Posts Tagged ‘Chastity Belt’

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Chastity Belt take off on a surreally silly road-trip in their video for Stuck taken from their latest album I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone.  it’s a dark and uncommonly beautiful set of moody post-punk that finds the Seattle outfit’s feelings in full view, unobscured by humor. There is no irony in its title: Before she had Chastity Belt, and the close relationships that she does now, Shapiro considered herself a career loner. That’s no small gesture. I can make as much sense of this music as I can my 20s: This is a brave and often exhilarating tangle of mixed feelings and haunting melodies that connects dizzying anguish (“This Time of Night”) to shimmering insight (“Different Now”) to gauzy ambiguity (“Stuck,” written and sung by Grimm). It’s a serious record but not a serious departure, defined best, perhaps, by a line that Shapiro shares early on its staggering title track: “I wanna be sincere.”

Band Members
Julia Shapiro
Gretchen Grimm
Lydia Lund
Annie Truscott
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Every band begins with a mission. Some yearn for fame, others for fortune; many are just looking for a way to pay the bills, and a few want to make art for art’s sake. The Seattle band Chastity Belt also grew from a shared purpose; the quartet came together when they were sophomores at Whitman College, in neighboring Walla Walla. The catalyst? An intense desire, fueled largely by pure boredom, to troll Beta Theta Pi, one of four fraternities on campus.

It was 2010, bandleader Julia Shapiro tells me over the phone, and the brothers’ annual “Battle of the Bands”—a bacchanal dominated by Axe, weed, and body odor—was fast approaching. As such, the ladies Shapiro (guitar, vocals), Lydia Lund (guitar), Annie Truscott (bass), and Gretchen Grimm (drums) decided to contest the event.

A short while later, Chastity Belt hit the stage for their first-ever performance, dressed as punks, faces smeared with garish makeup (“I was wearing so much red eyeliner it looked like my eyes were bleeding,” Shapiro recalls). They performed a single song: “Surrender,” a five-minute ode to angst, youth, “stealing your mom’s cigarettes, and wearing dark eyeliner.” To the band’s surprise, the mass of friends gathered to watch the set significantly outnumbered the Betas. Not that Chastity Belt needed to sway anyone; according to Shapiro, some of the group’s friends stole the voting slips intended for partygoers and stuffed the ballot boxes, rigging the competition in the band’s favor. “We didn’t really win anything,” Shapiro says, her deadpan voice dripping with mock disappointment.

Chastity Belt had, in fact, won several things: a serious confidence boost, validation from their peers, and the realization that, beneath all their jangly tomfoolery as underclassmen, there was a rock band waiting to emerge. “When we moved to Seattle,” Shapiro says, “we were like ‘Oh, we can really do this’—and once we felt that, it was kind of like ‘Well, let’s make music that we actually want to make, that’s not just this funny, humorous thing.”.

Chastity Belt

The foursome weren’t ready to grow up just yet, of course, so when it came time to record and promote 2013’s No Regerts and its 2015 follow-up Time to Go Home, they kept things light-hearted, preaching self-love and sex-positive feminism with smirks on their faces on songs like  “Nip Slip,” “Giant (Vagina),” and “Cool Slut.”

Between their nonstop buoyant hooks to garner a reputation as Hardly Art’s goofball darlings, spreading smiles and giggles wherever they went. But eventually, the chortles started to seem like a crutch—especially in the wake of sought-after opening spots for tours with Courtney Barnett and Death Cab For Cutie. “It kind of felt like we were hiding behind humor, in a way,” Truscott says. “It takes a lot more to write genuine songs. It’s just harder.”

With their third album I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone, Chastity Belt are taking off the jester’s mask and buckling down, subjecting their jangle-pop to a heretofore unseen level of discipline. Where the first two albums derived their momentum from fleeting, flippant bursts of energy, I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone sees the band taking a protracted approach to dynamics, venturing through the reverb-laden fog with tentative, well-measured strides. Its songs deal with depression and heartbreak. On “5am,” Shapiro mulls over the existential consequences of a long night out, seething over the realization that in all those hours of empty, inebriated conversations she and her friends have said absolutely nothing. “It’s 5am, and I’m full of hate,” she grumbles, before getting to the root cause in the slinky chorus (“Immediate urge to get everything all straight / Need to express it but it’s not the time or place”).

