Posts Tagged ‘Hardly Art Records’

Like many important bands, Seattle quartet Versing got their start in college radio—Tacoma’s KUPS. The group’s main songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Daniel Salas served as alternative music director there, where he met guitarist Graham Baker, drummer Max Keyes, and bassist Kirby Lochner. Now Versing are poised to spread their coolly combustible brand of rock on those said airwaves…and beyond if the world knows what’s good for it.

Baker, Keyes, Lochner, and Salas have risen through Seattle’s competitive rock ecosphere with nonchalant élan. They cheekily titled a previous album Nirvana, but never mind the bleach: Versing isn’t emulating Sub Pop’s most famous artist. Rather, these four twenty-something aesthetes are forging an exciting sound that finds a golden mean between lustrous noise and ebullient melody.

“Tethered” is the lead-off single from Versing’s full-length album “10000”, out May 3rd 2019 on Hardly Art records.

With Versing, songwriting is obviously crucial, but much of the pleasure in 10000 comes from its guitar textures. They’re swarming, yet also spiky and agile. Gently chiding the Seattle music scene’s self-seriousness while acknowledging Versing’s playfulness and irony, Salas says, “There’s a ‘let’s just fuck around and see what comes out,’ aspect of what we do, which I think is uncommon for Seattle bands.”

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Versing’s freewheeling attitude has paradoxically resulted in 10000, an engrossing album that’s impossible to feel ambivalent about.

Released May 3rd, 2019

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The spectre of violence pushed Lillie West towards something life-affirming. Threats loom around every corner on The Lamb, her sophomore record as Lala Lala: burglars, car crashes, one too many drinks. Inspired by the aftermath of a home invasion West experienced as well as her newfound sobriety, The Lamb is a dark, impressionistic vignette of someone trying to find control in a life marred by chaos that traces a bracing emotional arc from fear through to hope. Simultaneously battered and dreamy, The Lamb has one of the more distinct sonic palettes to be found in 2019 indie rock, recalling the cathartic heat of Car Seat Headrest and Molly Nilsson’s romantic, twinkling reveries in equal measure.

The Lamb’s tearstained, post-midnight sheen also recalls Sky Ferreira’s Night Time, My Time — another album about reclaiming your life in the wake of alienation. But unlike that album’s discomfiting open end, The Lamb closes with West reciting a mantra to live by: “Turn the lights off, keep the bills low / Keep my friends safe, keep my friends close.”

“Copycat” from Lala Lala’s 2018 album The Lamb

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The debut EP from Los Angeles-based rockers finds the perfect balance between a blissful retreat and a fury-filled indictment of society’s ills. While “Lullaby No. 13” and “Headstones” opt for the former, “Generation Sick” and “Decoration/Currency” carry the pitchfork and torch for the latter. “Generation Sick” is a seething punk-pop tirade about men who abuse their power (“I had a dream where I screamed / I don’t wanna see another man in my life / What do you think that means”), and “Decoration/Currency” denounces the superficiality of the entertainment industry.

On the softer side, “Headstones” opens with candy-coated indie-pop, but that sugar is quickly melted by their dogged, collective punk chant. Its crisp melodies and agile motor offer just as much therapeutic refuge as their beatific lyrics of escapism

Band Members
Vera Ellen: Lead Guitar & Vocal
Libby Hsieh: Bass & Vocal
Sierra Scott: Guitar & Vocal
Virginia Pettis: Drums & Vocal

Acclaimed Seattle band Chastity Belt have returned with their first new music since 2017. This heartfelt new record, simply titled “Chastity Belt”, is out today on LP, CD, digital, and cassette from Hardly Art Records and Milk! Records (Australia and New Zealand). Chastity Belt was co-produced by the band and Melina Duterte aka Jay Som.

Today, the band has shared a music video for “It Takes Time” from directors Claire Buss and Nick Shively. In the spirit of earlier music videos like “Different Now” and “Cool Slut,” this new clip finds the band flexing their comedic chops, with members Gretchen Grimm, Lydia Lund, Julia Shapiro, and Annie Truscott inhabiting multiple roles, including a nightclub lounge act. As Grimm explains, “We had the idea for a video set in a jazz lounge for a little while and we’re very grateful to Weird Dog for helping us bring it to life. We’re all huge fans of jazz and pasta. We have a special pasta dish that we cook when we’re together called La Vasta. It’s our famous dish, we’ve been making it since college and have shared many fond memories slurping it down together. Before we dig in we join hands in the prayer: When you’re here, you’re family.”

Chastity Belt will be touring extensively this fall in Europe and North America in support of the record, and just announced a new run of  tour dates for February 2020.

