Don’t be fooled into thinking that female-fronted bands can’t rock. The Blind Spots’ electrifying lead vocalist and force of nature Maddy Walsh, recently named Best Female Vocalist in the Ithaca, NY area, can hang with the best of them. The singer finds inspiration in artists such as Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury, Otis Redding, Björk, John Lennon, and Etta James, to name a few. Returning to New York from grad school in California where she honed her craft of poetry and lyric writing, Walsh met guitarist and singer / songwriter Mike Suave. The two began collaborating as a folk duo, but the idea for the project evolved quickly, and they added bassist Khris Oursler, keyboard player David Openshaw, and drummer Jeff Turback, allowing them to begin writing songs with greater power and spectrum. Armed with a full rock band, Walsh and Suave dove out of the coffee houses headfirst into the late-night club scene, and the young audiences are happy they’re here.
This Ithaca, NY-based five-piece rock band released its debut album, “El Camino Dream,” in the spring of 2010. Picked by The Ithaca Times in the top ten area albums of the year, the effort features imagistic, metaphor-rich lyrics in a voice that can croon as well as it can caw – Walsh’s raw tenderness soars over bold and inventive electric guitar stylings, an eclectic library of keyboard sounds ranging from thick and funky ‘50s Wurlitzer to ‘80s pop-synth, and a solid-as-a-rock rhythm section. The album contains ten finely crafted original tunes, each illustrating a different facet of the band’s sound that is diverse and unique to them. Ithaca music critic Jim Catalano picked "Star" among the best songs of the year. Some songs have a paisley, loose-leaf tobacco feel; some spill out of the dark, ethereal space of homelessness and tumbleweed; others could come crackling through a transistor radio over New York city rooftops; still others exude all of the ‘tude and sexiness of straight rock and roll. “El Camino Dream” is a tight and inspired collection of tunes that shows the band’s hunger, energy and creativity.
Since the release of the album the band has been rapidly earning new listenership, and their crowd grows exponentially with each show. They rocked thousands of locals and tourists during prime time at the main stage of the 2010 Ithaca Festival, creating serious buzz in a town recognized throughout the state of New York for its wide scope of musical talent. Since that show, the band has enjoyed warm reception from its musically minded hometown, providing a supportive springboard that has allowed them to jump into new areas throughout the region and state. They have since played a handful of the northeast’s well-renowned clubs, and they plan to continue expanding their radius. Although the band is still young, their dedication and expert musicianship ranks them already with some of Ithaca’s favorites – producer of Grammy Award winning albums and owner of Electric Wilburland Studios, Will Russell, who mastered “El Camino Dream” and regularly runs sound for The Blind Spots says he “fell in love [with the band] instantly” and referred to them in his newsletter as his “new band crush”.
Walsh possesses that easily recognizable raw talent that makes each of The Blind Spots’ shows an experience that audience members walk away raving about. “I don’t just want to play shows that wash over people and make them feel alright while they’re in the room – I want every show to be an experience,” Walsh says. “I want people to really feel… and to remember that feeling, too.” And the shows deliver—audiences are taken on a journey from the fun and danceable, to the strange and experimental, to the vehemently political and empathic, and to the achingly sweet and satisfied. When they’re on stage, it’s obvious that the band has a blast amping it up for festival slots to really get people off their blankets, but the theater setting also gives them room to spread out and let people into the sophistication of the lyrics and arrangements. In either setting, and in a whole array of venues between, this is a band that simply must be heard.
The band plans to tour on “El Camino Dream” for a while longer, (though there is talk of recording a couple tracks for free download this winter), but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t been writing furiously in the mean time – in fact, even before the album was fully mastered, The Blind Spots entered a stage of fiery prolificacy, and they have already written more than enough songs to complete a second LP. Fans will have to wait for the next full work-up, but when it arrives, they won’t be disappointed. Keep an eye on The Blind Spots, as they are well on their way to winning the hearts of new devotees.
Maddy Walsh - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Mike Suave - Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals
Khris Oursler - Bass
David Openshaw - keyboards
Mike Parker - Drums
Although "El Camino Dream" is the first album for The Blind Spots, Mike Suave has produced a solo album and has made central contributions to efforts by The South Catherine Street Jug Band and The Nightcrawlers. Maddy Walsh released a solo album called "Patchwork".
El Camino Dream is available on the group's website, www.theblindspots.com and on iTunes.
