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HARDLY ART

Dude York

Halftime For The Holidays

    The holidays are weird, man. Ostensibly, they’re about family and fun and food and festivities, but more often they portend arguing with your family about politics- and that mental dance you have to do where you’re like “Should I get Trevor a gift even though my funds are dwindling and I’m not even sure if he’s going to get me one in return so this could end up being a whole awkward thing???”

    The reality of the holidays lies somewhere more liminal, in the space between joy and depression, between excitement and boredom, between “peace on earth and goodwill toward men” and “I think I might murder my entire family.” So who better to teach us the true reason for the season than Dude York, a band whose music so often seems to exist in an in-between space of their own? Dude York are funny and serious and earnest and deeply ironic all at the same time. The three friends who comprise the band—Peter Richards (guitar, vocals), Claire England (bass, vocals) and Andrew Hall (drums, vocals)—have spent their four years together applying their particular Dude York-ian sensibility to topics like mental health, breakups, and the power of art and friendship.

    Now they’ve returned with Halftime for the Holidays to pop some chestnuts right on your fire and tackle their most poignant theme yet; THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR. Halftime for the Holidays is a holiday record for how the holidays actually feel. Tracks like “Takin’ Care of Christmas” (it’s exactly what you think it is) and “Jingle Bells Rock” (it’s not) deliver the requisite tacky cheer. “Greatest Gift is You” and “My Favorite Part (Of This Time of Year)” soar like the greatest pop-punk love songs, with the added benefit of CHRISTMAS. And songs like “Long Distance Christmas” and “Break Up Holiday” testify to the loneliness that they can spring on you without warning. It’s a record that manages to wrap the strangeness of sleeping in your childhood twin bed and the soft wonder of waking up to snow into one delightful white elephant present that you won’t re-gift.

    Halftime for the Holidays is self-consciously goofy, but refreshing in its willingness to tackle the misery and joy of the season with equal force. So deck the halls, engage in a regrettable make out session underneath the mistletoe, and rest assured that no matter what kind of reindeer games the universe is playing with you this year, Dude York has you covered.

    TRACK LISTING

    01. Break Up Holiday
    02. Hollywood Holiday
    03. The Greatest Gift Is You
    04. My Favorite Part (Of The Time Of Year
    05. Long Distance Christmas
    06. Takin Care Of Christmas
    07. Jingle Bells Rock
    08. True Meaning
    09. Silent Night

    Chris Cohen

    Paint A Room

      Chris Cohen was always a quiet kid. In fact, this introversion was one reason he began playing music as a toddler—to communicate without speaking, to identify with others without the direct representation of words. It has worked, too, with Cohen’s terrific stint in the mighty Deerhoof and his own captivating art-rock act The Curtains, preceding production and session work for the likes of Weyes Blood, Kurt Vile, Le Ren, and Marina Allen. Somewhere along that long way, Cohen started writing lyrics. He found that, though it didn’t come naturally, the process offered a new sense of self-discovery and reckoning, a way to see himself and the world from unexpected angles. His three twilit albums of casually complicated pop during the last decade radiated these epiphanies: handling family strife, navigating advancing age, and understanding social woes.

      But Cohen has never had as much to sing so directly as he does on Paint a Room, his first album in five years and his debut for Hardly Art. If Cohen’s meanings have previously lurked inside the tessellated musical layers he built alone, they are newly clear and resonant here, animated and underscored for the first time by a band playing in real time. There is the endless miasma of state violence on the subversively melodious opener “Damage,” the existential exhaustion of modernity on the horn-traced jangle “Laughing”: this is Cohen communicating with friends not only through his deep understanding of groove, harmony, and hook but also with his listeners through songs that croon of our uneasy little era.

      On Paint a Room, Cohen’s music feels like a warm spring breeze, easy to love and gentle to feel. But it’s often carrying something heavy, as if blowing in from some unseen storm cloud. Paint a Room both reckons with reality and conjures an alternate one, where nighttime walks and a neighbor’s wind chimes offer endless escapes for the imagination, space for the mind to roam. Sublime and sun-lit, these 10 songs consider dreamy new ways out of old predicaments, clearly stating the problem and dancing and singing their way somewhere new.

      Paint a Room features Jeff Parker contributing the fluttering horn arrangement on “Damage,” and Parker collaborator Josh Johnson (who produced Meshell Ndegeocello’s Grammy-Award-winning album The Omnichord Real Book) supplying flute, sax, and clarinet arrangements throughout the record.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Brisk, summery melodies and syncopated grooves that weave together and fade away as effortlessly as they enter. There are hints here of 60's psychedelia and easy listening, folk and rock and roll, but while there are moments of recognisable influence, it never strays into any one genre and results in something that's wonderfully fresh and incomparably inventive.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Damage
      2. Paint A Room
      3. Sunever
      4. Cobb Estate
      5. Laughing
      6. Wishing Well
      7. Dog’s Face
      8. Night Or Day
      9. Physical Address
      10. Randy’s Chimes

      Youbet

      Way To Be

        Hardly Art debut by Brooklyn-based artist Nick Llobet, aka youbet, follows their 2020 debut album on Ba Da Bing! Records.

        A lovely album of layered melodic pop-rock arrangements fusing rock and electronic instrumentation with Nick Llobet’s poignant, witty, and vulnerable lyrics.

        Nick Llobet (they/them) was ready to throw in the towel. Llobet, who grew up in South Florida, learned to play guitar at a very young age, dabbling in everything from classical, blues, classic rock, and flamenco. They’d spent much of their early 20s searching for their voice as an artist and as an individual, as well as for a musical community. Llobet would eventually move to Brooklyn, but after three years of looking for a hopeful artistic breakthrough, they spent much of their time in seclusion, consumed by social anxiety and imposter syndrome—and they were considering abandoning songwriting completely.

        One day, while commuting through Penn Station en route to their partner’s family home in Virginia (that would also lead to the crucial purchase of a secondhand Tascam cassette recorder), they noticed Patti Smith sitting alone, waiting for a train. The typically shy Llobet decided to approach the icon, who was, in turn, delighted to see that Llobet was carrying a guitar. At the end of their interaction, Smith offered some parting wisdom: “She wished me luck and said, ‘Practice hard, Nick.’” Llobet took her advice to heart, and this chance encounter kicked off a personal and artistic rebirth.

        They started performing as youbet, a play on their last name, and began “changing [their] vision for what a song could be.” youbet’s debut, Compare & Despair, a delightful gem of a record that showcases Llobet’s propensity for freewheeling whimsy and emotional intensity. In May 2019, inspired by a song-a-week writing group that produced Compare & Despair, Llobet started a second club in which contributors would upload that week’s song to a private Bandcamp. Invigorated by this small musical collaboration, the feedback, and the accountability, Llobet wrote 18 songs throughout the duration of the club, twelve of which became Way To Be.

