the shellye valauskas experience
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the shellye valauskas experience

New Haven, Connecticut, United States | INDIE

New Haven, Connecticut, United States | INDIE
Band Pop Americana


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"The Shellye Valauskas Experience “Box It Up,” Deliver Well-Packaged Pop on New EP."

The Box It Up EP, was produced at Boston’s Q Division studios by Falcone and Ed Valauskas (Shellye’s brother, Dean’s old bandmate in One Hundred Faces, and the celebrated bassist for The Gravel Pit, The Gentlemen and Juliana Hatfield) contains the first new songs Shellye and Dean have written since Shellye’s acclaimed 2001 solo album The Stupid Truth. The poetic lyrics probe all the delicacy, delirium and disappointments of modern relationships. “Sorry only works so many times,” Valauskas sings on “40 Things”, shortly before the songs leaps into its gorgeous upbeat chorus. “Box It Up” and “This Side of Goodbye” both build gradually from intimate confessions (“Maybe I expect too much”; “I don’t know how to talk to you”) into grand guitar-fueled statements that will have you swaying, swooning and singing along. “Couldn’t Find the Time” has a darker feel, while “Hard to See’ verges into psychedelic territory, except for Valauskas’ reassuringly warm and humane voice.

Mix it up with Box It Up. Experience The Shellye Valauskas Experience at and at
- Christopher Arnott

"The Shellye Valauskas Experience reviewed"

The Shellye Valauskas Experience, Box It Up (Slowpoke Records,, theshellyevalauskasexperience). Valauskas shows real master of pop songcraft here with immediate choruses, strong verse melodies, bridges and lyrical twists that kick songs into a dimension unanticipated at the outset. Dean Falcone's shining guitar solos help complete and fortify the arcs of these songs and a crack rhythm section lends muscle reminiscent of classic power-pop. As pop songs should be, these are familiar but original enough to assert Valauskas has something to contribute to such a well-traversed idiom. She and her band balance professionalism and modesty, rocking properly and making no grander statements than the ramifications of heartbreak. These five tunes showcase her gifts and make the listener wonder what else she has up her sleeve.

—Brian LaRue

- New Haven Advocate

"'Box' of goodness"

I don't think owner Paul Mayer or any of the great bartenders at Cafe Nine would go for this, but I wish I could just open a bar tab tonight at the Movers' show and not close it till Saturday, after The Shellye Valauskas Experience's CD-release show. Yep, after a long, seven-year wait, Shellye, Dean Falcone, Bruce Crowder and company are back with "Box It Up," a five-song EP that's full of meticulously crafted pop gems.

Recorded over a period of a couple years at Q Division in Somerville, Mass., where Shellye's brother Ed Valauskas (Gravel Pit, Gentlemen) works, "Box It Up" is more of a band record than SVE's debut, "The Stupid Truth." On that 2001 record, it was really just Shellye and Dean playing everything but drums, really. Yet on "Box," we have Shellye and Dean along with Eric Lichter on bass and Crowder on drums. Oh, and there's some other guests, too.

I mean, it shouldn't be surprising since a lot of big-time artists have recorded at Q Division, but this disc just sounds so good, which is really a nod to Dean and Ed, who produced it all.

All the tunes on the "Box" are catchy, but I just can't get "This Side of Goodbye" out of my head. Every little bit of it. Whether we're talking about the rhythm or lead guitar parts, the killer harmonies, the catchy chorus or the great bridge, I just can't get enough. I've actually listened to it on repeat a couple times; that's not something I do often ... or ever.

It may have taken a while, but "Box It Up" is a worthy successor to "The Stupid Truth," which I still really like. Let's hope the next disc doesn't take seven years though. Of course, the band is putting out "Box" on its own label, Slowpoke Records. Um, I think that name is supposed to mean something.
- New Haven Register

"The best local records of 2008"

"Box It Up," The Shellye Valauskas Experience — It took a long time to actually finish, but this five-song EP proves once again that Shellye does power pop just as well anyone, and guitarist/co-songwriter Dean Falcone knows how to produce it. Comparisons to folks like Julianna Hatfield make sense, but this EP is far better than Julianna's 2008 record. Seriously.