Women of Indie - The Blind Spots - El Camino Dream
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When looking at some of the great “Women of Indie,” it’s easy to see a list of talented solo artists...When looking at some of the great “Women of Indie,” it’s easy to see a list of talented solo artists, but let us introduce The Blind Spots front woman, Maddy Walsh. While she has never had any formal vocal training, music has always been a part of Maddy’s life. As a child, artists such as Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin inspired her. She grew up on a healthy dose of Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, and Cyndi Lauper. Today she finds inspiration from musicians such as Bjork, My Morning Jacket, and The Cars.
The Blind Spots hail from Ithaca, NY and have been playing together for several years. After releasing their debut album El Camino Dream in early 2010, the band hit the ground running. Dreams don’t come easy and The Blind Spots have poured their heart and soul into becoming one of the best indie bands out there. Constantly touring, rehearsing, and writing help make this band who they are, one of the hardest working acts in the industry. The Blind Spots consist of Maddy Walsh (vocals), Mike Suave (guitar), Captain Doobie Zuben (keys), Francois Dillinger (bass), and Jeff Turback (drums).
Walsh’s voice is a breath of fresh air on top of the band’s great pop rock sound. El Camino Dream starts off with a great track, “Listen Up.” It’s fun, upbeat, and will have you moving your feet during the first listen. The sound is somehow new and fresh while still being familiar. It brings the feel of great pop rock songs from the 80’s.
The first couple songs on the album would be great for a road trip. Put the top down on your convertible and let the good times roll. The Blind Spots aren’t afraid to get gritty though. On tracks such as “Cannibals are Carpooling” and “Hot Air Balloon,” Walsh’s voice takes on a deep, mysterious quality. The tempo is slower and the emotion that comes with great rock is hard to ignore.
Overall El Camino Dream is a solid debut album from a band with a bright future. Looking towards the future, they have begun recording their next album. The first three tracks have already been released and are available on their website. Fans should expect the same great soul and feel they have come to know from The Blind Spots but with the maturity and growth that should be expected for a second release.
The band has been touring constantly. For them, playing shows is the best way to build there fan base and improve their sound. While they focus mostly on New York they have found some success in Pennsylvania and Vermont. In the future they hope to find homes in venues up and down the east coast.
We got a chance to interview Maddy Walsh in order to really get some insight into this band and one of our “Women of Indie.”
IMR: First off, Maddy, congratulations on being selected as one of IMR’s “Women of Indie.” At what point in your life did you realize you loved music enough to pursue it as a career?
MW: I never imagined, at any point throughout my childhood, that music wouldn’t be my career. My dad and his six brothers and sisters are all very musical, and my cousins and I (several of whom I was raised with in a glorified commune setting in the woods) were singing and picking up instruments at a very young age. I also never imagined not going to college, though, so I put the idea of music-as-a-career on hold to pursue degrees in English, Lit Theory, and Poetry. I called school an “elaborate back-up plan,” in case music didn’t pan out, but as I was looking at doctoral programs, with the plan of being a professor of Creative Writing in mind, I had a freak-out moment—I had never tried pursuing the one thing I knew I was supposed to do and wanted to do more than anything in the world because I had been busy creating this safety net for myself, which is crazy, so I finished my Master’s in California and moved back to New York. SO, in a roundabout way, it wasn’t until the middle of grad school that I decided to pursue music full on.
IMR: Why a band? Has it always been your dream to be a front woman or was it more organic?
MW: The formation of the band was very organic, yes. I sort of envisioned myself as a folk singer for a long time, without a full band necessarily, and certainly not a rock band. I was very snooty about keeping the instruments acoustic. I dreamed of being a musician like Patty Griffin. In the summers when I was at school in CA, I would come home to NY and play three shows a week at local bars in an acoustic duet with my dad called Madd Daddy. When I returned home for the last time, I met my partner and guitar player, Mike Suave, and since I wanted to be more actively gigging than my dad could afford to do at the time, Suave and I started traveling as an acoustic duet together. It was quite a few months of playing that way before we added a bass player, a keyboard player, and finally a drummer. We were called Dirty Boot at first – Ha! Horrible band name.
IMR: Do you find there are stereotypes that you need to conform to as a female vocalist? For example, image, vocal style etc.
MW: Yes, absolutely, which is unfortunate. I just saw Bjork perform her new album, Biophilia, at the Roseland Ballroom in New York a couple weeks ago, however, and felt reinvigorated to be my own artist. She’s such a darling creature, simultaneously adorable, brilliant, and sexy, and I think that comes from allowing herself to be the animal that she is; to make those sounds, her “call to the wild,” and to express herself so thoroughly without feeling tied to anything. Her sound, her aesthetic, and her performance all are wildly unique. It can be harder to get recognition if you’re doing something no one understands or sees as familiar, but she’s done it, and I find that very inspiring. There is pressure on female lead vocalists to be sexy, for sure. But then a band like the Alabama Shakes will hit it big, and there’s no touching the coolness of Brittany Howard. Sexy or not, that chick is COOL, and she’s not conforming to anything. I like to wear short dresses that sparkle, but what’s far more important than any of that is sound.
