Repo Fam is the new musical project of Baltimore singer, guitarist, and keyboardist Michelle Peña.
Repo Fam isn’t Michelle’s first musical endeavor. She helped form the short-lived indie-pop trio Esmond and spent two years playing wild and urgent keyboards for the radical Washington, D.C. punk band Foul Swoops. After stints in groups led by other people, Michelle felt it was time she took the lead and forge her own musical path.
Moving from D.C. back to Baltimore last spring was the perfect opportunity for Michelle to pick up her guitar and get to work on a personal and abstract attempt at capturing her state of mind.
Assisted by Sean Connell (Foul Swoops) on drums and bass, and recorded by John Howard (Nice Breeze, The Plums), the songs on Repo Fam’s self-titled debut jump from subtle to direct and from introspective to urgent without hesitation. “Skip to My Lou” kicks you in the face with heavy guitar and a repetitive drum beat that will immediately have you hooked. Pop losers and hip bakers, please inquire within. “Lemon Cigarettes” matches Michelle’s intuitive guitar stylings with lyrics about modern day alienation and the pains of being one’s self. “Leaving My Old Life Behind” will be familiar to cinephiles as a cover of Jonathan Halper’s classic from Kenneth Anger’s 1949 short film Puce Moment. “Henry Darger” and “Love Field” are dream-like pop experiments that truly highlight Michelle’s diverse musical imagination with ambitious melodies and rhythms.
The cigarette ash and tricky guitar bits driving through Repo Fam's first album signal an above-the-noise writer aiming to knock the pedestal gargoyles back to Earth. Packed in a black bubblegum pop house, these eight songs transcend the basement scene and shake loose the foundations of discotheques across the land. Take a tape and bop around a new block.