This is a real-life observation for Shapiro, whose beer buzzes typically manifest as a crushing dose of ennui. “I’m trying to have meaningful conversations with people, or make something happen so that it feels worthwhile that I’m out of my house,” Shapiro sighs. “Sometimes, it’ll end with me going to bed around 5am”—she drops the deadpan for an exaggerated, anguished whisper, poking fun at her own melodrama—”just because I know there’s more, there’s got to be more.”

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Nowhere is Chastity Belt’s chemistry more tangible, or their emotional honesty so profound, as on the late-album slow-burner “Something Else,” an ode to the seasonal depression that’s a hallmark of life in the Pacific Northwest. Along with the album’s lead single “Different Now,” the song represents a deviation from the band’s fragmented approach to composition (which typically casts Shapiro’s parts as cornerstones, over which the other members add theirs). Instead, its slack, melancholy arrangement came together organically during a jam session. “It ended up being a train of thought that I was having which I feel like a lot of people, especially in Seattle, can relate to during the winter,” she says, reflecting on the band’s shared headspace. “You’re kind of stuck in a downward spiral of negative thoughts until you leave the house and go for a walk to clear your head, but it’s hard to get out there when the weather’s so shitty.”

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They may be more world-weary than they were two years ago, but Shapiro and company haven’t gone full Debbie Downer yet, nor do they intend to. At the end of the day, they just want to be honest. Asked if the band’s sobered sound was a conscious effort, she shrugs, “It’s got more to do with the natural progression of our music, and what kind of music we want to be making at this point. Songs like ‘Giant (Vagina)’ and ‘Pussy Weed Beer’ were written in college, when we weren’t really thinking this band was going anywhere. At the time of writing them, we didn’t have any intention of recording them, or continuing to play music.”

Seattle’s rock scene is experiencing an underground renaissance, and at the center of its close-knit collective of punk-inspired bands is Chastity Belt. The laconic, yet rebellious foursome singer and guitarist Julia Shapiro, guitarist Lydia Lund, bassist Annie Truscott, and drummer Gretchen Grimm  have been growing an enthusiastic fan base since their days as a Walla Walla college band, thanks to two raucous albums .

Their tongue-in-cheek humor often belied incisive depth, whether the topic was the boredom of youth (“Pussy Weed Beer”) or sex-positive gender dynamics (“Cool Slut”) and pointed feminist commentary (“Drone”) from 2015’s breakthrough, Time To Go Home. Now with its evocative third album, “I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone”, Chastity Belt further deepens its low-key, nonchalant persona by inviting us into their heads. And with less reliance on laughs to cloak its emotions, Chastity Belt has never felt this vulnerable, or as relatable.

From the very first lines of I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone’s brilliant opener, “Different Now,” we find Shapiro in a reflective headspace. “You’re hard on yourself, well you can’t always be right / All those little things that keep you up at night / You should take some time to figure out your life,” she sings, capturing the uncertainty that comes from getting older and still wondering who you want to be. As Chastity Belt’s guitarist and primary singer, Shapiro is our main entry point into the album’s introspective songs, which grapple with loneliness and depression, and confront the nagging anxieties that can sabotage aspirations, wreak havoc on relationships and friendships, and induce sleepless nights with your regrets and fears.

Throughout I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone, Chastity Belt’s characters nurse heartache (“What The Hell”), confront change (Gretchen Grimm’s song “Stuck”), and work through depression (“Something Else”), but the constant theme is a desire for normalcy. In one highlight, “Caught In A Lie” Shapiro worries she’ll be outed as a fraud, unsure if she’s pursuing what she really wants, or simply doing what others expect from her: “You’re caught in a lie, living someone else’s dream…Is this what you want? Is this who you want me to be?” she asks herself. Elsewhere, “It’s Obvious” portrays a chameleon-like need to adopt the qualities of a disinterested lover and losing herself in the process. “I can hold your interest, but only for a short time / and it feels freeing to lose,” she admits, in one puncturing phrase. And in “Used To Spend,” Shapiro seeks to reconcile her introverted and extroverted selves: “Out of the fog and finally feeling fine / My doubts are all gone and I’m having a pretty good time / Feeling like a real champ, but for how long?,” she asks with a muted resignation, atop loping and scuzzy guitar chords.