Sun, Oct 13 – Thekla Social, Bristol United Kingdom
Tue, Oct 15 – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds United Kingdom
Wed, Oct 16 – YES, Manchester United Kingdom
Thu, Oct 17 – Stereo, Glasgow United Kingdom
Fri, Oct 18 – SWN Festival, Cardiff United Kingdom
Sat, Oct 19 – Ritual Union, Oxford United Kingdom
Wed, Oct 23 – The Joiners, Southampton United Kingdom
Thu, Oct 24 – Islington Assembly Hall, London United Kingdom

Seattle trio Dude York have returned with the new full-length Falling, their tribute to adolescent romance and the pop-punk that clogged up FM radio wavelengths of yesteryear. To celebrate the announcement, the band has shared a new animated music video for the album’s impossibly catchy title track. Falling will be out Friday, July 26th on LP, CD, Digital, and Cassette . First-run LP copies come on frosting-colored vinyl.

“There are two ways things can fall” says Dude York’s Claire England. “They can fall and be ruined, or they can fall gently like a feather and be fine”. On Falling, their second full-length for Hardly Art, the Seattle trio explores that sentiment

“Falling” is from Dude York’s 2019 album of the same name.

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Seattle based band Chastity Belt have announced a new self-titled album and shared its first single, “Ann’s Jam,” via a video for the track. Chastity Belt is due out September 20th via Hardly Art.

The album is the follow-up to 2017’s I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone. The band consists of Julia Shapiro (vocals, guitar, drums), Lydia Lund (vocals, guitar), Gretchen Grimm (drums, vocals, guitar), and Annie Truscott (bass). Chastity Belt is their fourth album and it was co-produced by Jay Som’s Melina Duterte. The band took a several months hiatus in 2018 and then reconvened to work on the album.

“So much of the break was reminding ourselves to stay present, and giving ourselves permission to stop without saying when were gonna meet up again,” says guitarist Lydia Lund in a press release. “It was so important to have that-not saying, ‘we’re gonna get back together at this point,’ but really just open it up so we could get back to our present connection.”

“Ann’s Jam” is the lead single from Chastity Belt’s 2019 self-titled album.

When Julia Shapiro flew home from a cancelled Chastity Belt tour in April 2018, everything in her life felt out of control. Dealing with health issues, freshly out of a relationship, and in the middle of an existential crisis, she realized halfway through a tour supporting her band’s third album I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone that she was going through too much to continue. “I was really struggling; I was really depressed. I felt like I couldn’t sing or be a person,” Shapiro recalls. “At that point I couldn’t even imagine playing a show again, I was so over it.”

Returning home to a newly empty Seattle one-bedroom apartment, Shapiro had wanted for a long time to learn how to record and mix her own music, and out of the uncertainty of the future of her music career and her health, she began to record the songs that would become Perfect Version, her solo debut for Hardly Art. What she created in the space of ten songs is an intimate and beautifully self-aware examination of feeling lost in the life you’ve created for yourself. It’s an album of shimmering guitars and layered vocals that feels vast in the emotional depth it conveys and masterful in the way each song is intentionally crafted and recorded.

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Throughout the record Shapiro tries on different ways of living, all thematically centered around the idea of what it would be like to be a perfect version of yourself. “How can someone be so blindly confident/I wanna know that trick,” she wonders on “Natural,” the opening track that begins using another person as a mirror and then pans back to a bigger picture: what would it take to really love yourself? The album is peppered with ideas of what self-improvement could look like—whether it’s learning a skill and living out in the woods, going to bed at a reasonable hour, or even more playful, deeply relatable lines like “I should really delete my Instagram.”

Shapiro has a knack for turning simple images into something profound, drawing influence from songwriters like Elliott Smith to capture complicated moods. The everyday act of circling the block trying to find a parking spot becomes a metaphor for trying and feeling like you can’t quite get anything done. “All my problems feel like paper/I can finally rip them up,” she sings on the title track, describing a moment of lightness in hanging out with friends who can find humor in your failure “at least I have my friends to laugh at what I’ve done.”

Over the course of a tumultuous year of trying to find stability amidst depression and surgery, Shapiro ultimately rediscovered the parts of music that she loved through the process. Her perfectionist qualities create an album that shines in tiny lyrical moments and meticulous guitar parts. “When the rest of my life felt out of control, I felt like this was my chance to be in control of everything,” says Shapiro. She plays all the instruments (save for a mouth trumpet solo by Darren Hanlon and guest violin by Annie Truscott) and after recording and mixing the first batch of four songs at the Vault studio with Ian LeSage decided to record the final six tracks alone in her apartment, adding drums in the studio later and learning to mix them with the help of her friend David Hrivnak.

