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CHASTITY BELT

Chastity Belt

Live Laugh Love

    In their decade-plus together, the four-piece Julia Shapiro (guitar, vocals), Lydia Lund (guitar, vocals), Gretchen Grimm (drums, vocals), and Annie Truscott (bass, vocals)—have created a resonant body of work. Live Laugh Love is a natural continuation. Against the bizarre backdrop of the past few years, Chastity Belt remained a supportive space for the members to grow and experiment, drawing on the ingredients most essential to their process since the beginning: authenticity and levity. Recorded over three sessions in as many years (January 2020, November 2021 and 2022), the focus became more about enjoying their time together in the studio than making it feel like work. Their ease and familiarity with engineer Samur Khouja in LA, who also recorded their last album, made for a particularly enjoyable process. Once completed, they returned to renowned engineer Heba Kadry who mastered the album.

    Album opener “Hollow” sets the tone with a gently driving rhythm while guitar layers stream like sun rays through an open car window. A warmth radiates through Shapiro’s voice, even while grappling with feeling lost and stuck. “The older I get,” Shapiro says of the lyrics, “the more I realize that I might just always feel this way, and it’s more about sitting with the feeling and accepting it, rather than trying to fight it.” That wisdom seems to anchor Live Laugh Love. Chastity Belt has never shied from navigating the spectrum of difficult emotions, and an existential thread weaves throughout the subject matter. And yet the songs feel more grounded than ever; there’s a sense of quiet confidence and self-assurance that comes with being less numb and more present. Facing discomfort takes more fortitude, after all.

    Live Laugh Love finds the members in their prime as musicians. Their parts trace intricate patterns over one another, but there’s room to breathe between the layers. Everyone contributes to the writing, sometimes switching instruments, and for the first time, all four members sing a song. It’s never been more apparent that they are creative siblings, cut from the same belt. “We’ve been playing music with each other for over a decade,” says Shapiro, “so it really does feel like we’re all fluent in the same language, and a lot of it just happens naturally.”

    “Laugh” seeks in the balm of friendship, aware of the anticipatory nostalgia that hits during a good time that you’re already missing before it’s gone; the heavier guitar tones on “Chemtrails” streak ominous chord progressions over Grimm’s precision timekeeping, lamenting memories that won’t fade easily. During a transitional time, Truscott came across a note in their phone that read, “it's not hard all day, just sometimes,” which inspired a poignant line in the chorus of “Kool-Aid,” their first song as lead vocalist on a Chastity Belt recording. Another standout, “I-90 Bridge” shines with a silvery melody that soars as Lund belts one of the most resounding moments on the album: “Tell your girlfriend she’s got nothing to fear/I’m set in my head/My body’s a different story.” The track “Blue” saunters nonchalantly with a wink; you can almost hear Shapiro’s smile as she sings “Faking it big time/So I can hit my stride/Man, it feels good to be alive,” channeling early Chastity Belt channeling early ’90s before channeling the late Elliott Smith in a spiral of distortion and insight: “Don’t get upset about it/It’s gonna pass/Tell all your friends about it/They’re gonna laugh.” “We have such a strong sense of each other’s musical inclinations” says Lund. “I think this allows for a lot of playfulness…we can kinda surprise each other, like a good punchline would.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Jangling indie guitars float beautifully around airy vocal melodies, crafting a beautifully honed noise that lands somewhere between shoegaze, folk and art-rock. Brilliantly inventive throughout, but never shy a melody or two. Lovely stuff.

    TRACK LISTING

    Hollow
    Funny
    Clumsy
    It’s Cool
    Kool-Aid
    Chemtrails
    Blue
    Tethered
    1-90 Bridge
    Laugh
    Like That

    Chastity Belt

    Chastity Belt

      Chastity Belt talks a lot about intention these days—how to be more present with each other. The four piece—Julia Shapiro (vocals, guitar, drums), Lydia Lund (vocals, guitar), Gretchen Grimm (drums, vocals, guitar) and Annie Truscott (bass)—is nine years deep in this, after all. It seems now, more than ever, that circuit is a movement of intentionality, one that creates a space inside which they can be themselves, among themselves. It’s a space where the euphoria of making music with your best friends is protected from the outside world’s churning expectations. It’s a kind of safe zone for the band to occupy as their best selves: a group of friends who love each other.