Recorded live last summer alongside producer Matthew Simms at Jackpot! studios in Portland, Ore., I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone doesn’t mess with the band’s signature fuzzy guitar rock, so much as refine it. The album’s instrumental depth allows the music to stretch, sway and gradually unfold to new places. That can be heard in the way Shapiro’s distorted, jangling strums entwine with Lydia Lund’s brightly chiming arpeggiated melodies, or when Annie Truscott’s repeating bass lines lock-in as a steadying backbone for Grimm’s kinetic drumming. It all helps propel the dynamic harmonies and resonating vocals of each singer: Where Grimm and Lund’s voices sound delicate and airy, Shapiro’s rich alto croon is capable of shifting from wistful warmth to guttural shouts in anxious songs like “This Time Of Night” and “Complain,” and especially in the fiery closer, “5am.” Depicting the end of a party, a woozy Shapiro seeks connection and conversation about heavy ideas, singing “Immediate urge to get everything all straight / Need to express it, but it’s not the time or place,” her frustrations personified by a cresting vamp of scorching noise and wiry riffs.

Three albums into its career, Chastity Belt showcase an emboldened musicality and matured songcraft that can only come from spending so much time together (rather ironic, given the title). I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone is a thoughtful, reflective album, constantly searching for direction to and questioning every solitary, restless feeling, yet it’s that intimacy that allows us to know a new, perhaps truer side to the artists. It takes an extraordinary amount of self-confidence to expose that process for all to hear.

Long-time favourites and all-round brilliant people Chastity Belt have shared the final track from their forthcoming album, and as you might expect we love it just a little bit. The song ‘5am’ is taken from the upcoming album I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone which is out on June 2nd out on Hardly Art.

Following tracks such as ‘Different Now’ and the low key number ‘Caught In A Lie’ the newest one fits with its title and is a slightly unhinged and sleep-deprived stomper. It derives a little from the usual Chazzy Belt style and irks on the side of a wilder and freer sound.

The song deals with that horrible time in the morning were swirling thoughts are inescapable but yet have no conclusion or tangible definition. It is also another reminder of Chastity Belt’s undeniable ability to capture a moment.

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“5am” is the epic closing track from Chastity Belt’s highly anticipated “I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone”, out 06/02/17 on CD, LP, digital, and cassette from Hardly Art Records.

Chastitybelt lp2

This June marks the release of I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, Chastity Belt’s third and finest full-length to date. Recorded live in July of 2016, with producer Matthew Simms (Wire) at Jackpot! in Portland, Oregon (birthplace of some of their favorite Elliott Smith records), it’s a dark and uncommonly beautiful set of moody post-punk that finds the Seattle outfit’s feelings in full view, unobscured by humor. There is no irony in its title: Before she had Chastity Belt, and the close relationships that she does now, Julia Shapiro considered herself a career loner. That’s no small gesture. I can make as much sense of this music as I can my 20s: This is a brave and often exhilarating tangle of mixed feelings and haunting melodies that connects dizzying anguish (“This Time of Night”) to shimmering insight (“Different Now”) to gauzy ambiguity (“Stuck,” written and sung by Gretchen Grimm). It’s a serious record but not a serious departure, defined best, perhaps, by a line that Shapiro shares early on its staggering title track: “I wanna be sincere.”

“Caught in a Lie” is the second single from Chastity Belt’s highly-anticipated 2017 album I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, out June 2nd on Hardly Art Records.

 

Time to Go Home artwork

Seattle post-punk female four piece return with their second album and their first for Sub Pop offshoot, Hardly Art. ‘Time to Go Home’ sees Chastity Belt take the nights out and bad parties of their past to their stretching points, watch the world around them break apart in anticipatory haze, and rebuild it in their own image with stunning clarity before anyone gets hung over. Cool, twangy and languid guitars meet vocals dripping in melancholy.

Let yourself be swept away by this stunning, meditative clip for Chastity Belt’s “Lydia,” off of their widely-acclaimed 2015 album “Time to Go Home”.

