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HARDLY ART

Second full-length from SF’s Magic Trick.

In the beginning it was just Tim Cohen alone in his San Francisco bedroom studio, swatting songs out of the ether during the spare hours between tours with his other project, weirdo-pop juggernauts The Fresh & Onlys.

Featuring members of The Fresh & Onlys and Aislers Set.

Cohen recruited a handful of friends, including James Kim (Kelley Stoltz’s band), Alicia Vanden Heuvel (Aislers Set), and Noelle Cahill.

Working on a first-thought-best-thought basis allows for a certain kind of freedom. Cohen forces a private world into existence through the sheer volume of his creative output. But it’s a strangely comfortable place – where tuneful strands of 70s folk rock and familiar chords are embellished with dream logic narratives that draw you in, even if their true meaning hovers just outside of easy comprehension.

Girl Friday

Androgynous Mary

    Burning deep in Girl Friday's music is an unquenchable will to survive. The LA-based band don't blunt the impact of the themes they work through in their ferocious, knotty rock songs, but they don't let the more harrowing aspects of being alive and young in the 21st century daunt them, either. Dystopian shades of post-punk and noise rock abound alongside abundant optimism on Girl Friday’s arresting debut LP, Androgynous Mary. The world is a hellscape, but the four of them are in it together.

    With bold, dramatic guitar lines and tightly wound vocal harmonies, Girl Friday - guitarist Vera Ellen, bassist Libby Hsieh, guitarist Sierra Scott, drummer Virginia Pettis - negotiate the stress and alienation of being sidelined by society. "Does the average man feel like he's on the outside?" goes the beginning of "Public Bodies," a wistful jangle-pop gem that shudders open into a snarling punk coda. Taking cues from boundary-pushers Sonic Youth, Girl Friday favor the rush of jarring turns over the safety of well-defined pop taxonomy. Looking to queer provocateurs like Placebo, they cherish the frisson of incongruous musical elements: "really dark, heavy things mashed up with quite beautiful things, whether that be a distorted guitar line and a sentimental vocal or vice versa," as Ellen puts it. That duality dovetails with the thematic friction running through the album, the alternating despair and hope that intertwine in the fight to survive as disenfranchised people in the US.

    Written during a year of personal struggle for all four band members, Androgynous Mary reflects the solace they took in each other -- as a band, but also as a microcommunity and a chosen family. On the record's final song, "I Hope Jason Is Happy," Girl Friday sing in unison: "My head is on your chest / In the end I'll be happy if you do your best / You've got to fight to keep your breath in this world." It's a testament to the power of their bond, and a gesture of solidarity with those listening. Alone, we suffer under the weight of everything designed to keep us down. Together, we stand a fighting chance. Girl Friday place their hope squarely on that chance.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Dinked Edition LP Info: • Exclusive Pink/White marble vinyl.
    • Hand-numbered edition of 350.
    • Exclusive Obi Strip.
    • Signed band photo.

    Dinked Edition LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    Coloured LP Info: Dark green coloured vinyl.

    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.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: 400 copies on UK Light Green Transparent vinyl.

      Lala Lala

      Sleepyhead

        Originally released in October 2016 as a long-since sold-out self-released cassette, Hardly Art is proud to announce that Sleepyhead, the debut full-length from celebrated Chicago band Lala Lala, will be available for the first time ever on LP and CD (along with a new run of cassettes). Recorded in a basement over the course of five days during a typically-inhospitable Midwestern winter, Sleepyhead is an auspicious—if, at the time, criminally overlooked—debut effort from the young songwriter Lillie West and her then-lineup of supporting players (Abby Black on drums and Karl Bernasconi on bass). Unlike 2018’s critically-acclaimed The Lamb, Sleepyhead is a rawer, more punked-up album with fewer lyrical metaphors obfuscating it’s intimate, direct emotionality. Committed to tape in an urgent outburst of creative energy, the self-produced record eschews overdubs and takes unfussy aim at the listener’s ears, heart, and the lump in their throat.