-Patrick Ferrucci

- New Haven Register

"Close to Home, Close to Perfection"

The Shellye Valauskas Experience, Box It Up ( It took years to produce this five-song EP follow-up to Shellye's 2002 solo CD The Stupid Truth and the results are immaculately produced in a blissful power-pop style without being overdone. These are breezy, relaxing contemplations of modern romance, hyped up by the glittering guitar solos of Shellye's co-bandleader and song-finisher Dean Falcone.—C.A.

- New Haven Advocate

"Making a Mix of new CDs"

Who: Cafe Nine hosts two of the most-anticipated album-release parties in recent memory this weekend. Yep, New Haven's own The Mountain Movers puts out "Let's Open The Chest" tonight, while The Shellye Valauskas Experience gives us "Box it Up" Saturday. We had someone lined up for a Making a Mix this week, but when they pulled out, we decided we'd describe some of our favorite tunes from these very good releases. So here's a look at some of the killer tracks you'll hear when you buy these two CDs. And you will buy them, since they're so good.

-"40 Things," The Shellye Valauskas Experience — This song leads off "Box It Up" and is the disc's most rocking tune, so it can lead off our mix tape too. We especially like Dean Falcone's lead playing on this one; it's both subtle and suitably ear-catching at varying times. The harmony vocals stand out as well.

-"When I Die," The Mountain Movers — This one's been around for a while; we think we remember the band playing this at its debut record's release party, but on record it's even better. It's a laconic track with great organ parts and a great melody from singer/songwriter Dan Greene.

-"Box It Up," The Shellye Valauskas Experience — The title track of this EP is a slow-moving, acoustic-based song that kicks in after about a minute. The real key to this one is a great melody line and a really catchy chorus.

-"I Shall Be In Love," The Mountain Movers — We mean this in a very complimentary way: This tune starts off sounding like a Steely Dan song, but then gets moving with a lead organ part and an uptempo, rollicking vibe.

-"This Side of Goodbye," The Shellye Valauskas Experience — The jangly electric guitars complement the acoustic guitars. We can't help but think "This Side of Goodbye" sounds like it could be a Matthew Sweet track, "100% Fun" era.

-"Let's Open Up The Chest," The Mountain Movers — There's a point about two minutes into this title track when everything breaks down and we're left with Rick Omonte's bass line and John Panos' trumpet. We can't get enough of those few seconds.

-"Hard To See," The Shellye Valauskas Experience — Dean Falcone's baritone guitar makes this song. It's already a good tune, obviously, but the baritone guitar complements the electric guitar parts perfectly.

-"Last Chance For Summer," The Mountain Movers — There is a striking difference between "Let's Open Up The Chest" and 2006's "We've Walked in Hell, and There is Life After Death," but this song sounds a lot like the ones on the debut with the flute part and building instrumentation.

-"Couldn't Find The Time," The Shellye Valauskas Experience — This track slowly builds over Bruce Crowder's prevalent drum part. It's a moody tune that doesn't reveal a catchy chorus until about 90 seconds in.

-"Tornados And Divorce," The Mountain Movers — This mix could end a lot of ways, and we could have chosen any number of other Mountain Movers songs here, but the thought of concluding a mix with a song called "Tornados And Divorce" just makes us happy. Oh, and, yeah, it's a great track.

- New Haven Register

"stupid truth review"

Shellye Valuskas
The Stupid Truth (10-song CD released by The Volare Label),
available online from notlame, cdbaby, amazon, independisc and cdstreet.

I've been a Shellye Valauskas fan for years, but somehow I've only ever seen her play solo, never with the full band she's had for a long while now. What I've been missing!

Valauskas' voice can be alternately gruff and girlish, confessional and pop-smart. Having background harmonies and guitar lines that rub right up against the vocals certainly don't hurt these tortured love songs. The lovelorn lyrics still come through clearly. In fact, the poppy production makes them less mopey, more enjoyable. Especially when Valauskas' choruses are so catchy and commercial. This is well-produced disk that stops just short of slick. Valauskas comes off as gentle, human, vulnerable but tough, and the songs come off as full and grand. There are pings and strings and nasty guitar licks floating through and fleshing out Blame; a song about emptiness. Local guitarist Dean Falcone is the ideal secret weapon here--he strengthens the melodies but doesn't tear them into rock territory.