        After this songwriting marathon, Llobet spent 2020 focusing on instrumental guitar work and political engagement. By the summer of 2021, they were ready to revisit the Way To Be tracks. Over the next year-and-a-half, Llobet worked on the record relentlessly, refining the lyrics, recording, and arrangements from their apartment. Llobet self-produced Way To Be and describes the process as an enormous, labor-intensive undertaking that felt akin to “making a whole film.” Along the way, Llobet was joined by collaborators, including Julian Fader (Ava Luna), Adam Brisbin (Buck Meek), and Daniel Siles.

        Across Way To Be’s 12 delightfully off-kilter tunes, Llobet uses wordplay and tongue-in-cheek humor to obliquely explore dysfunctional relationships, regret, self-confidence or the lack thereof, queerness, and self-discovery. Fuzzy at the edges and filled with playful, kinetic arrangements, Way To Be is a bridge into the entrancing world of youbet. You won’t want to leave.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. Carsick
        2. Way To Be
        3. Nurture
        4. Seeds Of Evil
        5. Alive To You
        6. Do
        7. Deserve
        8. Lost
        9. Peel
        10. Trauma
        11. Vacancy
        12. Still

        Ill Peach

        This Is Not An Exit

          Hardly Art debut and first full-length by ill peach, aka accomplished pop songwriters Jess Corazza and Pat Morrissey.

          The album is at once exuberantly catchy pop and genre-hopping modern experimental music.

          Here’s the thing about ill peach: this band exists because they are too weird to not exist.

          The seed of ill peach was first planted in the recording studios of New York City where Pat Morrissey and Jess Corazza were working together as professional songwriters, collaborating with artists like Icona Pop, SZA, Weezer, Pharrell, Big Freedia, and others. Then came the day they were offered their own publishing deal. Cool, right? Well, about that:

          “Everyone kept saying, ‘The stuff that you’re writing is slightly too left-of-center—weirdo stuff,” remembers Morrissey. “Why don’t you start your own project?”

          Thus ill peach, a pop band with a punk streak and a taste for both the rotten and the sweet, with an approach to making music that goes something like: “Do you want to pick up a guitar and do you want to be on this water jug and we’ll record it on the iPhone and create some weird drum pattern?”

          Following a series of well-received EPs on their own Pop Can Records (a record label and artist collective Morrissey and close collaborator Jesse Schuster run with friends), a digital single for Hardly Art’s 15th anniversary series, and some colorful music videos that crystallized the band’s visual aesthetic along with their sound, ill peach’s “weirdo stuff” comes to fruition on first full-length THIS IS NOT AN EXIT: a collection of anthemic songs built out of bright pop and gritty experimental elements (Morrissey names the sculptural use of distortion on the final albums by Low as an inspiration), punctuated with hooky choruses ready to be screamed along to in the safety of your own bedroom or with a bunch of friends at one of ill peach’s intense live shows.

          If ill peach first blossomed in New York, it took quarantine in Los Angeles for the project to ripen. The end of the world turned out to be what ill peach needed to get real with themselves. “It helped us creatively to zone in and removed us from the [industry] side of things to where we could just be like: this is our new identity, let's jump with both feet.”

          THIS IS NOT AN EXIT’s title is a reflection of something Corazza realized during a period of personal and familial crises. “I kept walking into buildings and I’d try to exit somewhere and the sign would be like, ‘This is not an exit,’” she says. “It just felt like a metaphor for a hopeful thing—don't give up yet.” This combination of hope and anxiety is all over THIS IS NOT AN EXIT, reflected in a sonic palette (Alternative! Electronica! Indie! Radio pop! Coldplay!) as eclectic as it is unpretentious. Ultimately, THIS IS NOT AN EXIT is a record about healing, a process often spoken about in New Age-y terms but one that in reality can be really confusing and, yes, weird. But it is the beautiful strangeness of being alive that ill peach capture so well on THIS IS NOT AN EXIT. 

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Bloom
          2. Blah Blah Blah
          3. Tornado Weather
          4. Hush
          5. Capillary Bed
          6. 17
          7. Soft (Intermission)
          8. Head Full Of Holes
          9. Sour Like Lemonade
          10. This Is Not An Exit
          11. Colliding
          12. Heavyweight
          13. Sigh

          Shana Cleveland

          Manzanita

            Second solo album by La Luz singer/guitarist Shana Cleveland.

            RIYL: Robert Wyatt, Opal, Nilsson, Kevin Ayers and his Whole Wide World, Norma Tanega, Jessica Pratt, Julie Driscoll, Michael Nesmith, Sibylle Baier.

            Manzanita is the common name for a kind of small evergreen tree endemic to California which has strong medicinal properties. It’s also the name of the brand new full length by visual artist, writer, songwriter, and musician Shana Cleveland. Subtle, powerful, and unafraid. We can’t actually tell you how much we love this record because you’d never believe us, so we’ll just say that it is her strongest and most personal album to date. These songs are as strong as the bricks in the Brill building, and seem destined to be covered by others in years to come. Where her previous record, 2019’s Night of the Worm Moon (Hardly Art) functions as a collection of speculative fictions equally inspired by Afro-futurist pioneers Herman “Sun Ra” Blount and Octavia Butler, Manzanita concerns the love that loves to love. “This is a supernatural love album set in the California wilderness,” Cleveland explains. The combinations of words and song structure are so strong throughout that one hardly notices Cleveland’s nimble fingerpicking on first listen, or how much is packed into the arrangements. The lyrics are satisfyingly direct, with the buoyantly whimsical descriptions typical of the 1960s New York School of poetry. It’s peppered with the kind of unexpected turns that make the words more modern, and in their spookiness they are more West Coast, as in “Mystic Mine,” with its “Mystic Mine Lane, cars rotting away/ I feel so relieved to be/ Back in the country.” So much of the pop music we love is propelled by those first blushes of infatuation and lust, but Manzanita concerns the kind of love that one can only experience with time, work, and devotion. Cleveland says: “The songs were all written while I was pregnant (side A) or shortly after my son's birth in that weird everything-has-quietly-but-monumentally-shifted state (side B),” she says. Moving to the country, starting a family, laughing for real at the same joke the thirteenth time you’ve heard it, surviving heavy shit (this is the first release since Cleveland’s successful treatment for a diagnosis of breast cancer at the start of 2022). This is a love album that’s somehow populated with the insect world, ghosts, and evil spirits. Sonically, Manzanita sits in a meadow similar to her previous solo records, set back and away from the genre-recombinant garage pop of her band La Luz. This is part due to the fact that there’s a different sonic palette in use here. While Cleveland continues to play guitar and vocals; Johnny Goss, who has recorded all of Shana’s solo material and early La Luz recordings, and Abbey Blackwell (Alvvays, La Luz) play the bass; Olie Eshleman is on pedal steel; and Will Sprott plays the keyboards, dulcimer, glockenspiel, and harpsichord—little of which would have been out of place on her previous two solo records—Sprott also adds layers of synthesizer infused with the sounds of the natural world. 

