Michael Shelley: press

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Goodbye Cheater

Writing a simple, direct song is hard to do, but there are those musicians who have made it look easy. Roger Miller and Nick Lowe quickly come to mind. Across four previous albums, including a terrific collaboration with Scottish popper Francis Macdonald under the name Cheeky Monkey, Michael Shelley has demonstrated that he’s of that same stripe by proving wisdom and whimsy can coexist in the same two-and-a-half-minute-roots-pop excursion.
       Shelley’s writing strikes the correct balance between conversational and clever, and his adventures feel like your adventures, presuming that you’ve survived first loves, sunburns, and faulty relationships. Thanks to the country touches that have become more prevalent with each record (Jon Graboff’s pedal steel assumes a co-starring role on several tunes this time), Shelley’s music now brings to mind Miller’s as much as it does Lowe’s – and also Ben Vaughn’s and Jonathan Richman’s and other crafty artists whose work is so on-the-surface- that it’s deep.
       Cementing the Miller comparison is a breezy cover of “That’s The Way I Feel”, a Miller/George Jones co-write that’s a fine fit alongside grabby, quick-hitting Shelley originals such as “A Little Bit Blue” and “Where Did I Go Wrong?” And as a testament to Shelley’s gift, even the two longest songs on Goodbye Cheater – the album centerpiece “The Leaves Fell Of The Trees” (which, at just under five minutes, is an epic in Shelley’s world) and the kiss off title track – feel like there’re over much too soon.–Rick Cornell,
No Depression

The sort of record that makes you enviously think Bastard! He can pull off gorgeous summery pop: ‘We Invented Love’ which has more than a hint of Teenage Fanclub, he does western twang instrumentals, light-hearted country rock, ‘Hurry on Up and Fall in Love’ skitters along with a following wind of pedal steel and as much twang as a medieval castle-storming catapult. His 60’s and Monkees homage skill are pretty much spot on too; ‘Out’ could be prime pre-fab four and ‘Move Along’ has that cheesy 60’s dance party organ and guitar. His spurned lover shtick is well honed and make no mistake, he can do the straightforward indie-country melancholy pop as on ‘The Leaves Fell Off the Trees’. The title track is full of lovely warm hooks and vocals that belong on classic FM songs and if that isn’t enough a country shuffle doesn’t trip him up either, it sounds so authentic you can feel the suede fringe on his jacket. And if all this wasn’t enough to inspire envy in the most generous of hearts, he gets to duet with Laura Cantrell too, bastard.–David Cowling, Americana UK

Michael Shelley has been a favorite of pop connoisseurs for years now, and his new Goodbye Cheater should continue that trend, particularly for fans who like their pop spiked with a little country. Playing catchy songs with a newfound twang, Shelley finds common ground between teen angst and grown-up heartbreak, making it hard to avoid singing along with winning tracks like "We Invented Love," "Move Along," and the kiss-off title track. -Keith Phipps, The Onion

Throughout the course of his decade-long recording career, Michael Shelley has laced his inescapably beautiful melodies with a wickedly droll sense of humor. And with lyrical couplets such as “My bullshit detector is set on stun” (“Move Along”) or “I can’t hear you/You’re Charlie Brown’s teacher to me” (“Suddenly Free”), Goodbye Cheater is no exception to that rule. But this time around, Shelley seems more willingly to reveal his vulnerable side, whether in the sweetly nostalgic “We Invented Love,” or “I’ve Been Trying,” a heartbreakingly forlorn duet with Laura Cantrell. All of which is not to say that Goodbye Cheater is a bummer, by any means—“Out” introduces Auntie Grizelda to Mrs. Robinson, while “A Little Bit Blue” and “Hurry Up and Fall in Love” are slices of honky-tonk heaven. The all-too brief instrumental “Goofball” is a theme song in search of a spaghetti western movie. “The Leaves Fell Off the Trees” is the trippiest jam the Dead never recorded. Hello Goodbye. -Rick Schadelbauer, Amplifier

It's been a while since the last Michael Shelley CD - 2001's great I Blame You. Since then Shelley been busy with his label, Confidential Recordings, and frankly I was starting to wonder if we'd ever see another CD from him. That would have been a shame. Goodbye Cheater shows why.
       Adopting more "countrified" elements (the use of lap and pedal steel guitars justifies that statement by default), Shelley still delivers on that trademark wit of his and continues to show just how to put a song together. Add friends like Laura Cantrell, guitarist Jon Graboff, and drummer Steve Goulding and there you have it - not much to not like, my friend.
       Goodbye Cheater is probably the "fullest" sounding thing Shelley's done, making full use of most any stringed instrument you care to name. This isn't a CD of musical workouts though - it's about songs. And Shelley covers a lot of ground with the cool pop of the opening "We Invented Love", the fun "Hurry On Up And Fall In Love", and hard-luck "Where Did I Go Wrong". Part romantic pop songwriter and part self-deprecating troubadour, Shelley's overall sound can also be summed up just as nicely by noting the songs he chooses to cover, like the Roger Miller/George Jones co-write "That's The Way I Feel".
       Hopefully, Shelley will get the recognition he deserves with Goodbye Cheater. I just hope I don't have to wait four years for the next one, though.-Bumpershot

