what record albums are capable of being: complete, coherent artistic statements that take you on a journey that’s somehow both carefully mapped and thrillingly uncharted. The irony of Daly’s state-of-the-soul chronicle is that he subverts his own title; for the listener, at least, the promises here are far from empty. — NewCity 4.4.22
Michelles have today released their new video for the track titled ‘Not Gonna Get It’, from their upcoming album ‘The Empty Promises of Rock and Roll’, dropping March 8th. That perfect gateway drug for what is to come, ‘Not Gonna Get It’ is something that some people may not, but those in the know will, and they can beat the shit out of the ones that don’t, because we’re cool and they’re not. All kidding aside, this is a giant hook set to a visually gritty yet stunning introverted diary. — Jammerzine 2.9.22
There’s an almost mystic quality to Michelles’ “Illusions;” a subtle darkness paired with a charming warmth that breaks through, seeping under the skin. The lead single off the Chicago band’s forthcoming third album The Empty Promises of Rock and Roll – a compelling title, if ever there was one – is a kind of groovy hypnosis: A steady rock pulse engulfs the ears as Michael Daly and co rise and fall with passionate fervor. I’m not always one to make comparisons, but hearing this song, I can’t help but think of it as pairing MGMT’s psychedelia perfectly with The Smiths’ raw candor and heart-on-sleeve sincerity. — Atwood Magazine 1.20.22