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Alexa Melo


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Alternative experimental rock

Status:

Most recent release, Alexa Melo (2015)

See also:

Alexa Melo's site

Alexa Melo's Sound Cloud page

Alexa Melo's Twitter feed

Alexa Melo on Facebook

Comparisons:

Portishead, Radiohead, and many others (see album review)

Covers/own material:

The album is all originals. Various covers have been released on YouTube and other media.

General comments:

See album review

Comments about live performance:

raw, emotional, intense, engaging, impressive. (2015, mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

Recommended first album:

Alexa Melo is her debut

Recordings:

Alexa Melo (2015)

Alexa Melo

Release info:

2015

Availability:

Spotify and other streaming outlets, iTunes

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Alexa Melo—vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
Christian James Hand—drums
Andy Satura—saxophone
Will Artope Jr—trumpet

Produced by:

Christian James Hand

Comments:

Alexa Melo has a dark heart. And I mean that in the best possible way. Forget for a moment that Alexa just turned 21. Or that she is broodingly attractive. Or that she has been in the music industry for a decade. Or that she wrote a dozen albums of material and recorded it all on her own laptop. Because none of that really matters. What matters is that she has something to say and a passionate way to express it. Her music transcends the physical, the obvious, and the expected. It is intense.
     The record company squid could not handle this. She did not fit neatly into any of the boxes that they regularly use. Imagine—a girl good-looking enough to be the next pop-princess who writes dark, soulful, bluesy, thrashy songs from the heart. Who is unafraid to write her emotions, frustrations, disappointments, and anger into the music. Who is rebellious and strong-minded enough to go the independent route so that she can stay true to her inner voice and loyal to the mood that inspires her as an artist.
     How does an artist like this succeed in the rainforest that the music industry is today? Where does she turn if she wants to maintain her sense of integrity and not compromise? Small steps.
     It is this esprit de coeur that shines through most prominently in Alexa Melo's eponymous 2015 release.
     While it is de rigueur when reviewing the debut release from a new artist to compare each song to songs and styles with which we are familiar in order to give the reader a hint as to what to expect and a guide to whether or not they might want to check it out, Alexa's album is especially hard to pin down. The songs are varied. The two motifs that are clearest are the set of songs that are more dark,brooding, introspective and soulful ("Bleach," "Demoted," "Dead End," "Push Pull Tactics," "Call This Love"), versus the songs that are somewhat louder, thrashier and more outgoing ("The Hourglass Flips," "Under Your Skin," "Troubled Boy," "Still Right Here," "She's in Your Shadow," "My Ex"). Personally, I favor the former group, but the latter group also has its allure. (And in case you disagree with my delineation, this grouping is definitely not perfect.)
     For me, Alexa Melo's first and self-titled release took several listens to really sink in. This is a good thing. Some songs hit me right away, while others grew on me and required (and stood up to) repeated listening. The road Alexa followed to this album was not straightforward. Performing since the age of 5, she won talent competitions and produced some music as a teenager, only to enter into a protracted, 5-year slog with the music industry squid before being spewed out and left to her own devices, more or less.
     After being told she was too pretty to succeed as a rock'n'roll artist, and after subsequently refusing to let them try to turn her into the next Katy Perry or Arianna Grande, Alexa was shuffled over in 2013, at the tender age of 18, to a producer/drummer in the LA scene named Christian James Hand. He had previously spent time touring (with Peter Gabriel), on the radio (in LA and NYC), working at Island Records and producing a few CDs for bands (e.g. The Mowglies) with some modest success—but it certainly was no slam-dunk that he would be what Alexa needed.
     Fast forward two years to 2015, when in July, the new team released their first studio effort of 11 Alexa originals.
     Alexa Melo's music is anything but mellow. Alexa ultimately decided to stay true to her rock ambitions, but this album is far from straightforward rock 'n roll. It is at times melodic, occasionally harmonic, but equally raw, alternative, and out of the box.
     At risk of being clichéd and doing exactly what I said I wouldn't do, here are some other artists that come to mind when I think of Alexa. Your mileage will assuredly vary.
  • Joan OsborneRelish, matched in intensity, but Alexa is dirtier, grungier, rockier—not as neat; best comparison would be to Osborne's "His Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles."
  • Paula Cole—E.g. "Mississippi (live)" from Lilith Fair; but AM's voice is much stronger, more range, not as pretty; plus most of Paula's stuff is very folky—there is nothing folky about AM—the closest she comes is a piano ballad that still rocks.
  • Add the dissonance and experimentation of Radiohead—Alexa cites them as a big influence and does a solid cover of "Lotus Flower" (look for it on YouTube).
  • Concrete Blonde—I would love to hear a cover of a song like "God Is A Bullet."
  • Nick Cave—Birthday Party-era e.g. Nick the Stripper. Melo would feel right at home here. Esp. with the horns mixed in.
  • Think Bauhaus, but less rhythmic.
  • Siouxsie—but again less melifluous—and Siouxsie is not a singer particularly known for that trait. But definitely the same level of commitment, intensity, irony, even rage.
  • Kate Bush—Listen to AM's "Push Pull Tactics"—esp. in the middle of the song—you can easily hear Kate here; also "Under Your Skin."
  • Mary Margaret O'Hara—E.g. "Demoted"—granted MMO has a much more minimalistic presence, but Alexa shares some of her lyricism.
  • "My Ex"—Sounds more like a guns 'n' roses track. Is this Indie Rock?—No, this is not Indie Rock.
As you can see, there is a wide range here. What I like about this album is that it sounds great and doesn't neatly fit into any existing mold. It is complex, nuanced, and varied. Not only that, but the band shows some serious chops live. They have spent some time solidifying around Pink Floyd and Bowie covers, but it is in playing Alexa's original music that the emotion really comes through. If you live in LA you should definitely check them out. Alexa Melo has a unique voice and I look forward to seeing and hearing what she comes up with next. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

Further info:

Various covers released on Internet and website: "Lotus Flower" (Radiohead), "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (Joy Division), "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" (Sophie Hawkins), "Beautiful People" (Marilyn Manson) and especially "Asleep" (Smiths).


Thanks to mjmjminla@yahoo.com for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2015-11-29 15:49:18.
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