It's easy to lose track of a performer as he or she moves from label to label, and that's a shame with a talented pop-smith like Michael Shelley. Goodbye Cheater (2004) displays the same kind of smart pop sensibility that made I Blame You such a good album way back in 2001. Although it might be easy to compare Shelley to an earlier version of Elvis Costello, he manages to be smart while still keeping the music visceral and fun. The first several songs -- "We Invented Love," "Hurry on Up and Fall in Love," and "Out" -- range quite a bit in style (old rock, country, minor-key pop) while retaining a similar good-time spirit. Like old rock and pop, Shelley keeps the arrangements fairly simple and straightforward, and hardly any song lasts over a couple of minutes. The big exception, time-wise, is "The Leaves Fell Off the Trees," a dreamy, five-minute concoction that floats along like the best of early-'70s pop/rock. Although Goodbye Cheater is rather short at 33 minutes, it still holds a dozen good songs in a variety of styles, so it's long enough for a pop album. For fans of good songs, emotive vocals, and solid ensemble pop/rock, Shelley once again proves he has the goods. -Ronnie D. Lankford Jr., The All Music Guide

Sometimes it seems that the only thing that will save music from its imminent nihilistic consumption is the cheery melodies from the legions of Pop! songcrafters who power on under the radar. Michael Shelley is one such savior. His fourth solo record is a perfect and tasteful mix of whimsical pop and country twang, so uplifting that even the underlying subject matter is love gone bad cant spoil the positivity. Tracks like The Leaves Fell Off the Tree and the title track each have a Mother Hips-meets-Pernice Brothers quality about them. Hurry On Up And Fall In Love is a brisk alt. country twanger full of tenor guitar and pedal-steel. Fun stuff all over! The self-produced release was recorded in Brooklyn by Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Lemonheads, Apples In Stereo) and features musicians John Lee, Jon Graboff (Amy Rigby), Steve Goulding (Mekons, Graham Parker), Jay Sherman-Godfrey, Drew Glackin (Silos, Tandy), Dan Miller (They Might Be Giants), Dave Amels and guitarist Jim Campilongo on a couple of tracks. Not to mention Laura Cantrell who duets with Michael on the beautiful Ive Been Trying. -Miles Of Music

This would sound good mixed up with Beatles For Sale, Michael Nesmith's 1st National Band albums, Badfinger's No Dice, and The Mother Hips' Later Days. There's a purity of vision, a purity of spirit even, to Shelley. Each of his albums is a lesson in breathless pure pop touched by a country wind. While Paul McCartney's Chaos And Creation In The Backyard was a gentle reminder of past Beatles glories, Shelley's new one is the direct descendent of all the virtues of pre-Revolver Fab Four. Opener "We Invented Love" is surely a giddy regular on God's jukebox. "The Leaves Fell Off The Trees" encapsulates autumn in just a few minutes, and the title track has the plaintive power of '50s singles. Only Cheap Trick and the Smithereens have sustained anything like Shelley's unbroken pop quality. This is an especially fine example of the man at his best. -Dennis Cook, JamBase

It takes little over half an hour for these fourteen tracks – several bravely clocking in at well under the two-minute mark, by the way! – to find a forever place deep within the heart, soul, and even funny-bone-sorta of you more discriminating listeners out there. For when not lazily tilling the traditionally rich soils tended as well by Walter Clevenger and Bill Lloyd, Michael goes and creates the kinda sounds lovers of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Z. Yanovsky-powered B-sides, as opposed to merely their chart-toppers, will especially appreciate. Elsewhere, the crazed C&W Buck Owens and Mike Nesmith unfortunately never got the chance to create together appears (“Out” and especially “A Little Bit Blue”), a roller-rink bed of organ the likes of which Garth Hudson could so easily crawl beneath for a nice long nap supports “Where Did I Go Wrong,” “Goofball” and “Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha,” two instrumentals truly too cool for words, provide themes for some long-lost “Hee Haw” / “Ready Steady Go” cross-programming, then none other than the lovely and talented Laura Cantrell joins Michael on “I’ve Been Trying” to produce perhaps the greatest Everlys recording Don or Phil sorrowfully never made. A most astute eye for lyrical detail (“I felt so alone, the smell of Coppertone, french fries in a car and sand in my guitar”) sung in a voice Colin Blunstone would surely wink towards all adds up to one of the most majestically understated releases of this or of any other year I can recall. -Gary Pig Gold, Ear Candy and Fufkin.com.