This album has been a long time coming, but well worth the wait, not just because it's so fully formed, but because Valauskas has developed so much as a songwriter, arranger and bandleader.
--Christopher Arnott
New Haven Advocate/Music
Published 06/13/02

- new haven advocate

"shellye cd release party"

THE WHOLE STUPID TRUTH: A year ago, Shellye Valauskas was putting out a plea to friends to come up with a title for her album so she wouldn't have to call it "Ed's Kid Sister." Not that she's ashamed of it — big bro is Ed Valauskas, bassist for The Gentlemen and formerly The Gravel Pit — but, of course, forging one's identity is a very good thing. Then, there was the one day she was working at the Exile on Main St. record shop in Hamden, and "The Stupid Truth" was hatched …

"Dean Falcone came up with it," she said. Falcone, the assistant manager there, is a multi-instrumentalist of renown among local musicians; he played with current Los Angeles pop guru Jon Brion in The Excerpts in the '80s, and played extensively on her disc. "He said it was because the songs were so honest, and because 'stupid' has become part of my vocabulary in the past year. Everything's 'stupid.'"

There you go. That was the easy part. And after years of writing and recording and remixing, she's hoping the discs will be ready for tonight's album release show at Cafe Nine (250 State St.: $3; 203-789-8281). She'll be the middle act — before Brooklyn-via-New Haven's Spike Priggen, who shares a record label with Valauskas (Volare); and Boston pal Jules Verdone, who starts the show at 9. James Velvet of The Mocking Birds and WPLR's local bands show will emcee.

It was suggested the 'Stupid' part of the title might have come from Aimee Mann in some form. Like the former 'Til Tuesday singer, whose discography includes the album "I'm With Stupid," Valauskas combines a sweet, confident voice, layered pop production and hooks with lyrics that dig deep into relationships, songs such as "Lie #1" and "Catch Your Breath." Unlike Mann, she gets twangy in places, like "Obvious," a breakup song whose tempo is inversely upbeat; and "Impatiently."

"I'm a huge Aimee fan," said Valauskas, also a big fan of The Posies and The Pernice Brothers. "'I'm With Stupid' … that's probably underlying somewhere."

Valauskas, 27, who lives in New Haven's Westville section, is a biology teacher at Lauralton Hall in Milford (where she pre-sold 35 copies of the disc to students at a recent fund-raiser). She's also studying for her master's in biology at Southern Connecticut State, waitressing at the New Haven Archie Moore's and playing out quite often. (As one of her songs says, catch your breath.)

She started the album 2 1/2 years ago with prodding from Falcone. "He said, 'I want to hear your songs,'" she recalled. "I gave him a four-song demo. I think having someone interested made me think it was worthwhile."

Most of the songs were written between 1997 and '99; the newest tune, "Obvious," was penned last year. Despite many of the songs (most especially "Anything") coming from her own experience of being dumped, it's a testament to the songs' quality that Valauskas, who plays frequently around the area, isn't sick of them yet.

"It's hard," she said, "especially after doing them so many times in the studio. I did get sick of them, but yes, I did get back to liking them. Definitely."

It was a difficult recording. "We mixed it a bunch of times," Valauskas said. "We weren't happy with it. We tried it again and weren't happy. Finally, Mike Deming (a Hartford-area producer of note in indie circles) remixed seven of the songs and my brother (who lives in Boston) did the other three. They did an awesome job."

While she has long since shaken the "kid sister" tag in these parts, Valauskas was still a little worried about Ed's reaction. She used to listen to his songs in the doorway of his bedroom growing up in Durham.

"He's been very encouraging," she said. "At times, it's been very hard to swallow. He's very critical. He thinks the mix should reflect the quality of the music. He's been really supportive. I don't think our bands will play together, but the high point for me was singing with him on the record." …
Fran Fried
June 14, 2002
New Haven Register/Notes on Notes
- new haven register

"more various"

"...her songs are simultaneously quirky, edgy, catchy. . . she's also rock 'n' roll----not Chuck Berry rock 'n' roll, more like Freedy Johnston? Paul Westerberg? R.E.M. when they really jam?? With the band, Shellye Valauskas possesses that mysterious 'something else' that might just make her musical future bright."
--Frank Critelli, July 2001

"High, clear and sharp, her voice played well off of the darker content of her songs. The material itself being quite sharp as well. It got to its point quickly and simply and left it up to the listeners to spin a particularly poignant line around their heads."
--Chris Lough
The New Haven Advocate, September 27, 2001