        Album standout “Fuck With Your Friends” was a breakthrough moment for West—it was the first song she ever wrote, one that tumbled out of her fully-formed, setting her on the path that’s led to her recent successes. Its also emblematic of Sleepyhead’s confessionalism and fearless forthrightness: “I drink more than I want to 'cause it makes you easier to talk to / And what you're saying is boring,” West sings.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Ltd LP Info: Cloud coloured vinyl!

        Dude York

        Falling

          “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—evoked by the broken cake on the album cover and the soft confetti on the inside sleeve—through impossibly catchy and emotive songs that investigate the ways you can fall in and out of relationships, and sometimes fall back together.

          Recorded at Different Fur Studios in San Francisco with producer Patrick Brown, Falling finds Dude York sounding bigger and more fully-realized than ever with hits that would feel perfectly at home sandwiched between Jimmy Eat World and Third Eye Blind in early 2000s alt-rock radio rotation, while somehow still sounding utterly their own. Peter Richards (guitar) and England (bass) share equal songwriting and lead vocal duties on this record, a significant change from their previous album, 2017’s Sincerely, on which England fronted only two songs. The duality of their songwriting and vocals complement each other emotionally and sonically, with Andrew Hall’s harmonies and driving drums providing their own unique character in each song.

          The collaboration is clear—each part is carefully crafted, with Richards’ guitar adding texture to the verses and then soaring into the particularly special kind of guitar solos that make you want to sing along. The production on Falling is full of meticulous details and sonic tricks designed to hit that deep teenage place in your heart, whether it’s the dense, chugging guitars or impeccably-placed harmonies.

          “We all have very different reference points for music and then when we swap them in becomes something totally different,” says Richards. He didn’t grow up as attached to the radio-friendly emo music that defined the adolescence of the rest of the band, but when he got into the genre in the past few years decided he wanted to embrace it in his songwriting, which comes across in the heavy guitars and dramatic arrangements that shine. Ultimately, the relationship Dude York is really investigating and playing around with is their relationship to music. By playing with tropes of romantic relationships, Dude York created a record that feels like a love letter to the alternative radio of yesteryear while managing to stay uniquely singular.

          Julia Shapiro

          Perfect Version

            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.

            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.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Coloured LP Info: Royal blue vinyl.

            Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

            Versing

            10000

              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 twentysomething aesthetes are forging an exciting sound that finds a golden mean between lustrous noise and ebullient melody. 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.” Versing's freewheeling attitude has paradoxically resulted in 10000, an engrossing album that's impossible to feel ambivalent about.

              Shana Cleveland has been beguiling listeners for years in her role as the superlative frontwoman for elastic surf rockers La Luz. Now Cleveland is evolving her sound on the new solo full-length Night of the Worm Moon, a serene album that flows like a warm current while simultaneously wresting open a portal to another dimension. As much a work of California sci-fi as Octavia Butler’s Parable novels, Night of the Worm Moon incorporates everything from alternate realities to divine celestial bodies. Inspired in part by one of her musical idols, the Afro-futurist visionary Sun Ra (the album’s title is a tip of the hat to his 1970 release Night of the Purple Moon), the record blends pastoral folk with cosmic concerns.

              Cleveland dreamt up this premise while living in Los Angeles, a city where--as deftly explored on La Luz’s recent Floating Features--reality and fantasy casually co-exist. Abetting Cleveland during the recording process was a familiar gallery of co-conspirators: multi-instrumentalist Will Sprott of Shannon & the Clams, original La Luz bassist Abbey Blackwell, Goss, pedal steel player Olie Eshelman, and Kristian Garrard, who drummed on Cleveland’s previous solo effort (with then-backing band The Sandcastles), 2011’s Oh Man, Cover the Ground.

              But whereas that album was internal and contemplative, Night of the Worm Moon occupies a different, vibrant kind of headspace. UFO sightings, insect carcasses, and twilight dimensions are all grist for Cleveland’s restless creativity, and they and other inspirations collide beautifully on the album’s 10 kaleidoscopic tracks--a spacebound transmission from America’s weirdo frontier.