      Their fourth record, Chastity Belt, comes out of that safe space. After a restorative few months on hiatus in 2018, each member worked on solo material or toured with other bands. “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. “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.”

      Their experience navigating adult life within the strange seasons of the music industry has Chastity Belt orienting themselves towards whatever gets them to feel the most present with each other, in any part of the band grind. With the luxury of spending several weeks in the studio with Jay Som’s Melina Duterte, Chastity Belt was able to experiment. The new self-titled album is the work of the band playing “old songs, and trying new things on top of it,” like adding more dynamic harmonies and violin, says bassist Annie Truscott. Lydia, Gretchen, and Julia all share lead vocals on different tracks on the album. The result is their most sonically developed and nuanced record yet; one that’s not only a product of, but a series of reflections on what it means to take what you need and to understand yourself better.

      Many of Chastity Belt’s signature dynamics, from the silly to the sincere, have read as feminist gestures: the Cool Slut DGAF-iness, the shrugging off of the “women in rock” press gargle, the fundamentally punk act of creating music on your own as a woman, and being lyrically forthright. What the making of Chastity Belt reveals is that the band has tapped into a deeper tradition of women making art on their terms: the act of self-preservation in favor of the long game. In favor of each other. In this cultural moment, taking space like this to prioritize the love over the product seems progressive. Chastity Belt’s intentions have resulted in an album deeply expressive of four people’s commitment to what they love most: making music with each other.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: We were big fans of 2017's 'I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone' here in the shop, and this newest outing is sure to generate even more of a buzz. Slightly less driven, and a little more meditative, this LP retains all of the thoughtful beauty of their previous work but with a more mature and weathered outlook. Gorgeous stuff.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Ann’s Jam (4:56)
      2. Elena (3:20)
      3. Effort (5:07)
      4. Rav-4 (3:39)
      5. It Takes Time (4:04)
      6. Apart (3:33)
      7. Half-Hearted (5:25)
      8. Split (3:53)
      9. Drown (4:06)
      10. Pissed Pants (4:55)

      Chastity Belt

      I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone

      A few years ago, while in a tour van somewhere in Idaho, the members of Chastity Belt—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. This is what we like best about you, this is why we love you. I think of that image all the time, the four of them opening themselves up like that, by choice. It’s hard to imagine other bands doing the same. But beyond their troublesome social media presence—see: the abundance of weapons-grade duck face, the rolling suitcase art—and beyond their moonlit deadpan lies, at the very least, an honesty and an intimacy and an emotional brilliance that galvanizes everything they do together. Which is a fancy way of saying: They’re funny, but they’re also capable of being vulnerable.

      This June marks the release of I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, their third and finest full-length to date. Recorded live in July of 2016, 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, 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.”

      When asked, their only request was that what you’re reading right now be brief, honest, free of hyperbole, and “v chill.” When pressed for more, Truscott said, “Just say that we love each other. Because we do.” This is who they are, this is why I love them. - David Bevan, February 2017.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Millie says: Chastity Belt deliver their third album with an effortlessly edgy set. The melodies feel raw and are perfectly matched with the jangly guitars which underline the entire album.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Different Now
      2. Caught In A Lie
      3. This Time Of Night
      4. Stuck
      5. Complain
      6. It’s Obvious
      7. What The Hell
      8. Something Else
      9. Used To Spend
      10. 5 AM
      11. Don’t Worry (CD/Digital Bonus)
      12. Bender (CD/Digital Bonus)
      13. I’m Fine (CD/Digital Bonus)


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