Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Michael Nau crafts reflective indie rock tinged with folk, psychedelic, and vintage pop influences.
He's known for leading the like-minded projects Page France and Cotton Jones from the mid-2000s to the early 2010s before beginning to record under his own name in 2016. Though his prior solo releases also featured some version of a backing band, 2018's Michael Nau & the Mighty Thread rendered his dreamy weekender tunes with a stronger, full-band sound. The 2019 solo album Less Ready to Go incorporated classic soul and reggae influences into his increasingly stylized retro sound.
A native of Maryland, Nau formed his first group in Baltimore in 2004. Calling themselves Page France, Nau (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Whitney McGraw (keyboards, glockenspiel, vocals), Jasen Reeder (bass), and Clinton Jones (drums) released three albums of thoughtful, melodic indie rock in the vein of acts such as Death Cab for Cutie and the Decemberists, beginning with 2005's Come, I'm a Lion. The band signed with Suicide Squeeze for 2006's Hello, Dear Wind and 2007's Page France and the Family Telephone before Nau and McGraw formed Cotton Jones Basket Ride. Establishing a style-blending psych-folk that would become more closely associated with Nau, that project released a self-titled EP before shortening its name to Cotton Jones. Cotton Jones' full-length debut, The River Strumming, arrived via St. Ives in 2008, and the duo reunited with Suicide Squeeze for 2009's Paranoid Cocoon and 2010's Tall Hours in the Glowstream. A final EP, Sit Beside Your Vegetables, saw release in 2011.
Nau went solo for his next record, though his debut also featured McGraw -- by then Nau's wife -- among its many guests. Built from a selection of several years' worth of written material that was never fully realized, Mowing was issued by Suicide Squeeze in early 2016. Full Time Hobby gave it a European release later in the year, and his second solo album, Some Twist, followed in June 2017, also on Full Time Hobby and Suicide Squeeze. The Load EP, a collection of songs that Nau didn't think belonged on Some Twist, came out three months later. In 2018, he returned with Michael Nau & the Mighty Thread. Offering more of his dreamy, reverb-sweetened indie pop/rock but with a more robust presence, it was recorded in a Burlington, Vermont apartment with more than a half-dozen contributors, including guitarist Benny Yurco, keyboardist Will Brown, and drummer Graeme Gibson. The stand-alone 7" "No Quit" arrived on Karma Chief Records in March 2019 before a rejiggered backing lineup was featured on the full-length Less Ready to Go later the same year. Issued under Nau's name alone, it received a cassette release by Press On Records. ~ Marcy Donelson, Rovi