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: Another beautiful folk-leaning record this week from the brilliant Shana Cleveland. The La Luz singer / guitarist brings things down a little for her solo project, still swimming in psychedelic waters but with more of an organic, slow-moving drift. At times, the hefty gothic folk instrumentation overtakes her echoic vocals, but it's never less than perfectly manicured and a great listen throughout.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. A Ghost
            2. Bloom
            3. Faces In The Firelight
            4. Mystic Mine
            5. Light On The Water
            6. Quick Winter Sun
            7. Bonanza Freeze
            8. Gold Tower
            9. Babe
            10. Ten Hour Drive Through West Coast Disaster
            11. Evil Eye
            12. Mayonnaise
            13. Sheriff Of The Salton Sea
            14. Walking Through Morning Dew

            Dick Stusso

            S.P.

              Dick Stusso’s third album is a document of slow mental unravelling with a world in perpetual decay as its backdrop. With S.P., California-based singer and songwriter Nic Russo has created his most out-there and toothsome record to date, plunging his listeners into a strange and thrilling new world at every opportunity. S.P. is the first Dick Stusso record in four years, following his stellar Hardly Art debut In Heaven from 2018—but this latest missive is more of an indirect sequel to the buzz-building 2015 release Nashville Dreams / Sings the Blues, diving deeper into the fictional character Dick Stusso’s crumbling psyche and dystopian surroundings. If our introduction to Dick was someone trying to pursue their dreams and turning into a failure as a result, S.P. reflects the moment where, in Russo’s words, “The character is becoming unlikable. He’s succumbing to what is taking place around him. ”Nearly half of its 18 songs—spanning countrified rock duets, Guided by Voices-recalling anthems, and outro noise-burst sound experiments—were completed before the pandemic, when Russo decided to take a beat and allow the music to sprout new, weird buds in his rehearsal space. With mixer Andrew Oswald accentuating the record’s unique feel, S.P. bridges the gap between the ultra lo-fi confines of his 2015 debut Nashville Dreams / Sings the Blues and the lush echoes of In Heaven, with a few helping hands to fully flesh out Russo’s vision. Grace Cooper (The Sandwitches, Grace Sings Sludge) contributes vocals to “Dinner for Two” and “Self Reflection (Deep),” while his father Marc Russo—a Grammy-winning saxophonist who’s currently touring with the Doobie Brothers—lays down expert horn arrangements on “Garbagedump #1.” The myriad of twists and turns on S.P. further establish Russo as a fascinating craftsman who’s never bound to do the same thing twice.

              TRACK LISTING

              01. Rocking Machine
              02. Part-time Apocalypse
              03. The Check In
              04. Convenient Life
              05. Garbagedump #1
              06. A Fairly Normal Guy
              07. Dinner For Two
              08. The Masterwork
              09.Self Reflection (Deep)
              10. Big Money
              11. Haunted Hotel
              12. Checking Back
              13. How Do You Spell Success?
              14. Doubt
              15. Failure
              16. Hell
              17. Twilight At The Shareholders' Meeting
              18. Tears Of Love

              Grave Babies

              Holographic Violence

                In the five years since Grave Babies’ debut album Deathface was released, founder Danny Wahlfeldt has been handling all songwriting and recording duties for the Seattle-based band, with invaluable help from friends in performing their material live. For their newest album entitled Holographic Violence, Wahlfeldt chose a different path, causing a significant change in the band’s overall sound.

                Holographic Violence is Grave Babies’ second Hardly Art full-length after Crusher (2013), and further explores the themes of nihilism, the pending doom of mankind, and shaming humanity, which the band has been building their gloomy reputation on since the beginning.

                By leaving the edgy, lo-fi haze of earlier output in the past, these songs have clarified what the music of Grave Babies has to offer the future. That is, if humanity has a future?

                The 11 new songs on Holographic Violence present this powerful combination from a science fiction perspective, begging the question: has our imagination outpaced the confines of our reality as we keep going down the same path, believing there's hope? Playing anthemic pop songs with a strange male choir-esque sound to the vocals adds a distinctly cultish feel to the abrasive exercise of figuring out if it is possible to circumvent destructive human predispositions. Grave Babies mission is not to find the answers to these questions, but to challenge the listener and on Holographic Violence, their uncompromising aesthetic makes the suffering a little prettier. 

                Like Psychocandy-era Jesus and Mary Chain dressed as Throbbing Gristle for Halloween." -- The AV Club.
                "Zen spirit, bubblegum heart." -- The Seattle Times.
                "Sometimes violent, sometimes ugly, and always bursting with the kind of passion that begets violence and ugliness." -- MTV Hive.


                TRACK LISTING

                01. Eternal (On & On)
                02. Beautiful Lie
                03. Try 2 Try
                04. Something Awful
                05. Punishment (Only A Victim)
                06. Metal Me
                07. Pain Iz Pleasure
                08. Positive Aggression
                09. N2 Ether
                10. Concrete Cell
                11. War 

                Protomartyr

                Under Color Of Official Right - 2023 Repress

                  In a city full of brilliant people with dead-end jobs and dampened by bitter-cold winters, playing music offers a cheap outlet. Protomartyr’s taut, austere rock was incubated in a freezing Detroit warehouse littered with beer cans and cigarette butts and warmed, feebly,by space heaters. Short songs made for short practices, and the band learned quickly not to waste time. Despite the cold, Protomartyr emerged with a sound that is idiosyncratic but relatable, hooky but off-kilter.

                  Protomartyr’s economical rock elicits comparisons to possible antecedents like Pere Ubu or The Fall as well as local contemporaries like Frustrations or Tyvek (whose frontman Kevin Boyer played bass in an early iteration of Protomartyr). Singer Joe Casey’s dry declarative snarl serves as a reliable anchor, granting his bandmates — guitarist Greg Ahee, drummer Alex Leonard and bassist Scott Davidson — the opportunity to explore textures and reinforce the rhythm section. This is never more apparent than on the band’s sophomore LP and Hardly Art debut, Under Color of Official Right. Where 2012’s No Passion All Technique favored comparatively straightforward punk structures, Under Color takes a more exploratory approach. “Tarpeian Rock” places punk vitriol against a minimalist backing and “Scum, Rise!” casts shadows with guitars that alternately chime and clang.

                  The cheap outlet, crafted by cold hands in a poorly insulated practice space has, perhaps unwittingly, become a model of Motor City efficiency. And, more than that, it’s produced a stunner of a sophomore album.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Ryan says: Meeting somewhere inbetween Parquet Courts and No Age. Plenty of post-punk and hardcore references. Brilliant!

