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The best kept secret in music


"XM Satellite Radio"

The Debut release from Chao is nothing short of spectacular. Every song is impressive, without being over-produced. The entire package, entitled hitsthemiss, is very playful and cute. From the first song, “Gotta Go,” which is definitely the hit on the record, You feel infected with infectious, anthemic hooks that have you wanting to sing along, and waiting more from the lead vocalist Regina Chellew.

Regina, who is Chao, reminds me of the playful and sleepy Hope Sandoval, Mazzy Star vocalist, the very simple and cute cardigans lead vocalist, Nina Elisabet Persson, and assertive, demanding Shirley Manson From Garbage. Through the CD the tempo and mood shifts with almost every song, and particularly on the cover of Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay,” which is beautiful. This masterpiece has at least 3 follow up hits to “Gotta Go” including; “Bugs” which is a simple song with a simple beats, but the lyrics and hook are simply infectious, Fire which has a Texas feel to it, and “Whisper” which starts out with a groovy acoustic guitar riff that makes you nod your head throughout the song. The CD ends with a tribute to the late Ramones front man, Joey Ramone, entitled “Something for Joey / I Wanna be Sedated,” done in a slow, relaxing, Portishead-type groove.

Two weeks ago I brought the Chao CD home to listen to it again and put it in the CD changer. After it was over the changer changed to the new Garbage CD, which is much more on the electronic side with lots of loops and samples. In a simple comparison between the two, Chao’s debut release is much more organic with natural sounds that really seem to take you on a trip. The CD has that Texas feel with some slide guitar and violins hear and there that adds a refreshing, welcoming feel, as if you are supposed to sit down and listen intently and entirely. Not a lot of music on terrestrial Radio does that anymore. It’s as if everything has been sanitized for our protection. Screw Protection. I want to hear music with passion on the radio again and I think I found it. Personally, I feel the debut release from Chao is one of the best albums I have heard this year. I love to go on Journeys through the music I listen to. If you like music and passion and love to feel them mix in the form of great music, this is for you, if not - Chao.

- Billy Zero

"Texas Music"

Regina Chellew of Dallas’ Captain Audio is the woman with a guitar behind Chao, which is essentially her solo debut. members of the Earl Harvin Jazz Trio, Pleasant Grove and Vibrolux lend their vocal and instrumental accompaniment to Hitsthemiss, which ventures stylistically from pop/punk attitude to countrified pedal steel wails. “Gotta Go” opens the album with a bass driven, pop rave-up fueled by Chellew’s vocals. Marcus Striplin of Pleasant Grove provides back up vocals to a bittersweet cover of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay.” Chellew rounds out the album with another bittersweet cover, a somber rendition of “I Wanna Be Sedated.” Dedicated to the late Joey Ramone, Chellew’s version of the Ramones anthem is a study in slow, whispered vocals and twangy, mournful guitar. From energized start to solemn finish, Hitsthemiss hits the spot. - R Skanse

"Dallas Morning News"

After earning her art-rock stripes with Captain Audio, singer / multi-instrumentalist Regina Chellew has set off on her own under the pseudonym Chao. Hitsthemiss, her debut CD as Chao, sounds like the Brill Building's version of a David Lynch film soundtrack - dark and surreal, but with tons of shimmering melodies.

Ms Chellew turns two classic songs inside out: A whispered country-dirge version of The Ramones "I Wanna Be Sedated," and an ethereal trumpet - laced take on Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay."

But her own tunes are equally impressive, from the jittery, organ drenched pop of "Gotta Go" (with drums by Earl Harvin) to haunting pieces like "Low," "Whisper," and the string - fueled "Bugs." You're never quite sure what the next tune on Hitsthemiss is going to sound like, but chances are, it's going to be entrancing.
- T. Chritensen

"Mundane Sounds"

Over the past few years, I've noticed an interesting little trend of Dallas-area bands have started making perfect little jewels of albums, to very little or no fanfare outside of the Metroplex area. While this must be an utter frustration for these bands, this trend also shows that many of these groups aren't as concerned with popularity as they are with making good, relevant music. Thankfully, these bands choose to be lesser known, rather than a touring act who plays Krispy Kremes across the country. Sure, we'd all like to be famous, but we all can't be Flickerstick.