I Blame You

There is something immediately likable and catchy about Michael Shelley's pop tunes on I Blame You. Sort of like a young Elvis Costello covering Ben Folds Five territory. The rich melodies of "Mix Tape" and "Stoop Sale" evoke images of new love and love gone bad, and seem designed to extract precious emotions from the listener. The dreamy "Face in My Pocket" covers the joys of carrying a photograph — a face — in one's pocket, while "Dear Mr. Webster" reveals the limitations of a dictionary to describe a new attraction. The arrangements vary quite a bit, adding horns on several cuts and pedal steel to others. There's a lovely duet with Laura Cantrell on "Let's Fall in Hate" that works as both a good country song and a send-up of the genre. One the best songs among good songs is "Listening to the Band," a melancholy tale of a wild romance turned sour, perfectly brought to fullness by Leif Artzen's trumpet. Shelley romantically captures the sadness and elation of each song, singing with conviction and assurance. The writing — 99% of it by Shelley — is finely honed; in fact, the lyrics fit so well with each song that they call little attention to themselves. I Blame You passes the listener by quickly, like a nice summer breeze full of memories. It's a lovely release by a confident artist, and will be welcome by his fans and anyone who loves appealing pop music. — Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. Launch.com

"Homegrown New York City songwriter Michael Shelley is one of those little goblins who surfaces when least expected--a winning troubadour with a handful of perfect pop gems. In the mid-'90s Shelley would have recorded on some major label with a big PR push and small articles in all the hot mags of the day. But this is an anti-quality-pop era, so Shelley is mostly unknown, and that is too bad, for I Blame You is a small classic. From the pleasant "Face In My Pocket" to the puppy-love salute of "Mix Tape" to the mop-top rock of "Stoop Sale," Shelley gets it all right, song after song. Not only does I Blame You revel in grand expensive-sounding production, it even includes a rocking instrumental track called "Rollo." Think Fountains Of Wayne meets the Lovin' Spoonful, or the Monkees fronted by Freedy Johnston. Think Michael Shelley. -Ken Micallef, All Music Guide

"After three memorable and impressive releases on the Big Deal label (counting his collaboration with Francis Macdonald as Cheeky Monkey), Michael Shelley returns with his most accomplished and outright best release yet with I Blame You.
      Shelley delivers the same witty lyrical playfulness and adventurous instrumental accompaniment that he's become known for, but I Blame You shows an incredible comfort that Shelley obviously has as he bounds from style to style. Compare the pop fun of Dear Mr. Webster to the dazzling country duet with Laura Cantrell on Let's Fall In Hate to the latino vibe of Listening To The Band and you'll here what must sound like three different artists at work. In a way it is as Shelley is so convincing, but his signature vocal and lyrical style keep everything glued together throughout the twelve tracks here. In addition, Shelley offers some solid guitar work here and benefits from the drumming of Dennis Diken of The Smithereens.
      These qualities allow Shelley much freedom - the freedom to offer up the simple melodic structure of Favourite Graduate while showing a surprising 60's soul-loving side on Nine Lives (just one of the tracks where Mark Bacino offers a backing vocal). Shelley clearly loves rock and roll, and many of the genres either inspired by it or that supported its birth. What's clearly evident on I Blame You is that he can blend it all together in a way that very few can.
      And his talent can take the blame for that. (4 & 1/2 of 5 stars) -Claudio Sossi, Bumpershot

"Alternative rock is not the commercial slop we're forced to listen to on certain radio stations day in and day out, nor is it a style of music with a label slapped on it by a music conglomerate. Alternative rock is a style all its own, gleefully creating its own noise and choosing whether or not to give the finger to traditional musical mores.
      I know. I was in "college radio" at the start of the '90s, when "alternative" began to become the buzzword of the industry. And it's been a while since I heard a truly "alternative" album... that is, until I popped I Blame You by Michael Shelley into the CD player. Shelley's "do it yourself" attitude (recording most of the disc in his New York apartment) has a freshness about it that is sorely lacking in so many commercial "alternative" albums. Blasting through 12 songs in about 35 minutes, Shelley shames some of the pretenders to the throne.
      Of course, Shelley has some natural advantages on his side - not the least of which is a rhythm section which includes Dennis Diken from The Smithereens. First and foremost, Shelley has a twisted sense of humor - not necessarily a must in the field of alternative music, but something which sure is helpful in the songwriting department. "Let's Fall In Hate" is a prime example of this skewed view of the world, finding a different way for a couple to work out their differences. Likewise, "Dear Mr. Webster" is a keeper on this disc, as our hero pens a letter to the "author" of the dictionary, chiding him for forgetting to include a word which describes the girl he pines for.
      There is not a moment on I Blame You which sags from any kind of weakness. Even the light kick towards country ("Don't Fence Me Out"), the brief instrumental break ("Rollo") and the songs about young love ("Mix Tape") only serve to build up this disc's strengths. Shelley truly is a breath of fresh air, and these songs are like oxygen which fuels Shelley's creative fire.
      I Blame You is the kind of disc which is almost guaranteed to become an underground success - but in keeping with the spirit of alternative music, wouldn't it be something if the people who flip for this disc shared the experience with their friends, and got them into Shelley and his music? Consider this my small part in the process; I Blame You is an album that you have to experience. Here's hoping Shelley becomes a bonafide star; he deserves it. -Christopher Thelen, The Daily Vault