IMR: What do you do to set yourself apart from other female vocalists?
MW: There is a tendency for female vocalists to sing solely about love and heartbreak and to sing slow or mid-tempo songs, and although I love a lot of that stuff, it does get old, so I’ve made it a point to only allow myself to write the occasional love song. I enjoy writing wacky lyrics; we have a song called “The Home” about a joyous patient-set fire in a nursing home that I love to sing, and more recently, we’ve been taking on the impossible task of writing those U2-esque universal lyrics about belief in humanity. In spite of all the awful things happening in the world, I do believe in humanity and love in the larger sense, so I’m enjoying the task of trying to tap into that, rather than always writing about romantic love between two people, which is a trap so many female singer/songwriters fall into, for whatever reason. The band allows me to amp things up further, and make the songs way bigger than they start in my living room too. I get some serious joy out of a badass rock n roll ending. I guess I also hope that my voice alone will set me apart from other female vocalists. There are so many millions of delicious voices out there. I hope people will be drawn to mine for whatever it has that others don’t.
IMR: A band’s dynamic and energy can really come through in their recordings and live shows. What does The Blind Spots do in order to be a cohesive unit?
MW: We have a blast together. No one ever starts playing music together with the goal of being a business, and even though there are business aspects to attend to, (more all the time, actually), the sheer joy of writing songs and playing them together is what makes us a band. Growing up, I always belonged to a group of friends that played guitars and hand drums and sang around bonfires. It’s been a way of life, and I still love that, but I have to say, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been playing music when I’m playing with my band.
IMR: How do you let each band member’s individuality shine?
MW: They shine on their own! I don’t have to do a thing. Suave was a front man of rock / jam band in the North Country for eight years, and he’s an animal on stage. I’ve watched as his playing and dexterity grow astronomically over the past few years. He’s very creative; his fingers always have trouble catching up with his mind, which I think is the sign of a truly inventive player. I don’t think he’ll ever stop growing. Fran plays a slinky, cool, seventies-style bass that you don’t see often these days – he’s not just playing the notes, he’s all over the thing. You can’t take your eyes off him on stage, partially because of his fabulous style. Zuben is a wild-man on the keys. He has some jazz background and is the most trained of us all, but he cuts loose with crazy synth sounds and thick fifties Wurlitzer. When he stands up behind his decks, that’s when I know we’re really hitting on something. Jeff is the oldest member of the band, but you wouldn’t know it – he hits the drums like a m@#$%^f&*@#r!
IMR: You have started recording your next album, in fact you already released three tracks off of it, how should your fans expect it to differ from El Camino Dream?
MW: It will be BIGGER! We’re looking for an edgier, grittier rock sound on this album; a sound that will be an obvious choice for the nighttime main stage slots at festivals. A lot of female / female-fronted acts get put on the side stage in the early afternoon. We’re going for a sound that would seem ridiculous there.
IMR: What is one piece of advice you would give to young girls looking to one day be a “Woman of Indie?”
MW: Earn your calluses and wear them with pride. And never forget your joy. This is an impossible business rigged with booby traps and teeming with jerks. Find a band of people you love and only sing songs with them that you believe in.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Unsigned Band of the Week: The Blind Spots
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This Ithaca, NY-based indie pop rock band is steered by magnetic songstress and force of nature Madd...This Ithaca, NY-based indie pop rock band is steered by magnetic songstress and force of nature Maddy Walsh who repeatedly proves that female-fronted bands can rock. Walsh's raw tenderness soars over bold and inventive electric guitar stylings, an eclectic library of keyboard sounds ranging from thick and funky '50s Wurlitzer to '80s pop-synth, and a solid-as-a-rock rhythm section.
Since early 2008 the band has rapidly won the hearts of new devotees throughout the Northeast, and it seems there's no stopping them. At the shows audiences are taken on a journey from the fun and danceable, to the strange and experimental, to the vehemently political and empathic, and they land satisfied at the achingly sweet. Each show is worth spreading the word about, which is how The Blind Spots have so quickly navigated their way into the local and regional limelight.
In the spring of 2010, the five-piece band released their debut album, El Camino Dream, featuring ten finely crafted original tunes mastered by Grammy Award winning producer Will Russell (Electric Wilburland Studios), who refers to The Blind Spots as his “new band crush.”