Chastity Belt is a rock band consisting of four friends – guitarists Julia Shapiro and Lydia Lund, bassist Annie Truscott, and drummer Gretchen Grimm. They met in a tiny college town in Eastern Washington, but their story begins for real in Seattle, that celebrated home of Macklemore and the Twelfth Man. Following a post-grad summer apart, a handful of shows and enthusiastic responses from the city’s DIY community led them, as it has countless others, into a cramped practice space. They emerged with a debut album, No Regerts, sold it out faster than anyone involved thought possible, and toured America, a country that embraced them with open-ish arms. Now they’re back and the tab is settled, the lights are out, the birds are making noise even though the sun isn’t really up yet: it’s Time to Go Home, their second long-player and first for Hardly Art.

In the outside world, they realized something crucial: they didn’t have to play party songs now that their audience didn’t consist exclusively of inebriated 18-22 year olds, as it did in that college town. Though still built on a foundation of post-post-punk energy, jagged rhythms, and instrumental moves that couldn’t be anyone else’s, the songs they grew into in the months that followed are equal parts street-level takedown and gray-skied melancholy. They embody the sensation of being caught in the center of a moment while floating directly above it; Shapiro’s world spins around her on “On The Floor,” grounded by Grimm and Truscott’s most commanding playing committed to tape. They pay tribute to writer Sheila Heti on “Drone” and John Carpenter with “The Thing,” and deliver a parallel-universe stoner anthem influenced by Electrelane with “Joke.”

Recorded by José Díaz Rohena at the Unknown, a deconsecrated church and former sail factory in Anacortes, and mixed with a cathedral’s worth of reverb by Matthew Simms (guitarist for legendary British post-punks and one-time tourmates Wire), Time to Go Home sees Chastity Belt take the nights out and bad parties of their past to their stretching points, watch the world around them break apart in anticipatory haze, and rebuild it in their own image with stunning clarity before anyone gets hung over.

TRACK LISTING

1. Drone
2. Trapped
3. Why Try
4. Cool Slut
5. On The Floor
6. The Thing
7. Joke
8. Lydia
9. IDC
10. Time To Go Home

Chastity Belt will share their third studio album I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone in June via Hardly Art Records. Announcing plans to play a number of showcases at this year’s SXSW between the 14th and 17th March, Chastity Belt have also released the new video for single ‘Different Now’

The new record, we’re told, stems from a moment a few years ago, while in a tour van somewhere in Idaho, Julia Shapiro, Gretchen Grimm, Lydia Lund, and Annie Truscott—opted to pass the time in a relatively unusual fashion: They collectively paid one another compliments, in great and thoughtful detail.

So, if that’s anything to go by, the new stuff should be just bloody lovely.

On International Women’s Day, here’s Chastity Belt with ‘Different Now’

Chastitybelt lp2

chastity belt

With their debut album soon to be release, Chastity Belt are causing a right commotion on their local scene – and their new video for “Seattle Party” goes some way to explain why.

Hailed by everyone from Everett True to The Seattle Times, “Seattle Party” offers a lush example of Chastity Belt’s slacker rock meets couch loving beach pop. Plus, the video was directed by Pony Time’s Stacy Peck!

“Seattle Party” is taken from Chastity Belt’s forthcoming debut album No Regrets, due out on Help Yourself Records on 13th August. Watch the video below.

Often referred to as Sub Pop’s “sister label,” Hardly Art is an offshoot of Sub Pop designed to spotlight emerging talent. While the label’s initial focus was local when it started up in 2007, it has since expanded its roster to welcome artists from all over the United States and abroad.

With the goal of cultivating a stable of vital, young, and relatively undiscovered bands, Hardly Art journeyed underground while a booming Sub Pop stayed above the surface (though both operate out of a shared office space in downtown Seattle). Since its inception and immediate worldwide reception as a paradigm-shifting, taste-making powerhouse (wink), Hardly Art has expanded to three full-time employees, broadening its purview along the way to include reissues, EPs, one-off seven inches, and other dubiously profitable ventures. Currently, the label prides itself on having one of the most diverse catalogs of any label its size.