"Her voice soared and her guitar made left and right turns that were fun to follow and hard to ignore . . . there is an aura that surrounds her and her guitar."
--Pete Dodd
The New Haven Advocate, December 30, 1999

"Mirthful, soulful and amiable . . . she's got everything she needs - an alternately tough and tender voice, memorable melodies, lyrics you want to hear clearly and absolute unadulterated charm . . . charmingly personal folk-pop songs."
--Christopher Arnott
The New Haven Advocate, September 1, 1999

"Shellye deftly adapts pop complexities to sturdily simple solo acoustic arrangements. Someone to learn from."
--Christopher Arnott
The New Haven Advocate, August 20, 1998

"Shellye Valauskas . . . has an insightful pop sensibility which allows her to steer clear of that dreaded musical disease, Folk Mopery. Very refreshing."
--Craig Gilbert,
The New Haven Advocate, February 26, 1998
- various



“At 7 p.m. Saturday, a huge collection of local talent will come together for a benefit to support the musicians of New Orleans . . . The organizers are only asking for a donation of $20 . . . When you go see The Shellye Valauskas Experience, it usually costs about $10, but does anyone ever leave disappointed? Nope. At the benefit, you'll get Shellye, plus a bunch of other great artists and food and drink, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Tipitina's Foundation . . .”
Patrick Ferucci
The New Haven Register, New Haven, CT. November, 2005

“The Experience is four-piece blast of complex yet simple pop, highlighted by Valauskas’ unique and engaging voice and guitarist Dean Falcone’s economy leads.”
Patrick Ferucci
The New Haven Register, New Haven, CT. April, 2005

“. . .These kids are good. Really good. Shellye has a beautiful voice, and writes lovely, gentle pop songs.”
Steve Gisselbrecht
The Boston Noise, Boston, MA. September, 2004
“SVE take over the nine stage again on Sept. 10 (check out Shellye's new blue Telecaster), sharing another sweet bill with pop singer/songwrtier Mike Viola, plus Lys Guillorn and her full band. The next night, SVE gets to represent New Haven at the New England Pop Festival, a weekend-long pop-a-palooza at the Abbey Lounge in Somerville, Mass.
Kathleen Cei New Haven Advocate, New Haven, CT. September, 2004
“ . . . we went for some of New Haven's famous pizza with our new friends from "The Shellye Valauskas Experience" and then did the show at Cafe Nine. And what can I say ? It was unreal. One of the coolest pubs I've seen in a while . . . Dean and Shellye (from "T.S.V.E") both joined me onstage throughout the show to help out on a few songs, which was very cool.”
Shane Nicholson (Australian Pop God) An excerpt from his tour diary, 2004
“The Shellye Valauskas Experience braved the Sunday storm and played in full five-piece splendor under the shelter of the food tent. Semi-shy and somewhat waterlogged, Shellye and bassist Kris Santala harmonized in the drizzle . . . Undistracted by the cameraman on stage, the band expertly played selections from The Stupid Truth, their debut CD due out in June. Frank Critelli a review of the April 2002 Meriden Daffodil Festival
“Q: What is the best original, new local song you heard in the last year?” A: “Shellye Valauskas' "Take It Back" which, like many of her songs, perfectly nails a feeling that is hard to give words to.”
Drew Cucuzza New Haven Advocate “Sounding Off,” 2002
“Q: What is the best original, new local CD released in the last year?” A: “Shellye Valauskas' The Stupid Truth. I hadn't really taken the time to check out Valauskas' music until recently. Once I gave it a fair listen I found lyrics that were at once both personal and universal and melodies that stick in the mind. The CD beautifully elaborates on her compositions with smart but not overdone arrangements and crisp recording. Great packaging, too.”
Hank Hoffman New Haven Advocate “Sounding Off,” 2002
Q: “What is the best original, new local CD released in the last year?” A: “The Stupid Truth by Shellye Valauskis, who has a unique ability to craft emotionally powerful songs that are never maudlin or self pitying.”
Drew Cucuzza New Haven Advocate “Sounding Off,” 2002
Q: “If you could sign any local music act to a national recording contract, who would you sign?” A: “I suppose this getting redundant but Shellye Valauskas (who will get one eventually).”
Drew Cucuzza New Haven Advocate “Sounding Off,” 2002
Q: “Describe the most memorable moment you experienced in a live music setting in Greater New Haven in the last year.” A: “Shellye Valauskas' CD release party at Cafe 9. Wax lips, packed house, balloons and no CDs!”
The Battlecats New Haven Advocate “Sounding Off,” 2002
". . . her songs are simultaneously quirky, edgy, catchy, but with Jim Balga on drums, Kriss Santala on bass and the way—cool electric guitar of Dean Falcone, she’s also rock ‘n roll—-not like Chuck Berry rock ‘n roll, more like Freedy Johnston? Paul Westerberg? R.E.M. when they really jam?? With the band, Shellye Valauskas possesses that mysterious “something else” that might just make her musical future bright.”
Frank Critelli, 2000

