Among the many accomplishments baroque folk songwriter Michelle Blades achieved while she was in Phoenix was fronting the exuberant glee-punk trio North Dakota, which placed her normally taut voice in a virulent garage rock context facilitated by bandmates Mo Neuharth and Emily Hobeheidar.
Fortunately, Blades' departure to Paris last year hasn't ruptured any of her musical pursuits: in addition to announcing solo recording sessions in the French capital, her North Dakota brethren have succeeded in financing the release of a full-length North Dakota LP. As of late last week, the band's Kickstarter campaign to pay for the vinyl release of Pat Waggy, a nine-song effort recorded last October, reached its $1,500 goal more than two weeks before the deadline.
Neuharth, a photography undergrad at ASU, has taken the reins with organizing the record pressing and logistics. She explains that North Dakota has never functioned as a mere Blades side project in any regard. In addition to sharing songwriting duties and instrument-swapping on stage, no Dakota member would bring prepared song material to flesh out at practice. "Everything was born when we were practicing together," she said. "It was fully collaborative. If shit wasn't working, we'd switch instruments until something happened that we liked."
The two-thirds of North Dakota living the states currently play together as country-inflected duo Numb Bats, and on Saturday, February 16, they'll be playing benefit shows at Long Wong's in Tempe to round out any additional LP costs. They also tentatively plan to meet up with Blades in Paris sometime this summer to play a handful of shows in Europe.
Until now, the band had only released a four-song EP of their Devo-laced anthems, forging a reckless gang-vocal take on the stuttering pop-punk of Delta 5 and Suburban Lawns.
However, Neuharth says the newer material, which was heavily exercised live before Blades' departure, is not nearly as twee and playful. "Since then, we've gotten more dynamic and complex," she said. "It definitely gets heavier."
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Check North Dakota playing "Thing" at a swell Arizona party below.