Blind Shake co-founder Mike Blaha celebrates a new release from his latest project. Info
Mike Blaha has already made a pretty incredible contribution to Midwestern rock 'n' roll as a member of The Blind Shake, a ferocious trio that plays clangy, surf-infused punk. But Mike and sibling/bandmate Jim Blaha have spent a lot more time branching out into other projects over the past few years, with Mike leading a quartet simply called Blaha, which plays here to celebrate the new album Survival Climb, released on Madison-based No Coast Records. In The Blind Shake, Mike plays a baritone guitar that helps to give that band its distinctively tinny-but-transportive sound, and shares lead vocal duites with his brother. Here, he switches to guitar and lead vocals and explores a slightly more dense sonic approach with bassist Allison Gunderson, drummer Noah Paster, and guitarist Dylan Rosen.
Plenty of songs on Survival Climb could fit into a Blind Shake set without anyone blinking, especially the 90-second pile-driver "Spare Time." But even on these tracks, Mike Blaha and bandmates find room for chunky descending riffs and just a bit more dynamic variety than one typically finds in The Blind Shake's bracing, austere songs. Gunderson sets up "I'm The Captain" with an oddball-dub bass part, and the song expands with slinky melodies from an organ and a flugelhorn. On "Hang Your Head Up" and "New Bloodline," there's yet more nuanced rhythm and sonic texture to make Blaha the band compelling in its own right, not just an offshoot of an already great band. —Scott Gordon