Michael Shelley's ability to craft witty, unassuming pop songs has developed nicely over the course of two solo albums and a side project. While in the past he's occasionally experienced problems balancing cleverness with tunefulness, he's never sounded stronger than he does on I Blame You. Blame's song titles ("Don't Fence Me Out," "Let's Fall In Hate") suggest that Shelley has surrendered to one side of that equation, but the songs themselves tell a different story. "Mix Tape" opens the album on an appropriate note, wedding a catchy melody to the story of a romantic gesture, but there's more at work here than silly love songs. "Stoop Sale," co-written with Belle And Sebastian's Stevie Jackson, lists items on the verge of being sold by a disgruntled lover--including, next to baseball cards and camping equipment, a "mix tape that he made her." The unfortunate protagonist of "Don't Fence Me Out" doesn't score much better, but the song reveals a pleasant country influence, even if it's drawn more directly from Cole Porter than Porter Wagoner. "Let's Fall In Hate," on the other hand, is a full-on, pun-riddled country duet with Laura Cantrell, and a good one at that; it fills out Shelley's power-trio lineup with steel guitar, and the sonic diversity serves him well. There's a faint air of menace in the way the guitar line of the otherwise sunny "Favorite Graduate" echoes "Don't Fear The Reaper," while the horn section of "Nine Lives" suggests time spent with the recent Stax box set. On the whole, however, the tone of Shelley's songs--endearing but not cloying--sets I Blame You apart, making it another fine recording from one of the most reliably entertaining singer-songwriters around. -Keith Phipps, The Onion

This is Michael Shelley's fourth release and true to his talents, we find him continuing his mercurial and quirky style in abundance. He has a knack for well crafted songwriting and clever words. Each song comes equipped with a strong riff that has the listener humming the tune for hours afterwards. It's Alt/Pop in it's pure essence. Stoop Sale is about a girl getting ready to sell her goods on her stoop: "Some things just can't be sold". Dear Mr. Webster is about having bought this writers book: "Do you sit at night on weekend nights with a pencil sharpened... you have my pity Mr. Webster." Every song tells a quick little story that keeps you smiling.
      Most of the songs have an interesting sixties bent instrumentally. Vintage guitar licks and moog-type keyboards paired with the quirky vocals/lyrics bring to mind Warhol's Campbell soup cans. It's a happy and fun album, similar to Joy Zipper. Refreshing after so many downer bands have dominated the scene of late (i.e. Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Arab Strap, etc.). -Tippy Johnson, Privy Magazine

"Michael Shelley didn't have a huge budget to record I Blame You, but they say a good song is a good song, and nowhere is that more true than here.
-"Mix Tape" is a good laugh at reaching for someone desired. Shelley has a distinctive sound, but also reminds me a lot of the amazingly almost unknown group Fountains Of Wayne. And it's not just the vocals but the quirkiness, great hooks, and overall happy-go-lucky track after track.
- "Dear Mr. Webster" finds Shelley looking to have his girl added to the dictionary. The tempo hops along at a pronounced toe-tapping pace that would tire even the fittest. "Stoop Sale" tells of those things that cannot be sold no matter the price. "Don't Fence Me Out" will seem familiar, but the country glide is all you need to get sucked in. It seems Shelley has quite a country side to him. "Let's Fall In Hate" is a hillbilly gem whereas "Listening To The Band" explores more south of the border.
-Michael Shelley proves that you don't need to carry around a big record contract in order to have a really good album. The fact that he isn't signed to one of the big boys proves that good music is still being made and not watered down by the industry". -Charlie Craine, Hip Online