hitsthemiss is the debut album from Chao, the newest project from Regina Chellew, formerly of the underrated art-rockers Captain Audio. The project is titled "Chao," most of the songs were performed entirely by Chellew, though she does have a little help here and there, most notably on "Gotta Go" (with percussion by Earl Harvin) and on "Lay Lady Lay," a duet with Pleasant Grove's Marcus Striplin. Because Chao is a one-woman show, the songs burn with a much sharper sense of direction. Without the constraints of a band, she can fluctuate between styles, without having to worry about breaking the flow of someone else's ideas, and it works. From one moment of peppy, upbeat Breeders-style pop ("Gotta Go"), to Spaghetti-western balladry ("Whisper"), arty folk-rock ("Low"), with a stop-off at a hazy, pot-tinged cover of "Lay Lady Lay," complete with a drum machine beat, Chellew is doing what she wants to do--and it all comes together rather nicely.

Perhaps the best part of hitsthemiss, however, is Chellew's voice. While she's done marvelous work with instrumentation and programming, it's her voice that stands out the most. As she fluctuates her musical styles, you can hear distinct differences in her singing--from quirky art-punk not unlike Kristin Hersh and Kathy McCarty, to a dark, sad folk of Shannon Wright and a distinct poppy punk growl of Kim Deal. She takes the album from high to low with one simple change in tone, and it really works well. Normally, when a singer fluctuates between different recognizable sounds, one could dismiss them of not having found their voice yet, but such is not a valid complaint for Chellew. Instead of not having "found" her voice, hitsthemiss demonstrates that she has a very wide range, and she's not going to simply stick to "one" voice. Her influences, while noticeable, don't overwhelm her songs.

In recent interviews, she's stated that hitsthemiss is, in large part, a collection of older songs that she's had for a while, that weren't recorded by Captain Audio. ("Bugs," however, is the exception; it was recorded by Captain Audio in their formative years) If such is the case, then hitsthemiss provides a nice hint at what's to come. A solo, lo-fi record that sounds like a full band in a big studio? Yeah, and if she can fool you that way, then you know she's good. Regina Chellew is quietly one of the most talented musicians to come out of the Dallas area, and hitsthemiss is an addictive blend of bitter heartbreak and sugar-sweet pop, with just a hint of arsenic to make things interesting. I haven't wanted to take hitsthemiss off my stereo over the past week, and I bet you won't want to, either.
- A

"FW Weekly"

The relocation of art-pop rockers to Captain Audio last year to New York gave a new voice to singer Regina Chellew, who stayed behind to resurface as Chao. Her solo debut, Hitsthemiss, is diverse and captivating, considering that she also plays guitar, bass, keyboards, trumpet and percussion - and co-produced the whole -effort - it adds up to one hell of a debut.

Chao kicks things off with a snappy pop nugget called "Gotta Go," and bookends the album with Ramones rambunctious anthem "I Wanna Be Sedated," which has been revamped into a gentle, whisper - soft tribute that she calls "Something for Joey." In between the two are nine rather different songs, but Chao's fluid vocals connect the dots nicely and convert some unlikely sounds into a seamless package. "Bugs" and "Find a Hole" bring to mind some of Belly's best work while "Country Song" proves that Chao's time in Texas hasn't been completely untouched by country twang. Her version of Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" is a captivating trance-like duet with Pleasant Grove's Marcus Striplin, and "This Love" manages to be graphic in its description of a decayed romance while at the same time being utterly radio friendly pop.

Often ethereal and completely unpredictable, Hitsthemiss is a pleasant and unusual surprise. Chao happily prowls over uneven terrain with grace and steadiness that bodes well for the future of local music.
- Music editor

"Dallas Observer"

Chao, Hitsthemiss (Last Beat): Hitsthemiss certainly sounds like it could be a Captain Audio record, which just shows how much Regina Chellew (a.k.a. Chao) brought to the group. Like Captain Audio, the songs have a simple complexity, an ability to play by the rules and ignore them at the same time. Chellew glides from genre to genre with the ease of a CD changer, each step as logical and unexpected as the one before it. Yet even with their eclectic nature, the songs on Hitsthemiss manage to cohere into a seamless whole. The disc may flirt with other styles of music, but they remain true to Chellew's personal vision, a trick that manages to make even the cover songs sound like Chellew originals. ("Greatest Hits," November 29) --Z.C. - Z Crain