                  Laura says: This second album takes a more expansive, exploratory approach than their debut. All the 80s hardcore and post-punk references are there for sure, and there’s still the intensity, but there’s more space in the songs allowing melodies to push through and guitars to occasionally chime as well as clang.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  1. Maidenhead
                  2. Ain't So Simple
                  3. Want Remover
                  4. Trust Me Billy
                  5. Pagans
                  6. What The Wall Said
                  7. Tarpeian Rock
                  8. Bad Advice
                  9. Son Of Dis
                  10. Scum, Rise!
                  11. I Stare At Floors
                  12. Come & See
                  13. Violent
                  14. I'll Take That Applause

                  Protomartyr

                  The Agent Intellect - 2023 Repress

                    '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.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. The Devil In His Youth
                    2. Cowards Starve
                    3. I Forgive You
                    4. Boyce Or Boice
                    5. Pontiac 87
                    6. Uncle Mother?s
                    7. Dope Cloud
                    8. The Hermit
                    9. Clandestine Time
                    10. Why Does It Shake?
                    11. Ellen
                    12. Feast Of Stephen

                    Whitmer Thomas

                    The Older I Get, The Funnier I Was

                      The Older I Get the Funnier I Was, musician/comedian Whitmer Thomas’s follow-up to his 2020 HBO special The Golden One, and his 2022 Can't Believe You're Happy Here EP, moves between pop punk, electro, and the influence of the singer-songwriters he grew up listening to in early childhood. It conjures the ennui of Bright Eyes, the barefaced storytelling of John Prine, the overstuffed lists of Fred Thomas, and the lackadaisical humor of Colleen Green.

                      TRACK LISTING

                      01. Most Likely
                      02. Rigamarole
                      03. Everything That Feels Good Is Bad
                      04. Big Truck
                      05. Pop Fly
                      06. Cooler When I’m Sick
                      07. Pinwheel
                      08. Stick Around
                      09. South Florida
                      10. Navel Gazey
                      11. Bushwhacked

                      My Idea

                      Cry Mfer

                        The closer you are to someone, the crueler you can treat them, but if they love you, they’re inclined to forgive you. My Idea’s Lily Konigsberg and Nate Amos forgive each other now, but they were in a bad way when they recorded CRY MFER — which is not to say their debut album is some kind of sonic bum out. CRY MFER proves you can still make pop music while spiraling, as evidenced by the existence of “Breathe You,” a bop all about fucking Nate constructed while “high as shit in my room making fun of Justin Bieber,” the vocals of which Lily tracked while “blindly sad” and “genuinely devastated.” They’re best friends now, and they were best friends when they recorded CRY MFER last year, but they didn’t know that yet. (“We definitely were like, oh, maybe we're in love?” Lily recalls; it was a confusing time.) CRY MFER is the sound of two people figuring out what they mean to one another “in the midst of,” quoth Nate, “a bunch of other chaos,” up to and including being drunk as skunks; when listening to the album, Nate can “smell” the aforementioned chaos. “Thank God we're not those people [anymore],” Lily, with the clarity of newfound sobriety, marvels.

                        When not using the other party as an emotional punching bag, Nate and Lily used one another as a creative filter and sounding board. In life, as in art, they share a language, a hive mind, finishing each other’s sentences while lounging on Lily’s parents’ couch in the Hudson Valley. The duo joined forces in the Fall of 2020, when Lily, after a few years gobbing away in the punk trio Palberta, solicited Nate (who, at the time, was popping away as half of dance duo Water From Your Eyes) as a potential producer for her solo record; the subsequent songwriting competition that followed resulted in dozens of tracks and one EP, That’s My Idea. No strangers to productivity, Nate’s Water From Your Eyes recently released their fifth album, and Lily recently released her solo LP, both to high marks. CRY MFER is, true to the band’s vision, a beautiful mess of different sounds, completely and effortlessly genreless (though if pressed to label it, the band settles on “Truth or Dare Pop”). While a milieu of myriad styles, from folk to dance, the album’s main througH-line is truth, regardless of how much the expression thereof may hurt. Its lyrics aren’t “particularly diary-ish,” Nate says, they’re “a little more…” “Diarrhea-ish,” Lily jokes. It’s a reaction against the self-seriousness that runs rampant throughout indie music, which comes as no surprise when you learn the duo originally wanted to call themselves The Grammys (Why? Because when the two of them started working together, “we were like, we're gonna get a Grammy,” Lily says). They aren’t ashamed to admit they listen to Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, in much the same way they aren’t ashamed to use a vocoder or lyrically play the heel.

                        My Idea has only just begun, but already misery is in the rearview. CRY MFER is a punisher, to be sure, but it’s also a banger; reflecting on the time period during which it was recorded, Nate breathes a sigh of relief: “Oof. Well, we made it, and we got something out of it, too.” And so, dear listener, have you.

                        TRACK LISTING

                        1. Cry Mfer
                        2. Crutch
                        3. Baby I’m The Man
                        4. Lily’s Phone
                        5. Breathe You
                        6. Not Afraid Anymore
                        7. Yea
                        8. One Tree Hill (feat. Thanks For Coming)
                        9. I Can’t Dance Part 2
                        10. Pretty You
                        11. I Should Have Never Generated You
                        12. Popstar
                        13. Yr A Blur

                        Lala Lala

                        I Want The Door To Open

                          “I want total freedom, total possibility, total acceptance. I want to fall in love with the rock.” That’s how Lillie West describes the theme of “DIVER,” the song she calls the thesis of Lala Lala’s third record, I Want The Door To Open. The rock in question is a reference to Sisyphus, the mythical figure doomed by the gods to forever push a boulder up from the depths of hell. To West, it is the perfect metaphor for, in her words, “the labor of living, of figuring out who you are, what's wrong with you, what's right with you.”

                          Coming off of 2018’s acclaimed The Lamb, an introspective indie rock album recorded live with a three-piece band, West knew she was ready to make something sonically bigger and thematically more outward-looking than anything she’d done before; a record that would be less a straightforward documentation of her own personal struggles and more like a poem or a puzzle box, with sonic and lyrical clues that would allow the listener to, as the title says, open the door to the greater meaning of those struggles.

                          The result is I Want The Door To Open, a bold exploration of persona and presence from an artist questioning how to be herself fully in a world where the self is in constant negotiation. From the moment West declares “I want to look right into the camera” over a cascade of dreamy vocal loops on opening track “Lava,” I Want The Door To Open distinguishes itself from anything she’s done before in scope and intensity. The ultra-magnified iteration of Lala Lala is fully encapsulated in the monumental “DIVER.” Inspired by a character from a Jennifer Egan novel, it’s a pop song of Kate Bush-esque proportions replete with layered synths and booming, wide open drumming by fellow Chicago musician Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, and West pushing her vocals to the ragged edge. I Want The Door To Open is a musical quest undertaken with the knowledge that the titular door may never open; but it is through falling in love with the quest itself that one may find the closest thing to total freedom, total possibility, and total acceptance available to us on this plane of existence.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          Lava
                          Color Of The Pool
                          DIVER
                          Photo Photo
                          Prove It
                          Castle Life
                          Bliss Now!
                          Straight & Narrow
                          Beautiful Directions
                          Plates
                          Utopia Planet

                          La Luz

                          La Luz

                            On their self-titled fourth album, La Luz launch themselves into a new realm of emotional intimacy for a collection of songs steeped in the mysteries of the natural world and the magic of human chemistry that has found manifestation in the musical ESP between guitarist and songwriter Shana Cleveland, bassist Lena Simon, and keyboardist Alice Sandahl. To help shape La Luz, the band found a kindred spirit in producer Adrian Younge. Though primarily known for his work with hip-hop, soul, and jazz acts, Younge saw in La Luz a shared vision that transcended genre.