From its inaugural release (Arthur & Yu’s In Camera) to its most recent, Hardly Art has sought to support new bands in need of a wider audience, with a particular emphasis on the rising stars of the garage, punk, and bedroom pop genres. Here below are our top recommendations from this wonderful label.

Happy release day to The Julie Ruin! Hit Reset, their highly-anticipated new record is finally out today on CD, LP, cassette, and digital formats. Next Tuesday, July 12th, The Julie Ruin will perform live on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers and the band hits the road in support of Hit Reset starting next Thursday

In late 2014 The Julie Ruin began work on their second album, Hit Reset. Mixed by Eli Crews, Hit Reset expands on the band’s established sound: dancier in spots and moodier in others, with girl group backing vocals and even a touching ballad closer.Hit Reset is the sound of a band who have found their sweet spot. Kathleen Hanna’s vocals are empowered and her lyrics are as pointed and poignant as ever. From the chilling first lines of “Hit Reset” (“Deer hooves hanging on the wall, shell casings in the closet hall”) to the touching lines of “Calverton” (“Without you I might be numb, hiding in my apartment from everyone / Without you I’d take the fifth, or be on my death bed still full of wishes”), Hanna takes a leap into the personal not seen completely on the first album or possibly even in the rest of her work.

Seattle band Tacocat will be capping off their already-incredible 2016 with another nationwide tour this September/October–including a headlining show at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg–with even more dates TBA. Head here for a full list of upcoming shows, including next month’s West Coast run with The Regrettes.

The band’s also heralding the arrival of summer weather with a cover version of The Sunray’s 1965 gem “I Live For The Sun,”

The new record from Seattle band Tacocat has your first look at “Dana Katherine Scully,” the group’s new self-made music video for Lost Time’s opening track. The Powerpuff Girls, for which Tacocat performed the theme song Who’s Got the Power?, premieres on Cartoon Network this Monday.

On the tour front, the band recently opened for Senator Bernie Sanders Seattle Campaign rally, to a crowd of thousands. They tour the U.S. and Europe starting in June, and just announced a slew of West Coast and Southwest U.S. dates for this July. See the tour page for a full list of upcoming Tacocat performances, and find copies of Lost Time on all formats (LPs on colored vinyl!)

 

As La Sera, Katy Goodman turned an aching heart into two marvelous, alluring yet bittersweet break-up albums (2011’s self-titled debut and 2012’s Sees the Light). On her latest, though, the former Vivian Girl is through crying. Hour of the Dawn sees Goodman waking up, throwing open the bedroom windows and welcoming the day.

“I wanted the new La Sera record to sound like Lesley Gore fronting Black Flag,” Goodman says. “I didn’t want it to be another record of me sad, alone in my room. I wanted to have fun playing music and writing songs with a band.” To back her nimble bass lines and enchanting vocals, Goodman assembled a new band helmed by guitarist Todd Wisenbaker.

“We started playing faster, louder and more aggressively,” Goodman says. “I wanted to get that energy onto the album.” The forceful new La Sera line-up set about fleshing out Goodman’s melodies and lyrics into strapping rock anthems, debuting them to enthusiastic crowds on tour, and refining them with a newfound obsession to detail.

After a year of perfecting their new material, La Sera was ready to commit it to tape. In the summer of 2013, the group decamped to a sweltering studio in East Los Angeles with engineer Joel Jerome and banged out the ten songs that would become Hour of the Dawn—an album that never walks, but runs, a collision of unleashed punk and ‘80s power-pop.

“We wanted to make a classic American record,” Wisenbaker says. “The album was inspired by a lot of bands: The Pretenders, Minor Threat, X, The Smiths, The Cars and more.”

The sound that emerged from these disparate influences combined hardcore energy with tuneful harmony, as exemplified by opening track “Losing to the Dark.” Title track “Hour of the Dawn,” meanwhile, rides a steady groove towards a long horizon of sunrise. It’s the record’s thematic center: a final wave goodbye to a messy past and the beginning of a new day. In a burst of bright, immediate and jangly Smiths-inspired pop, “Fall in Place” captures La Sera at an emotional and musical crossroads.

Hour of the Dawn, as its title suggests, heralds the beginning of a radiant and energetic new chapter in La Sera’s evolution—the summit of Goodman’s steady ascent to rock and roll queen dom.

