Portland's Michael the Blind streams 'Another Circle of Fifths' from album with new band, the Els


Singer and songwriter Michael the Blind may have vision trouble, but he has a keen ear, too, and that has to be some consolation.

A New Yorker by birth, Michael Levasseur grew up in a weird corner of South Carolina, lived in Athens, Ga., and ultimately moved to Portland, Ore. Stints in bands led eventually to a solo career that has featured three albums and, in 2011, the formation of a new band, Michael the Blind & the Els (so named because all the members’ names have “el” in them).

As bands do, they recorded an album, “Ares & Els,” due in June. Before that, though, you can hear the folk-rocky number “Another Circle of Fifths,” a solo song Levasseur revived for the new album. It’s an uptempo tune, mixing a distorted guitar sound with steady drums and sweeping strings, courtesy of the Magik*Magik Orchestra.

Levasseur gets comparisons sometimes to Elliott Smith, Leonard Cohen and Suzanne Vega, but he sounds to us like himself as he sings in urgent, breathy tones about persevering, with lyrics like this one: “I want to quit, but every time I’m at the end of my rope, well I find there’s another rope.”

“Another Circle of Fifths” is the lead track on “Ares & Els,” which comes out June 5 on the newly formed Alder Street Records.

Photo by Rachael Reneé Levasseur

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