                            “We both create music with the same attitude, and that’s what I love about them,” he says. “They are never afraid to be risky and their style is captivating. It was an honor to work with them.” The result is an album that is both the most naturalistic and psychedelic of the band’s career. All the elements of classic La Luz are still present—the lush harmonies, the impeccable musicianship, the gorgeous melodies—but it’s a richer, earthier iteration, replete with inorganic sounds that mimic the surreality of nature—the humming of invisible bugs, the atmospheric sizzle of a hot day. After spending the last few years living in rural northern California, Cleveland’s lyrics have become more grounded, less interested in traveling to other dimensions than in peeking behind the curtain of this one. With sounds ranging from ghostly electric guitar shimmers, charging fuzz-guitar rock, soulful organ-driven dream-funk, galactic synths, and breezy ‘70s folk-pop, La Luz is an album that celebrates love- of music, of friendship, of life in all its forms. - Mariana Timony. 

                            STAFF COMMENTS

                            Barry says: It's a beautiful new LP from Shana Cleveland's La Luz, swimming in nostalgic 70's psychedelia, with wandering percussion and soaring vocal melodies, bringing to mind the Beatles circa Sgt. Pep or acid folk of the late 60's but with a keenly realised modern production sensibility. Superb.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            1. In The Country
                            2. The Pines
                            3. Watching Cartoons
                            4. Oh, Blue
                            5. Goodbye Ghost
                            6. Yuba Rot
                            7. Metal Man
                            8. Lazy Eyes And Dune
                            9. Down The Street
                            10. I Won't Hesitate
                            11. Here On Earth
                            12. Spider House

                            Colleen Green

                            Cool

                              Colleen Green has always been cool, but on 2015’s I Want To Grow Up, she didn’t necessarily feel it. Too young to be free of insecurities but old enough to be sick of them running her life, Green was experiencing an existential crisis. Five years and a new album later, we find her parsing out what it means to be grown-up—and realizing that it’s actually pretty cool.

                              Opener “Someone Else” is a paean to power in which Green lets a lover know that double standards can go both ways. A groovy bass loop and zig-zagging guitar lines underscore her realization that happiness is in her own hands, and the vibe is set. Next up is the witty, catchy “I Wanna Be A Dog,” where Green celebrates the simplicity of a canine life and questions why she’s still overcomplicating her own. Dark and slinky “Highway” uses ruthless driving as a metaphor for a lifestyle that no longer interests her.

                              Burnt out on bad feelings and ready to have fun with melodies and beats, Green enlisted producer Gordon Raphael (The Strokes) to take her songs to higher ground while keeping her lo-fi aesthetic intact. Raphael was already a fan, having caught a show in L.A. and finding himself “struck by how confident and powerful she looked, even though she was the only one onstage.”

                              He agreed to take the gig, and together with drummer Brendan Eder and hip hop producer Aqua over a few weeks in Los Angeles, Cool was created. The album’s themes come together on the anthemic “It’s Nice to Be Nice,” Green’s reminder to herself that you get what you give, so it’s important to try and be the best person you can—a hard-won but essential lesson in the emotional maturity that defines Cool.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              Someone Else
                              I Wanna Be A Dog
                              Posi Vibes
                              Highway
                              Natural Chorus
                              You Don't Exist
                              It's Nice To Be Nice
                              How Much Should You Love A Husband?
                              I Believe In Love
                              Pressure To Cum

                              Marinero

                              Hella Love

                                Hella Love, the Hardly Art debut from Marinero, is an album about closing a chapter. It’s Jess Sylvester’s grand farewell, and love letter to his hometown and the place he grew up, The San Francisco Bay Area, before relocating to Los Angeles after finishing his debut release. Using the moniker Marinero (which means “sailor” in Spanish), Jess Sylvester was drawn to this name as a means to honor his parent’s stories -- his father, a sailor, and mother, a Mexican-American who grew up in San Francisco. This record blends many worlds from beginning to end, and as you go deeper it hits harder. It’s his goodbye to The Bay. Pulling sonic influences from classic Latin American groups and international composers from the 60’s & 70’s: Los Terricolas, Ennio Morricone, Esquivel, Carole King and, Serge Gainsbourg Hella Love finds Sylvester fusing classical arrangements with a variety of different genres, evoking a sonic nostalgia blended with other contemporary artists like Chicano Batman, Connan Mockasin, and Chris Cohen. The album was written, played, and produced by Jess Sylvester with help from Bay Area engineer Jason Kick (Mild High Club’s Skiptracing) at Tunnel Vision and Santo Recording in Oakland, California.

                                On the standout single “Nuestra Victoria,” Sylvester shares “It’s my way of talking about gentrification in SF, or specifically the Mission where my mom and family grew up. The song is about a bakery, or panaderia called La Victoria, and was a place where my mother and tias went growing up, a place I also went to that is no longer there.” It was one of the oldest Mexican-American businesses in SF and I wanted to honor it”. “Through the Fog” highlights Sylvester’s exploration of his influences from the Tropicalia movement, weaving bossa rhythms with lush percussion and orchestration. Using SF’s infamous fog as a metaphor for “tough times”, Sylvester expands that it is a dedication to his friends and family who have helped him get through substance abuse issues, heartbreak, and other painful experiences. “There are a few easter eggs in the lyrics for Bay Area folks or people who have followed my music in the past but it’s mostly about getting through something difficult with the love and support from the homies and fam.” The album’s title track, “Hella Love,” summarizes both of his parent’s stories of how they ended up in the bay. The first verse is about his father’s voyage out west as a sailor during the late ’60s while the second verse follows his mother’s experience moving to The Mission District when she was a young girl.

                                It’s difficult to classify or generalize about Marinero’s music or identity. To him, it’s important to let his music do the talking. “I’m Chicanx, a bay native, biracial, and I’ve luckily gotten to travel and spend time in Mexico and I feel like my personality and specific musical tastes come through on this album. More than these generalizations we often make, I’m just a human who can both fear and love, and I’m just hoping to connect with others to share optimism and experience joy and laughter, even if for a moment.” Lean your ear to the ground because Jess Sylvester has been many things and will continue to share his journey. It is clear this gifted creator has more to say.

                                -Luz Elena Mendoza

                                TRACK LISTING

                                Fanfare
                                Through The Fog
                                Minuet For The Mission
                                Nuestra Victoria
                                Luz Del Faro
                                Outerlands
                                Beyond The Rainbow Tunnel
                                Hella Love
                                Maritime
                                Isle Of Alcatraz
                                Frisco Ball

                                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.

