|Noisy, subversively catchy and rhythmically sophisticated, Chicago quartet Melkbelly emerge from Chicago’s DIY spaces with their debut album, Nothing Valley, out Oct. 13th on Wax Nine Records, a sister label to Carpark Records headed by Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz.
Melkbelly’s members live and breathe Chicago’s art and music underground where their paths crossed and alliances were forged. Vocalist/guitarist Miranda Winters played solo in folk rock project reddelicious. Brothers Bart and Liam Winters (the tall fellas playing guitar and bass in Melkbelly) ran an influential show space in Chicago. Drawn together by their passion for East Coast noise, particularly the flavor originating from Miranda’s previous homebase of Providence, RI, Miranda and Bart of Coffin Ships recruited James Wetzel, who studied jazz drums in college, from improvisational free-drum/noise duo Ree-Yees. This new group of friends orbiting the loft and art scene, began collaborating on each other’s projects, formalizing in a more guitar-driven quartet Melkbelly in 2014.
Melkbelly’s debut EP Pennsylvania came out that same year. Engineered by Cooper Crain of Cave/Bitchin’ Bajas, the record came easily. The Chicago Reader enthused for single “Doomspringa” with its “noisy guitar freak-outs” and “beautifully melodic verses” and compared Melkbelly, accurately, to a hybrid of the Breeders and Lightning Bolt.
In 2016, the band tested the waters with new material. Inspired by the geography of a West Coast tour, shared band experiences, the van “as a magical place” and failed touristic detours at a meteor crater (it was closed) and Spiral Jetty (not van-friendly), the band gathered material written by Miranda and spawned from recorded jams for its next album. In early 2017, Melkbelly recorded with Dave Vettraino at Chicago’s Public House, writing about half the album in the studio and tracking it to 8-track analog tape. The result is Nothing Valley, organized noise and thoughtful freneticism, a fusion of dreamy vocal lines and cantankerous guitar racket. Today they share the video for “Kid Kreative.” “Kid Kreative is about creating a unique aesthetic in art or music only to have it hijacked and manhandled by someone else who reaps the rewards,” explains Miranda Winters. “It was inspired by existing as a woman in the predominantly male space of loud-music where it’s easy to be both looked over and ‘borrowed’ from.”