Several of the songs have received regular airplay on radio stations in Ithaca and surrounding areas, and it's no wonder; the lyrics are rich, edgy and engaging, and the music that breathes life into them is a daring blend of crunchy electric guitar reminiscent of The Rolling Stones or John Lennon and quirky indie pop sounds that pay homage to The Flaming Lips and Björk, to name a few.
Directly after the release of the album, the band entered a stage of fiery prolificacy and wrote enough material to complete another LP, but they plan to tour on El Camino Dream a while longer before entering the studio for another full work-up. When they do, fans won't be disappointed.
Keep an eye out for The Blind Spots in 2011, and be sure to pick up a copy of El Camino Dream on the band's website or on iTunes.
Return of the Jimmies: Recognizing the best local CD's of 2010
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Best Albums:...Singer Maddy Walsh released a solo CD a few years ago, but that only hinted at the vo...Best Albums:...Singer Maddy Walsh released a solo CD a few years ago, but that only hinted at the vocal abilities she displays on the Blinds Spots' debut. She's found her musical soulmate in guitarist Mike Suave, and they've formed a band that rapidly gained a following with a series of strong shows in 2010...Best Female Singer: Maddy Walsh, for her powerful vocals on the Blind Spots' debut CD. She also did a great job overdubbing her harmonies. And she really brings it on stage, which not all singers can do when it comes to raising their game in concert.
Rock Band Boosts Energy at The Nines
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By Evan Johnson Staff Writer | February 25th, 2010 Audience members probably didn’t know they were ...By Evan Johnson Staff Writer | February 25th, 2010
Audience members probably didn’t know they were going to leave The Nines last Friday night in a hot sweat. But The Blind Spots’ energy made it impossible for the crowd to keep from moving.
The Blind Spots’ lead vocalist Maddy Walsh was the first person to excite the audience. Walsh, with her charming smile, stepped up to the microphone during the sound check and released a surprisingly strong voice.
For the opening, an informal group consisting of Walsh; guitarist Mike Suave; Walsh’s father, Ted; and steel guitarist Gary Phelps played an entirely acoustic set. The four provided a comfortable and rambling mix of country, blues and calypso-jazz. Suave and Walsh layered their pitch-perfect harmonies in a way that made people turn their chairs
toward the crowded stage and listen intently. The once-boisterous chatter typical of any Friday-night bar subsided, and the audience quickly became captivated.
Considering the length and the effort the musicians put into the first act, the opening 45 minutes could have easily been confused for the main act. With so much energy, it was easy to question just how the young vocalist and her bandmates could survive an entire night of rock ‘n’ roll.
The full band joined Walsh and Suave on the stage an hour later, completing the five-member band, The Blind Spots. As soon as bassist Khris Oursher, keyboardist David Openshaw and drummer Jeff Turback stepped onto the crowded stage, the music took a rowdy turn. The band kicked out jams with an appealing intensity that was both alarming and refreshing.
The Blind Spots immediately started playing and quickly broke the calm atmosphere with a mixture of rock and blues that had people dancing, heads nodding and a few more rounds of drinks going around.
Within a span of seconds, Walsh, once crooning with the sweet country style of Dolly Parton, dropped the act and suddenly transformed into something close to Jim Morrison. Her brown hair flew wildly in front of her face, and her vocals loosened as she ripped through the set list.
The songs borrowed tones from Jack White, Wilco, Canned Heat and Stevie Ray Vaughn. However, thanks to the quirky and endearing lyrics, the audience could be sure that they had never heard the songs before. This was certainly not just what some might call “a rock band with a chick lead singer.” The calm rock version of “Cannibals are Carpooling” and the hilarious country-tinged-rock “Adelade” — a song describing a sexually promiscuous, Adderall-snorting milkmaid — proved Walsh can really rock.
In the third and final set, the band began to tire. Like a boxer battered and bruised in the final round, the band continued to slug on for another hour-long set, dragging the remaining audience to its feet for a final weary boogie in front of the stage. Despite the obvious declining energy, band members fought on, unwilling to concede to the dwindling audience or their sore fingers and vocal chords. They simply took another sip of beer and threw themselves into the next song. With the final blaring chord, no one called for an encore and everyone, including the band, headed for the nearest exit.
Shows like this can make or break a band that is still getting on its feet. After this successful show, it is certain that The Blind Spots will want to revisit Collegetown again. And when they do return, the crowd can expect another high-octane show. After all, good music is fun — but good live music is even better.
The Blind Spots will perform at 10 p.m. April 24 at The Nines in Collegetown.