As a prospect it can be terrifying, sad, and worst of all, inevitable. But on I Want to Grow Up, her second album for Hardly Art, Colleen Green lets us know that we don’t have to go it alone.

This latest collection of songs follows a newly 30-year-old Green as she carefully navigates a minefield of emotion. Her firm belief in true love is challenged by the inner turmoil caused by entering modern adulthood, but that doesn’t mean that her faith is defeated. With a nod to her heroes, sentimental SoCal punks The Descendents, Green too wonders what it will be like when she gets old. Throughout songs such as “Some People,” “Deeper Than Love,” and the illustrative title track, the listener has no choice but to feel the sympathetic growing pains of revelatory maturation and the anxieties that come along with it.

Sonically the album is a major change for the LA-based songwriter, who has come to be known for her homemade recordings and merchandise. Her past offerings have been purely Green; testaments to her self-sufficiency and, perhaps, trepidation. This time, she’s got a little help from her friends: the full band heard here includes JEFF the Brotherhood’s Jake Orrall and Diarrhea Planet’s Casey Weissbuch, who collaborated with Green over ten days at Sputnik Sound in Nashville, TN.

I Want to Grow Up is an experience, not unlike life: questioning, learning, taking risks. And in true CG fashion, a quote from a beloved 90s film seems the perfect summation: ”Understanding is reached only after confrontation.”

Chastity Belt is a rock band consisting of four friends – guitarists Julia Shapiro and Lydia Lund, bassist Annie Truscott, and drummer Gretchen Grimm. They met in a tiny college town in Eastern Washington, but their story begins for real in Seattle, that celebrated home of Macklemore and the Twelfth Man. Following a post-grad summer apart, a handful of shows and enthusiastic responses from the city’s DIY community led them, as it has countless others, into a cramped practice space. They emerged with a debut album, No Regerts, sold it out faster than anyone involved thought possible, and toured America, a country that embraced them with open-ish arms. Now they’re back and the tab is settled, the lights are out, the birds are making noise even though the sun isn’t really up yet: it’s Time to Go Home, their second long-player and first for Hardly Art.

In the outside world, they realized something crucial: they didn’t have to play party songs now that their audience didn’t consist exclusively of inebriated 18-22 year olds, as it did in that college town. Though still built on a foundation of post-post-punk energy, jagged rhythms, and instrumental moves that couldn’t be anyone else’s, the songs they grew into in the months that followed are equal parts street-level takedown and gray-skied melancholy. They embody the sensation of being caught in the center of a moment while floating directly above it; Shapiro’s world spins around her on “On The Floor,” grounded by Grimm and Truscott’s most commanding playing committed to tape. They pay tribute to writer Sheila Heti on “Drone” and John Carpenter with “The Thing,” and deliver a parallel-universe stoner anthem influenced by Electrelane with “Joke.”

Recorded by José Díaz Rohena at the Unknown, a deconsecrated church and former sail factory in Anacortes, and mixed with a cathedral’s worth of reverb by Matthew Simms (guitarist for legendary British post-punks and one-time tour mates Wire), Time to Go Home sees Chastity Belt take the nights out and bad parties of their past to their stretching points, watch the world around them break apart in anticipatory haze, and rebuild it in their own image with stunning clarity before anyone gets hung over.

“They’re funny, and slightly goofy, and gently vulgar, and they play with an appealingly loose, relaxed confidence.” –

“In between pelvic-thrusting sexual innuendo and self-mockery, Chastity Belt filter feminist theory, cultural commentary and general intellectual bad-assery…Chastity Belt isn’t the band 2013 wants—it’s the band 2013 needs.”“The guitars on this record…have a nice ring to them, like Liz Phair’s recordings.”

 

 

It can never be said that La Luz are disinclined to hard work. The tour-happy four-piece returns to the road today with a show in Claremont, California that kicks off a three-month North American tour which includes appearances at the Levitation, Sasquatch!, and Pickathon music festivals. Additionally, Hardly Art is pleased to announce that La Luz’s breakthrough debut EP Damp Face is now available on vinyl for the first time ever. This 10” release an be purchased exclusively through the Hardly Art Webstore, in record shops, or at the band’s merch table on any given stop of their ambitious Spring/Summer tour.