Perfect Version is a fully realized vision from a gifted songwriter finding a more intimate voice. “So what comes next?” she questions on the album closer “Empty Cup” which explores the quiet satisfaction of being alone with yourself and creating a blank slate. “A lasting sense of self,” she concludes.

Chastity Belt’s Julia Shapiro steps out on her own on <i>Perfect Version</i>

When Julia Shapiro flew home from a cancelled Chastity Belt tour in April 2018, everything in her life felt out of control. Dealing with health issues, freshly out of a relationship, and in the middle of an existential crisis, she realized halfway through a tour supporting her band’s third album I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone that she was going through too much to continue. “I was really struggling; I was really depressed. I felt like I couldn’t sing or be a person,” Shapiro recalls. “At that point I couldn’t even imagine playing a show again, I was so over it.”

Returning home to a newly empty Seattle one-bedroom apartment, Shapiro had wanted for a long time to learn how to record and mix her own music, and out of the uncertainty of the future of her music career and her health, she began to record the songs that would become Perfect Version, her solo debut for Hardly Art Records. What she created in the space of ten songs is an intimate and beautifully self-aware examination of feeling lost in the life you’ve created for yourself. It’s an album of shimmering guitars and layered vocals that feels vast in the emotional depth it conveys and masterful in the way each song is intentionally crafted and recorded.

Juliashapiro perfectversion 3000

Throughout the record Shapiro tries on different ways of living, all thematically centered around the idea of what it would be like to be a perfect version of yourself. “How can someone be so blindly confident/I wanna know that trick,” she wonders on “Natural,” the opening track that begins using another person as a mirror and then pans back to a bigger picture: what would it take to really love yourself? The album is peppered with ideas of what self-improvement could look like—whether it’s learning a skill and living out in the woods, going to bed at a reasonable hour, or even more playful, deeply relatable lines like “I should really delete my Instagram.”

Shapiro has a knack for turning simple images into something profound, drawing influence from songwriters like Elliott Smith to capture complicated moods. The everyday act of circling the block trying to find a parking spot becomes a metaphor for trying and feeling like you can’t quite get anything done. “All my problems feel like paper/I can finally rip them up,” she sings on the title track, describing a moment of lightness in hanging out with friends who can find humor in your failure “at least I have my friends to laugh at what I’ve done.”

Over the course of a tumultuous year of trying to find stability amidst depression and surgery, Shapiro ultimately rediscovered the parts of music that she loved through the process. Her perfectionist qualities create an album that shines in tiny lyrical moments and meticulous guitar parts. “When the rest of my life felt out of control, I felt like this was my chance to be in control of everything,” says Shapiro. She plays all the instruments (save for a mouth trumpet solo by Darren Hanlon and guest violin by Annie Truscott) and after recording and mixing the first batch of four songs at the Vault studio with Ian LeSage decided to record the final six tracks alone in her apartment, adding drums in the studio later and learning to mix them with the help of her friend David Hrivnak. Perfect Version is a fully realized vision from a gifted songwriter finding a more intimate voice. “So what comes next?” she questions on the album closer “Empty Cup” which explores the quiet satisfaction of being alone with yourself and creating a blank slate. “A lasting sense of self,” she concludes.

Julia Shapiro from Chastity Belt makes her solo debut on the intimate, deeply personal Perfect Version, out June 16th.

“Natural” is the lead single from Perfect Version, the solo debut of Julia Shapiro, singer/guitarist of Chastity Belt and Childbirth. Perfect Version is out Friday, June 14th.

Like many important bands, Seattle quartet Versing got their start in college radio—Tacoma’s KUPS. The group’s main songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Daniel Salas served as alternative music director there, where he met guitarist Graham Baker, drummer Max Keyes, and bassist Kirby Lochner. Now Versing are poised to spread their coolly combustible brand of rock on those said airwaves…and beyond if the world knows what’s good for it.

Baker, Keyes, Lochner, and Salas have risen through Seattle’s competitive rock ecosphere with nonchalant élan. They cheekily titled a previous album Nirvana, but never mind the bleach: Versing isn’t emulating Sub Pop’s most famous artist. Rather, these four twenty-something aesthetes are forging an exciting sound that finds a golden mean between lustrous noise and ebullient melody.

Emerging from a stint as a drummer in a stoner-metal band, Salas formed Versing as a vehicle to vent obliquely about his political and social views with irony and humor. Populated with strange characters, his songs often double as “critiques of centrism and conservatism, from a leftist perspective. That’s a theme: committing to something or doing something that may be hard but is the better option. However, when I write politically, it’s more allegorical and can be interpreted beyond the political realm. I find that more interesting to write about than my personal life.”

