Mariya May - Music site at Portland label Ten Dollar Recording Co.

MM solo + band tracks led by Mariya:

Hazy and unfolding like a slow summer evening, Mariya May's unaccompanied live rendition of recent studio single "Made of Stars" lilts gently towards the darkened sky on an updraft of lightly picked guitar and silky vocals. Stripped of ornamentation and captured at the source, the acoustic version of "Made of Stars" puts a spotlight on May's considerable vocal talent, as well as her ear for melody. Recommended summer listening! (Reed Burnam)

There’s a certain something to a hopeless tune paired with cheery music, and Johnny Cash leaned into that hard on his “All Of God’s Children Ain’t Free” - with plucky, winky-smiled singalong style. But what if we strip away that country sheen, shifting the tune to the classically downer minor chords to fix the vibe - after all irony was successfully killed off with the last century, right? Mariya May gives the song a spin, laying on a darker, more morose vibe that feels modern and timeless, because sadness is forever. The song is a hymnal now, the soundtrack to a procession of misery and despair for 2022 (with a little whistling to brighten things up for good measure), drawn out and spiced up with a tenor sax solo from the inimitable Peter QB that perfectly compliments the playing of Mariya and Mo Douglas. (Bryan Bruchman)

Released January 7, 2022
Stream/Download @ Bandcamp or Limited Run


The new single from Mariya May is her second visitation to the Mountain Goats’ boombox-era catalog (following a 2016 take on “Orange Ball of Love”) - turning “Seed Song” on its head, flipping the groove from a nervous, harried anthem to a blissed-out, shimmery 60s pop gem. Instead of falling apart, it’s a sort of matter-of-fact empowering vibe - we didn’t need that man with the seed, and we’re just gonna keep on waiting and waiting and… you get it.

“I know you’re waiting for the ironic ending / I know you’re waiting for the punchline / I know you’re waiting for the rain to come by, so am I, so am I, so am I”

Over 25 years since the Mountain Goats’ original boombox recording of the song lead off 'Ya, The King Of Crops', Mariya’s take on the tune feels darkly apropos - isolation and endless waiting come up in pop songs all the time, but it’s been two years of keeping distance from people, and a whole lot of waiting for the punchline. The thing is, you know it ain't gonna come. (Bryan Bruchman)

Portland-based singer/songwriter Mariya May's third solo full-length Kiki & Mel's Drive-Time Circus arrives on cassette and on your streams January 7th, 2021. Despite the downturn in just about everything over the past year, 2020 was a busy year musically speaking for May, seeing her releasing an EP of deconstructed songs (Strictly A Cappella) and a new co-release with band-and-labelmate Mo Douglas (Prepare the Sauce) in addition to ongoing band work with What in Your Heart Can Put You in a Trance, all on Portland's Ten Dollar Recording Company label. A prolific singer, songwriter, and collaborator, May's presence can be found all over numerous other projects from labelmates across the TDRCo back catalogue, in addition to her own predilections towards penning intimate, sprawling, and dramatic indie-folk. With the playful, hummable, and at times wistfully melancholic Kiki & Mel's Drive-Time Circus, May adds yet another feather to her cap and another album to her steadily growing canon that's sure to be a shaft of sunlight through your winter window.

Paying homage to a wide variety of influences, May's songcraft is unique and textured, gently referencing while remaining a sound apart from just about anything else you may have happened across. Holding it together is her top-shelf voice, which she deftly stretches from soft, sweet, and mellow, to dramatic, full-bodied, and soulful, channeling as much from Elizabeth Fraser as she does from Mavis Staples. And lucky for you dear listener, May's vocal presence is the anchoring point for Kiki & Mel's Drive-Time Circus, doing some serious work on finely-produced covers like "Pack Up Your Sorrows" (Mimi and Richard Fariña), "New House of The Pope" (Frank Black and the Catholics), and "Nearly Lost My Mind" (from TDRCo labelmate Ryan Massad), nestled alongside well-crafted originals like "On Your Heels", "Oh No! Oh No! Oh No!", and the 2020-apt "Christmas at the Broken Hearts Inn". Throughout, May's inner muse shines bright, and you'll be finding yourself wanting to give this one a second listen before heading out to dive further into her extended catalogue of quality releases.

Kiki & Mel's Drive-Time Circus is out January 7, 2021 on Ten Dollar Recording Company
Cassette/Download/Stream: Spotify, Amazon Music, Bandcamp, Tidal, i-Tunes

Mariya May
Second Album by Portland singer Mariya May released October 5, 2018

CD/Download/Stream: TDRCO, Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal

Her second solo album, Mariya May's self-titled release embraces an impactful sound with rock, folk, and jazz influence throughout. The tracks are often immediate and full of personality; engaging songwriting pairs with a versatile vocal presence, flexible in tone and emotion. "Got 'Em Buried" dazzles with its "layers and layers" of debonair vocal harmonizing, lamenting about the "weight of it all," alongside acoustic pulses and escalating emotion. The finale consumes with its intermingling vocal harmonies, a recurring strength through Mariya May.

"Close your eyes, and take my hand," May sings during the spacious "Heartbeats Echo." Dreamy, quaint guitars and wordless vocal effects concoct a dream-pop direction. The album impresses with more understated efforts like "Still Been Driftin", whose prancing piano tones, woodwind injection, and stirring vocals concoct a sound reminiscent of Weyes Blood. May shows an ability to provide both suave retrospection and more upbeat exuberance, accompanied by inventive songwriting.