For most, a brush with death would be cause for retreat, reflection, and reluctance, but Seattle band La Luz found something different in it: resilience. Having survived a high-speed highway collision shortly after releasing their 2013 debut LP It’s Alive, La Luz, despite lasting trauma, returned to touring with a frequency and tirelessness that put their peers to shame. Over the past year-and-a-half of performing, the band arrived at a greater awareness of their music’s ability to whip eager crowds into a frenzy. In response, frontwoman Shana Cleveland’s guitar solos took on a more unhinged quality. The bass lines (from newly-installed member Lena Simon) became more lithe and elastic. Stage-dives and crowd-surfing grew to be as indelible a part of the La Luz live experience as their onstage doo-wop-indebted dance moves.

When it came time to record Weirdo Shrine, their second album—released August 7th—the goal was to capture the band’s restless  live energy and commit it to tape. In early 2015, Cleveland and Co. adjourned to a surf shop in San Dimas, California where, with the help of producer/engineer Ty Segall, they realized this vision. Tracking most of the album live in shared quarters, La Luz chose to leave in any happy accidents and spur-of-the-moment flourishes that occurred while recording. Cleveland’s newly fuzzed-up guitar solos—which now incorporated the influence of Japanese Eleki players in addition to the twang of American surf and country—were juxtaposed against the group’s most angelic four-part harmonies to date. The organs of Alice Sandahl and the drumming of Marian Li Pino were granted extra heft and dimension. Thematically, Cleveland channeled Washingtonian poet Richard Brautigan on “You Disappear” and “Oranges,” and sought inspiration from Charles Burns’ Seattle-set graphic novel Black Hole.

The resulting album is a natural evolution of the band’s self-styled “surf noir” sound—a rawer, turbo-charged sequel that charts themes of loneliness, infatuation, obsession and death across eleven tracks, from the opening credits siren song of “Sleep Till They Die” to the widescreen, receding-skyline send-off of “Oranges” and its bittersweet epilogue, “True Love Knows.”

In describing Weirdo Shrine, Segall remarked that it gave him a vision of a “world…burning with colors [he’d] never seen, like mauve that is living.” In “Oranges,” the Brautigan poem which inspired the aforementioned track of the same name, the poet writes of a surreal “orange wind / that glows from your footsteps.” These hue-based allusions are apt: the sound of La Luz is (appropriately) vibrant, and alive with a kaleidoscopic passion. Weirdo Shrine finds them at their most saturated and cinematic.

“La Luz is ready to take on the world.” – MTV Hive

“…a uniquely haunting – albeit occasionally unintentional – spin on the innocent guitar-driven pop of the late ’50s and early ’60s, nudging the sock hop vibes of Dick Dale and the Shirelles into a darker parallel dimension.” – Paper Magazine

“Imagine all of the Shangri-La’s trying, precariously, to balance on top of Link Wray’s surfboard.” – Pitchfork

“One of those bands that hit the ground not running, but sprinting.”

Joe Casey was once why he chose to start his first band with a group of guys roughly ten years his junior. His answer was simple: He needed them, needed this, needed Protomartyr. He didn’t want to end up singing classic rock covers in a carport or dive bar one night a week. At 35, with no musical background and crippling stage fright, he needed friends who were young and hearty enough to want to write and record and practice and tour and be heard as badly as he did then. He’d just lost his father to an unexpected heart attack, and his heartbroken mother to the beginnings of Alzheimer’s shortly thereafter. He’d come to understand, all too intimately, how brutal and finite a life can be. Consider then the urgency with which he joined his bandmates—guitarist Greg Ahee, drummer Alex Leonard, and bassist Scott Davidson, fellow alums of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy—for the first time, in a basement full of unsuspecting onlookers. Consider the urgency with which they’ve approached everything since—three albums in three years, each more extraordinary and rewarding than the last. This music is inherently, unassumingly high stakes. I can think of no other band that moves me like they do.