Blind Spots look to grow as serious artists
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Maddy Walsh, the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the Ithaca, NY-based The Blind Spots, has a J...Maddy Walsh, the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the Ithaca, NY-based The Blind Spots, has a Janis Joplin-kind of charisma. Walsh holds her own in the rock music world..."We can make some serious noise," Walsh said. "We want to get people out of their seats and dancing but not at the risk of leaving behind our right to perform more serious songs."
It's these more "serious" songs that has me intrigued. "Cannibals are Carpooling" from the band's debut record, "El Camino Dream," exudes an indie rock-era 2002 vibe...
On the track "Break This Pace," there is a definite enthusiasm that seeps out through the speakers, sounding a bit like mid-90's Sheryl Crow when she was still performing at the Tuesday Night Music Club. There is also some honky-tonk rolled up with a novice, introductory type, non-obnoxious country as well...The Blind Spots are just approaching the crest of a sudsy, salt water wave and have all of the applicable attributes to last in this "scene" for a long while.
In Harmony: The Blind Spots Release Their Debut CD
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Ithaca-based band the Blnd Spots have been making inroads int he local scene over the past couple of...Ithaca-based band the Blnd Spots have been making inroads int he local scene over the past couple of years. Now, with the completion of its debut CD, "El Camino Dream," the band is ready to take their career to the next level.
The 10 songs on "El Camino Dream" display the band's varied influences, which include rock, folk, funk and more.
The band is fronted by powerful singer Maddy Walsh...AFter graduating from Binghamton University, she attended grad school in Sacramento, Calif., recording a solo CD, "Patchwork," while she was out there.
Walsh returne dto the Ithaca area in Dec. 2007 and met up with guitarist Mike Suave, formerly with the South Catherine Street Jug Band. The Blind Spots formed soon after, with keyboardist David Openshaw, bassist Khris Oursler and drummer Jay Fuller coming aboard.
Walsh brought some of herown songs to the band, and she also co-writes with Suave. "He and I have very different things to say, but we know how to write together," Walsh said.
The Blind Spots also write together. "The band numers are fun," Suave said. "It's like band camp--maddy runs off to write somelyrics, and the other guys will works on the changes."
The band recorded the CD at Proletariat Studios in Cambridge, NY, working with producer Ted marotta. The process took longer than expected, though--nearly 18 months. "We had a lot of setbacks, including losing our drummer," Walsh said. "It took a little bit extra time; we figured we'd be int eh studio on and off for five months or so." Fuller plays on three of the album's tracks; the rest of the drums were handled by Marotta and a "Capt. Mayo."
The delays benefited the band in some ways, as a few of the songs recorded early int eh sessions were replaced by newer, stronger ones.
The final touch was having Will Russell of Electric Wilburland in Newfield master the album. "It was great to have someone with fresh ears come in after we had been listening to the sons for so long," Walsh said.
Soon after "El Camino Dream" was completed, the Blind Spots enlisted drummer Jeff Turback, who has given the band a "jump start," according to Walsh. "It's great to have a full working band again."
The band's sound has evolved since its beginnings. "I think we've gotten further away from the folky stuff, though I still do that project Madd Daddy with my dad to get our folk out," Walsh said. "This band has turned more into rock and indie pop. It's fun to play in different genres and use elements from those things."
...With "El Camino Dream" done, the Blind Spots are ready to hit the road. "We'd like to stay in Ithaca as the band's home base. but our ultimate goal is to travel a lot to play," Walsh said. Visit www.theblindspots.com to learn more about the band.
UMAF Showcase Featuring The Blind Spots and the Ameros
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The Blind Spots bring their power packed sound to Utica ont eh heels of a 2010 win of the Ithaca Tim...The Blind Spots bring their power packed sound to Utica ont eh heels of a 2010 win of the Ithaca Times Soundoff Awards. This five-piece rock-pp band is serious business and has paid their dues int he local and regional scene. Maddy Walsh's vocal is simply arresting in both its passionate rasp and clear innocence, and her melodies hit the mark--easy on the ear, yet active enough to hold it. The band behind her is as tight as any national touring act you'll find in a larger venue and they have great musical instincts. How could you resist a band with a song called Cannibals are Carpooling?
Tuesdays with the Band: The Blind Spots
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"My favorite part of my time with the Blind Spots was the fact that every song sounded different. T..."My favorite part of my time with the Blind Spots was the fact that every song sounded different. There was the upbeat stuff from the upcoming album, the more mellow sounds of the live performances, and vice versa in both cases. They always kept me guessing. Aside from that, they were a pleasure to have in the studio, very personable and humble. Big fans of their music nad wanting only to share it with the world. And the world should listen." Dan Cole
There are no upcoming dates at this time.