"INK 19"

Chao is the debut recording of the new group fronted by Regina Chellew. Formerly, she fronted Captain Audio. This is potent indie pop guaranteed to affect the listener with the clear, clarion vocals and quick-paced, bright beats. Captain Audio had a grand tradition of covers, sometimes doing whole albums in concert. Here, Regina includes a cover; an excellent rendition of "Lay Lady Lay." On this track, she sings in duet with Marcus Striplin (Pleasant Grove). The potent delivery on this album, crisp production and arrangements that effectively punctuate every rhythmic possibility make
Hitsthemiss a superlative album. (4.5)
- ?


Captain Audio - My ears are ringing but my heart's ok - 1998

Captain Audio - Luxury or wheter it's better to be loved than feared - 2000

Chao - Hitsthemiss - 2002

Various guest appearances and compilations, check the website for more,


Feeling a bit camera shy


TONIGHT (8.29.03) at Rubber Gloves in Denton with I Love You But I've Chosen Darkenss and Soviet

Regina Chellew knows exactly how she wants her music to connect with her listeners. "I'd like it to hit them between the eyes," she says of Hits the Miss (Last Beat), her debut outing from her latest project, Chao. "I hope it does what other people's music has done to me. Music can give you chills, make you cry, or piss you off. It becomes the soundtrack to your life ... music means something to me.” Mean something, she illustrates, in the way that the music of the Velvet Underground, and above all David Bowie meant to her. Music like that is not born of indifference.

Regina Chellew is Chao, in much the same way as Chan Marshall is Cat Power and J. Mascis was Dinosaur Jr. It's her first project since her previous outfit, Dallas' acclaimed art-pop trio Captain Audio, went on hiatus last year. Written, conceived and co-produced by Chellew, Chao is a solo venture in all but name.

Captain Audio released My ears are ringing but my heart's ok ep in 1998 and Luxury or whether it is better to be loved than feared in 2000. The trio eschewed the all-too standard gig routine of playing the same set of songs week after week in the same clubs, rather they approached each show as an event. Every show they ever played had a distinct theme or artistic quirk, be it performing under a giant bubble sculpture, dropping balloons on the audience or playing nothing but Bowie's Hunky Dory album, or the Beatles' Abbey Road (but only Side 2). Captain Audio songs were primarily band collaborations. Thoughts of a solo project began as Chellew amassed a store of songs which didn't have an outlet. When the rest of the band moved to New York to concentrate on a new project, The Secret Machines, Chellew took the opportunity to sort through her demos, and Chao was born.

Her own project was to make what she calls "pretty much a straight-up pop record, whereas there wasn't anything straight-up pop about us in Captain Audio." But under no circumstances should Chellew's perception of "straight-up" be misinterpreted as "normal." From the slinky, rolling opener "Gotta Go" -- built on one of the most infectious bass lines since the Breeders' "Cannonball" and featuring Earl Harvin (Seal, The The, Earl Harvin Jazz Trio) on drums -- through to the spookily beautiful closing cover of the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated," Hits the Miss reveals Chellew to be as formidable a voice on the alternative music scene alone as she is in the context of Captain Audio. It's a sweepingly diverse debut, as full of melodic snap and bite ("Bugs," "Find a Hole") as it is lushly beautiful arrangements ("Low") and inspired touches like the gorgeous duet with Marcus Striplin of Pleasant Grove on the cover of Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" and the fluid foot stomps of a Ballet Folklorico dancer weaved into its rhythm of the seductive, Latin-flavored "Whisper." Chellew plays all of the guitars, bass guitar, piano, trumpet and organ parts on the album, in addition to drumming on one track and programming three or four others -pretty much every instrument on the album but the strings.

Chellew fully intending to make every show Chao show as unique as those that set Captain Audio apart from the crowd. She explains that some shows will be strictly solo, while others will emphasize electronica, or feature string players or a full rock band. "I'm still figuring out exactly how and what I'm going to do, I am not much of a planner," Chellew admits. “ I create as I go, which means anything can happen.” All that is certain is that
the possibilities are endless, which is the closest any one will ever likely come to defining her music.