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Alternative & Indie - Released May 3, 2019 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 5, 2019 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 5, 2019 | Hardly Art

Shana Cleveland has found an audience in the indie rock community as the leader of the fine surf-infused band La Luz, but before the group took off, she was recording her own variety of idiosyncratic indie folk. Taking a busman's holiday from the group, Cleveland has cut a second album of songs fashioned around her acoustic guitar work and evocative melodies (the first, Oh Man, Cover the Ground, was recorded in 2011 and released in 2015), and 2019's Night of the Worm Moon is a quietly dazzling exercise in moody, expressive acoustic music. The heart of these songs can be found in Cleveland's hushed vocals and subtle guitar work, which lend these performances a feeling somewhere between John Fahey and early Leonard Cohen (think Songs of Leonard Cohen, not I'm Your Man). Meanwhile, the arrangements, in particular Will Sprott's keyboards, fill out the melodies with sounds that conjure a cool, forbidding psychedelic undercurrent that are a splendid complement for Cleveland's spectral guitar. This is a far cry from the smart but sunny approach of La Luz, but Cleveland's understated vocal delivery and the impressionistic bent of her lyrics are two areas of common ground between these projects. And if Night of the Worm Moon is a very different kettle of fish than La Luz, it's similarly rewarding. This album is superb rainy-day listening, music that's subtle but effectively draws the listener into its web, and Cleveland's songs cast a spell that's truly beguiling. At its best, Night of the Worm Moon could pass for some forgotten freak-folk classic of the late '60s or early '70s, though you don't have to follow the trippiness of the past to appreciate its many pleasures. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 25, 2019 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 25, 2019 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 11, 2019 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 26, 2018 | Hardly Art

"The songs on CRUSH CRUSHER can evoke great things like early Nineties shoegaze and girly-voice/big-guitar bands like Charli Bliss." © TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 26, 2018 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 28, 2018 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 28, 2018 | Hardly Art

"On her second album, Lillie West retains the charming simplicity of her songs, but she finds new depth as a songwriter as she explores the act of standing up to herself." © TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 17, 2018 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 13, 2018 | Hardly Art

The full-length debut of a project by a well-established member of the Seattle indie music community, Single Rider introduces the discontented synth pop of Jenn Ghetto, formerly of Carissa's Wierd and S. Over the course of more than a decade with her solo project S, she delivered guitar-centric lo-fi that was eventually fleshed out with a full band on 2014's Cool Choices. After releasing the dark, post-punky "No One," her first song as Jenn Champion, in 2016, she settled into a more elegant, longing, synth-textured sound that, alongside programmed drums, still incorporates guitar. The airy opening track, "O.M.G. (I'm All Over It)," has a sophisticated, jazzy pop sheen that recalls bands like Everything But the Girl, and 2010s bands Tiny Fireflies and Young Galaxy. Songs like "Coming for You" and "Holding On" are similarly delicate and haunting but still anchored by sturdy beats and earworm choruses. That recipe holds true for most of the album, though it avoids feeling formulaic with the help of tracks including "Mainline," which plays with wobbly textures, funky rhythms, and judiciously placed silences. Elsewhere, "Time to Regulate" makes efficient use of contrasting timbres, including its keyboard tones, cowbell, and a rare appearance by Ghetto's high falsetto, whereas the rest of the set is heavily populated by her ruminating mid-range. Also danceable, it's a record that might have received heavy rotation on the MTV of the mid-'80s, although lyrics about timeless topics like unrequited love and just plain coping, and its intersection with the more wistful, pop-leaning indie electronica, make Single Rider very much of its time. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 13, 2018 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 26, 2018 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 11, 2018 | Hardly Art

La Luz had their formula firmly in place on their debut album, 2013's It's Alive, and they're a group who've managed to grow and mature without major changes to their aural signature. Their fusion of vintage surf sounds, garage rock, and smart indie pop sounded clever and well-crafted right out of the box, and there's been a certain sense of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" in their subsequent recordings. That said, their third full-length, 2018's Floating Features, is a step forward from their first two albums, if not an especially dramatic one. Musically, La Luz sound tighter and more emphatic here, with the performances boasting a bit more muscle, Alice Sandahl's vintage keyboards taking more chances, and the harmonies revealing more sparkle. Guitarist and songwriter Shana Cleveland has always believed that surf music doesn't have to be silly or facile, and her lyrics on Floating Features are intelligent and thoughtful, pondering an unmoored existence in "Cicada," dabbling in West Coast folk-rock tropes on "Mean Dream," and fearing global mortality in "Don't Leave Me Here on the Earth." And Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys produced the sessions for Floating Features, and while his touch is unobtrusive, he does get a more polished and full-bodied sound out of La Luz. Cleveland's guitar cuts deeper on these performances, Marian Li-Pino's drums have more depth, and there's a sense of detail that flatters the performances. If you liked La Luz before, there's nothing on Floating Features that's likely to change that, but their craft has gotten stronger and the improved audio helps to make that clear. This album is smart fun from a band that actually makes something fresh out of the sounds of the past, and as long as La Luz keep doing that, they'll be worth hearing. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 11, 2018 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 9, 2018 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 17, 2018 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 13, 2018 | Hardly Art

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 13, 2018 | Hardly Art