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Javi says: ‘Night of the Worm Moon’ is as much an album of acoustic lullabies as it is of shifting ethereal nightmares - and it’s this balance between the beautiful and the unnerving which allows Shana Cleveland’s ruminations on sleep, love, and identity to be so beguiling.
              “Don’t Let Me Sleep” pulls us gently into this nocturnal world full of harps, zithers, vibraphones and lutes before second track and album highlight “Face of the Sun” trembles in, lilting between Latin guitar rhythms and wailing slide guitar. There are such nods to spaghetti western soundtracks throughout the album, in both the instrumentation and the slow, trundling tempo of tracks like “Solar Creep” and masterful “Invisible When The Sun Leaves”.
              That’s not to say the album is a wholly analogue affair, though - the synth bass and eerie affected whistles of “The Fireball” are just as poignant as the more stripped back moments. At times the bass sounds like it’s going to swallow the song whole, lending a sense of intense anxiety to the proceedings, sucking the listener in.
              If La Luz are the sound of bright summer days spent surfing and swimming in the sun, then ‘Night of the Worm Moon’ - the debut solo offering by frontwoman Shana Cleveland - shows us a parallel world that only appears once the sun has set and the stars have taken its place in the sky. From the first tender plucks to the final twilit twinkles, Cleveland has crafted an album as warm as it is melancholy, and as intimate as it is intoxicating.

              FORMAT INFORMATION

              Coloured LP Info: First 300 copies on indies exclusive coloured vinyl.

              Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

              Ian Sweet

              Crush Crusher

                In writing Crush Crusher, Julia Medford, aka Ian Sweet, committed herself to exploring her own issues with self-image, self-respect/worth, and the responsibility she has felt to others. Album opener “Hiding” was one of the first songs she wrote for the record while living in a frigid Brooklyn apartment during a winter break amidst her gruelling tour schedule. In the song, Medford reflects on an interpersonal relationship that fell apart because of an inability to feel supreme comfort in sharing all the pieces of herself with someone. Nevertheless, a hopeful demeanour shines through on “Hiding” and in her writing across the album, with lyrics that embrace life’s hurdles and make them feel a little less scary. Much of Crush Crusher’s songs deal with Medford’s internalized pressure to become a caretaker in many of her close friends’ lives. As a defence mechanism for her own insecurities, Medford projects a sense of invincibility and benevolence to feel more deserving of the love received from others; we hear this on “Holographic Jesus” when she repeats the phrase “the sun built me to shade everybody,” characterizing the sacrifice and responsibility she feels in ways that could easily go unnoticed. “Holographic Jesus” ultimately represents a façade of strength that Medford has clung onto and, in true Taurus fashion, is stubborn to let go of. Musically, Crush Crusher is full of dissonant open chords and abnormal progressions, finding beauty in a level of conflict not seen on Shapeshifter.

                To help achieve this expansive-but-focused sound, Medford enlisted the help of someone who was just as ambitiously experimental in their approach, producer and engineer Gabe Wax (Deerhunter, The War on Drugs, Soccer Mommy). Medford and Wax set up shop at Rare Book Room studios in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and completed the basic tracking with musicians Simon Hanes on bass and Max Almario on drums. “Coming into a space where some of my biggest inspirations like Bjork, Dirty Projectors, and Deerhunter had all once also recorded, I felt determined to push myself and test every boundary that I may have subconsciously created along the way. Gabe made me feel comfortable with attempting anything,” Medford says. By the end of the recording process, IAN SWEET wound up with an unconventional assortment of songs featuring disparate elements of psych-rock, trip-hop, and shoegaze that together forged a sound uniquely her own.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                LP Info: Limited coloured vinyl.

                LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                Lala Lala

                The Lamb

                  “The Lamb was written during a time of intense paranoia after a home invasion, deaths of loved ones and general violence around me and my friends,” says Lillie West, the Chicago-based songwriter behind Lala Lala. “I began to frequently and vividly imagine the end of the world, eventually becoming too frightened to leave my house. This led me to spend a lot of time examining my relationships and the choices I’d made, often wondering if they were correct and/or kind.”

                  West initially started Lala Lala as a way to communicate things that she felt she could never say out loud. But on The Lamb, her sophomore LP and debut for Hardly Art, she has found strength in vulnerability. Through bracing hooks and sharp lyrics, the 24-year-old songwriter and guitarist illustrates a nuanced look on her own adulthood -- her fraught insecurity, struggles with addiction, and the loss of several people close to her.

                  Across the album’s 12 tracks, West carefully examines the skeletons in her closet for the first time, hoping to capture honest snapshots of her past selves. Many of the songs show West asking herself agonizing questions about her life with a clever and hopeful curiosity. On the album’s first single and opening track, “Destroyer,” she reflects on feeling self-destructive and the delayed realization something in the past has irrevocably hurt you. In “Water Over Sex,” West laments her old precarious lifestyle, while trying to readjust to her newfound sobriety, and ”Copycat” confronts her feelings of alienation and boredom. “Some of this album is about being frustrated that everything is always repeating itself and being bored with your own feelings,”she explains. “‘Copycat’ in particular is about how everyone talks exactly the same on the Internet and how it sometimes feels futile to try and be yourself.”

                  Jenn Champion

                  Single Rider

                    Fans of Jenn Champion (formerly “S”) have praised her open-hearted lyrics, expertly-deployed melancholia, technical skill, and willingness to forgo conventions, but mostly they’ve praised her for making albums they could cry to. With the release of Cool Choices in 2014, Champion made what many considered the best record of her career, and a lot of people cried to it.
                    On Single Rider, Champion brings with her all those skills and vulnerabilities, but it is not a record for wallowing: it is a record for intense eye contact on the dancefloor. “Sometimes you are sad and you just want to dance about it,” said Champion. Side B of Cool Choices presaged Champion’s agit-pop transformation. “Let the Light In” and "Tell Me" signalled her move toward a more electronic sound, but it was the digital single “No One” (2016) that marked the clear delineation.

                    “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” said Champion. While she’d initially intended to follow Cool Choices with “a rock record - guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” plans changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.” Soon after the release of No One, Champion’s publishers partnered her with Brian Fennell, aka SYML, and the two co-wrote the song “Leave Like That” (featured on SYML’s Hurt For Me EP). The pair hit it off, and with nearly all of Champion’s Single Rider demos completed, the timing was perfect--she was looking for a producer. “I guess you could say I pursued Brian.” Fortunately, Fennell was open to being pursued and the two spent the next five months working on Single Rider. “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been.” With Champion’s vision and Fennell’s expertise, the record evolved from synthy roughs to a hi-fi dance album.

                    Despite the new direction in her sound, emotion cuts through on Single Rider in the classic Champion style, weaving simultaneously pleading-and-incensed vocals into anthemic pop songs. Champion wants her listeners to see that the rooms are all on fire and she has not given up. Taking a double “fuck you” approach to the world, to the patriarchy, all the things which screw you up and hold you back, she is dancing right on out of the disappointment apocalypse with her middle fingers in the air, and you can follow if you want to.

