Five Favourites: Girl Friday

Set to release their debut album next month, LA’s Girl Friday create genre-bending indie rock, reflecting on life on as young musicians in the 21st century. Juxtaposing dystopian leanings and feminist ideals with a scuzzy optimistic spirit, with grit and sparkle in equal parts, they represent an upcoming unique, empowering force and a new favourite for sure.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. So, we caught up with the whole of Girl Friday – Libby, Sierra, Vera and Virginia – to discuss the five albums that have made the biggest mark on them. Check out their choices below, and watch Girl Friday’s new video for ‘Public Bodies’ at the end of this article.

Libby:
Beck – Odelay
Definitely not any deep cuts here, but I definitely feel like Beck’s Odelay has had a huge influence on me personally. I remember sitting in my high school’s library eating lunch alone and feeling so emboldened by the bassline in ‘Minus’ and the really nonchalant vocals in ‘The New Pollution’. This album is so special to me. I think it was a benchmark of my adolescent years when I felt so ugly, out of place, and generally full of doom. It was kind of the start of when I started to feel like I could actually pursue the making of my own music.

Sierra:
Tonight Alive – The Other Side
I was completely dumbfounded when I discovered Tonight Alive in middle school. I remember sitting in the back of my English class, thinking I was very cool with my hood up, playing their music videos on repeat from my phone and daydreaming that I was in the band. Jenna McDougall is a huge hero of mine in terms of songwriting and vocal performance, and this album is the prime example for me. She blends merciless vitriol with an emotional vulnerability that lends her so much power. I’m convinced no one could ever stop her from doing exactly what she wants. Yes, this album brings me back to being 15 in my Sleeping with Sirens t-shirt with the sleeves cut off (bless); yes, I listen to it now and still hear snippets from my own life echoed back at me; yes, I am crying as I play it and write this.

Vera:
The Velvet Underground – Loaded
If we’re talking perfect records here. I mean that’s just an endless giving tree of joy. I associate it with a time in my life of freedom and youth and young love. 

All:
Kills Birds – Kills Birds
Sierra: We went to Kills Birds’ album release show at The Bootleg, and my mind was completely blown. I remember looking around and realizing that everyone else’s jaws were sitting comfortably next to mine on the floor. The drama! The percussion! The delivery! What more could you ask for?
Virginia: Kills Birds is one of those bands whose music is impossible to listen to without moving or singing along. Their songs are refreshing but have a familiarity that makes them feel like they’ve been around since the ‘90s.  The whole album is fantastic from top to stop, but my favourites are ‘Only Yellow’ and ‘High’. 

Virginia:
St Vincent – Actor
I’ve listened to this record so many times. I remember taking a trip to LA when I was 15 (which was a very foreign place to me at the time), stumbling into Amoeba Records and walking out with that pastel mess of a CD. From the start it’s filled with a ghostly choir, woodwinds galore, and slinky drums and guitar all topped by Annie Clark’s creeping vocals. There are increasing hints of agitation and noise throughout the song then at 2:33 the floodgates of distortion are opened and the song becomes incredibly glorious and huge. Every song has such rich textures and really takes you for a ride. I love to close my eyes and allow myself to get lost in the cinematic fever dream that is Actor. The feeling I get from listening to that album is the experience that I want to create in the music I make. I want people to listen to it in their headphones when they feel trapped and find an escape. I want them to blast it driving in their neighbourhoods and scream along and feel so cool. I want them to remember the first time they heard it and tear up because it’s brought them so much joy and comfort and courage over the years (which is the current situation that I’m surprised to find myself in oops). Thank you Annie, and in the off chance that you happen to hear Androgynous Mary, happy listening and enjoy. I think we’ve truly made a little treat and I’m proud to release it into the world.

Massive thanks to Girl Friday for sharing their Five Favourites!

Girl Friday’s debut album Androgynous Mary is out 21st August via Hardly Art. Watch the new video for latest single ‘Public Bodies’ now:

Photo Credit: Al Kalyk

ALBUM: Chastity Belt – ‘Chastity Belt’

On this, their fourth album, Chastity Belt are in a contemplative mood. Guitars are gently, thoughtfully, strummed and lush harmonies mingle with the melody to create an album that is perfect for late summer 2019. 