In a livelier mold, "The Way That I Do" would feel at home in a smoky New Orleans barroom. Brassy exuberance and colliding guitars complement driving, descriptive lyrics that admit "I don't know where I'm going, I'm just traveling wild," -- the feelings of fearlessness and adventure are embodied in the track's confident vocal layers and jazz-minded arsenal of instrumentation. "I Got to Smile" also captures the spirit of adventure, lyrically referencing traveling a thousand miles just to "see you smile," over a brisk mix of guitars and woodwinds.

The album's original songwriting shines -- and two cover songs add a fun, throwback sensibility. The hypnotic, twangy nostalgia of Donovan's "Catch the Wind" opens the album with a warming charm, while the seasonally laid-back cover of The Miracles' "Christmas Everyday" exudes a '60s Motown spirit with its playful vocal harmonizing. "Don't Be Careless" also finds inspiration from another artist; TDRCO label-mate Ryan Massad wrote the track, with Massad's version appearing on his 2017 album, Alone & Overdressed.

Mariya May captures the artist's numerous strengths, varying from a spirited and eclectic vocal delivery to an arsenal of styles that range from heartfelt folk to free-jazz exploration. May's releases on TDRCO continue to impress with their passionately melodic displays and sing-along ardency. (Mike Mineo)

VIDEO: "Catch The Wind"

VIDEO: "The Way That I Do"

Call Me Back if You Can Dig The Music
Debut Album by Portland singer Mariya May released May 17, 2016

CD/Download/Stream: TDRCO, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal

Mariya May’s album Call Me Back if You Can Dig the Music finds the soulful, Portland-based songstress helming a deft concoction of lush neo-soul, rafter-rattling dub reggae, and verdant folk-addled adages to love and loss, all shot through with a keen pop sensibility and strident lo-fi attitude. Call Me Back if You Can Dig the Music manages to listen as both vintage and modern at once, familiar and yet fully in its own element. Backing up May’s vocal, flute, and piano duties herein is longtime co-collaborator Ryan Michael Block, who takes the reins on guitar, bass, and percussion, and Peter Qualtere-Burcher, whose soulful and omnipresent tenor sax pulls it all together and lends a smoky, jazzy air to a unique record that employs the added dynamic to great effect. Taken together with May’s haunting flute lines and strong vocal and songwriting presence, the total musical package comes off with an ease and timelessness that is a giddy, memorable listen and yet another great addition to the TDRCo catalogue.

Segueing from May and Block’s previous work with What in Your Heart Can Put You in a Trance, May’s recent solo work is at its most soulful and infectious when borrowing from and building on themes established in the couple’s previous project(s), taking their earlier sultry, earthy dub-soul-pop-folk experiments and transposing them to a further level of refinement and easy cool. Add in a generous helping of some serious golden-era Motown throwback and the added competence that comes with years of collaborative effort, and you’ve got Call Me Back if You Can Dig the Music, which is perhaps May and Block’s most comprehensive and mature musical expression to date.

May’s vocals are always a strong centerpiece in all her recordings, utilizing a delivery that’s part Hope Sandoval and part Amy Winehouse, a blending of breathy wispiness and soul-maven croon that floats and flitters through the album’s arrangements like confetti, at times demanding total attention and at others blending into the background like another instrument. Peter QB’s velveteen sax work on this outing offers a huge compliment to May’s vocal delivery, sliding beneath the vocal lines with ease and candor. Together with May’s lilting flute lines, the addition of the tenor sax adds a slinky and ethereal counterpoint to Block’s terra firma dub reggae drenched bass lines. With all these diverse influences taken in tandem and blended so seamlessly, the musicianship on Call Me Back if You Can Dig the Music could be compared to a dollop of classic Motor City soul gold with a Kingston twist, as if Hitsville studio rats had been shipped in to do session work at Studio One. The result is infectious and fun, and solid as hell.

VIDEO: "Out Walking"

May’s lyrical themes often dwell long on scenes of love, attraction, loss, and places in-between, adding to the classic throwback vibe and lending a heart-sweet quality to the album’s overall feel. Songs like the swirly and melodic “Out Walking” (featuring TDRCo wunderkind Thomas Mudrick on back-up vocals), the Winehouse-esque “Like Birds in the Spring”, and the richly textured “Let it All Fall Free” offer up odes to that sweetest of sentiments, while others like the bass-driven reggae shuffle of “Open Up (It’s Cold)” deal reciprocally with the fallout of desire and faded love. Other tracks have a characteristically bubbly, carefree quality about them, such as the slightly country-battered jaunt of “Deep Into the Trees”, or else a gravity of their own, as with blue-eyed soul toe thumper and album standout “I Remember”. Filling out the song roster are the dubbed-out shimmer of “From a Loft We Looked Across” and the melancholic beauty of “Bells Ring”. Call Me Back if You Can Dig the Music is definitely not short on either vision or listenability, and many of the tracks here are well worth some repeat uptake into your earholes.

Finally, Call Me Back if You Can Dig the Music pulls in a nicely diverse set of cover tunes to finish out the record, starting with a somber psych-soul rendition of The Delta 72’s “Just Another Let Down”, moving on to a Caribbean interpretation of the Mountain Goats’ “Orange Ball of Love” (with guest trumpet courtesy of TDRCo dub aficionado Prince Joely), and finishing out with the lingering sing-along chorus refrains of Trampled By Turtles’ “Repetition”.

Call Me Back if You Can Dig the Music is another example of May’s grounded musical sensibilities and dynamic range, and an excellent addition to her steadily growing catalogue of work. Highly recommended.

Mariya May’s Call Me Back if You Can Dig the Music is out in May 2016 on Portland’s effervescent Ten Dollar Recording Company label.

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