"In a clever take on the boy-meets-girl trope, the album-opening "Mix Tape" details how the boy "put on my headphones" and "stayed up all night concocting this silly magnetic love letter, song by song" for the girl after the two meet at a party and hit it off talking "in the kitchen about music and all the normal questions."
-As with "Mix Tape," the album's other songs tend toward clever twists on all old themes and sound like Nick Lowe delivered with the cool detachment of Elvis Costello. Shelley possesses a wry sense of humor but knows how to use it to craft pop-rock songs grounded in observant details, original images and an honest affection for their subjects.
-The narrator tries to find the perfect word to describe his girlfriend and his feelings for her but can't, so he writes a complaint letter to the dictionary man in "Dear Mr. Webster."
- In "Nine Lives," the narrator sings about a girl who's "finicky, almost feral" and offers to "be your scratching post, so dig your claws in me." Shelley maintains the girl-as-cat conceit throughout and makes it work without having to force the image or having it fall into silliness. The horn section, Hammond organ and Shelley's Steve Cropper-style guitar give the song a soul-pop feel that fits the lyrical images perfectly.
- "Let's Fall in Hate," a duet with singer Laura Cantrell, eavesdrops on two lovers who declare "we can't make it through a meal much less eternity" and set out to have the fight to end all fights, one that will "leave no doubt" and cause "the neighbors to call the cops the way we'll shout." It's an exuberant, genuine-sounding traditional country-pop song powered by guest instrumentalist Jon Graboff's pedal steel and Shelley and Cantrell's harmonies.
- "Stoop Sale" plays out like a short movie in which the residents of a neighborhood stop to inspect one woman's possessions and leave behind a little bit of themselves in the small talk they make with her.
- At its heart, "I Blame You" is a simple pop-rock album, and Shelley doesn't try to make any Great Statements or change the world with it, but his arrangements, lyrics, melodies and guitar hooks make for a delightful record, the sort of bright and vibrant release that's perfect for spring".-Andrew S. Hughes, South Bend Tribune

"...All you really need to know is that this album will leave a smile on your face and melodies that will linger in your head for days". -Jim Testa, The Jersey Journal

Impish, earnest, catchy... like the character in his song, "Dear Mr. Webster," who is searching for the means to describe his true love's charm, NYC freeform radio DJ Michael Shelley eludes the proper adjective. Not quite singer-songwriter, not quite power-pop, Shelley is in turns clever, capable and craftsmanlike... His romances often seem like schoolboy crushes, the kind that require songs like "Mix Tape" to describe their inception, and "I Blame You" to outline their demise. In between, he enlists the help of fellow WFMU programmer Laura Cantrell to duet on the country-ish "Let's Fall In Hate..." and draws us in with one winsome melody after another... Nice, unpretentious pop, with jangly little undertones... check it out! -Joe Sixpack, slipcue.com

A splendid, if quirky, mixture of British-styled pop and They Might Be Giants American-style wackiness. For the dozen tunes presented here, you get a feeling of too much fun, a mirthful blend of humor and solid songwriting. Part of the attraction is the clean sound, along with those vintage keyboards like a Farfisa organ and Mellotron, among others. Shelley knows how to craft a good song, and is quite adept at layering instruments and voices. When things build up, it's often the simple addition of backing vocals that help the swell. The disc features drummer Dennis Diken (Smithereens) and bassist Jon Lee (Mercybuckets) as the rhythm section. The production shines, which is impressive, considering Shelley did a lot of it in his Brooklyn apartment. Smart and fun, through and through. - NY Rock

...his third solo album, finds him once again crafting simple, engaging pop songs with an equal measure of hooks and charm. The opening “Mix Tape” is a near-perfect pop portrait of meeting a girl at a party, feeling the crush bloom, then staying up all night to create “a silly magnetic love letter” and perfecting the tape’s artwork to impress her. Elsewhere, Shelley poignantly examines what happens when the relationship doesn’t end happily (the girl sells the mix tape outside her apartment in “Stoop Sale”) and delivers a punchy, ’60s-influenced three-minute rumination on being tongue-tied in a letter to a dictionary author (“Dear Mr. Webster”). -Mark Woodlief, The Portland Phoenix

A few years back I bought the Cheeky Monkey disc because Francis Macdonald of Teenage Fanclub and Eugenious fame was half the band. The other half was some guy named Mickael Shelley who I knew nothing about. But together they made some really nice lighthearted pop music, singing about hockey players and lost love with equal conviction and jaunty melodies that were adored by my four-year-old son (that's a compliment). Now Shelley has a solo disc and, while it hasn't yet won over my son (he's listening to that Green Day song 25 times a day right now) I suspect it will in time.
On his own, Shelley gets even quirkier in both sound and subject matter. The first track is a love song about the mix tape he makes for his sweetheart, sung in his recognizable nasal tone. It turns bitter by fourth track, though, as she holds a "Stoop Sale" and sells said mix tape as well as everything else of his. Shelley later twists Cole Porter around on the track "Don't Fence Me Out" as he urges his love to keep the toolbox away from the bed. And he pines to Mr. Webster that his dictionary doesn't have the words necessary to describe his love.
Musically, when the songs don't include tinny sounding electric pianos and harpsichords there are the occasional guitar barre chords and he flirts with more country stylings on "Let's Fall In Hate" complete with pedal steel and the pairing of his voice with that of Laura Cantrell. Finally, "I Blame You" has horn blasts that made me think of some They Might Be Giants songs (John Flansburgh also happens to be a friend and took the liner notes photographs).
Shelley probably is too flippant to be taken seriously by music snobs but not hip enough to be embraced by fans of Ween or Weezer. But what he does is genuinely innocent and pure, much like the early work of Jonathan Richman. Those who can appreciate that will enjoy this disc.-James Baumann swizzle-stick.

