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Saturday: Ellen West CD Release Party at Babeville

Michelle Buono has been a steady fixture in Western New York rock circles for the last decade and a half, for writing, singing, and playing guitar in the “soft/heavy” contrasting indie pop outfit the Missing Planes, as well as for her adventures as the one-woman act Ellen West. Buono took her time following up the 2006 Ellen West solo debut Preparing to Be Forgotten, and the resulting record, The Weight of Nothing Will Crush You, proves a stark and haunting collection of engrossing, atmospheric songs. Recorded by Matt Smith at Hi/Lo Studio, the 10 tracks pitch Buono’s unique voice—an oddly uncompromised balance between ethereal and gritty—as an emotionally taut backdrop of themes like loss, pain and loneliness. The record bears a dark, autumnal feel colored by Buono’s love of minor chords and her impassioned wail. Backing comes throughout from percussionist Liz Holland, multi-instrumentalist Jesse Mank, and even a Super 8 projector chugging in the background of “Revolutions Per Split Second.” However, this is primarily an Ellen affair and her powerful voice and emotionally naked songs—drawing apt comparisons to acts that inspired her like Throwing Muses, Elliott Smith, and Madder Rose—are what truly charge the record, from the aching of “Bleeding or Scarred” to the driving, Fugazi-esque “Optomist” and the psychedelia of “Fat Tuesday.”

Ellen West celebrate the release of her new record with an 8pm show on Saturday, April 16, at the Ninth Ward in Babeville, with special guest Roger Bryan.

donny kutzbach