                    Los Angeles has often been described as a “dream factory”--both a mecca where dreamers converge to pursue long-held aspirations, and a topography of hallucinogenic contradictions: enchanting tangerine sunsets diffused by smog, crystal-clutching spiritualists mingling with deep-pocketed narcissists, rows of scenic palms competing with garish billboards for commuters’ attention. It was against this backdrop that the four members of La Luz--singer/guitarist Shana Cleveland, drummer Marian Li Pino, keyboardist Alice Sandahl, and bassist Lena Simon—conceived of Floating Features, the band’s third studio album. For this, their most ambitious release yet, La Luz consulted landscapes both physical and psychological. References to dreams abound on Floating Features. “Loose Teeth” catalyzes nightmare fuel into a propulsive, intentionally-disorienting collision of honeyed harmonies and Takeshi Terauchi-esque jet-streams of distorted surf guitar. “Mean Dream” unsurprisingly mines dreamstate imagery, and the lyrics and melody for “Walking Into the Sun” actually came to Cleveland During a particularly-vivid night of deep sleep. Looming over the album’s Coterie of surreal figures (gargantuan cicadas, a monstrous “Creature,” The Sun King, aliens, the titular “Lonely Dozer”) is the magnificent “Greed Machine,” a skulking, insatiable engine of consumption-Nathanael West’s “business of dreams” fearsomely manifested. Only La Luz could conjure up Floating Features’ Leone-on-LSD vibes, and the album finds the L.A. band at the height of their powers--golden rebels in a golden dream.

                    The Moondoggies

                    A Love Sleeps Deep

                      A Love Sleeps Deep’s bones rattle with all the seismic changes of the last five years since the release of The Moondoggies’ Adios I’m a Ghost. While the Washington band got lumped in early on with the woodsy folk-rock/Americana movement that sprung up in the Pacific Northwest in the 2000s, the core Moondoggies sound has always been rock in the more classical sense—more Pink Floyd than Woody Guthrie. A Love Sleeps Deep crystalizes that. Perhaps more importantly, A Love Sleeps Deep finds singer/guitarist Kevin Murphy at his most pointed as a songwriter. There’s no lyrical pussyfooting this time around. Lacking the need to prove himself, he opens up and lays bare his feelings.

                      “Generally, I feel frustrated because there’s a lot of this escapist stuff going on in rock and roll,” says Murphy. “I just didn’t want to not talk about my frustrations with what I was seeing around me. I have two little girls now, and I’m just thinking about where things are going. Love in my life has changed everything.”

                      Recorded in Seattle in the spring of 2017 with production wizard Erik Blood (Shabazz Places, Tacocat, THEESatisfaciton), A Love Sleeps Deep is also an album of collaboration. The band seemingly threw each tune up in the air to see how it bounced around the room, making sure everyone got their hands on it. From around 30 initial demos, Blood helped select the most jam-heavy numbers. “They had that vibe that made me love the band in the first place, but with a weathered distinction and confidence that moved me,” says Blood..

                      Dick Stusso

                      In Heaven

                        That old blues hound dog Bonnie Raitt probably sang it best and most lucid in her timeless, pedestrian hit “Nick of Time": “Life gets mighty precious when there's less of it to waste.” And so now, her wise lyrical turn seems to be ringing true for Oakland muso Dick Stusso. When we last caught up with this Bay Area BBQ gaucho on his debut, Nashville Dreams, he'd hit that special zen layer of loserdom. He’d thrown up his hands into the folly of failure. He was the affable, bumbling red-cheeked drunk lurking around the edges of the cookout — bumming smokes, putting down all the white wine and cocktail shrimp he could get away with. But now, a couple years on, that early-30s existential dread has crept its way into Dick’s purview.

                        With his sophomore long-player In Heaven, Stusso's numbered human days are on his mind. Without stumbling into pomposity, Dick has taken back the wheel on his life and is doing a bit of hotdogging. The album sounds so assured, you'd never guess the whole endeavor was almost completely down the tubes. “I was about 75% done with the album and then my apartment got burgled,” Stusso said of In Heaven’s bummer origins. “They took it all.” Having laid it almost exclusively to tape, there weren’t even files to pull from. But what seemed like another sour turn for Dick actually ended up being a little lemon zest in his G&T. He ended up teaming with psych visionary producer Greg Ashley in a defunct old church, making for a leap in fidelity on In Heaven. The new peacock strut to Dick's vague longing and malaise suits his countrified T. Rex sound quite well.