                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  Barry says: With all of the vim of punk rock, but with an instrumental sensibility far beyond the typical punk band, Girl Friday come roaring out of the gates with a ripping collection of ballads, both tender and rawkous.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1. This Is Not The Indie Rock I Signed Up For
                                  2. Amber's Knees: A Matter Of Concern
                                  3. Eaten Thing
                                  4. Public Bodies
                                  5. What We Do It For
                                  6. Earthquake
                                  7. Clotting
                                  8. Gold Stars
                                  9. Favorite Friend
                                  10. I Hope Jason Is Happy

                                  Whitmer Thomas

                                  Songs From The Golden One

                                    When asked to describe himself, Whitmer Thomas—comic, musician, skateboarder, infamous Blink182 fan—will tell you, “I’m always gonna be the one whose mom called him ‘the Golden One,’ right before she died.” This is where his debut HBO comedy special, The Golden One, finds Whitmer: age thirty, investigating this sense (curse?) of destiny-as-identity. It’s been thirteen years since he left Alabama for LA, becoming a linchpin for LA’s young, independent comedy scene with Power Violence, the monthly show he hosted with friends. But he became haunted by the question: had he already peaked, just like his mom, singer in a local band with big ambitions that never made it out of the Flora-Bama Lounge in Gulf Shores? Rather than shy away from all that messy self-mythology, Whitmer tapped the source of it all through writing this one-man show featuring his own original music. Songs from The Golden One, a companion album of songs from the special, features Whitmer’s darkwave bangers, synthesizing relatable content: millennial anxieties, therapy-speak jokes, and the annals of his own childhood tragedies.

                                    Songs from The Golden One feature ten cuts of borderline-John Maus cosplay with spasms of pop-punk absurdity. Thomas uses the gothy, nasal vocal drone as a tool of comic detachment to cover the funny-’cause-its-true territory of awkward sex, crippling insecurity, the shame of ambition, and the long tail of abandonment traumas. Each song is a capsule of initial therapy breakthroughs: those realization zingers where suddenly it all makes sense how each fucked variable from then makes up the weird shit of now. When you see it all for what it is, it looks like some sick, clever joke from the universe, driving you desperate to revise the comedy so that if you have to be reality’s punchline, at least you can write the jokes. Original tracks from the special include the shimmering, synthy euphoria of “Eat You Out,” a glorious admission to performance anxiety and the ol’ magician’s cloak of cunnilingus move. There’s “The Codependent Enabler,” a whole jungle gym of toxic relationship rationale where “I can only get it up if you are down,” and the sadboy sobriety anthem “Partied to Death,” about when you’re young in LA and you have to tell people that you’re not “Cali sober for wellness,” you’re sober because your mom actually died from addiction. At first pass, Whitmer’s special and album make a relevant, hilarious articulation of one tragic childhood, of the messiness of masculinity, of the timeless qualms of being broke with a dream in Los Angeles, and the humiliation inherent in having “a dream” at all. But in flashes of unexpected weirdo wisdom, Whitmer weaves a deeper story of a person finding reconciliation and forgiveness while finding his own self and voice. He faces his darkness with darkwave, writing the story of his objectively insane youth through a Venn diagram of cool guy music, goofy dude jokes, and sensitive boy reflections that hit in a way that feels bigger than the sum of its parts. Whitmer will say that he made The Golden One out of desperation, but there’s something about it that feels a lot more like destiny. 

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    1. Hurts To Be Alive
                                    2. Dumb In Love
                                    3. Brother Is Bigger
                                    4. Partied To Death
                                    5. The Codependent Enabler
                                    6. Eat You Out
                                    7. Dancing With My Dad
                                    8. Hopes And Dreams
                                    9. The Golden One
                                    10. He's Hot

                                    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)

                                      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.

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        01. Longest Time 4:01
                                        02. Box 3:32
                                        03. I'm The 1 4 U 3:29
                                        04. Should've 3:29
                                        05. Only Wish 2:38
                                        06. Unexpected 3:42
                                        07. How It Goes 3:26
                                        08. Falling 3:47
                                        09. Doesn't Matter 3:33
                                        10. Let Down 3:25
                                        11. :15 2:33
                                        12. Making Sense 3:05
                                        13. DGAFAF (I Know What's Real) 2:37

                                        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.

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          Natural
                                          Parking Lot
                                          Shape
                                          Tired
                                          Harder To Do
                                          Around The Block
                                          A Couple Highs
                                          Perfect Version
                                          I Lied
                                          Empty Cup

                                          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.

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            Entryism
                                            Offering
                                            Tethered
                                            Violeta
                                            By Design
                                            Vestibule
                                            In Mind
                                            Long Chord
                                            3D
                                            Sated
                                            Survivalist
                                            Loving Myself
                                            Renew

                                            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.

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            1. Don’t Let Me Sleep
                                            2. Face Of The Sun
                                            3. In Another Realm
                                            4. Castle Milk
                                            5. Night Of The Worm Moon
                                            6. Invisible When The Sun Leaves
                                            7. The Fireball
                                            8. Solar Creep
                                            9. A New Song
                                            10. I’ll Never Know

                                            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.

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              1. Hiding
                                              2. Spit
                                              3. Holographic Jesus
                                              4. Bug Museum
                                              5. Question It
                                              6. Crush Crusher
                                              7. Falling Fruit
                                              8. Borrowed Body
                                              9. Ugly/Bored
                                              10. Your Arms Are Water

                                              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.”

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                01. Destroyer
                                                02. Spy
                                                03. Water Over Sex
                                                04. I Get Cut
                                                05. Dove
                                                06. Dropout
                                                07. The Flu
                                                08. Copycat
                                                09. Scary Movie
                                                10. Moth
                                                11. When You Die
                                                12. See You At Home

                                                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.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  1. O.M.G. (I'm All Over It)
                                                  2. Coming For You
                                                  3. You Knew
                                                  4. Holding On
                                                  5. The Move
                                                  6. Never Giving In
                                                  7. Mainline
                                                  8. Time To Regulate
                                                  9. Bleed
                                                  10. Hustle
                                                  11. Going Nowhere

                                                  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.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  01. Floating Features 2:15
                                                  02. Cicada 3:13
                                                  03. Loose Teeth 2:49
                                                  04. Mean Dream 3:36
                                                  05. California Finally 3:23
                                                  06. The Creature 3:30
                                                  07. Golden One 4:16
                                                  08. Lonely Dozer 3:17
                                                  09. Greed Machine 4:21
                                                  10. Walking Into The Sun 2:47
                                                  11. Don’t Leave Me On The Earth 2:37

                                                  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)

                                                  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..

                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    01. Easy Coming 6:16
                                                    02. Cinders 5:13
                                                    03. Match 4:05
                                                    04. Sick In Bed 5:43
                                                    05. Soviet Barn Fire 4:41
                                                    06. My Mother 4:16
                                                    07. Promises 5:19
                                                    08. Underground (A Love Sleeps Deep) 8:35

                                                    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.

                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                      01. Well Acquainted 2:55
                                                      02. The Bullshit Century Pt. 1 3:01
                                                      03. Up The Stream 2:44
                                                      04. Modern Music 4:51
                                                      05. Addendum 1:07
                                                      06. Phasing Out 2:06
                                                      07. Getting Loose 3:13
                                                      08. Terror Management 3:21
                                                      09. The Big Car Commercial Payout 3:25
                                                      10. In Heaven 3:12

                                                      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.