NYC tunesmith Michael Shelley is a storytelling singer/songwriter in the vein of Freedy Johnston, whose country leanings he shares, and Tommy Keene. And I Blame You... finds him once again crafting simple, engaging pop songs with an equal measure of hooks and charm... ." -Mark Woodlief, The Boston Phoenix

...Overall, this is an excellent release that should garner some new fans for Mr. Shelley." -Scott Semet, At The Shore

Too Many Movies

Here's an article titled "Some Of Shelley's Blues" from Cincinatti City Beat site.

Here's an article headlined "Songwriter shows sensitivity in songbook"! From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Shoeshine is someone out of Teenage Fanclub’s label, and therefore is guaranteed to be rather wonderful, and, luckily, ‘Too Many Movies’ doesn’t disappoint.       Kicking off with the languid, and often hilarious, ‘Baby’s in a Bad Mood’ Shelley has crafted and album of such vision, depth and humour that it’s hard not to become totally immersed in it’s world. Throughout Shelley tells the tale of lost love, fucked up relationships and human failings. Not in a syrupy way I hope you understand, just honestly, that’s all. Add to this some wonderful country-ish music, and what you get is an album that may sound hopelessly out of time, but is in fact as relevant as tomorrow. Fantastic. - Tasty

"The follow up to his acclaimed debut Half Empty finds the Brooklyn ex-barman puzzling over the female cosmos. Recorded with help from Belle And Sebastian pop savants Stevie Jackson and Chris Geddes plus members of Glasgow's Radio Sweethearts, Michael Shelley's lyrical foregrounding and calculated whimsy overshadow the music's blend of goofy Richmanesque rock 'n' roll, virginal surfpop and Memphis soul. From a lesser mind things could get cheesy, but Sheley can sing "She took the longest bath I've ever seen and didn't even touch the dinner I made her" (Baby's In A Bad Mood) or be blown away by the Jigsaw Girl who "danced with cologne-splashed Latin men three times her age" and still sound delicately sour (imagine a danger-free Daniel Johnson). This paradox is most arresting on You Were Made To Break My Heart, a duet with NY country singer Laura Cantrell, and a starry-eyed doomed-love ballad. And only a spoilsport would scoff. -Robert Spellman, Mojo.

Too Many Movies, the follow-up to Shelley’s ’99 debut album ‘Half Empty’, is a collection of songs about relationships, a fantastic pop album *and* a modern day classic... 5 stars" - James Moore, Drowned In Sound

"Happy snappy, peppy catchy, pure pop craft" Time Out

"Another batch of flawless pop confections highlighting his uncanny knack for great hooks and wry wordplay." Friday Morning Quarterback

"He writes about relationships a lot--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." Ed Masley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Too Many Movies is as charming and unabashedly catchy as any album released this year." Keith Phipps, The Onion

"Shelley is a great songwriter, able to be funny without being goofy. His lyrics are sweet without being sappy." Kevin Rexroat, Seattle Rocket

"Too Many Movies holds a wide variety of pop jems." Sharon Harrison, Transworld Snowboarding

"Full of the kind of simple but engaging pop made by Jonathan Richman and Ben Vaughn...brimming with wary wisdom and road weary whimsy."Rick Cornell, The Raleigh Spectator

"Shelley has got a great talent for light engaging pop songs that connect with everyday life in a frightening way.This record makes me wish i was in love." Chris Larry, Eye Deal

"Michael Shelley has used his latest release to delve deep into matters of the heart. He does so with an incisive wit, and couches his observations in infectious country-tinged power pop.... Most of the characters in the songs are unlucky in love - guys who expect their relationships to be just like the ones they see on the cinema screen (Too Many Movies), whose new girlfriends never quite match up to the one they lost (She's Not You), and who fall for girls who are way too cool for them (Surfer Joan). The album's highlight is the wonderful Baby's In A Bad Mood which is told from the perspective of a man trying to keep out of the way of his partner's temper. There are also, at the heart of the record, a pair of dark but beautiful ballads, Sweet Little One and You Were Made To Break My Heart, and an instrumental Sluggo which inexplicably recalls The Wombles theme music..." J.L., Revolutions

"A refreshingly light and, well, perfect pop album that serves as an antidote to the sometimes overbearing, yet often necessare gloom-pop of the last few years..." Gavin