                        Exhibit A: album standout “Modern Music,” a sort of State of the Union and State of the Soul all set over a warm, gauzy glam bass line. “Nobody wants to look at the dark heart, I don’t blame you/Nobody wants to look at the dark heart, myself included,” he sings a low-register Orbison sneer. “I’m just looking for a good time and a little cash-uh.” Employing deft songcraft, which includes a wide open ambient midsection to really get you thinking about The Void, Dick manages to take down both capitalism and the bullshit conditions of human mortality without sounding all that put out by either.

                        The Seattle-based trio Dude York—Peter Richards on guitar and vocals, Claire England on bass and vocals, and Andrew Hall on drums—is announcing itself with an album that couches its themes of anxiety and eroding mental health in rock tracks that amp up the sweetly melodic crunch of power pop with massive distortion and bashed-to-heck drums.

                        Sincerely is a loud,sweaty rebuke to those moments in life when it seems like nothing is working, a testament to the power of friendship, staring problems directly in the face, and finding solace in art. Longtime Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill producer John Goodmanson and The Blood Brothers’ Cody Votolato helped Dude York craft a more straightforward draft of Sincerely, one based on the energy of their live show but without any superfluous flourishes.

                        The band’s thoughtful approach to putting together Sincerely's songs echoes the album's overarching themes of almost-punishing inward focus. Bringing England's straightforward drawl into the mix underscores that idea, and its contrast to Richards' excited yelp heightens the tension on Sincerely, a chaotic, yet ultimately triumphant album that's a vital tonic for these increasingly confused times.

                        The Moondoggies

                        Don't Be A Stranger

                          "I can't for the life of me figure out why The Moondoggies aren't one of the largest independent bands in the country." -- Performer Magazine

                          "It's the rich three-and-four-part harmonies that really give the Moondoggies' expansive, epic jams their distinctive, vintage sound." -- Pitchfork

                          The Moondoggies have hit upon a nice balance of tradition and contemporary influence." -- The Big Takeover Everett is a small city in northern Washington state, perhaps best known as the birthplace of Kenny Loggins, Carol Kaye, and, as of 2006, The Moondoggies. The Moondoggies are a four-piece band that plays timeless American music. Warm three-part harmonies, gothic Rhodes organ, and wanderlust guitar mark a sound rooted in boogie blues and cosmic country; their whip-smart songwriting leads to hook-heavy tunes that bristle with originality. The Moondoggies’ inaugural full-length release, Don’t Be a Stranger, was first released in 2008 and contains shades of gospel, blues, rock, and country - each of these songs have earned their slot in the great American jukebox.

                          As of 2016, The Moondoggies as a band will have existed for a full decade. To commemorate, Hardly Art will issue Don’t Be a Stranger on vinyl for the very first time. In addition to the original album, five previously unreleased bonus tracks have been tacked onto the release, all recorded during the same Don’t Be a Stranger sessions with producer Erik Blood in Seattle. The Moondoggies are pleased to re-present this album and its new-old songs to you, dear listener, in lieu of new material that has been brewing since 2013.

                          Recorded in guitarist TV Coahran’s basement onto an 8-track and engineered by Kurt Bloch (Fastbacks). Tracks 7 and 8 are covers - “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” was originally performed in the musical Grease (written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey), and “Not Allowed” was originally written and performed by Californian post-punks Suburban Lawns. This is the debut release from Gazebos.

                          Featuring Shannon Perry (Butts, Katherine Hepburn’s Voice, sought-after tattoo artist) on vocals, TV Coahran (R. Stevie Moore, creator of GGNZLA records/karaoke) on guitar, Jordan T. Adams (Spurm, Monarchies) on drums, and Shane Herrell (Bread & Butter) on bass.

                          'The Agent Intellect' is Protomartyr's 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, Greg 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.

                          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.

                          Colleen Green

                          I Want To Grow Up

                            Growing up.
                            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."

                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                            LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                            The year, 2007. The Boys, Jacuzzi. Hatched inside a vulture’s nest, Jacuzzi Boys emerged from deep within the Florida wilds, three radioactive chicks cawing for their piece of electric rock pie.

