The cool thing about being a musician is that you can pursue different sides of your personality musically, meaning artists can create multiple musical ventures throughout their career, and sometimes even at once. The illustrious Michael Todd Berland, also known as OH!Hello, Beagles, Richie Woods, and one half of Fox Academy, is a great example of this. He has the kind of voice that’s instantly recognizable, but not always easy to identify amidst the multitude of lo-fi troubadours out there. I’m convinced Berland's works have the ability to pull my soul out of the depths of hell, so I decided to sit and finally track down all of his many projects.
My first experience with Berland can be traced back to last February (according to my Spotify archives) but it really came to fruition this past October. By some miracle, I discovered OH!Hello’s Sleepy, which quickly became the soundtrack to my fall. This album was my home away from home, a warm blanket on a rainy autumn night. In a striking contrast of syrupy ukulele, moody vocals, and bright electronic elements, Sleepy captures romantic imagery through a ruggedly-honest sound. The result is a misty, rose-colored look at the world. The 2014 release was the last we heard of OH!Hello, which I accepted for a while.
My discovery of Richie Woods is what really sparked my drive to uncover the various works of Michael Todd Berland. In Richie Woods, he graduates to a bit more genre exploration, with the top-streaming track “Wendy” emitting some R&B nods to Usher among the hazy waves of lo-fi and electro-acoustic setting. Ultimately, Richie Woods is very much the big brother of the other two projects, taking the best of the two and throwing in a bit more cynicism. It was a big success in my eyes; however, the project’s first and only release dates back to 2015.
This now brings us to Fox Academy. Despite being Berland’s joint venture with Christian Novelli, there are distinct parallels to his previously mentioned pseudonyms. Still featuring his sulky vocals, encompassing harmonies, and playful acoustic instrumentation, this project includes more variety in production. They have a sound similar to Teen Suicide or Salvia Plath, with a bit more of a dreamy, whimsical element. I’m happy to say that this project is alive and well, having just released their album Saint Molly.
I should note that while going through the projects I was aware of I did discover MTB’s additional project Ten. A ten-track album aptly named 10 features more indie electropop than any of his previous ventures. Berland mentions in an interview that this album was created to commemorate his childhood and focuses on the instrumental makeup of the tracks.
The notable works of Michael Todd Berland (and there may very well be more; the internet is a big and scary place) highlight the many sides and stages of the musician. Oh!Hello is a dreamy teenager in love, Beagles is a nostalgic adult, Richie Woods features an angst-driven bout of self discovery, and Fox Academy represents a shinier combination of all three. The moral of this long and winding story? Don’t be afraid to research your artists. Look at interviews, articles, blog posts, and social media -- all of that is out there for a reason. There’s a lifetime of music out there; my suggestion is that you dive in headfirst.
Tune into Dailey Discoveries at 11 a.m. every Tuesday for more indie finds and local highlights.