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

WATCH: Lala Lala – ‘Water Over Sex’

Stop-motion animation, personal anguish and drifting lo-fi sounds permeate the new visuals for Lala Lala‘s latest single ‘Water Over Sex’. The track is taken from her upcoming album The Lamb, released on September 28th via Hardly Art.

Based in Chicago, Lala Lala (aka Lillie West) says the new track is based on a paranoid feeling that any “good fortune” she encountered would be “subsequently taken away” to “balance the scales” after a home invasion. Whilst this sounds like a sad premise, Lillie’s music feels far from melancholy with its jangly guitar sounds and dreamy vocals.

The video for ‘Water Over Sex’ was co-directed by Matthew James-Wilson and Toronto-based illustrator Ginette Lapalme. Matthew explains the video’s inception further: “I know Ginette from the comics scene in Toronto and, since Lillie is a fan (with her stickers on her guitar case and a few tattoos of her drawings), I wanted to work on an animated music video with her for the new album. We spent a week straight shooting using fabric, photocopies, Ginette’s collection of miniatures and knick-knacks, and stuff we found at 99 cent stores in Chinatown. The video follows a lamb doll (which Ginette made) continually daydreaming about the objects around her while she tries to live a relaxing life. We wanted to sort of indirectly reference the conflict in the song about how your lifestyle changes after you quit drinking. Since we all live in three different cities and couldn’t film Lillie for it, I asked Lillie to send over webcam footage of her singing the song that we could animate over.”

Originally from London, Lillie moved with her family to Los Angeles, where she spent her teenage years and later to Chicago. She started Lala Lala as a way to communicate things she felt she could never say out loud; touching on issues like intense paranoia, deaths of loved ones, and re-examinations of existing relationships.

‘Water Over Sex’ is another exploration of some of these intensely relatable themes. Watch the video for it below and follow Lala Lala on Facebook for more updates.

Pre-order Lala Lala’s new album The Lamb here.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Lala Lala – ‘Destroyer’

Originally from London, Chicago-based artist Lillie West – aka Lala Lala – initially starting the project as a means to process emotions and communicate things that she felt she could never say out loud. Now, following 2016’s debut Sleepyhead, she’s quit drinking, books her own DIY tours and has now announced her second album The Lamb. A reflection on finding strength in vulnerability, it addresses issues such as her fraught insecurity, struggles with addiction, and the loss of several people close to her.

Taken from the album, new single ‘Destroyer’ is a perfect slice of dreamy, lo-fi scuzz. Oozing West’s gritty, raw vocals and building to a sublime, twinkling chorus, it’s an infectious and affecting offering that leaves us longing for more of Lala Lala’s immersive creations.

Of the track, West explains:

“… (it’s) about retroactively realizing your feelings and trying to figure out what happened to get you where you are. Feeling out of control and like you’re stuck in a feedback loop.” 

Directed by West and Brielle Brilliant, the accompanying video finds Lillie protecting herself in an ongoing fight against destroyers. Watch it here:

The Lamb, the upcoming album from Lala Lala, is out 28th September via Hardly Art.

Mari Lane
@marimindles