After their last album in 2017, the band deliberately created some headspace for themselves. They wanted to take some time out from the band, to work and live as individuals rather than as Chastity Belt. This decision led to some solo projects, most notably singer Julia Shapiro’s recent output, but also to a more personal introspection and development. The four members of Chastity Belt have brought this new sense of perspective the album, and it shows. 

While sonically complex, the album sounds sparse and uncluttered, unhurried and pastoral, rather than urgent and urban. Opening track ‘Ann’s Jam’ reflects this with its gentle, almost meandering guitar sound, whereas the strings on ‘Effort’ weave in and out of the guitars like ribbons of sound. It’s a soothing sonic wave, a soundtrack of calm and thoughtful songwriting. It’s not as though the band have suddenly picked up acoustic guitars either, it’s just that the woven intricacies of their music balance out to such an extent that neither electric guitar nor drums dominate. 

The slowly building ‘It Takes Time’ and the beautiful ‘Half-Hearted’ with its intricate, pretty guitars and gorgeous vocal harmonies are both highlights, as are ’Effort’ and ‘Ann’s Jam’, but really, this is an album in the traditional sense: it has been made to be listened to in its entirety, over and over again, until it bleeds into your subconscious and becomes a part of you. It’s a masterpiece that will stand the test of time and will be listened to, and loved, for many years to come.

Chastity Belt is out 20th September via Hardly Art.

Cazz Blase
@CazzBlase

LISTEN: Julia Shapiro – ‘A Couple Highs’

“When the rest of my life felt out of control, I felt like this was my chance to be in control of everything” explains Julia Shapiro about her upcoming debut solo album Perfect Version, which is set for release on June 14th via Hardly Art. Having taken a step back from life as Chastity Belt’s vocalist & guitarist after a difficult year, Shapiro has returned with the second single from her new record titled ‘A Couple Highs’; and it’s a breezy, soothing drop of aural medicine.

The track is accompanied by a set of visuals directed by Claire Buss, and is a subtle homage to Kelly Reichardt’s 2008 film Wendy and Lucy, showing Shapiro and her canine doppelganger explore the quiet beauty of suburban Seattle. Shimmering guitars and Shapiro’s gentle voice make the track a real tonic for the ears, and the knowledge that Shapiro played all the instruments herself makes for extra listening satisfaction.

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, and it shines through on her latest single. Watch the video for ‘A Couple Highs’ below and follow Julia on Twitter for more updates.

Pre-order your copy of Julia Shapiro’s Perfect Vision here.

Photo Credit: Eleanor Petry

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

WATCH: Shana Cleveland – ‘Don’t Let Me Sleep’

For me, Shana Cleveland’s new single is something from another time in an alternate universe. ‘Don’t Let Me Sleep’, from her upcoming album, has shimmering guitar licks reminiscent of a desert wanderer. Layer that over Cleveland’s effervescent vocals and it’s a sterling performance of futurist folklore; a psychedelic vision explored in the music video that accompanies the track’s release.

With the vast palm-scattered soundscapes of her other project La Luz to influence her sound, Cleveland’s ‘Don’t Let Me Sleep’ is a sonic homage to the great guitar-wielding crooners of days gone by, with distinct shades of the likes of ‘Moon River’ and ‘Wichita Lineman’.

With this exquisite track as our first taste, it seems that Shana Cleveland’s first foray into a full-length LP is less of a dipping of toes into new waters, and more of a full body submersion into a warm oasis pool, the waves rippling into an infinite sea of ethereal sound and peaceful refrains. Night of the Worm Moon is already looking to be a serene reverie, and with influences rooted in the Afro-futurism of Sun Ra and cosmic consciousness, it may be the perfect score for a midnight journey through starlit desert.

Night Of The Worm Moon, the upcoming album from Shana Cleveland, is out 5th April via Hardly Art.

Luke Janke
@jankeleg

Photo Credit: Eleanor Petry