                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                      01. Black Jack 2:50
                                                      02. The Way I Feel 3:03
                                                      03. Something In The Way 3:01
                                                      04. Life Worth Living 4:17
                                                      05. Sincerely I 0:56
                                                      06. Tonight 3:10
                                                      07. Paralyzed 3:35
                                                      08. Giving Up 4:23
                                                      09. Bit Saloon 2:56
                                                      10. Sincerely II 0:27
                                                      11. Love Is 5:14
                                                      12. Twin Moons 5:02
                                                      13. Time's Not On My Side 2:35

                                                      Ian Sweet

                                                      Shapeshifter

                                                        “IAN SWEET’s indie pop packs the personality that [Hardly Art] is known for, spinning conventional rock band setups into output that is unconventional.” - Consequence of Sound.

                                                        “They’ve relocated across the USA, gone on three tours, eaten a lot of donuts, climbed rocks and worn crocs.” - Noisey. 

                                                        "The unmistakable voice of singer Jillian Medford is a force that stands all on its own." - Boston Hassle

                                                        “I have a way of loving too many things to take on just one shape,” Jilian Medford sings over and over again on the title track of the Brooklyn-based band IAN SWEET’s debut album, Shapeshifter, repeating it like a mantra. This is Medford’s thesis statement, a narrator to carry us through Shapeshifter, which is above all else a meditation on loneliness and displacement. It’s about losing love and your sense of self in the process, about grabbing at the little things in life that bring joy when nothing else is going according to plan. It’s also an ode to the bandmates, and the friends, that see you through. IAN SWEET started in 2014 with a string of text messages. Medford was a few days away from embarking on her first tour when the driver and drummer she recruited cancelled. Medford sent IAN SWEET drummer Tim Cheney -- whom she barely knew -- a series of desperate messages, asking if he knew how to drum and whether or not he would be willing to take two weeks off of life to go on tour. Cheney responded soon after with a simple: “Yes.” Accompanied by Cheney and bassist Damien Scalise’s playful instrumentation, Shapeshifter becomes a celebratory purging, an album that finds humor in self-deprecation and vice.

                                                        IAN SWEET’s debut interrogates capital-e Existence through a candy-coated lens, their mathy precision scaffolding the chaos of Medford’s personal neurosis and turning those anxieties into something hook-laden and relatable. And though the narrative of Shapeshifter clings to an ex-lover, the yearning felt on this album isn’t directed at a particular individual so much as it’s turned inward. “You know the feeling. When you really like someone, you forget to do anything for yourself, you forget all of the things that gave you your shape,” Medford says. “The things that form your absolute.”

                                                        Tacocat

                                                        Lost Time

                                                          Tacocat’s third studio album, Lost Time (an X-Files reference, doy), is their first with producer Erik Blood. “I would describe him generally as a beautiful wizard,” Nokes said, “who, in our opinion, took the album to the next level. Wizard level.” Blood’s sounds are wide and expansive, bringing a fullness to the band’s familiar sparkling snarl. The Tacocat of Lost Time are triumphantly youthful but also plainspoken and wise, as catchy as they are substantive. “Men Explain Things to Me” eviscerates male condescension with sarcastic surf guitar. On “The Internet,” they swat away trolls with an imperiousness so satisfying you want to transmogrify it into a sheetcake and devour it: “Your place is so low/Human mosquito.”
                                                          Recorded with known wizard Erik Blood at two separate Seattle locations.

                                                          Personnel notables: Emily Nokes (vocals, tambourine), Eric Randall (guitar), Lelah Maupin (drums), and Bree McKenna (bass, also of Childbirth). Tacocat have performed the theme song for the Cartoon Network’s relaunch of the cartoon Powerpuff Girls, which premieres in April of 2016.

                                                          Shannon & The Clams

                                                          Gone By The Dawn

                                                            Gone by the Dawn, the newest Shannon and the Clams album, is their best work to date. The music is complex, the lyrical content is emotionally raw and honest, and the production is the strangest it’s ever been. The album was written as one member was recovering from a serious breakup and another was deep in one. The lyrics reflect it, and the entire album is dripping with sadness, pain, and introspection.

                                                            For Gone by the Dawn, the Oakland trio hooked up with studio wizard and renaissance-man Sonny Smith to record the album at Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco. Best known as the driving force behind San Francisco’s beloved Sonny and the Sunsets, Smith uses his refreshing production techniques to create an engaging sonic landscape without compromising the Clams’ signature Lou Christie-meets-The Circle Jerks sound. The Clams have evolved: their skills are sharper, their chops are tighter and weirder and they’ve added new instruments to the mix. A whole new dimension of the Clams has emerged.

                                                            Nowadays, it’s exceedingly rare for a two-and-half minute rock song to have raw emotional power, but with Gone by the Dawn Shannon and the Clams have gifted us an entire album of them.

                                                            "[Shannon] Shaw and [Cody] Blanchard have learned how to disassemble the parts and rebuild them in a way that sounds both classic and wild at the same time." - Pitchfork.

                                                            "A mélange of rhythms and harmonies from classic '50s pop salted with thick layer of East Bay grit." - SF Weekly.

                                                            "Shaw’s seemingly uncontrollable voice...steals the show, finding powerful moments even in stale formats." - Consequence of Sound.

                                                            "A nice balance of gritty, angry tunes...as well as cheerful jams for tearing up the dance floor." - BUST.


                                                            La Luz

                                                            Weirdo Shrine

                                                              Seattle "surf noir" band La Luz returns with the anticipated follow-up to their breakout 2013 debut album It's Alive. Recorded in a makeshift surf shop studio with producer Ty Segall, Weirdo Shrine is a noisier, more energized effort.

                                                              For most, a brush with death would be cause for retreat, reflection, and reluctance, but Seattle band La Luz found something different in it: resilience. Having survived a high-speed highway collision shortly after releasing their 2013 debut LP It’s Alive, La Luz, despite lasting trauma, returned to touring with a frequency and tirelessness that put their peers to shame. When it came time to record Weirdo Shrine, the goal was to capture the band’s restless live energy and commit it to tape.

                                                              In early 2015, Cleveland and Co. adjourned to a surf shop in San Dimas, California where, with the help of producer/engineer Ty Segall, they realized this vision. Tracking most of the album live in shared quarters, La Luz chose to leave in any happy accidents and spur-of-the-moment flourishes that occurred while recording. The resulting album is a natural evolution of the band’s self-styled “surf noir” sound—a rawer, turbo-charged sequel that charts themes of loneliness, infatuation, obsession and death across eleven tracks, from the opening credits siren song of “Sleep Till They Die” to the widescreen, receding-skyline send-off of “Oranges” and its bittersweet epilogue, “True Love Knows.”

                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                              01. Sleep Till They Die
                                                              02. You Disappear
                                                              03. With Davey
                                                              04. Don't Wanna Be Anywhere
                                                              05. I Can't Speak
                                                              06. Hey Papi
                                                              07. I Wanna Be Alone (With You)
                                                              08. I'll Be True
                                                              09. Black Hole, Weirdo Shrine
                                                              10. Oranges
                                                              11. True Love Knows

                                                              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."