“ Her voice soared and her guitar made left and right turns that were fun to follow and hard to ignore . . . there is an aura that surrounds her and her guitar."
Pete Dodd
New Haven Advocate, New Haven, CT. December 1999

" Mirthful, soulful and amiable . . . as a solo artist she's got everything she needs - an alternately tough and tender voice, memorable melodies, lyrics you want to hear clearly and absolute unadulterated charm."
" . . . charmingly personal folk-pop songs."
Christopher Arnott
New Haven Advocate, New Haven, CT. September 1999

" This singer-songwriter specializes in heartfelt, gentle melodies. If you like Shawn Colvin and Ani Difranco, you'll love Shellye."
Amanda Savio
Record-Journal, Meriden, CT. April 1999

" If you haven't heard Shellye Valauskas yet, you have no one to blame but yourself. She's been on a variety of bills, opening for everyone from Pat Benatar at Toad's Place to Ivy at the GPSCY Bar to Jules Verdone at Rudy's and Dar Williams in Stamford. Shellye deftly adapts pop complexities to sturdily simple solo acoustic arrangements. Someone to learn from."
Christopher Arnott
New Haven Advocate, New Haven, CT. August 1998

" Shellye Valauskas plays a solo acoustic set that has an insightful pop sensibility which allows her to steer clear of that dreaded musical disease, Folk Mopery. Very refreshing."
Craig Gilbert
New Haven Advocate, New Haven, CT. February 1998

- various


Box it Up, 2008, EP
The Stupid Truth, 2002, full length CD.
Let's Get Furious, a tribute to the Furors, 2003 - Compilation (1 track)



A sweet songwriter who cares for catchy rhythms and hooks. A supportive, up-for-anything pop band to back her. The Shellye Valauskas Experience’s Box It Up is a box of secrets, surprises and delights. By the time she formed the band, vocalist/guitarist Shellye Valauskas was an established solo performer, winning the New Haven Advocate’s Grand Band Slam readers’ poll and rating a slot in New York’s CMJ Marathon several years in a row. As her songwriting collaborator and bandmate, she enlisted ace guitarist Dean Falcone, who’s served the Connecticut music scene since the early ’80s with Jon Brion in The Excerpts, his own Dean and the Dragsters, and a host of others. Valauskas and Falcone’s shared love for the intelligent, heartwarming yet punchy pop of Crowded House, The Posies and Aimee Mann, as well as the burgeoning Americana movement, helped them nail a distinctive yet accessible radio-friendly sound from the start. Drummer Bruce Crowder quickly mastered the intricate pacings and style shifts of the songs. The band’s also been well served by a succession of team-player bassists, including Eric Lichter (who plays on the EP) and the new recruit Chuck Roscoe (a veteran of roots bands such as The Motel Preachers and The Sawbucks). In its native Connecticut, the band is as comfortable at major outdoor festivals such as the Meriden Daffodil Festival or New Haven’s Ideat Village as they are music-friendly bars like Café Nine. They have shared the stage with such notable performers as Todd Rundgren, Melissa Ferrick, Ivy, Patty Griffin, Kristin Hersh, Pat Benatar, Amy Rigby, Merrie Amsterberg, Mike Viola, Shane Nicholson and Mary Lou Lord. In 2002 the band released their debut CD entitled The Stupid Truth which was well received by music critics and fans. The New Haven release party for the cd was a sold-out success and the album is currently receiving airplay on college stations throughout the tri-state area. 2008 brought the release of Box it Up which quickly gained the respect of local critics and fans alike. The EP was named one of the top 10 best local releases in the yearly round-up of both the New Haven Register and the local arts paper, The New Haven Advocate.