"Really good pop love songs are a lost art form but Michael Shelley resurrects it with a vengeance on his new record Too Many Movies..." Matt Springer, Pop Culture Corn

"A MILLION songs have been written about relationships, but few come as close to the day-to-day realities as Baby's in a Bad Mood, the opening track here: "Well, it could have been something at work, or maybe a call from her mum ... I'll sit in the kitchen and I won't pick a fight, 'cos baby's in a bad mood tonight." A New Yorker, Shelley often sounds a lot like Elvis Costello, but without the snarl. The similarity is accentuated on some tracks by organ touches that call to mind the Attractions - but this is frothy pop, as likely to remind you of the Monkees as some angst-ridden new-waver. Occasionally, Shelley goes country, even bringing in the wonderful Laura Cantrell to duet on You Were Made to Break My Heart; but the essence of the man lies in pure pop moments such as the sublime backing vocal fade-out on Sweet Little One." Mark Edwards, The Sunday Times

"Every singer-songwriter needs something to distinguish them from the herd. New Yorker Michael Shelley's shtick is more complex than a first hearing of his second album suggests. His choice of collaborators on the Scottish-recorded half of this album - minor members of Belle & Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub drummer Francis Macdonald - indicates a broader palette than his peers. These tracks, the countrified Lisa Marie and the contraception eulogy, The Pill, bubble along in the manner of a more focused Teenage Fanclub, packed with ideas such as handclaps instead of a chorus during The Girl With the Light in Her Eyes. The American half veers intriguingly from the faux punk of Surfer Joan to the ever-impressive Laura Cantrell duetting on You Were Made to Break My Heart. So far, so catholic, but Shelley's melodies always hold and he's a perceptive observer of domestic minutiae, particularly on the sweet Baby's in a Bad Mood: "I'll sit in the kitchen and I won't pick a fight . . . it could have been a call from her mum . . ." John Aizlewood , The Guardian.

"Americana covers a variety of different sounds, one of which is that Fountains of Wayne/John Wesley Harding kind of folk-pop which some of us love and some of us are, well, indifferent too. Luckily, if you’re on the borderline of that cusp, the new Michael Shelley album should have no problem making up your mind in the right direction. The album consists simply of twelve three minutes (-ish) folk-pop songs which continually flow over into country (“Lisa Marie”) without ever sounding forced. The good thing is that the songs themselves are so strong and furiously work their way into your head without any relief along the way. But that’s only half the story. Tracks like the opening “Baby’s in a Bad Mood” and “Summer, I Pissed You Away” also have that rare spine-tingling quality, so clean is the instrumentation and so crisp the production. His cleverness with words to the point of ridiculousness might offend some, but it’s a small price to pay for the end result - “Too Many Movies” really is a delicious album full of character and literally falling over itself to be discovered - highly recommended."- Mark Whitfield, Americana-UK .

He's back and this time it's personal - with songs about love, loss and brushing your teeth. "Sublime pop" -Sunday Times

"When Michael Shelley's puppy dog vocals click against his poppy melodies and bemused lyrics about lost love he sounds like Nick Lowe fronting The Replacements" - **** Q Magazine

"A fine collection of Beach Boys whimsy, country-rock tales and good old fashioned rock n roll shot through with sarcastic wit" The List

"Full of winning pop moments...Shelley's influences shine through but frankly Nick Lowe would be proud to have written pure pop of the calibre of Think With Your Heart and Rollercoaster" The Herald

Half Empty

"Think With Your Heart" is one of the best pop songs of the 90's. One of the top 5 records of 1997. If you liked Fountains Of Wayne, you will absolutely love this record. Great little slice of life stories. I guarantee you it's overflowing with wit and charm." Bill Holmes, Pop Culture Press

"...like a cross between Jonathan Richman at his most earnest and Nick Lowe at his most tuneful." Dan Epstein, L.A. Weekly

"...sounds like Nick Lowe fronting The Replacements....both its tone and lasting impression are one of complete and utter sincerity." (4 stars) Sid Griffin Q.

Making sparkling guitar pop from true despair is a gift possessed by very few (although many try and fail) , but Michael Shelley has managed to make an album of consistently engaging material with little to inspire him other tham the painful memories of broken romance..... Immaculate. Nigel Williamson, Uncut.

