Formed in 2002, the Blow has transitioned from lo-fi confessional bedroom music to catchy electro-pop while shedding an assortment of band members and contributors along the way.
The group, which plays the Bottom of the Hill on Friday, always has been the sole provenance of Khaela Maricich, founder and only permanent member.
Yet Maricich's independent vehicle for musical exploration has a noticeably different feel to it since her girlfriend, performance artist Melissa Dyne, has become a full-fledged member of the Blow.
"It has definitely been interesting," Maricich says. "When you're making music with someone you love, you don't know if it's going to work -- and that's exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. We're not exactly Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, but at the same time, I have to admit that they put out some pretty spectacular music when they were dealing with all their issues."
Maricich and Dyne met in Portland, Ore., in 2004 and moved to New York in 2008, after lengthy touring to promote the Blow's last album, 2006's "Paper Television."
In New York, Maricich and Dyne began tinkering around with music, casually playing and recording snippets of sounds. In 2011, they headed to the studio to make something serious as the Blow, despite Maricich's previous assertions that she would not perform again under the moniker. But on Oct. 1, the group released a self-titled album,
"It just felt right," Maricich says. "We were experimenting a lot with music, and kind of both asked each other -- what if we make a record?"
Maricich says her relationship with Dyne has challenged her to write and compose songs outside of her normal comfort level.
"It's real easy writing a song with a broken heart," Maricich says. "That person has scorned you, and it's over now. Writing about someone that you see and wake up to every day is much more difficult. You're not looking at something that is post-mortem, you're dealing with a relationship that is still alive and developing."
That tightrope act can be found in the divergent feel of "The Blow," in which Maricich pensively confronts uncertainty in songs like "From the Future," while effusively praising new love on "A Kiss." While the recording contains the Blow's signature catchy beats, Maricich says the presence of Dyne -- who specializes in installation art -- made the music more "three-dimensional."
Live performances relay the new approach: Maricich is alone onstage, while Dyne manipulates sounds and visuals from an offstage site, creating a call-and-response feel.
"We view our live shows as experiments, and we're always working on making them better," Maricich says. "And that's ultimately what the Blow is about -- a group that's open to possibilities."
IF YOU GO
Where: Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F,
When: 9:30 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $14 to $16
Contact: (415) 626-4455, www.bottomofthehill.com