Michael Shelley's Biography


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In addition to being a much-acclaimed recording artist and multimedia renaissance man, Michael Shelley is a true believer who's acutely aware of a catchy, perfectly crafted pop songs capacity for conveying human truths both small and profound. The New York-bred songwriter’s five solo albums, the latest of which is the all instrumental “Jimmy’s Corner,” have been widely praised, both at home and abroad. Although many have tried to categorize his music - he’s been labeled Power-Pop, Sensitive Singer/Songwriter, Alt. Country & even Folk - the only qualities consistent throughout Shelley’s varied catalog are an ear for melody and an obviously love for a great variety of musical inspirations.

Shelley started writing original songs as a teen and playing at clubs like CBGBs at an early age - his songwriting was motivated in part by his high school band’s inability to figure out the chords to their choice of covers like Squeeze’s “Pulling Mussels (From The Shell).”

After playing for years in various bands in college, and the club scenes of New York and for a few years in Los Angeles, Shelley’s efforts finally paid off when a cassette tape sent to Big Deal Records got him signed to the label. His much-loved 1997 debut “Half Empty” (which Bucket Full Of Brains called "A non-stop joy... the sort of album you'll treasure for a lifetime"), began a string or releases that brought Shelley fans around the world and kind words from the music press. In Britain, Q magazine observed, "...he sounds like Nick Lowe fronting The Replacements," while Mojo noted that Shelley "wryly celebrates love and loss with tongue placed firmly in cheek and Telecaster turned up to 11." The Onion stated that "Shelley finds common ground between teen angst and grown-up heartbreak." No Depression wrote, "His adventures feel like your adventures presuming that you've survived first loves, sunburns and faulty relationships." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette opined that Shelley "writes about relationships with intelligence, wit and a Beatlesque way with a hook that puts the singer in a class with only the best of the new pop revivalists."

After backing Shelley on some of his several U.K. tours, members of Glasgow’s Belle and Sebastian also contributed to several cuts on Shelley’s sophomore album “Too Many Movies which was recorded in Glasgow, Los Angeles and Brooklyn, and featured a more kitchen-sink approach.

With longtime admirer Francis Macdonald of Teenage Fanclub fame, Shelley formed the transatlantic super-group Cheeky Monkey, whose “Eight Arms to Hold You” is now regarded by many as a cult classic.

After the demise of Big Deal, Shelley signed to the legendary Hoboken, NJ label Bar/None for his “I Blame You” album - on which Shelley continued to broaden his sound and experiment with different instrumentation.

2004’s Goodbye Cheater offered ample evidence of Shelley's singular song craft, and of his savvy taste in collaborators. The 14-song album, recorded mostly in a marathon two-day session showcasing Shelley's long time bands members Jon Graboff (Ryan Adams, Amy Rigby) and legendary drummer Steve Goulding (Mekons, Graham Parker and the Rumour) with Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Apples In Stereo) producing and featuring an all-star roster of musical guest that includes his third collaboration with celebrated roots chanteuse Laura Cantrell.

Along the way Shelley managed five tours of the U.K., tours of the U.S. opening for They Might Be Giants and Shonen Knife, and shows in Spain & Japan, as well as playing on bills with a wide array of amazing performers like NRBQ, Marshall Crenshaw, Ben Lee, Dinosaur Jr., The Muffs, Jonathan Richman, The Rubinoos, and The Young Fresh Fellows. His records released on LP, CD & "7 in the U.K., Spain & Japan.

When he’s not writing witty, deeply-felt pop songs, Shelley can be heard cracking wise and trying to test the definitions of “pop music” (and interviewing a who’s who of music history) most Saturday mornings on legendary freeform station WFMU, or scouting talent for his indie label Confidential Recordings, whose catalogue includes new and old music by the likes of Shonen Knife, They Might Be Giants, Yo La Tengo, The Waco Brothers and The Wildweeds. Confidential recently released “Leftovers” a 27 song compilation that culls Shelley’s b-sides, demos, live tracks & covers.

On “Jimmy’s Corner” Shelley switches gears once again for an album of 30 instrumentals - each under two minutes. Recorded entirely in Shelley’s basement with one microphone. The album melds familiar elements in unanticipated ways that keeps listeners on their toes. The results are a yet another mix of melodic, groovy, surprising, satisfying and fun pop music.

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