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Michelle Cross


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

alternative pop

Status:

Most recent release, Adventures from the Ocean of the Dead (2015)

See also:

Michelle Cross's site

Michelle Cross's bandcamp page

Comparisons:

Tori Amos, PJ Harvey, Jill Tracy

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Michelle Cross rocks a mean vampy piano... do y'all remember when I was going on and on about the perfect rock chick a few months ago? the perfect rock chick is the one who is really graceful and beautiful and who sings these songs that are all graceful and beautiful and then she just starts screaming. And Michelle Cross is as close to my definition of the perfect rock chick as I've EVER come across... sometimes she's shrieking like Polly Jean and other times she's cooing like Jennifer Charles (from Elysian Fields—and yes, she IS on that level of sex-on-legs-osity) and all of the piano is really great and swingy and jazzy or else beautiful and suddenly atonal and chaotic... and she SCATS! I thought I was the ONLY person who even remotely considered doing that anymore (besides Kym Brown's occasionaly "du-du-du-du"s)... and the beauty is that she has a live performance on her website) that is 7 songs and thus 7 mp3s long and it's brilliant... just her and cello and a few cute stories and it's SO good. So DAMMIT, go go go! (John.Drummond)

I think she's pretty good, bordering on great. My first thought actually was "very much like Tori Amos", but later pieces sounded more cabaret-like, so much so at one stage I almost expected her to burst into German. But that passed as well. In the end I've come to think comparisons with Jill Tracy aren't all that appropriate either, since she's nowhere near as camp and over the top as Jill is on Diabolical Streak, at least.
     Michelle also gets bonus points for paying homage to Lisa Germano (in intro for "Cinderella")... Thumbs up so far, definitely... I'm playing "men in blue" right now, and I'm hearing a lot of Tori again... (afries@zip.com.au)

What I'm absolutely hooked on are the live radio tracks. Those MP3s of her live performance is where her individuality and wit and energy and emotion really shine. (Neile)

Recommended first album:

My Name is Not Cinderella

Recordings:


My Name is Not Cinderella EP

Release info:

1999

Availability:

Out of print

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Michelle Cross—piano,vocals

Guest artists:

Michael Duggan—cello, mandolin
Matt Walker—drums
Rafe Bradford—bass
Newt Cole—percussion
Scott Talarida—electric guitars Mathew Prock—acoustic guitar

Produced by:

Mathew Prock

Comments:

This EP shows promise (good songwriting, strong vocals, nice piano work), but wears her influences on her sleeve. She has a kind of Tori Amos-like voice but her songs are slightly more mainstreamy than most of Tori's—sort of like Tori's early b-sides in a lot of ways. (Neile)

very tori-like debut. One of the best of the year. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)


Smoke Like Perfume

Release info:

2004—self-released

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Michelle Cross—piano, keys, vocals

Guest artists:

Michael Duggan—cello
Matt Walker—drums, programming
Shawn Sommers—upright bass, electric bass
Mathew Prock—guitars, programming, bass
Rafe Bradford—bass
Soloman Snyder—bass
Greg Suran—guitars
Jim Dinou—keyboards
Scott Talarida—guitars
Dave Hiltebrant—bass

Produced by:

Mathew Prock, Matt Walker

Comments:

She totally rules. Am in love again. She is terrific. But I do hope she releases some more live-sounding versions of her songs in the future. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

Am very very much enjoying this catchy album, it's been one of my favourites for several months, though a few songs blend rather in my head. I feel at home listening—Michelle's voice is a welcome return. She is distinct from many other melodic piano girls because of the loud guitars and strong beats (my workmates must find my foot-tapping off-putting) and operatic touches—refreshing.
     Oddly, this isn't the direction I wanted her to go in at all. Like many, I was impressed by the mp3s on her site of the radio show, but found the ep a bit predictable. Smoke like perfume goes even more in the 'mainstream' direction, but it's enjoyable enough for me to ditch my expectations and just listen. And I've ended up particularly loving the poppy rock anthems like 'Fast in love' and darker 'Rubber skirt'.
     I don't dislike anything about the album, which is making me suspicious. Let's consider: there's a good balance of melody, guitars, piano, cello, delicacy, sexiness; the youthful, relationship-oriented lyrics (no crack babies and ravens here, oh I do love those mp3s!) suit the music so they don't really disappoint. However: I think this is an example of good-enough-ness. I wonder if this form of standard catchy music doesn't easily tolerate deviation—an edge or distinct identity has to be very carefully applied, or it jars. So I'm happy enough with it because everything fits and works, but I'll never *love* the album. Maybe someday Michelle will combine her uniqueness with her mastery of the pop form. (k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)


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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

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