"A non stop joy. Every track is special...the sort of album you'll treasure for a lifetime." Terry Hermon, Bucket Full Of Brains

"Fraught with style and sarcasm. Evoking images of Loudon Wainwright one moment, the Ramones the next. One of the "top ten records you should have been listening to in 1997" Buzzweekly

"Everything a great pop album should have. Infectious hooks suck you in and the melodies keep you there. This quirky album is beautiful in its simplicity." The Source

"His greatest strength lies in simple, sturdy hooks that sound familiar but are ultimately new. Shelley's lyrics are full of details and descriptions." CMJ

"His ability to write songs with a certain amount of originality, makes this album a standout." Rock Love

3 & 1/2 stars Tower Pulse

"Brooding and full of atmosphere...a celebration of songwriting talent..." Claudio Sossi, Shake It Up

"Rejection never sounded so inviting. classic stuff." John Larson, Amplifier

"Good as it goes. Shelley matches his lyrics and music well, maximizing the catchiness potential." lies

"This guy's got a good, solid songwriting style, and he's intelligent not to muddy his tunes with busy arrangements. He's good, with real talent, and some damn good tunes." Baby Sue

"a la Matthew Sweet and Velet Crush...a warm collection of lovingly crafted tunes. Much recommended!" Hootch

"Half Empty" wryly celebrates love and loss with tongue placed firmly in cheek and Telecaster turned up to 11. "Sparkling, celebratory pop" Mojo

"When Michael Shelley's puppy dog vocals click against his poppy melodies and bemused lyrics about lost love he sounds like Nick Lowe fronting The Replacements" - **** Q Magazine

"A fine collection of Beach Boys whimsy, country-rock tales and good old fashioned rock n roll shot through with sarcastic wit" The List

"Full of winning pop moments...Shelley's influences shine through but frankly Nick Lowe would be proud to have written pure pop of the calibre of Think With Your Heart and Rollercoaster" The Herald

Cheeky Monkey's "Four Arms To Hold You"

"The sound is similar to Teenage Fanclub, Tom Petty and the Traveling Wilburys. The opening track is brilliantly melodic with great hooks and a catchiness to rival flypaper." Arizona Daily Wildcat

"A delightful acoustic, rock an roll injected, shuffle beat driven heap of fun." Shake It Up

"Why is this such a good album? Sure, there are a lot of pop bands out there right now, but few sound as professional as Cheeky Monkey. The songs themselves sound as though they are a cross breed of Sebadoh and Weezer, with a dash of pink bubble gum thrown into the mix. Songs are so catchy you find yourself singing along before the song is even over." San Francisco Foghorn

"This is crisp, clean, shot-from-the-hip likeable pop rock--60's sound with a 90's sarcasm. Thank the lord for pop." Rock Love

"One listen and you can tell these guys are out to make serious music while having loads of fun. Cheeky Monkey tries its hand at anything from sex-driven fantasies to lonely ballads and just downright silly songs. Perhaps the most signature aspect of Cheeky Monkey is the randomly styled lyrics, which are not strange enough to puzzle, and not typical enough to keep a straight face. " Stanford Daily

"These guys sing and play well together. The upbeat pop tunes are boosted to a higher level by superior melodies and some killer vocals. Pure simple fun." Baby Sue

"A jewel of a record whose charm is instant and undeniable. The touching 'I Wanna Live With You' captures the jubilant optimism of new love; the dark and depressing 'Down' is equally beautiful, if considerably less cheerful. Cheeky Monkey's collective sense of humor shines on 'Big Dumb Boy' and 'Monkey Man,' an irresistible slice of jungle rock replete with big drums, a crazy Bo Diddley beat and punny lyrics. the album's sole cover is Chixdiggit's 'Gerry Cheevers,' a touchingly earnest song that successfully ties together a broken heart and the former Bruins' goalie. It's a fitting addition to this album, the musical equivalent of a slap shot between the pads." Amplifier

"A great buy at any price." Omaha Reader

Transatlantic duo Michael Shelley and Francis Macdonald get together to make “sweet jangly music” -- NME.

"Four Arms To Hold You is sure to be among the records of the year for all tune and turn-of-phrase minded listeners…it could be the soundtrack to your glorious summer." - The Glasgow Herald

"Gloriously goofy, shamelessly soft-centred…a cocktail of heart combusting Fanclub-like loveliness and Jonathan Richmanesque whimsy" - The List

"Like Ben Folds Five meets the Fountains Of Wayne…brimming with happy hooks, effervescent harmonies and deft middle eights, over a jangly, mainly acoustic guitar backdrop." - Hot Press

"Breezy pop.simply charming" -Melody Maker

"Cheeky Monkey make beautiful jangly music on their 'Four Arms To Hold You' LP, out now on Shoeshine." -Kitty Empire, NME

"There are some marvellously slushy moments, like Robery Lloyd and the heartfelt tribute to American sportsman 'Gerry Cheevers'. -James Wirth, NME

"Gloriously goofy, shamelessly soft-centred.a cocktail of heart combusting Fanclub-like loveliness and Jonathan Richmanesque whimsy" -The List

"12 fresh-sounding songs" -The Sunday Post

"A worthy collection of quirky pop songs in the Jonathan Richman vein" -Glasgow Evening Times

"People will soon be going nuts for Cheeky Monkey on both sides of the Atlantic" -The Sunday Mail