October marks the release of The Agent Intellect, their third and finest work to date.  Named after an ancient philosophical questioning of how the mind operates in relation to the self, it’s an elegant and often devastating display of all that makes Protomartyr so vital and singularly visceral an outfit. Over the course of several months, Ahee waded through more than a hundred song fragments until he reached the bottomless melodies of “I Forgive You” and “Clandestine Time”, the inky depths of “Pontiac ’87” and titanic churn of “Why Does It Shake?” Lyrically, Casey is at his most confident and haunting. He humanizes evil on “The Devil in His Youth,” and, amid the charred pop of “Dope Cloud,” he reassures us that nothing—not God, not money—can or will prevent our minds from unraveling until we finally fade away. We are no one and nothing, he claims, without our thoughts. It’s a theme that echoes through the entirety of the record, but never as beautifully as it does on “Ellen.” Named after his mother and written from the perspective of his late father, it’s as romantic a song as you’re likely to hear this or any year, Casey promising to wait for her on the other side, with the memories she’s lost safely in hand.

I remember a story he told me in Detroit. A few months earlier, he’d been driving with his mother as a Protomartyr recording played on the stereo.

“Joe,” she asked him. “Who is this?” “This is us, Mom,” he told her. “That’s me.” “Oh!” she said, “This is very good.”

Protomartyr share a video for their song “Dope Cloud” (from their critically acclaimed album The Agent Intellect, which was directed by self-proclaimed Protomartyr fan Lance Bangs. Bangs, known for directing music videos for the likes of R.E.M., Pavement, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and Arcade Fire, was simply drawn to the song and made the video on his own time and submitted it to the band. The video shows the demise of one of the last phone booths in the country.

Meanwhile, Protomartyr continues their huge tour of everywhere, which has them basically playing everywhere humanly possible. New Canadian, east coast, and European dates have been added.

Meet the women of Chastity Belt in their charming new music video for “Cool Slut,” off of them acclaimed new record Time to Go Home, out now on Hardly Art Records. Chastity Belt is a rock band consisting of four friends – guitarists Julia Shapiro and Lydia Lund, bassist Annie Truscott, and drummer Gretchen Grimm.

They met in a tiny college town in Eastern Washington, but their story begins for real in Seattle, that celebrated home of Macklemore and the Twelfth Man. Following a post-grad summer apart, a handful of shows and enthusiastic responses from the city’s DIY community led them, as it has countless others, into a cramped practice space. They emerged with a debut album, No Regerts, sold it out faster than anyone involved thought possible, and toured America, a country that embraced them with open-ish arms. Now they’re back and the tab is settled, the lights are out, the birds are making noise even though the sun isn’t really up yet: it’s “Time to Go Home”, their second long-player and first for Hardly Art Records.

Recorded by José Díaz Rohena, Time to Go Home sees Seattle four-piece Chastity Belt take the nights out and bad parties of their past to their stretching points, watch the world around them break apart in anticipatory haze, and rebuild it in their own image with stunning clarity before anyone gets hung over. Time to Go Home is their first full-length for Hardly Art.

Chastity Belt performing live in the KEXP studio. Recorded March 28th, 2015.

Songs:
Dull
Time To Go Home
Drone
Joke

Members: Julia Shapiro Gretchen Grimm Lydia Lund Annie Truscott

In the outside world, they realized something crucial: they didn’t have to play party songs now that their audience didn’t consist exclusively of inebriated 18-22 year olds, as it did in that college town. Though still built on a foundation of post-post-punk energy, jagged rhythms, and instrumental moves that couldn’t be anyone else’s, the songs they grew into in the months that followed are equal parts street-level takedown and gray-skied melancholy. They embody the sensation of being caught in the center of a moment while floating directly above it; Shapiro’s world spins around her on “On The Floor,” grounded by Grimm and Truscott’s most commanding playing committed to tape. They pay tribute to writer Sheila Heti on “Drone” and John Carpenter with “The Thing,” and deliver a parallel-universe stoner anthem influenced by Electrelane with “Joke.”

Recorded by José Díaz Rohena at the Unknown, a deconsecrated church and former sail factory in Anacortes, and mixed with a cathedral’s worth of reverb by Matthew Simms (guitarist for legendary British post-punks and one-time tourmates Wire), Time to Go Home sees Chastity Belt take the nights out and bad parties of their past to their stretching points, watch the world around them break apart in anticipatory haze, and rebuild it in their own image with stunning clarity before anyone gets hungover.