                            With No Seasons (Florida's Dying) they freaked their way through the swamps, a psycho stomp of a record, all hallucinations and hand claps. Glazin’ (Hardly Art) found a more polished sound. They installed AC units inside their mobile homes, found a way to turn neon into ice cubes. Now, with their third full-length, the self-titled Jacuzzi Boys, they're going grand, building limestone monuments to those that boogied before them, while writing hypnotic ear worms by the light of a cigarette. Gone is the swamp-thing snarl. In it’s place, the indestructible cool of the casino slot-jockey with nothing to lose.

                            Recorded at Key Club Recording Co. in Benton Harbor, Michigan—same as 2011’s Glazin’—the new record takes full advantage of expert engineers Bill Skibbe and Jessica Ruffins' sonic sandlot, with Kramer in charge of mastering. The end result? A smashing set of tunes as dazzling as a sparkler.

                            It’s like that movie you once saw. The one with the boy and the girl and the plastic lounger on the beach. “Be My Prism” was the invitation. “Black Gloves” and “Double Vision” the promise. “Dust” was the rising tide. “Rubble,” the dirty uncle. “Hotline” was the lightning storm, and “Ultraglide” was the ending, the part where he drove her home with the windows down.

                            You remember you liked it.

                            It stayed with you while you swam alone in your pool that night.

                            We Are Loud Whispers is a dreamy duo featuring Sonya Westcott (Arthur & Yu) and Ayumu Haitani (4 Bonjour's Parties).

                            ‘Suchness’, their debut album, displays intricate electronic orchestration, loops, and effects, while relaying an organic ease.

                            Assembled over emails sent between Seattle and Japan, ‘Suchness’ transcended geographical and language barriers - and traditional ideas of what a ‘band’ is - in its making.

                            Grave Babies are a band whose sound might suggest the need for drugs that stabilize mood, while also creating a desire for ones that enhance them.

                            The centre of Grave Babies’ sound is the sonic equivalent of thwarted desire.

                            On ‘Crusher’, the band’s first album for Hardly Art, Grave Babies take the harder approach - doing what they’ve always done, but doing it better.

                            Fergus & Geronimo

                            Funky Was The State Of Affairs

                            Fergus & Geronimo return with ‘Funky Was The State Of Affairs’, a sixteen track weirdo-opus about aliens, mind control, conspiracy theories and intergalactic courtship, amongst other things.

                            Recorded in analogue at Seaside Lounge, New York.

                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                            LP Info: LP format includes a download code and comes
                            housed in a fancy old-school tip-on jacket.

                            Broken Water

                            Tempest

                              Second full-length from Olympia’s Broken Water.

                              Features members of Sisters and Celebration.

                              Olympia three-piece, Broken Water - a sometimes noisy, sometimes droning, often pretty and subtly pop sounding band - are very much a product of their hometown.

                              Jon Hanna often sounds like Thurston Moore at his bratty best singing from the belly of a giant grizzly, and Kanako Pooknyw and Abigail Ingram balance things out with a mix of Mazzy Star-like precision and eerie, haunting melodies that can draw a jagged line back to My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, or even the springy, deadpan vocals of Black Tambourine.

                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              Darryl says: Abrasive guitars and a Thurston Moore-esque vocal delivery, it's essential for fans of Sonic Youth style noise growlers.

                              Hunx And His Punx

                              Too Young To Be In Love

                                Debut studio album from Hunx And His Punx.

                                The band’s singles compilation "Gay Singles" (True Panther / Matador, 2009) has sold over 2000 copies on LP.

                                "Too Young To Be In Love" is the first fully-realized Hunx And His Punx album, and the group’s first for Hardly Art. It was recorded in New York City by Ivan Julian, one of the founding members of inimitable NYC punk legends Richard Hell And The Voidoids. This record was made in the same studio that one of Hunx's idols, Ronnie Spector, once recorded in.

                                “Deliciously trashy homoerotic pop” - Pitchfork

                                “Bogart is a vivid, alluring frontman with one thing on his mind” - The New York Times


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