That being said, the pell-mell, ostinato-laced “Renew,” which Salas says is his most hopeful song, has a personal message. “It’s about taking time to care for yourself—even when things are all weird and fucked up.” Meanwhile, the immersive, pummeling “Offering” evokes those twin pillars of 1988 rock: My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything and Pixies’ Surfer Rosa. “I just really enjoy that droning line of guitar feedback,” Salas says. “We use a lot of feedback on our songs, but I think that’s one of the more deliberately musical uses we’ve found for it. It’s sort of a fantastical song about traveling through a mystical portal to stop an encroaching force of evil, and the feedback is like the whirring sound the portal makes.”

Another fantastical song, “Tethered” is a low-key, Daydream Nation-esque anthem with plenty of dissonance and surging, distorted guitars, plus rhythms that drive piles. Salas explains that it’s “about how people are tied together,” figuratively. “It’s a reminder of the interconnectedness of humans, to people who make excuses for not doing the right thing” for the greater good of humanity.

With Versing, songwriting is obviously crucial, but much of the pleasure in 10000 comes from its guitar textures. They’re swarming, yet also spiky and agile. The funny thing is, Salas writes most of Versing’s songs on his unplugged Gibson guitar. “I like a more shambolic tone than something that sounds really clean and put together. I like there to be some screechiness to it—something that’s not right.”

Salas cites earlier purveyors of abstract rock music Cocteau Twins and Wire as major inspirations. Much of the rock that followed in the wake of 9/11, though, leaves him cold. “9/11 messed up a lot of things culturally, including music,” he says. “It engendered a deep social conservatism and nationalism that meant the chaotic and unpracticed sounds previously common in rock music had to go, in favor of tighter playing, more simplistic subject matter, and super clean production.”

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Gently chiding the Seattle music scene’s self-seriousness while acknowledging Versing’s playfulness and irony, Salas says, “There’s a ‘let’s just fuck around and see what comes out,’ aspect of what we do, which I think is uncommon for Seattle bands.”

Versing’s freewheeling attitude has paradoxically resulted in 10000, an engrossing album that’s impossible to feel ambivalent about.

releases May 3rd, 2019
Sat, Feb 16th – The Sunflower Lounge , Birmingham United Kingdom

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Chicago singer/songwriter Lillie West records as Lala Lala and she’s set to release the follow-up to 2016’s Sleepyhead. Her forthcoming Hardly Art LP, The Lamb, is a stark indie-rock record, informed by a difficult time period of West’s life, which consisted of “home invasion, deaths of loved ones and general violence.” As the album hops between lo-fi pop and scuzzy rock, West’s musings are nuanced and naked in their emotional outpouring. People react to early adulthood in vastly different ways and as West found herself intermingling with addiction and toxic people, she sought rejuvenation through sobriety and these new songs. “Destroyer” sees West trying to finally get passed previous hardship and “Water Over Sex” sees West grappling with her newfound more positive lifestyle. She’s a compelling, relatable narrator, someone who’s in her own head, but takes you on a journey through her clever mind and candid, unglamorous life experiences.

Can an album simultaneously charm and devastate? In the case of Lillie West and her solo project Lala Lala‘s sophomore album, The Lamb, the answer is an emphatic yes.

The record is a multi-dimensional exploration of both the human spirit and music that aims to crush souls. The quiet yet emotionally powerful grunge ballad “Moth” is pure escapism sonically and in its message. Beautifully knee-buckling, “Dove” is the feeling of plunging into the great blue sea. This landscape, however, is drowned with the tears of sorrow and pain, as West says goodbye to someone she dearly loved. On the chiming, dark rocker, “Destroyer”, West is brutally honest. She proclaims without hesitation, “You are the reason my heart broke behind my back”. Beyond the chorus, however, she also explains the many times she was almost her own destroyer. It’s a frightening yet honest revelation from the young artist.

The Lamb is also gorgeously widescreen, such as on the stirring and breathtaking “Dropout”. It is fantasy meeting reality, as West’s asks out loud, “Can you keep a secret? This is not the only one”. The dazzling and breathtaking approach of “Water Over Sex” uncovers the lies West tells herself to protect what she has. As she reveals, “I love my secrets, I’m lucky in making”. Vulnerability strikes on gritty “I Get Cut”, which summarizes the multiple events that have affected West’s life over the past two years.

Despite the trials and tribulations of her not-so-distant past, West still found a way to make them beautiful and stunning. Through her own perseverance, we understand that the human spirit is stronger than one can imagine. We understand that even a lamb can quietly roar.

The Lamb is out now via Hardly Art.