                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                1. I Want To Grow Up
                                                                2. Wild One
                                                                3. TV
                                                                4. Pay Attention
                                                                5. Deeper Than Love
                                                                6. Things That Are Bad For Me (Part I)
                                                                7. Things That Are Bad For Me (Part II)
                                                                8. Some People
                                                                9. Grind My Teeth
                                                                10. Whatever I Want

                                                                S

                                                                Cool Choices

                                                                  Getting a Dog Will Never Save a Doomed Relationship, and Other Lessons Hidden in Cool Choices

                                                                  “S started over a decade ago as a bedroom-based side project. Just a guitar, a four-track, and Jenn Ghetto’s heartbreaking voice.”.

                                                                  At the start of 2012, in the middle of a break-up, I started writing this record. As with the others, the songs all started in my bedroom, but I convinced my metal drummer friend Zach McNulty to help me flesh them out (you guys, he uses a lot of restraint), along with my longtime friends Betsy Olson (bass) and Carrie Murphy (guitar) because I knew they were talented, I liked being around them, and they both had cars.

                                                                  After many months of trying to get our schedules aligned, there we were, in the studio with Chris Walla. As he was setting up my guitar amp combo and pulling gadgets off the shelves and microphones out of boxes he said to me, "This is how you make a Van Halen record." And then we made Cool Choices. I feel pretty good about it and I hope you think it is okay.

                                                                  • Featuring Jenn Ghetto of Carissa’s Wierd
                                                                  • Produced, engineered, and mixed by Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie
                                                                  • LP comes with MP3 Downloads of the entire album

                                                                  La Sera

                                                                  Hour Of The Dawn

                                                                    As La Sera, Katy Goodman turned an aching heart into two marvelous, alluring yet bittersweet break-up albums (2011’s self-titled debut and 2012’s Sees the Light). On her latest, though, the former Vivian Girl is through crying.

                                                                    Hour of the Dawn sees Goodman waking up, throwing open the bedroom windows and welcoming the day.

                                                                    "I wanted the new La Sera record to sound like Lesley Gore fronting Black Flag," Goodman says. "I didn't want it to be another record of me sad, alone in my room. I wanted to have fun playing music and writing songs with a band." To back her nimble basslines and enchanting vocals, Goodman assembled a new band helmed by guitarist Todd Wisenbaker.

                                                                    "We started playing faster, louder and more aggressively," Goodman says. "I wanted to get that energy onto the album."

                                                                    The forceful new La Sera line-up set about fleshing out Goodman’s melodies and lyrics into strapping rock anthems, debuting them to enthusiastic crowds on tour, and refining them with a newfound obsession to detail.

                                                                    After a year of perfecting their new material, La Sera was ready to commit it to tape. In the summer of 2013, the group decamped to a sweltering studio in East Los Angeles with engineer Joel Jerome and banged out the ten songs that would become Hour of the Dawn—an album that never walks, but runs, a collision of unleashed punk and ‘80s power-pop.

                                                                    "We wanted to make a classic American record," Wisenbaker says. "The album was inspired by a lot of bands: The Pretenders, Minor Threat, X, The Smiths, The Cars and more."

                                                                    The sound that emerged from these disparate influences combined hardcore energy with tuneful harmony, as exemplified by opening track “Losing to the Dark.” Title track "Hour of the Dawn," meanwhile, rides a steady groove towards a long horizon of sunrise. It’s the record's thematic center: a final wave goodbye to a messy past and the beginning of a new day. In a burst of bright, immediate and jangly Smiths-inspired pop, "Fall in Place" captures La Sera at an emotional and musical crossroads.

                                                                    Hour of the Dawn, as its title suggests, heralds the beginning of a radiant and energetic new chapter in La Sera’s evolution—the summit of Goodman’s steady ascent to rock and roll queendom.

                                                                    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.

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    1. Be My Prism
                                                                    2. Black Gloves
                                                                    3. Double Vision
                                                                    4. Dust
                                                                    5. Rubble
                                                                    6. Over The Zoom
                                                                    7. Guillotine
                                                                    8. Heavy Horse
                                                                    9. Hotline
                                                                    10. Domino Moon
                                                                    11. Ultraglide

                                                                    La Luz

                                                                    It's Alive

                                                                      Seattle’s La Luz recorded their debut EP, Damp Face, in a small trailer on a hot August day. But barring the inevitable “no-AC-in-the-van” summer tour calamity, La Luz runs cool. Their brand of coolness isn’t about distance or affect; it’s a mood, and—sue me, but I’m about to totally rip off Zelda Fitzgerald: Something about this music vibrates to the dusky, dreamy smell of dying moons and shadows.

                                                                      In Spanish, La Luz means “light” and that’s the perfect thing to evoke when your songs give the illusion of veering in the opposite direction. But lift out most any lyric—which is a good excuse to give a closer listen to the delicate, four-part harmonies that are fast becoming the band’s signature—and you’ll find that the aches and pains of love and loss, of living in a world where no foothold is ever a promise—all this is delivered with a nuanced dose of perfectly timed exhilaration, like the whole thing might just be worth it in the end.

                                                                      Last spring, La Luz returned to that steamy trailer park to record It’s Alive – the much-anticipated follow up to Damp Face – with their friend and engineer Johnny Goss. From the first get-psyched drum roll and eerie chords of “Sure As Spring”, the dinged-up pop gem that opens the album, the rest moves like a slow drive on a dangerous road, slinking and bending as the terrain shifts. On “What Good Am I?”, the lead vocals, and the swirl of harmonies that surround it, recall the Spartan haze of Mazzy Star’s misty-eyed super hit. Smack in the middle is the title track. “It’s Alive” is a jangly rocker with a spooky refrain, oodles of ooohs, and a marauding narrative that nails down the misty logic of the rest of the album. Two instrumentals, “Sunstroke” and “Phantom Feelings”, showcase the band’s beach jam surf chops, and fall perfectly between the chilled out heartache that surrounds them.

                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                      1. Sure As Spring
                                                                      2. All The Time
                                                                      3. Morning High
                                                                      4. What Good Am I?
                                                                      5. Sunstroke
                                                                      6. It?s Alive
                                                                      7. Big Big Blood
                                                                      8. Call Me In The Day
                                                                      9. Pink Slime
                                                                      10. Phantom Feelings
                                                                      11. You Can Never Know

                                                                      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.

                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                      Planet Earth Is Pregnant For The 5th Time
                                                                      No Parties
                                                                      The Strange One Speaketh
                                                                      Roman Tick
                                                                      "My Phone's Been Tapped, Baby“
                                                                      Roman Nvmerals / Wiretapping Muzak I
                                                                      Spies
                                                                      Earthling Men
                                                                      The Uncanny Valley
                                                                      Earthling Women
                                                                      Drones
                                                                      Wiretapping Muzak II
                                                                      Off The Map
                                                                      "The Roman Stuff Is Where It's At“
                                                                      Marky Move
                                                                      Funky Was The State Of Affairs


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